decision applications up 16 percent
KITTY SULLIVAN, STAFF WRITER
The Early Decision Phase I phase of admissions began
on December 6, and once again, a record number of applications were submitted.
Applications were up 16 percent from last year. So far,
the admissions committee is predicting similar increases in the regular
application pool. This reflects a trend, not only at Bowdoin College,
but in select schools all across the nation, as each student is, on average,
applying to more and more colleges.
In general, students are increasingly taking advantage
of the Early Decision option, believing that their chances of admission
will increase due to their stronger enthusiasm for the College. However,
Bowdoin does not strongly endorse this route, and instead encourages students
to "take their time when making such an important decision," according
to Richard Steele, vice president of admissions and student aid.
Though the committee has only just begun the evaluation
process, they are already extremely impressed with the potential and talent
of the Class of 2005. Steele was especially impressed with the strength
of the teacher recommendations, a factor that is weighted especially heavily
in the Bowdoin admissions process.
Candidates are rated in six different categories, and
the first factor considered is the student's essay and personal statement.
While most schools require only one essay, Bowdoin places extra emphasis
on writing ability and personality reflected through an essay.
Steele explained that the next part of the application
taken into consideration is the teacher recommendation, which provides
a glimpse into the student's approach to learning and their enthusiasm
The caliber of the school is also factored in, and
officers look at what is available to students in terms of advanced placement
courses, extracurricular activities, grades, and other aspects.
Another unique aspect of the admissions process
at Bowdoin is that SAT scores are not a mandatory part of the application.
While they are helpful tools in gauging a student's skill level, Steele
notes that "if [the applicants] don't have scores, we don't assume that
they were bad, but it just means more detective work and closer scrutiny
of the rest of the application."
In addition, Bowdoin does not believe in automatically
deferring all candidates not admitted in the Early Decision phase, believing
that it is "not fair to students to string them along if they would be
better off at another school," Steele said.
He noted that it is too early to draw any conclusions
about the class of 2005, but he stated that no two classes are alike,
and each contributes to the Bowdoin community in its own way.
When asked what sets Bowdoin applications apart from
others he's seen in the business, Steele commented on the independent
spirit present in the applications. He partly attributed it to the rustic
geographic location of Bowdoin, but this cannot be completely responsible
for the adventurous nature of the students which is present in their eagerness
to travel, to risk low grades for a challenging course, or to simply take
up a new sport or activity.
Steele said that the admissions process, while exciting,
can be draining, as it is difficult to say "no" to students who are certain
they want to attend Bowdoin. However, Steele is comforted by the fact
that "if they don't get in here, they will most likely get into another
By the same token, his favorite part of the review
process is learning about the quality of the students. "I have done this
work since 1962, and I never fail to be excited when I read applications
and learn about young people's talent and their potential for the future."