On Friday, April 10, the Joseph McKeen Center for the Common Good hosted Aspirations in Maine Day, a biannual tradition on campus. The event brings in high schoolers and teachers from around Maine to meet with students and professors and tour the College.

The day featured a variety of events for the visitors, starting with talks about getting ready for college and the admissions process. 

“We don’t expect them to come and know what the Common Application is or the [Federal Application for Federal Student Aid]  is, but we want to give them the background tools so that they can think about it through their high school years,” said event organizer Abby Roy ’16.

In addition to Roy, Assistant Director of the McKeen Center Nhi Nguyen was also central to the organizing process and made sure everything went smoothly. 

The visitors chose from a list of interests and went on a scavenger hunt around campus related to their choices. Bowdoin students acted as tour guides and scavenger hunt leaders. 

“It’s basically like a fun tour, an interesting tour, to have them get involved,” said Victor Leos ’16, one of the guides. “Because if it’s a regular tour you just mindlessly zombie-follow this one tour guide who’s giving you this cliché like, ‘This is the tower. It used to be the second tallest building in Maine.’ I’ve been on a Bowdoin tour and they’re okay. So this is an interesting way—especially for high schoolers”.

Volunteers also took the opportunity to share other extracurricular opportunities available in college. Later in the day, the visitors attended group discussions including a professor and a number of current college students from Maine who were able to answer general questions about college. 

Bowdoin students also played a dominant role in the day as volunteers. Maddie Bustamante ’17 described her motivations for involvement in the computer science section of the scavenger hunt.

“I am a firm believer in computer science and I think that everyone needs it,” she said. “I think this is a good way to show them that it’s really hands on and that there’s so much you can do with it.”

One major discussion throughout the day was centered around financial aid. According to Roy, one of the McKeen Center’s goals for the day was to “try to explain that the price of college is different from the sticker price, and that there are not only grants from the schools that you can go to, but there are also tons of local scholarships that you can apply for.” 

“It’s really changed my opinion—like the financial aid and the classes and the workload,” ninth-grader Maya Gerry said. “It’s really inspired me to change my time management and get on track so I can be prepared for college.”

The day concluded with a graduation ceremony for the visitors, who received certificates for their participation in the day. According to Roy, the certificates are meant to be “something for them to take home, show their parents and maybe start a conversation with their parents about the day and about college.”

“We’re trying to sell the idea of college and show them that even though they might be bored in high school or they may not think that they want to go to college, to encourage them to try to explore college differently and show them different things that they can do in college, and also kind of just kickstart their thinking,” said Roy.

Mt. Ararat High School teacher Bree Candland ’01 said that the event successfully exposed the visiting students to new possibilities.

“I think that probably the most useful thing was this panel discussion they have with some of the students from Maine because it sort of helps to say, ‘OK, so Bowdoin is a possibility,’” she said. “You know that they can go to college.”