The College received a total of 9,309 applications for the Class of 2025, a slight decrease from the 9,402 applications submitted last year for the Class of 2024.
This decrease in overall applications is due to a lower-than-usual number of early decision I (ED I) applicants, despite early decision II (ED II) and regular decision application numbers being higher than those for previous years.
Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Whitney Soule attributed this decline to peer institutions adopting test-optional admissions policies due to the pandemic. Bowdoin has been test-optional since 1969.
“We are noticing that our competitive peers who have become test-optional this year due to the pandemic are seeing increases in applications, while schools that have been test-optional prior to the pandemic are not seeing those increases,” Soule wrote in an email to the Orient. “While Bowdoin has been recognized for introducing test-optional admissions in 1969 and been a high-profile advocate ever since, the test-optional space for the most selective schools is crowded this year.”
With a complete ban on prospective student visits to campus due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Office of Admissions has drastically changed its recruitment and outreach strategies. In April, Bowdoin embraced the virtual sphere head-on: filmed tours, virtual information sessions and virtual high school visits were just some of the actions the Office of Admissions took. In August the College teamed up with Amherst, Carleton, Pomona, Swarthmore and Williams to create the Six Colleges—a virtual platform for recruitment programming.
ED I and ED II decisions were released in mid-December and early February, respectively, and the Questbridge Match process admitted 30 students in early December. Regular decision applicants will hear back from the College in late March.
“This is such a strange year for students to be completing their college searching in a completely virtual space and amidst so much disruption and distress in our world,” Soule said. “They are showing us curiosity, resilience, motivation and courage as they remain committed to their academic work, their families, their communities and finding ways of making a difference. It’s been a remarkable experience to read their applications this year.”