275 college house applications were submitted this year, an increase from last year but still below the record-setting year for 2011-2012, which had 341 applicants. Quinby House received the most college house applications according to Mariana Centeno, assistant director of Residential Life (Res Life). With 200 beds available in the college house system, 73 percent of applicants will be accepted. 

This year, a new question on the college house application caused students to reconsider the role of college houses on campus. 

“The Residential Life office is committed to building college house communities that respect and are eager to learn about and have a willingness to accept the many ways of viewing the world. ‘Please give an example of how you would work to promote diversity of experiences within your house,’” said Centeno, quoting the the 2015-2016 college house application.
Centeno said that this question provoked thoughtful responses from applicants.

“Almost all of them had to do with conversations about diversity, religion, race, sexuality, in a shift that I have never seen,” said Centeno. “I think a huge part of that is last semester.”

First-year Alys Fromson-Ho found the question a bit tricky at first but ultimately helpful in understanding her potential role as a college house member. 

“The questions were not easy. If you wanted to answer them seriously, it took a lot of thinking like, ‘Hey, how can I actually contribute?’” Fromson-Ho said. “It got me really excited about how to be an active member [of a house] and how [I could] be a part of a smaller community within the whole entire Bowdoin [campus]”

The applicant pool for college houses is typically dominated by first years. Although ResLife extended the deadline a week for upperclassmen to apply, the vast majority of applicants were still first years. 

A new feature to the college house application, the “any house” option, was created last year to ensure that if an applicant hasn’t been placed in his or her top-three choice houses, he or she is still eligible for consideration to be a part of the college house system. 

Since the advent of the “any house” option on the college house application last year, Centeno saw a significant increase in applicants selecting the “any house” placement. According to Centero, about 150 students selected “any house” this year, up from around 100 last year.
Centeno also noted that this year, more students applied to Howell as their third choice and more individuals applied outside of blocks.

Fromson-Ho noted her trepidation about the process of applying to a college house but acknowledged how her application experience was informative.

“I think I was afraid of not fitting into these pre-conceived notions about each house, but I realized that by not applying, I was just reinforcing those stereotypes in my mind and upholding them” said Fromson-Ho.

First year Avery Wolfe ’19 was motivated to apply to the college house system because of the unique opportunity to expand her social horizons.

“I really wanted to meet people that I might not run into because we have different academic and extracurricular interests,” said Wolfe. “And I wanted to form relationships with first years.”