Maine College Road Trip: Bowdoin, Bates and Colby
The three Maine liberal arts colleges might seem similar at a glance but there are key differences. Here is an overview:
Bright, engaged students who are looking for a more personal, interdisciplinary education on an active campus should check out Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. A little over two-hour drive from Boston, the campus is accessible by Amtrak and is just 25 minutes outside of Portland. If you think “rural” when you think of Maine, you might be surprised by how much the town of Brunswick offers with over 60 eateries, including a restaurant boasting a Food and Wine best new chef, and two independent movie theaters.
The Schiller Coastal Studies Center, a 118-acre coastal farm is located on nearby Orr’s Island and provides a variety of habitats for teaching and research opportunities, two research vessels and lab space. Bowdoin’s biological station on Kent Island, just south of the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick, Canada, also provides summer research opportunities with stipends for Bowdoin students. The Roux Center for the Environment has just opened, bringing together environmental, earth, geographic sciences with history education, and digital computation to offer an interdisciplinary education. Professor Matthew Kringle is leading students in researching how diabetes is impacted by society’s changing relationship with nature and social inequality.
Bates College is a liberal arts college in the small city of Lewiston, Maine about 45 minutes north of Portland. With just under 1800 undergraduates, students receive a very personalized education and truly get to know their professors. What makes Bates different from other New England liberal arts colleges?
Embracing diversity since the beginning. Bates was founded in 1855 by abolitionists and has always been open to women and students of color. Martin Luther King Day is a “Day On” at Bates with classes cancelled but enriching workshops and experiences offered for all. Lewiston is home to many Somali refugees with 26 languages spoken in their high school. Bates students are very much engaged in the Lewiston community.
The flexible general education requirements allow for many students to double major, minor or add General Education Concentrations (GEC’s). Students must participate in three Writing required courses: a freshman writing seminar (professor is also your freshman advisor), a course within the major(s), and the required senior thesis. Most popular majors include: politics, economics, psychology and environmental studies. There is a new interdisciplinary digital and computational studies program.
Colby is the farthest north of Maine’s esteemed liberal arts colleges, and that location has been influential in forming its friendly and outdoorsy student body. From their first experience with COOT, the Colby Outdoor Orientation Trip, new students form connections while biking, hiking or serving the community, and create a lasting COOT family before even reaching campus.
Situated high atop Mayflower Hill, Colby’s campus is classic New England in style, with continuous updates. The Colby College Museum of Art was recently modernized using a $100 million alumni gift to establish the Lunder Institute for American Art. Students and professors use this resource to create interdisciplinary connections between art and many other subjects, such as an installation depicting the impact of climate change that complements the college’s strong environmental studies program.
Academically, Colby’s strongest programs are considered to be biology, chemistry, economics, psychology, environmental studies and computer science. It pioneered the 4-1-4 schedule, or “Jan plan,” in which students can pursue something unique during January, such as taking a short course, studying abroad, or doing an internship. Colby has been highly rated for having accessible professors, and over 95 percent of students surveyed said they have a professor who cared for and supported them every day while at Colby.