Location: Bowdoin / Orientation and First Year Programming / FAQ

Orientation and First Year Programming

Frequently Asked Questions

The following information is designed to provide incoming first-year, transfer, and exchange students with a quick reference source to answer the big questions about arriving on the Bowdoin College campus. You will receive an informational packet in mid-May. You may also email orientation@bowdoin.edu for questions you may have in the spring semester of 2014.

For other questions and assistance, please contact Michael Wood, Associate Director of First-Year Programs at (207) 798-4190 or mwood@bowdoin.edu.

Getting Here

When do I need to be on campus?

For directions and general information, you'll find help Traveling to Campus here. It can also be found on the Orientation home page.

Orientation trips

All students should plan to arrive on campus by 4:00 pm (but no earlier than 9:00 am) on Tuesday, August 26, 2014. There will be a Welcome Tent on South Campus Drive. Orientation Trip leaders and other helpful student staff will direct you to your dorms. Residential Life staff will be present to help you carry your belongings to your residence hall. Once you and all your roommates have arrived, you can start to set up your space. You will not be able to get into your dorm after 4:00 pm, so please have everything packed for your trip beforehand. Dorms will remain locked and closed while you are on your trips.  

Throughout the day on August 26th there will be optional programming for students and parents. By 4:00 pm, you will say your goodbyes and head to Farley Field House to prepare for your trip. 

The night of August 26th, all students will eat dinner, play games and camp out in the Field House! Orientation trips leave from the Field House the following morning, Wednesday, August 27th and will return Saturday, August 31st.  

On campus Orientation programs start on Saturday, August 31st. This programming is for incoming students only, and there are no events planned for family members.

When does Orientation start?

Orientation Trips go out Wednesday, August 27th and return Saturday, August 31st. Bowdoin Orientation begins Saturday, August 31st. Don't worry about the details; we have a great program planned for you! Orientation schedules will be provided to you when you arrive. The first Orientation event for new students begins at 5:15 pm on Saturday when the President of the College, Barry Mills, officially welcomes you to Bowdoin College.

What if I get to campus before arrival day?/Where should my parents or guardians stay?

Students are not allowed in the dorms before Arrival Day (Tuesday, August 26th, 2014). If you arrive in Brunswick before Tuesday you can stay in one of the several accomodation options listed below.

There are multiple hotels, motels, and bed & breakfasts in Brunswick and the mid-coast region. View some of the local accomodations.

How should I ship my belongings?

Three services—United Parcel Service, Federal Express, and the United States Postal Service—are available for shipping belongings to campus. The address you must use is:

Student Name
Bowdoin College
###Smith Union
Brunswick, ME 04011

The College Mail Center will hold your package and notify you when it has arrived. The Mail Center will accept packages no earlier than Wednesday, August 21, 2013. You can claim your package at the Mail Center window in Smith Union when you arrive. Your exact Smith Union address will be included in the July mailing.

Will there be a shuttle from the Airport/Bus Station to Bowdoin?

Yes, there will be a Bowdoin shuttle going all day on Arrival Day (Tuesday, August 26th, 2014) from the Portland Airport/Portland Bus Station to Bowdoin College.

Life at Bowdoin

What is weather like in Maine?

Weather in Brunswick varies greatly. It can be very warm at the beginning of the academic year, but nighttime temperatures may drop below zero by the end of the first semester. Expect some rain in the fall and spring and snow in the winter. You will also find plenty of very sunny and warm days. The best advice is to pack for any and all situations. Mud or rainboots and a good winter coat are strongly recommended! Warm wool socks, too!

What is there to do for fun?

On Campus

Most students do not feel the need to leave campus due to all of the entertainment Bowdoin provides! During the weekends, Bowdoin has a cappella concerts, movies, student plays, and a variety of sporting events. On Thursday nights there are often bands or performance at the pub. There are also many organizations on campus that host events during the year.

Off Campus

The Outing Club offers all kinds of outdoor trips throughout the year for students who want to get off campus and see the great state of Maine. There are great beaches within 30 minutes of Bowdoin as well as places to hike, sea kayak, surf, and swim.

Movies, bowling, bookstores, pool halls, arcades, video stores, and bars are all available in Brunswick. Portland, which is just 30 minutes away, has dance, theater, music, and movies, in addition to restaurants. Portland is also home to three professional sports teams: the Portland Seadogs (baseball), the Red Claws (basketball) and the Portland Pirates (hockey).

What is the food like at Bowdoin?

Students and staff rave about the food at Bowdoin College! Princeton Review has ranked Bowdoin #1 in the country.  In the Princeton Review "Best 361 Colleges" Bowdoin's Dining Service has consistently been ranked #1 or #2 over the past seven years, garnering the top spot in 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2012! Bowdoin's chefs use local ingredients whenever possible and the college tends its own organic garden near campus. Bowdoin also scored an 'A' on our sustainability practices based on environmental choices.  

Students may eat in the Moulton Union and Thorne Dining Halls. First-Year students are required to have a full board plan, providing 19 meals per week. Students also may use "Polar Points" at Jack Magee's grill, which provides short-order food. Bowdoin's Cafe and on-campus Convenience Store are two other venues where food, beverages, and necessities can be purchased. In downtown Brunswick there are a variety of reasonably-priced, quality dining establishments, including Chinese, Indian, Italian, Mexican, Thai, seafood, pizza, and fast food. Some of the tastiest food establishments downtown Brunswick accept Bowdoin OneCard as well!

For other groceries, Hannafords, our local super-market, is a 5-minute walk from campus, and Morning Glory, a natural food market, is a 10 minute walk down Maine Street.

What if I have special dietary needs?

Should you have special dietary issues, you’ll find our staff concerned and accommodating.  If you have a food-related medical condition, please email Dining Director, Mary Lou Kennedy, M.A., R.D. or call (207) 725-3067 to make an appointment. Bowdoin Dining Service will work directly with you to assist you in making menu selections and making sure that we have any unusual products or ingredients available if necessary.

Living on Campus

How many roommates will I have?

All first-years will be randomly assigned to have either one, two, three or rarely, four roommates. In doubles and triples, students will share a bedroom and common room. Quads and quints will have two bedrooms and one common room. Some of the most significant relationships you will develop during your first year at Bowdoin will be with your roommates. You will share a space in which you will study, sleep, and socialize. The success of this living experience will depend largely on each person's ability to compromise and share, and to be honest, open, and understanding. It is something at which we must all work. You will find your roommates' addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses on the Residence Hall Assignment Sheet included in your July mailing. We encourage you to write or call one another, introduce yourselves, and make plans for bringing items that we encourage to be shared (i.e., microwave, rug, refrigerator, TV, etc.).

Where can I go shopping?

Topsham is a great place for all of your dorm needs. Topsham is a 20 minute bike ride or a 5 minute drive from campus. It has stores like Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Reny's.

For more extensive shopping, Freeport is a 15 minute drive from Bowdoin. Freeport is home to the L.L. Bean Flagship Store and Outlet along with many other outlets such as J. Crew, North Face, Patagonia, and Banana Republic.

The Maine Mall is a 30 minute drive from Bowdoin, located in South Portland.

Also, Amazon.com Prime offers a student membership.

Are there co-ed bathrooms?

There are no co-ed bathrooms, although all dorms are co-ed. There are gender-neutral bathrooms in several locations on campus.

May I have guests in my room?

Guests are welcome in student residences for a period of up to three consecutive days. Any actions that infringe on the rights of other Bowdoin students, as those rights related to the expected and normal use of a residence, are unacceptable under any circumstances. Roommates or other residents shall not be deprived of accommodations. Guests and their student hosts will be subject to disciplinary action for failure to abide by this or any other college regulation. You are responsible for the behavior of your guests while they are on campus.

What should I pack?

It is better to pack a number of small boxes and suitcases rather than a few large ones. You may want to bring the following items or coordinate with your roommates to see what they are bringing. Below are some suggestions of what to pack:

•Informational mailings received from Bowdoin (brochures, paperwork, etc.)
•Bedding: Comforter, extra blankets, bed sheets, mattress cover, pillow
•Seasonal clothing (heavy coat, hat, boots, gloves, and rain gear)
•Hangers
•Towels
•Laundry bag/basket and detergent
•Toiletries
•Pictures, posters and other decorative items
•Stereo equipment
•Iron
•Computer
•Broom or 'Swiffer'
•Sports equipment
•Possibly a refrigerator (no larger than four cubic feet) and microwave oven

  • Please read Coordinator for Sustainable Bowdoin Keisha Payson's letter regarding the usage of mini-fridges here
  • We strongly encourage roommates to share refrigerators and bring only EnergyStar rated appliances.
    For information about renting a MicroFridge to be delivered to your residence hall room visit www.universitylogistics.com.
    Questions? Contact University Logistics Customer Service at (800)-525-7307 and ask for Sarah Mercuri 

•1-3 alarm clocks depending on how soundly you sleep!

Do NOT bring the following:

•Hot plate or other appliances with an open coil or burner
•Pets (yes, fish are pets)
•Firearms/weapons
•Incandescent lightbulbs, candles or incense (Fluorescent lightbulbs will be provided for FREE! by Sustainable Bowdoin when you arrive on campus)
Trash can (every room comes with a trash can and recycle bin)
•Anything else that could be harmful to you or others

May I have a car on campus?

No. First-Year students are not permitted to have their own car on campus. There are, however, several environmentally friendly modes of transportation offered to Bowdoin students. 

Bowdoin has partnered with Zipcar, North America's largest car-sharing service, to offer a cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative to the challenges of having a car on campus. A special website allows members of the Bowdoin community and residents of the Town of Brunswick to join the Zipcar program.

Bowdoin also has a student run program called the Yellow Bike Club (YBC) which, for a small fee, provides a key to all "Yellow Bikes" on campus.

Other transportation options are explained here.

Please read Dean Lohmann's letter.

Where can I do laundry?

All first-year residence halls have laundry facilities. The cost is $3.40 to wash and dry one load of laundry. In the comfort of your room or at any computer, you can view when washer and drying machines are available through a website called LaundryView. You can leave your quarters at home, as you will use your Bowdoin OneCard to pay for laundry. Make sure you get a crash course before leaving home! The college has no contracted services with local laundry businesses.

What size sheets should I buy?

All the beds at Bowdoin are "dorm size, extra long" (36" x 80"), although twin sheets do fit the beds nicely.

Where do I get my mail?

In the July mailer from the Dean's Office you will receive a letter from the Mail Center on campus with information about your mailing address. You will share your mailbox, located in David Saul Smith Union, with one other Bowdoin student. The Bowdoin Mail Center will be open for extended hours on both arrival days to allow you to receive any packages. Mail coming to you should be addressed as follows:

Student Name
Bowdoin College
### Smith Union
Brunswick, ME 04011

Does the College provide health services?

Yes. The Health Center, centrally located on campus in the Peter S. Buck Center is open throughout the week, and their hours can be found on their website. If you need help during vacation or after hours, the Midcoast Walk-in Clinic is a 5 minute walk from campus. In addition, the Midcoast and Parkview Hospitals are both minutes drive from campus. In case of emergencies, College Security will drive students to an emergency room. Students are not expected to transport themselves in emergency situations.

Does the College provide network services and e-mail?

Yes, the college provides a high speed network that is accessible in dorms, public areas and libraries. Wireless access points are available across almost all locations on campus. Each student is assigned an email account. This email account will be provided in your May informational packet. First-Year students are encouraged to access their email accounts early in the summer prior to their arrival and check them frequently for valuable and timely information.

Computer labs are located in Searles Hall, Coles Tower, Hawthorne-Longfellow Library and Kanbar Hall. If you have information technology questions before Orientation, you can consult Bowdoin's IT website.

What about telephone calls?

Each student has their own individual, private telephone number that they will keep during their time at the College. Each residence room has a telephone. The College provides local phone service. Direct-dial long distance service (through STC) and voice-mail services are available through the College. Information will be provided by the Telecommunications Office, at (207)725-3966, during Orientation and is also available on the IT Telecom website.

What about insurance?

Questions about student Health insurance can be directed to Leslie Nuccio, the Student Health Insurance Coordinator, at (207) 798-4284. Bowdoin requires all students to be enrolled in a health insurance plan while attending the College. You may either choose to purchase Bowdoin's Student Accident and Sickness Insurance Plan or rely on your own coverage, if comparable. All students will be automatically enrolled in Bowdoin's plan and charged the plan's premium unless you go online to waive coverage. Details of the plan and instructions for waiving were mailed to all students at the end of May. The deadline for waiving coverage in Bowdoin's Student Accident and Sickness Insurance Plan is August 8th.

An optional 'Accident Only' Insurance Policy is also available to varsity athletes who have family health insurance. Please refer to the mailings you receive this summer for this option. 

The College is not responsible for the loss of, theft of, or damage to personal property by fire or other causes.  Students and families who wish to insure student belongings should consider insurance offered by Gallagher Koster.  For more information regarding personal property coverage please visit https://www.gallagherkoster.com/students/student-personal-property/.

Where can I bank?

You can find a listing of all local banks by searching the category "Banks/Financial Institutions & Services." The ATMs on campus are provided by Bank of America and Midcoast Credit Union. Branch offices of Androscoggin Bank and Bank of America are a short walk downtown. A TDBank is located inside the local Hannaford Supermarket, also a short walk, and has extended hours.

Where can I get my hair done and buy hair products?

There are several hair salons in Brunswick, including Pura Vida, Starz and The Looking Glass on Maine Street. Mainely Hair is in Freeport, just south of Brunswick. A few students on campus do hair as well. If you need your hair done, ask around.

For products, there are local shops on Maine Street in Brunswick, Sally's Beauty Supply in the Topsham Fair Mall, not too far from the school, and several outlet stores in Freeport. Some students purchase beauty supplies online. Some good websites include www.butters-n-bars.com, an inexpensive site to order Shea butter, oils and natural bath & body products; www.hairsisters.com , a site for ordering hair supplies and hair extensions; and www.carolsdaughter.com has hair and body products.

Academic and Campus Resources

What about class registration and placement exams?

You will register for classes during Orientation. You will meet with your academic advisor in a small group setting and again in two separate one-on-one sessions. During the first one-on-one meeting, you will select a First-Year Seminar; during the second meeting, you will discuss and choose three other classes for the Fall 2014 semester.

Prior to selecting classes, you will attend a Faculty Panel and Academic Fair where you'll have the chance to talk with faculty members in various departments. Information will be provided to you by your Proctor and will be in your Orientation Schedule. If you want to place out of intro-level classes in some sciences and foreign languages or music theory, you will have to take placement examinations during the summer with in-person consultations during Orientation. All placement exams will be available online on our Blackboard website. Information about taking placement exams will be sent in your June mailing and is available on the Orientation website.

When do classes start?

Classes begin on Thursday, September 4th, at 8:30 a.m. You will have a number of opportunities throughout Orientation to talk with students, faculty, staff and your advisor about course selection.

Who is my advisor and how is she/he assigned?

The Office of the Dean of Student Affairs will match first-years to pre-major academic advisors according to students' academic interests conveyed in the Academic Advising Questionnaire. Incoming students will fill out and return this form in early summer. During Orientation, first-years will learn which to whom advisor they were assigned and meet with their advisor with a small group of other first-years as well as in one-on-one meetings.  This is not a time to be shy! Get to know your pre-academic advisor and let him/her get to know you. Ask questions!

If you are a transfer student, your upper-class dean will help you navigate course registration for your first semester and also provide you with some potential options of professors who might be a good match for you as an advisor in the future.

What do Deans do?

Deans are wonderful resources for you if you have any questions about your academics or extracurriculars at Bowdoin, and they truly want to get to know you. If you are ever unsure of whom to go to with a specific concern, the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs is a great place to stop by to ask. You can make an appointment with your dean by calling 207-725-3149, by contacting them online, or by just dropping in for a visit on the second floor of Moulton Union. In addition to serving as the primary advocates for individual students, the dean staff also orchestrates a number of specific programs, systems, and services, including the following:

  • Pre-major academic advising
  • Accommodations for students with disabilities
  • Community standards and the Judicial Board process
  • Crisis intervention and response
  • Emergency student loans
  • International student advising
  • Multicultural student support
  • Orientation, First-Year Programming, and the Sophomore Series
  • Transfer and exchange student advising

What do Proctors do?

One of the first people you will meet when you arrive at Bowdoin will be your Proctor, who will be with you throughout Orientation and your first year of college. Proctors are upper-class students carefully chosen and trained to serve as advisors and administrators for the First-Year Residence Halls. There is one Proctor who lives on each floor of the First-Year Residence Halls to help first-years throughout the year. There is also one RA (Resident Assistant, who lives in upperclassmen housing) assigned to each first-year floor. Think of them as your guides to Bowdoin College. They can answer many of your questions about academic, residential, and extracurricular concerns. They will assist you in every way possible in adjusting to Bowdoin life.

How can I get a job?

Many Bowdoin students engage in jobs on campus, and most find that it enriches their College experience, helps them to manage their time, and provides an important source of income for expenses. There are two ways to get a job on campus through the Student Employment Office (SEO). Through the First-Year Job Placement Program (FYJPP), the SEO can match you with a fall semester, part-time, on-campus job before you arrive on campus. No searching through job listings, filling out multiple applications, or interviewing is required. Or you can browse and apply for jobs directly through the SEO website: http://www.bowdoin.edu/seo. The deadline for the FYJPP is July 17th. Students can start working after Orientation. Visit the SEO website, contact seo@bowdoin.edu, or call 207-725-3386 for more information. Be sure to bring with you to campus appropriate original documentation to complete your mandatory Federal and State employment paperwork. Typically, students provide a passport, an original or government certified copy of a birth certificate, or original Social Security card to complete the I-9. (Note: Expired documents, copies, or faxes cannot be accepted. Full details can be found on our website.) You will not be allowed to work without completing your employment forms through the SEO. Follow us: facebook.com/bowdoin.sao.seo or at twitter.com/bowdoinseo.

Read the On-Campus Employment Letter here.