The results are in! The Orient conducted its fourth annual First Year Student Survey (FYSS) for the newest Polar Bears earlier this month.
The survey received 203 responses, representing approximately 40 percent of the Class of 2027.
The Class of 2027 arrives at the College from a diverse range of high school backgrounds. A majority of respondents, 53 percent, attended traditional non-magnet, non-charter public high schools, while 30 percent attended non-parochial private schools.
Nine percent of respondents attended public magnet or charter schools and another nine percent attended private parochial schools. In total, 61 percent of the Class of 2027 attended a public school, and 39 percent attended a private school.
Compared to FYSS data from the Class of 2026, both classes had similar numbers of respondents who attended a non-magnet, non-charter public high school.
Additionally, 58 percent of the incoming class classifies their home environment as suburban. Respondents from urban environments comprise 27 percent of the class, while 15 percent of students in the first-year class are from rural areas.
With the College’s decision to extend need-blind admissions to international students in July 2022, students in the Class of 2027 were the first to experience an admissions cycle where the ability to pay was not considered for both domestic and international applicants.
Although Bowdoin does not use loans to calculate financial aid awards, students may choose to take out loans to meet the total cost of their education. In the Class of 2027, only 18 percent of respondents intend to take out loans during their time at Bowdoin. This is a significant departure from Class of 2022 data indicating that 40 percent of students made a similar choice five years ago.
Around 15 percent of respondents reported having a relative who attended Bowdoin. Equal percentages (five percent each) of respondents have a sibling or one or more parent(s) who attended the College. Within the Class of 2022, 19 percent of respondents reported having a relative who attended Bowdoin. However, the percentage of students with one or more parent(s) who attended Bowdoin dropped from nine percent in the Class of 2022 to five percent in the Class of 2027. The number of students with siblings who attended the College has largely hovered between four and five percent since 2018.
Academics, Extracurriculars and Careers
The percentage of respondents who said they have cheated on an exam or assignment dropped from 31 to 29 percent this year.
The most popular anticipated major was Government and Legal Studies, with 11 percent of respondents saying they planned to major in it, followed by 10 percent of respondents saying they were unsure. The third most popular response was Biology at nine percent.
When asked about their anticipated career field, 28 percent of respondents said they were unsure. The second most popular response was healthcare at 16 percent.
The percentage of respondents who said they plan to have a job while on campus was 78 percent for the Class of 2027, similar to the 79 percent of respondents who planned to get a job while on campus from the Class of 2026.
First-year students who responded to the survey were largely unconcerned about Covid-19, with an average concern level of just 2.99 on a scale from one (not at all concerned) to seven (very concerned).
Students were more concerned about how Covid impacted their academic and social development. For most of these students, the pandemic began in the second semester of their ninth-grade year.
Sixty-four percent of students felt Covid impacted their academics “severely” or “a moderate amount.” Of those 64 percent, 32 percent of those students were “concerned” or “very concerned” about the impact of Covid on their academic transition to Bowdoin.
Students had varying opinions on how remote learning impacted their education, specifically in science courses. Chemistry posed particular difficulty for students.
“I’m not sure if I have retained enough information from Zoom chemistry class,” one respondent wrote.
Another student shared a similar experience.
“Online learning and isolation, through hybrid learning, impacted my accurate retention and learning of classes like chemistry,” they explained.
47 percent of students felt Covid impacted their social development “severely” or “a moderate amount.” However, of those students, 33 percent were “concerned” or “very concerned” about the impact of Covid on their social transition to Bowdoin, a slightly larger proportion than for academics.
One student explained that despite negative impacts to their academic progress, there were other benefits to pandemic-induced social changes. Another student decided to seek opportunities both despite and because of the pandemic.
“While my academics suffered from the teacher shortage after Covid-19, I became closer with the group of people I was on the same hybrid schedule with; as well as tried new sports and activities with the sense of carpe diem I was left with,” they wrote.
Some students took more distinctly positive or negative views.
“Having a year and a half on remote learning feels like it has left a ‘hole’ in my high school education,” one student explained. “For example, in our science classes, we were unable to learn how to do lab experiments.”
In contrast, another student was more positive, explaining that remote learning reduced stress.
“Distance learning allowed me to be more relaxed with my academics … [and] did not hurt my social skills or relationships,” they wrote.
Beliefs and Lifestyles
Respondents were asked about their social media usage, as well as drug and alcohol consumption. On average, respondents reported spending two hours on social media apps per day. More specifically, 57 percent of respondents spend between two and three hours on social media daily. These figures roughly mirror those for the Class of 2026.
Instagram was the most popular social media platform, with 96 percent of respondents using it, followed by Snapchat used by 64 percent of respondents. The least popular social media applications were Facebook and Threads, used by 11 percent and five percent, respectively. YikYak competitor Fizz gained marginal success with the first-year class, with roughly a quarter of respondents saying they used the app.
Concerning substance use, 64 percent of respondents said they had consumed alcohol before coming to Bowdoin, and 33 percent reported having previously used marijuana. Compared to the Class of 2026, respondents’ consumption of alcohol and marijuana decreased by nine percent and five percent, respectively.
Twelve percent of respondents reported smoking cigarettes and 13 percent used vapes before coming to the College. Five percent of respondents reported using psychedelics. Only 10 percent of respondents said they have a fake ID, compared to 17 percent in the Class of 2026. Additionally, 32 percent of respondents this year reported being in substance-free housing, while only 16 percent of respondents from the Class of 2026 reported living in substance-free housing.
Despite being on campus for just one month, 61 percent of respondents prefer Thorne Hall to Moulton Union, the same percentage of respondents as in 2022.
The percentage of respondents who knew how to pronounce Bowdoin before they heard it aloud rose from 40 percent to 43 percent this year. However, compared to the Class of 2022, this represents a 24 percentage-point decrease in the number of students who could pronounce Bowdoin.
Just 27 percent reported that their peers, family, friends or teachers knew how to pronounce Bowdoin before they heard it aloud.
Respondents were asked to rank the following priorities for themselves at Bowdoin: Academics, Social Life, Extracurriculars, Athletics, Career Prospects and Mental Health and Wellbeing.
The order of these six priorities from highest to lowest in terms of average ranking was Academics, Mental Health and Wellbeing, Social Life, Career Prospects, Extracurriculars and Athletics.
Notably, no respondents ranked Academics lower than fourth, and no respondents ranked Extracurriculars first.
On a final, lighter note, 19 percent of respondents currently own or plan to own Blundstone boots. Compared to the Class of 2026, this year’s incoming class is more defiant against Blundstone ownership, with an eight percentage-point increase in respondents who do not plan to purchase the boots.
Ari Bersch, Janet Briggs, Andrew Cohen, Nikki Harris and Shihab Moral contributed to this report.