The College House System


« previous tour stop   |   introduction   |   

Quick Facts

Most of the College Houses are former Bowdoin fraternity houses.


Residential Life

The College Houses

Every Bowdoin student is assigned to a College House,” explains Kim Pacelli '98, director of residential life, “so every student has a club, a social space, a place to hang out and relax, from day one. The College Houses serve, in a sense, as Bowdoin’s living rooms.”

The unique nature of Bowdoin’s College House system merits a brief explanation. As a first-year student, you will be assigned to live in a traditional residence hall, but each residence hall is affiliated with one of the College Houses: Baxter, Burnett, Helmreich, Howell, Ladd, MacMillan, Quinby, and Reed.

What does it mean to be affiliated with a College House? During your first year, it means that you will have a built-in cadre of friendly supporters, sage sounding boards: the upperclass students living in your College House. You’ll even be assigned a “buddy” from your house to assist you and your roommates with the transition to college. (At MacMillan, they’re termed MacBuddies.) You’ll also benefit from the full schedule of events and activities sponsored by each house, such as pizza parties, poetry readings, community service activities, faculty dinners, concerts, dances, and field trips to Portland and Boston. “In any given week, the houses sponsor three to four events,” says Pacelli, “some just for house members, others opened up to the entire Bowdoin community.”

Who actually lives in the College Houses? About twenty-five upperclass students, chosen through a competitive process that entails an application and an interview, live in each College House. Moreover, up to four people can apply as a group to live in a house, even if not all members are affiliated with that house.

The College Houses serve as leadership labs and teamwork training grounds as well as living rooms. Each house elects officers, but all students help decide how to spend the $7,000 allocated to each house every year. So, if you choose to get involved, you could find yourself dealing with dining service or buildings and grounds. You might hire a musical group, charter a bus, or even accompany a visiting speaker around campus.

Because all houses are inclusive and diverse, they permit no easy stereotyping. That said, houses develop their own sense of spirit and pride. It all depends on the interests and initiative of the students.

And that’s the point: you can be extremely active in your College House or you may prefer to draw your social sustenance from other outlets such as an athletic team, The Bowdoin Orient, a singing group, or the Outing Club. The door of your house is

« previous tour stop   |   introduction   |