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The College Catalogue

Admission – Overview

Each year the Admissions Committee at Bowdoin College evaluates applications for admission through its three application programs: Early Decision I, Early Decision II, and Regular Decision. The College strives to attract a diverse, multitalented, intellectually adventurous student body. In selecting the first-year class, the Committee pays close attention to a variety of factors; these include a student’s academic achievements, extracurricular involvements, and potential to contribute to the Bowdoin community.

Bowdoin requires all applicants to submit the Common Application and the Bowdoin supplement. The Common Application is available online and provides students a uniform framework to present their credentials.

While no single factor determines a candidate’s eligibility for admission, Bowdoin College is, first and foremost, an academic institution. Therefore, an applicant’s high school performance and the level of challenge represented by the coursework are of particular concern to the members of the Admissions Committee. Each applicant must make arrangements with the appropriate high school administrator to submit all official high school transcripts. The Admissions Committee strives to understand each student’s performance in the proper context and therefore requires high school administrators to submit a Secondary School Report (SSR) and a High School Profile. Doing so enables the Committee to properly interpret the information presented on the transcript(s). Ideally, the profile illuminates individual high school policies regarding issues such as weighting of grades, rank in class, Honors/AP/IB course offerings, etc. Comments from school officials on the SSR as well as letters of recommendation from two teachers who have taught the student in an academic core subject (core subjects include English, math, lab sciences, social sciences, and foreign languages) can also help the Admissions Office better understand a prospective student’s preparation for Bowdoin. Since 1969, the College has made the submission of standardized testing an optional part of the application. Prospective students may decide whether or not their individual test results will enhance their academic profile and application. Exceptions to the score optional policy include home-schooled students and students who attend high schools that do not issue grades. These applicants are required to submit results from either the ACT or the SAT and two SAT subject tests. The subject tests must include either Math Level 1 or Math Level 2 and a science test.

Because of the residential nature of the College, the strong emphasis on community values, and a core belief in collaboration and the open exchange of ideas both in and beyond the classroom, the Admissions Committee does not limit its assessment to a student’s transcript and testing. Students have the opportunity, through the personal statement and the supplement, to reveal the quality and depth of their thinking, their ability to communicate ideas in writing, and how they approach learning and the opportunity to interact with others. Students also detail the activities that have captured their interest, areas of accomplishment and recognition, and how they have focused their energies outside the classroom. When possible, applicants are encouraged to visit the campus for an interview or to meet with an alumni representative. On-campus interviews are available from late May until early December. Students who choose to interview with a Bowdoin alumnus or alumna must submit their requests before December 5, 2014.

All Early Decision and Regular Decision admissions decisions for US citizens and permanent residents are made under a “need blind” policy. Under this policy, an applicant’s financial resources are not a factor in determining whether or not the student will be admitted. While Bowdoin is committed to enrolling students from overseas, the College does observe a strict budget when supporting non-residents. Therefore, admission for non-US citizens may take a family’s financial resources into consideration. To be eligible for financial assistance, international students must apply for aid when submitting their application for admission. All students who anticipate needing financial aid are required to complete an aid application. See Financial Aid, below, for more details.

More information is available at bowdoin.edu/admissions/.


Online Catalogue content is current as of August 1, 2014. For most current course information, use the online course finder. Also see Addenda.