For thousands of high-school seniors in Maine, fall heralds the beginning of the college application process. This past week, Bowdoin opened its campus to 80 local students and their families to visit and explore the opportunities offered by the College. 

The event, colloquially called “Maine Day,”  was staffed in part by student volunteers from admissions, such as Madeleine Livingston ’16 and Hallie Bates ’15.

“I organized the groups of students who were around during the transitional parts of Maine Day—so greeting families, directing families, leading them from place to place, answering any questions that they might have,” said Livingston ’16.

The day began with a welcome ceremony featuring a speech by President Barry Mills. Visitors were then encouraged to attend classes, have a meal in Thorne Dining Hall and attend talks concerning Bowdoin’s financial aid policies. 

“We don’t have a Vermont Day or a Utah Day, but the College has a very important relationship with its home state. We do go out of our way to post a day for Maine students and their families and give them a chance to go to class, meet students and faculty and hear about admission and financial aid,” said Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Scott Meiklejohn. 

“Part of the purpose of this is to continue reaching out and educating students and parents about the fact that we do have great financial aid and that we are interested in our home state,” he added.

Despite programs intended to make Bowdoin more accessible to Maine students, there has been a downward trend in the number of applications received from in-state applicants. While in 2013 Bowdoin received 424 applications, this year the number is down to 386. Nevertheless the number of admits did not change (73 students both years), and 46 Mainers matriculated into the Class of 2018, as opposed to 48 for the Class of 2017. These changes may be the result of Maine high school graduation rates, which have been steadily dropping over the past few years. 

“We peaked two or three years ago where we had slightly over 500 applicants. Then, it was 460-something, and then it was 420-something, and this year was 380-something. And so you’re seeing on a percentage basis a pretty meaningful decline in the number of applications,” said Meiklejohn. “And so we’re watching that really closely.” 

Maine Day is also a great way for Maine students, who may be considering other schools, to fully experience a school so close to home. Reed Fernandez ’17 attended Maine Day while in high school and said that the event helped assuage his hesitation in applying to a school so close to home. 

“I would say that [Maine Day] made it more approachable—if that’s a word you can use to describe a college,” said Fernandez. “Staying close to home shouldn’t affect anything. Once I threw that out, it turned into a positive thing because Maine has so much to offer. Once I saw the campus and realized that Bowdoin had the most to offer to me, I didn’t really care where it was, I just wanted to come.”