For the second post in our College Types Interview Series, we’re looking at a private liberal arts college.
When students are creating their college lists for applications, one of the criteria we ask them to consider is the type of school that appeals to them. To provide more context, we’ve asked several of our tutors and consultants to share their own experiences at five different types of colleges.
Private liberal arts colleges can be found across the country in a variety of regions, from rural to urban. They typically offer smaller campuses and class sizes, emphasize teaching over research or publishing, and focus on undergraduate programs. All of this can add up to more individualized attention for students as well as greater access to professors.
Private liberal arts colleges also tend to cost more than, say, a large public university.
Keep in mind that the mention of any specific school in this series is not an endorsement by Signet.
Name: Lindsay W.
School Attended for Undergrad: Bowdoin College
Year of Graduation: 2015
Major (and minor if applicable): History (Major), English (Minor)
Thinking back to when you were applying to colleges....How did you hear about your school?
I first heard about Bowdoin because my mother had a friend whose older daughter would be attending the school. When it came time for me to apply to colleges, my college counselor recommended Bowdoin based on my interests and qualifications.
Did you take a college visit to your school?
Yes. When I visited the campus, I thought it was beautiful and that the students seemed happy. I also appreciated the delicious food and exceptional housing options.
What appealed to you about your school?
Growing up in San Francisco, I wanted to experience the adventure of moving to a new state to attend college. (Bowdoin is in Maine.) Having attended a small high school, I knew I thrived in that type of tight-knit community, so I thought a liberal arts school would be the best fit for me. I predicted I would be majoring in either history or English (which is what happened), and I was impressed by those departments at Bowdoin.
Once you were accepted, how did you decide to attend your school?
I knew Bowdoin was my first choice, so I immediately decided to attend after being accepted.
Thinking back to your college experience...What did you like about your school academically?
One special thing about Bowdoin is that 99.9% of students are very invested in their academic careers, yet it is not a competitive environment. Students in the same major or class are generally supportive of one another. Bowdoin professors are very enthusiastic about teaching, as well about the material they specialize in. Professors are great about holding office hours and providing students with extra help. I never felt like I was bothering a professor by asking questions. Finally, I loved that most Bowdoin classes are on the smaller side. This allows very fruitful group discussions and debates to take place, in addition to lecturing.
What did you like about your school socially or from an extracurricular perspective?
For a very small school, Bowdoin provides diverse extracurricular opportunities. There are intramural sports, several a cappella groups, an Outing Club, and almost anything else you can imagine. The school provides student organizations with plenty of funding, so there are always special events taking place on campus. Again, because Bowdoin is such a small school, it is easy to meet many different kinds of people during your first year. Of course, people develop their own groups of friends, but I felt I was able to move between different groups and meet new people regularly.
Was there anything you didn't like or would have done differently?
My experience at Bowdoin was fantastic! It's hard to think of anything I disliked. Occasionally people say there is some social division between athletes and non-athletes, but I personally didn't feel this was a big issue. Although I did not play sports myself in college, I had friends who did and knew athletes who were involved in many aspects of campus life.
How well did your school prepare you for what you went on to do after graduation?
Because Bowdoin is a liberal arts school, students aren't required to commit to a traditionally career-focused track or major. I have found this to be a positive thing, because it allows students to be exposed to many different subjects and ways of thinking before deciding on a career path. Many Bowdoin students go on to successful careers in government, law, medicine, finance, consulting, education, and more. Personally, as a teacher and tutor, I feel Bowdoin prepared me very well for my career. Although I was a history major (not an education major), Bowdoin taught me the communication and critical thinking skills that have allowed me to succeed in my career.
Is there anything else you want to add?
I honestly can't say enough good things about Bowdoin! I can't imagine having gone to college anywhere else.
Want to learn more about the college process? Check out Signet's Guide to College Admissions.