A new Bowdoin-specific guidebook released by College Prowler and on display in the college bookstore has been drawing the attention of current and prospective students alike for its enlightening, though potentially controversial, student quotations.
Bowdoin College: Off the Record, a single volume in a series of 200 college-specific school profiles, was compiled and written by Derrick Wong '07 after he was approached by a College Prowler representative over the summer. After completing an application and interview process, Wong was selected to contact Bowdoin students from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds and races to gather honest and confidential opinions held by the student body.
"I sent out emails to students who I believed would be around a computer during the summer and could fill out the twenty-or-so question survey," said Wong. "I [also] approached students by using phone calls, instant messenger, and personal meetings. For a school of Bowdoin's size, the sampling population I gathered rivaled that of larger schools," Wong said.
Wong spent his last four weeks of summer vacation, plus the beginning of first semester, completing the research stage of his book. By exam period, editing was complete and the book had been marketed to high schools and bookstores nationwide.
College Prowler, which refuses investments from the schools being profiled in order to retain impartiality, was created by a group of recent Carnegie Melon University graduates to provide prospective students the honest insight into a school that cannot be grasped through a campus tour alone.
The book is organized into chapters, each starting with an editorial about a general topic written by Wong, followed by students' real thoughts, and ending with an overall grade expressing how the specific school rates in each area compared to other schools. With chapter topics branching beyond academics and housing to include such ratings as the overall attractiveness of the college's students, it's no wonder that current students are so interested.
One of the book's more controversial quotations reads, "Many girls that come in their freshman year are girls who were not used to much attention at their high schools, but now find themselves among the 'relatively' good-looking people on campus. They all get carried away with this new attention they are receiving."
Another student's opinion expresses the same frustration in the selection of attractive female students on campus. "The girls who attend are lucky at the choices they have for guys, but the guys don't get the same choice picking."
In the chapter's final rating, Bowdoin guys receive a score of A- while girls bring in a disappointing C+.
Such contentious topics, however, are foreshadowed by the warning on the bottom of the book's front cover. It reads, "The opinions expressed in this book have not been reviewed by the University."
Other topics in the book describe Bowdoin in a much more flattering light. The College earns an A for academics and an A+ for security.
"Through my experiences, I've found professors at Bowdoin to be very concerned with my progress in class," said one student.
In contrast, other students speak less highly of the school's faculty. "Some professors are too concerned with themselves. They can come across as arrogant rather than confident."
Wong acknowledges that some of the student remarks included in the book may be extreme, but the diverse inclusion of student opinions is what makes it unique from other guidebooks. "Some quotes may have been more controversial than others, but in every quotable section of the book, I am simply providing a voice to those who have something to say," he said.
Some of the opinions expressed in the book seem to house a negative connotation, but it is really up to the students to determine how much is exaggeration and how much is truth. In one of Wong's chapter editorials, he states, "When you step onto campus, you will think you stepped into an American Eagle and Abercrombie catalog, minus the naked people running around (unless during initiation)." It is this relaxed tone of the books that sets them apart from more mainstream guidebooks, such as the Princeton Review.
While some information in the book would prove useless to prospective students, it could be a haven of details important to the current Bowdoin student. For example, the book lists common Bowdoin slang ("the stacks", "SU"), the top places to find "hotties" at Bowdoin (off-campus parties, Ladd parties, and first-year dorms), and the top places to hook up (Senior Pub Night, the Union Street Christmas party, Crack House, and Hawthorne-Longfellow Library) to name a few.
Another aspect of the book that could prove useful to current students is the detailed descriptions of each on-campus housing option. Each dorm is listed with information on the building's number of floors and bathrooms, total occupancy, percentage of male/female students, and special features.
The information may not all be completely accurate, however, since the common room in Coleman?said to house couches, a television, and a VCR in the book?remains non-existent.
Wong, who receives royalties for his book, is excited to be a published author at 19 and a resource for prospective students. "Being published at such a young age is exciting, but the best thing about this book is that I have gotten to meet some amazing people at Bowdoin," he said.
Bowdoin College: Off the Record is available in the bookstore for $14.95.