Unlike the Class of 2014, whose unusually high yield rate led to a record-breaking class size of 510, the Class of 2015 is "the right size—485," said Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Scott Meiklejohn, who also noted that "everyone's much happier" with a smaller number of first year students.
The new students officially moved into their dorms on Saturday, August 27; some were returning from Pre-Orientation trips, while others were arriving on campus for the first time.
Orientation events began that day and continued through Tuesday, August 30. The first of these events was the traditional welcome speech given by President Barry Mills in front of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art.
This year's Orientation schedule included two new events spearheaded by Associate Dean of Multicultural Student Programs Leana Amaez. These programs were intended to emphasize the diversity of the first year class. Associate Director of Residential Education Ben Farrell also assisted in organizing one of the events, a program called "Unpacking Difference to Build Communities."
"[They] sat down in a semi-large group and talked about their hopes and fears," Farrell said of the first years. The fears "were all very similar: being away from home... being able to handle the academic rigor."
"When we opened it up for discussion, they said it was great to hear that so many others had the same hopes and fears," Farrell said.
The groups then broke down into even smaller units of six or seven students, and answered personal questions in discussions facilitated largely by Residential Life student staff members.
Another new part of Orientation programming included "Perspectives," a play written and directed by George Ellzey '13, which drew on first-hand accounts from the first years to showcase the interests, sexualities, ethnicities, and other characteristics of students in the Class of 2015.
As a whole, the Class of 2015 has a similar geographic and racial make-up compared to previous classes.
"The only difference worth highlighting is that this year's class is a little more international," said Meiklejohn. Twenty-one countries are represented in the first year class, four more than in the Class of 2014.
Another significant change in the numbers for this class came from a lower "melt" number—the amount of students who withdraw over the summer because they are admitted off the waitlitsts to other colleges.
Bowdoin's melt number is usually twice the number of students who defer enrollment to take a gap year.
This year, however, the trend was reversed; 21 students deferred to take a gap year, while approximately a dozen students withdrew to attend other schools.
"Personally, I'm a big fan of gap years," said Meiklejohn, "so I'm happy to see the number [of students taking them] get a little bigger."
Residential Life also saw some changes in numbers because fewer students requested chem-free housing this year.
"In the past two years, we've had enough demand for chem-free housing that we've run over into other buildings," said Director of Residential Life Mary Pat McMahon. "This year, the demand for chem-free housing fit Hyde, but did not need extra floors."
Due to the smaller size of the class, Residential Life was also able to "de-quint" Coleman Hall and convert all the triples in West and Osher Halls back to doubles.
New students benefited from a normal-sized class when it came to choosing courses as well. According to the Office of the Registrar, there were more than enough spots for students in first year seminars.
After Phase II registration, only three first year students opted not to take a first year seminar during the fall semester.
"I don't say 'best class ever, smartest class ever'...statistically [this class] is as strong as any other class," said Meiklejohn. "But it's a very great and talented group, and we're very excited about the students who chose Bowdoin."