How To Write the Bowdoin College Supplement

Bowdoin College is a small liberal arts school in Brunswick, ME of about 1,800 undergraduate students. In addition to its location (truly in the middle of nowhere of gorgeous [albeit cold] Maine), Bowdoin has a number of unique offerings including the main pillars of the college, which are addressed in question 2. Their supplement contains three parts, all of which we break down for you below.

1. How did you first learn about Bowdoin? (limit 140 characters)

This answer is so short that in reality, it doesn’t really matter what you write. We promise. We’re not tricking you. It’s 140 characters—a tweet—so it’s truly too short to get super creative. In reality, this question is for Bowdoin’s marketing purposes. Bowdoin wants to know which of their marketing channels work. Keep it honest and short—perhaps you learned about it from a family member, a friend, your college counselor, you name it. Hold onto the creativity for the next question.

2. In an effort to understand your interests and aspirations for college, we ask you to select one of the three topics below and provide a response of up to 250 words.

Bowdoin students and alumni often cite world-class faculty and opportunities for intellectual engagement, the College’s commitment to the Common Good, and the special quality of life on the coast of Maine as important aspects of the Bowdoin experience.

Reflecting on your own interests and experiences, please select and respond to one of the following topics:
Intellectual Engagement
The Common Good
Connection to Place

This question works as a version of the “Why X School?” question, but the way that Bowdoin has framed it is entirely to your benefit. The question is framed such that Bowdoin is telling you the three aspects of the college that they find unique and interesting. They are showing you their values and asking you to relate to them. It’s easier in a lot of ways because they are focusing your answer, but challenging for the same reason. You really need to nail this response. This isn’t the time to talk about a unique reason why you want to go there, as much as it is an opportunity to discuss which value makes Bowdoin a great fit for you. You should choose a topic that inspires you to tell a story about yourself that can be related back to one of these concepts. But fear not (ok, fear a little): by choosing any of these three themes to elaborate on, you’re setting yourself up for success—as long as you choose the right topic for you. Let’s go through each of them.

Intellectual Engagement
If you are a very focused student academically and are sure of what you want to study, this one is for you. It’s the academic portion of the “Why X School?” response, and it’s your time to shine. Discuss your intellectual interests and what draws you to study those things at Bowdoin in particular. Gush about the classes you want to take and the professors you want to take them with. Elaborate on research projects you hope to dive into. Go forth and profess your love for academia.

The Common Good
This topic is great for students who are deeply invested in contributing to their school community or are connected to community service-driven projects in their area. This is a chance to talk about what you have accomplished and what your goals are, as well as how (and WHY) you plan to accomplish them at Bowdoin specifically. Every college has community service opportunities. Why do you want to contribute to the Brunswick community? The Maine community? What does that mean for your particular goals? What does the proliferation of benevolent behavior mean the Bowdoin community? Be sure to tie in your historic contributions to what you perceive as the common good as well as your future plans at Bowdoin and beyond.

Connection to Place
The idea of “connection to place” can be interpreted relatively liberally, and you can get a bit more creative. Your connection to place could span your connection to your home, and perhaps incorporate the appeal of going to school in Maine or the extension of your perception of home. While this is the prompt with the biggest area for creativity, you need to make sure that there is evidence to support your claim. How will you make your mark on Bowdoin as a place? Why is that connection important and what drew you to Bowdoin so much so that you want to attend the college and spend 4 years in this place? Tell that story, and explore it in a way such that your admissions reader is struck by your dedication to make an impact.

3. If there is additional information you feel will support your application, you are welcome to include it here.

We have advised students to think of this as a space for creative writing, or something that isn’t present in your application or the additional information section that you want to share. Perhaps there is something that is particularly niche that didn’t quite belong in the additional information section but that would be relevant here. Did you hike ¼ of the Appalachian Trail last summer? Did you spend every summer in southern Maine growing up? Think about if there’s something that Bowdoin in particular should know about you when they’re evaluating your application. If there’s not anything that you can think of (it’s totally fine) then we suggest sharing a piece of creative writing that you’re a) particularly proud of and b) that shows a passion of yours or a side that isn’t clear when you read through the rest of your application. Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions about what pieces may or may not be appropriate to submit here.

The college application process is intense. Let us know if you have any questions or concerns. We’d be happy to answer them for Bowdoin, or any other college you might want to chat about.