Bowdoin Supplemental Essays
Widely considered one of the best liberal arts schools, Bowdoin College has a rigorous admissions process. However, well-written Bowdoin supplemental essays can help your application stand out. The Bowdoin essays help the Bowdoin admissions officers gain a better understanding of you as an applicant. They also supplement your resume and experience. Additionally, the Bowdoin essay prompts allow for introspection and can help you detail exactly why you’d be a great fit for Bowdoin’s campus.
The Bowdoin supplemental essays are a great opportunity to communicate your unique personality to the admissions team. So, it’s important to take them seriously. If you’re unsure how to write the Bowdoin essays, we’re here to help! This guide will help you write your best Bowdoin supplemental essays. We will break down each of the Bowdoin essay prompts and give you tips on how to write outstanding Bowdoin essays.
Bowdoin College Admissions
Quick Facts: Bowdoin College
Bowdoin Acceptance Rate: 9%–U.S. News ranks Bowdoin College as #9 in both its National Liberal Arts Colleges and Best Value Schools lists.
Bowdoin Essay Requirements:
- Personal Essay (via Common App or Coalition App)
- 2 optional (~250 word) Bowdoin supplemental essays
Bowdoin Application Deadlines:
- Early Decision I: November 15
- Early Decision II: January 5
- Regular Decision: January 5
- Transfer: March 1
Bowdoin Essay Tip: While the Bowdoin essays are technically optional, we recommend that you plan to complete both of them. With such a competitive acceptance rate, the Bowdoin application process can be difficult. The Bowdoin supplemental essays give admission officers more information to determine if you’re a good fit for their school. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to complete them!
Does Bowdoin have supplemental essays?
There are two Bowdoin supplemental essays. We will detail the Bowdoin essay prompts later in this guide. The Bowdoin essays can be found via the Common App or Coalition App and can be submitted alongside your overall application. Both Bowdoin essays have a word limit of 250 words, so it’s important to pick your words carefully.
While they’re both optional, you should plan to complete the Bowdoin supplemental essays. The Bowdoin College supplemental essays add dimension to your application and allow you to directly communicate with the admissions officers. The Bowdoin essays give you the opportunity to demonstrate how well you’ve researched Bowdoin and why you think you’re a good fit. Starting your Bowdoin supplemental essays early can give you adequate time to perfect them long before your chosen deadline. However, organization is key, so be sure to plan ahead!
How many essays does Bowdoin require?
The only formal Bowdoin essay requirement is the personal statement found on the Common App or Coalition App. Both of the Bowdoin supplemental essays are optional. However, the admissions site states that depending on the answers provided in your application, an additional writing supplement may be triggered. In addition to your college essay, Bowdoin admissions officers will use the Bowdoin essays to evaluate how well you’ll fit on campus. While the Bowdoin supplemental essays aren’t technically required, we highly recommend completing them.
The Bowdoin essay requirements are the same, regardless of whether you’re applying Regular Decision or Early Decision. Choosing your deadline is an important decision as an accepted Early Decision application is a binding agreement to attend Bowdoin. You can read our Early Decision vs Early Action guide for more information.
The Bowdoin essays are unique to Bowdoin College and can help enhance your overall application. While they both may not be required for admission, the Bowdoin supplemental essays are the only chance you have to communicate directly with the Bowdoin admissions office. Given the competitive acceptance rate, it’s in your best interest to jump on this opportunity.
We’ll detail each of the Bowdoin essay prompts in the next sections, and provide some tips on writing your best Bowdoin supplemental essays, so keep reading!
Bowdoin Supplemental Essay #1
The first of the two Bowdoin essay prompts is an “optional” supplemental essay. However, as we’ve mentioned, we recommend all students answer this prompt. Here’s the first optional Bowdoin essay prompt:
Bowdoin College Supplemental Essay Prompt #1
The Offer represents Bowdoin’s values. Please reflect on the line you selected and how it has meaning to you. (250 word max.)
The Offer was written by Bowdoin’s seventh president. It poetically describes what can come from a Bowdoin education. As you’ll need to choose a part that most resonates with you, let’s first take a look at it:
To be at home in all lands and all ages;
to count nature a familiar acquaintance,
and Art an intimate friend;
to gain a standard for the appreciation of others’ work
and the criticism of your own;
to carry the keys of the world’s library in your pocket,
and feel its resources behind you in whatever task you undertake;
to make hosts of friends…who are to be leaders in all walks of life;
to lose yourself in generous enthusiasms and cooperate with others for common ends –
this is the offer of the college for the best four years of your life.
Out of the optional Bowdoin requirements, this essay allows you to draw a strong connection between yourself and Bowdoin’s values. By having students analyze this poem written by a former Bowdoin president, admissions officers can understand what about Bowdoin personally resonates with each applicant. However, with only 250 words, you’ll have to be efficient with your response.
We’ll provide some tips on completing the Bowdoin essays later in this guide, but it’s important to understand why this essay is part of the Bowdoin supplement and overall Bowdoin requirements–even though it’s technically optional. The Bowdoin supplemental essays allow you to demonstrate your commitment and interest in Bowdoin, and this prompt is the perfect way to do just that.
Out of the two Bowdoin essay prompts, this one is more unique. While some other schools may have you reflect on a poem or their schools’ values, this prompt wants you to pick a specific line to reflect upon. Try to connect the poem line to what you hope to accomplish at Bowdoin – this essay is a great opportunity to showcase the research you’ve done. Additionally, it’s a wonderful way to flex those liberal arts muscles, as creativity and critical thinking are a part of any liberal arts education.
Overall, your Bowdoin supplemental essays should effectively showcase your personality and writing style. Most importantly, your response should be genuine. If you’re unsure which line to pick, we’ve compiled some tips in the next section!
Choosing a line from Bowdoin’s Offer
Crafting your Bowdoin supplemental essays is an important step in your overall application. The first of two Bowdoin essays asks you to reflect on a single line from The Offer. You can find the text of this poem on the website or in the section above. There are many different lines you can pick from, and all of them would make a compelling essay. It can be helpful to read through the poem several times and make note of any lines that resonate with you and how you imagine life at Bowdoin to be.
Additionally, it may be helpful to think of your intended major and connect it to a line from The Offer. For example, if you’re planning to major in English, consider picking “to carry the keys of the world’s library in your pocket”. You can detail how Bowdoin’s English program will help you with your goals, and reflect on the importance of literature in your life.
Highlight why you think you’d belong
If you’re planning to major in the sciences, or are unsure about your major, consider picking “to gain a standard for the appreciation of others’ work…and the criticism of your own” or “and feel its resources behind you in whatever task you undertake”. These sentences allow you to reflect on education as a whole, or focus on scientific research. These lines will work for most majors, and provide an opportunity to detail how you’ll use Bowdoin’s resources to your advantage.
If you want to focus on the community you’ll find at Bowdoin, you can pick “to make hosts of friends…who are to be leaders in all walks of life” or “to lose yourself in generous enthusiasms and cooperate with others for common ends”. Try to highlight 1-2 student groups or clubs in your essay, and reflect on the importance of community in your life. Be sure to check out Bowdoin’s website to help identify how you’ll get involved.
Overall, the Bowdoin College supplemental essays are meant to help you detail why you belong at Bowdoin. Out of the two Bowdoin essays, it’s understandable why this prompt is included in the Bowdoin supplement. Consider it one of the Bowdoin requirements when completing your application. No matter which line you pick to reflect on, make sure you’re using this opportunity to demonstrate your personality.
Use the poem as a way to describe your excitement about potentially attending Bowdoin, and make sure your Bowdoin supplemental essays complement each other. The Bowdoin essay prompts are designed to help you round out your application, so it’s important to put in adequate time and effort.
Bowdoin Supplemental Essay #2
While the second Bowdoin supplemental essay is not required, it’s an important opportunity to add additional context to your application. Out of the two Bowdoin supplemental essays, this prompt is most similar to other cultural diversity essay prompts, so it’s likely that you’ve encountered a similar question. Here is the second Bowdoin essay prompt:
Bowdoin College Supplemental Essay Prompt #2
Bowdoin believes that only through building a more diverse and inclusive campus community will the College best prepare graduates to be contributing and useful citizens of the world. Every graduate of this institution should be confident in their preparation to be able to navigate through differences and in all sorts of situations. A Bowdoin education does not guarantee these skills, but it does impart a set of tools necessary to bravely enter unfamiliar conditions with the confidence to deal effectively with ambiguity.
If you wish, you may share anything about the unique experiences and perspectives that you would bring with you to the Bowdoin campus and community or an experience you have had that required you to navigate across or through difference. (250 Words or Less)
This essay prompt is a great opportunity to add dimension to your application and provide the admissions office with a better understanding of your history and experiences. For students wondering how to get into Bowdoin, writing stellar Bowdoin essays is a great step forward. While this essay isn’t a formal requirement, writing two Bowdoin supplemental essays will help your application stand out.
Out of the two Bowdoin College supplemental essays, this prompt is less about Bowdoin specifically. The prompt leaves you with a space to discuss your perspectives. This prompt can be a great addition to your overall application. Together, your Bowdoin essays will paint a holistic picture of your interests and passions.
You should complete both Bowdoin supplemental essays. So it’s important to plan ahead and treat this essay as another requirement. In the next section, we’ll provide some specific tips on the best way to tackle this Bowdoin essay.
How to write Bowdoin supplemental essay
It may be tempting to skip optional essays, but we highly encourage you to complete both Bowdoin supplemental essays. Your Bowdoin essays will work together to help the admissions office better understand your application. The Bowdoin College supplemental essays are designed to help you explain why you’ll be a good fit, so it’s in your best interest to complete the second prompt.
Like many other cultural diversity essay prompts, this Bowdoin essay asks you to reflect on how you’ve navigated differences. It asks you to detail your unique perspective, and how this perspective will add to the Bowdoin campus. If you’ve ever advocated for a social cause, helped lead the charge to change a policy at your school, or had a difficult conversation with a friend or family member, you have a great foundation for this essay.
Your essay should first help the reader understand your perspective, and then how you’ll bring this unique point of view to Bowdoin. It can be a good idea to research student groups and extracurriculars that you’re excited to join. Or you might reflect on how you’ll bring your perspective into the classroom. Your Bowdoin essays should complement each other, so try to build connections between the Bowdoin essay prompts if possible.
If you don’t feel as though you have an anecdote or story that fits the prompt, you can think broadly about how you’ll engage on campus. Is there a cause or social issue you’re interested in, but haven’t been able to fully explore? Is there a research question or topic within your major that you are looking forward to debating? Try to focus on the ways you’ll develop your perspective at Bowdoin and consider the ways your Bowdoin supplemental essays will work with each other.
Are the Bowdoin supplemental essays optional?
All students must complete the personal statement found on the Common App or Coalition App. Each Bowdoin essay is technically optional. However, we highly encourage students to complete both Bowdoin College supplemental essays to help their application stand out. The more information you’re able to give to the admissions officers, the better they’ll understand your motivations and passions. With such a competitive acceptance rate, Bowdoin applicants need to differentiate themselves from a pool of qualified candidates.
The Bowdoin essay prompts are designed to help you elaborate on your resume and activities. The Bowdoin essays are the best opportunity you have to speak directly to admissions officers. Completing both Bowdoin supplemental essays will help you frame your application around the specific programs and resources Bowdoin offers. The cultural diversity essay prompt helps Bowdoin ensure they’re creating an engaged and passionate class. Therefore, you’ll want to complete both Bowdoin essays to show what you’ll bring to campus.
With 250-word limits, the Bowdoin supplemental essays are designed to have you quickly summarize your experiences and interest in Bowdoin. If you start well before the deadline, the Bowdoin College supplemental essays can be an effective way to boost your application. You will likely encounter other cultural diversity essay prompts as you apply to other schools, so completing both Bowdoin essays can help you reflect on your experiences and aid in your other supplemental essays.
In short, while both Bowdoin College supplemental essays aren’t required, they can help you greatly in the application process. You should plan to complete both Bowdoin essays. And remember, the earlier you start, the better prepared you will be!
Does Bowdoin care about essays?
While it’s hard to say exactly how the Bowdoin supplemental essays factor into the application process, we know that the Bowdoin essays help admissions officers gain a deeper understanding of each applicant. Likewise, the Bowdoin essay prompts help us understand what Bowdoin values in their students – a strong sense of self and commitment to the overall Bowdoin community. For students wondering how to get into Bowdoin, the Bowdoin supplemental essays provide great insight.
As one of the more selective liberal arts colleges in the nation, Bowdoin is a prestigious school. The Bowdoin essay prompts reflect the school’s values and goals for their students. Ensuring that their students can reflect and communicate their ideas and passions is a main goal of the Bowdoin admissions office. The Bowdoin College supplemental essays help admissions decide which students align closely with their values, and which students will help change Bowdoin for the better. The Bowdoin essays are a crucial part of the application process as they help personalize each application and help admissions officers pick students who will embody Bowdoin’s goals.
So, in short, yes, Bowdoin does care about their essays. Taking your time to complete both Bowdoin College supplemental essays will allow you to demonstrate your interest in Bowdoin, and communicate exactly why you’re a great applicant to consider. If you’re struggling with writing essays, you can check out our guide on How to Write Better Essays. It’s a great resource to help strengthen your college essays!
Additional information about Bowdoin College
Conducting thorough research will help you write compelling Bowdoin College supplemental essays. You can read high-level overviews of Bowdoin College on U.S. News, Forbes, and CollegeBoard. Understanding what makes Bowdoin unique will help when writing your Bowdoin supplemental essays. With a small undergraduate enrollment (just over 1,900), Bowdoin offers an intimate educational environment for students to explore their interests. It’s important to understand the campus environment before applying to Bowdoin.
It may be useful to explore The Bowdoin Orient, Bowdoin’s student newspaper. Getting a sense of Bowdoin’s student life may also help inspire you when writing the Bowdoin essays. It can provide you with useful insight into student groups and organizations of interest. Bowdoin’s website will be a great source for your research – the Admissions website details the overall application process. Additionally, for help with your application, you can read the Admissions FAQ.
CollegeAdvisor also has several resources on Bowdoin College to help you. You can read our page on Bowdoin College for information on the acceptance rate, Bowdoin majors, and the admissions process. You can also read our guide on How to Get Into Bowdoin, and watch our Bowdoin College/Williams College panel.
Overall, we recommend reading as much as you can about Bowdoin College before applying. With the selective acceptance rate, the admissions office wants to ensure that each applicant is passionate about Bowdoin’s campus and programs. Read up on your intended major/program and have a strong understanding of why you’re interested in Bowdoin. Doing so will give you a great foundation for your Bowdoin essays!
Bowdoin Supplemental Essays: Final Takeaways
Your Bowdoin supplemental essays can help you stand out in the application process, so you must dedicate time and energy to crafting your best responses. While the essays are optional, we recommend applicants complete both Bowdoin essays. The Bowdoin supplemental essays are the best chance you have to speak directly to the admissions office. Therefore, it’s crucial that you take advantage of every opportunity offered!
Writing stellar supplemental essays doesn’t come easy, and you will likely need to write several drafts before they’re ready for submission. Start your Bowdoin essays early and ask for feedback from your teachers, mentors, and family members. They can help you perfect your syntax and grammar and ensure you’re answering all parts of the prompt.
Overall, the Bowdoin essays provide great insight into your history, personality, and unique goals. They are a great tool for admissions officers to better understand your application, so putting your best work forward is key. Starting early, asking for help, and doing your research will help you write your best Bowdoin supplemental essays – good luck!
This essay guide was written by Jess Klein. Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how CollegeAdvisor.com can support you in the college application process.