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Explore Bowdoin provides online introduction to the campus community

October 16, 2020

Explore Bowdoin, the annual Admissions event, has transitioned to a remote model this fall, providing Zoom activities and online information sessions to low-income and first-generation high school seniors. The program, typically stretched over two fall weekends, is instead occurring over two six-day periods: Explore Bowdoin 1, from September 13 to 19, and Explore Bowdoin 2, from October 18 to 24.

The programming was organized by Assistant Dean of Admissions Kyra Green, Senior Assistant Dean of Admissions Jackie Su and Admissions Counselor Steffon Gales, along with student interns Laila McCain ’21 and Alex Ontogtokh ’21. The team began planning the event earlier this summer, when it became apparent that a virtual format would be necessary.

Admissions is working with partners across campus, including the Baldwin Center for Learning and Teaching, the Office of the Dean of Students, THRIVE and faculty to provide information about resources and support available on campus to Explore Bowdoin students. Student volunteers have also been involved, interviewing prospective students and connecting with them over Instagram and GroupMe.

“Our primary focus was making sure the students heard from as many viewpoints as possible about the sense of community that Bowdoin hopes to foster throughout our students, staff and faculty,” wrote Green, Gales and Su in a joint email to the Orient. “In other words, we relied on campus partners and current students to show up for our [Explore Bowdoin] students and really demonstrate the Bowdoin spirit.”

A new student-mentoring component was introduced to the program this year. Explore participants are divided into smaller groups run by admissions staff members, with the hope of establishing stronger connections between prospective students and current students. Care packages were also sent to participants, and there is an expanded two-week period for interviews and financial aid appointments.

Explore Bowdoin 1 occurred in mid-September, offering two to three hours of Zoom programming each night and introducing prospective students to different facets of Bowdoin life.

“It was so encouraging to see our students tuning in again and again for conversations with faculty and staff, and even late-night office hours with Explore Bowdoin staff and interns,” wrote Green, Gales and Su. “We were really thrilled that students were still able to make connections across the virtual space and continued to be excited and have a real sense of Bowdoin spirit.”

Explore Bowdoin 2 will take place next week, beginning each night at 9 p.m. EDT to accommodate different time zones. The programming will largely resemble Explore Bowdoin 1.

Other resources, such as live web chats as well as a virtual student hosting program, are also available to the students.

“Part of the silver lining for this fall has been unprecedented access to our team, through virtual interviews, tours or information sessions,” the organizers wrote. “We have offered specialty sessions about financial aid, athletics and the arts, as well as general sessions about writing in college applications and other more niche topics.”

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