Bates College is a small, highly selective liberal arts school in Lewiston, Maine, but it is also so much more. Located in the vacationland state, campus is a mere thirty to forty minute drive from sea, forest, and city. Simply put, you can have it all here even though it is a small college. You can make your experience as big as you want by traveling abroad or by exploring Lewiston and Portland.
The college is widely renowned as one of the first institutions to make SAT/ACT scores an optional part of the application process. In addition, it was one of the first schools to accept all students regardless of race, religion, or sex.
What makes this one of the top schools in the country is the family of students, faculty, and staff that fill the dorms, classrooms, and offices. Students come to here because of the resources and educational opportunities and stay because of the familial atmosphere. The people at this college are so important because they contribute to and sustain a philosophy of intellectual curiosity, civic engagement, and egalitarianism.
Courses/General Education Requirements
The school is committed to helping students claim their education, and therefore, students have a lot of academic freedom. There are twenty-nine programs and departments from which to choose a major, with the option of designing their own interdisciplinary major with the help of an academic adviser.
However, the school does require that students design a curriculum that incorporates sciences, humanities, social sciences, mathematics, and the arts. In order to fulfill these requirements, students enroll in two General Education Concentrations (GECs) from outside their major. GECs are four linked courses that allow a student to focus on one topic
or area of inquiry. Courses may come from different disciplines, or they may focus on a topic in a single department, program, or major. The goal of the GECs and the entire Bates course curriculum is to teach students about the connections between disciplines, reinforce strong writing skills, and provide students with college-level instruction in the sciences and quantitative analysis.
There are few, if any, barriers here. Students talk and learn from one another, and this spirit of shared learning and open dialog is one that also extends to the relationship between students and faculty. Faculty members do not lecture at an untouchable distance. Classrooms are intimate and a faculty member, never a teaching assistant, always leads classes. Most professors emphasize classroom participation. Students learn by talking their ideas out so students tend to evolve into confident public speakers.
Bates faculty members genuinely care about the well-being of the student body and that manifests itself in and out of the classroom. To bridge the gap between research and teaching, professors invite students to assist in their research. Research assistant opportunities are typically uncommon at the undergraduate level, but here, faculty members use them as opportunities to better prepare students for graduate studies.
The 4-4-1 academic calendar allows students to step outside of their scholastic routine during the spring and to focus on just one class for five weeks. While some classes do meet in the classroom, many are experiential and allow the student to physically connect with what they are researching. Students learn about geology in Maine by hiking and kayaking. Students learn about anthropology and Jamaica by spending five weeks researching on the island. Students learn about theater in Europe by flying overseas. Known as “short term,” this abbreviated semester is wildly popular because it allows students to thaw after a long winter. The reduction in course load decreases stress and makes even the
most challenging class manageable. Two short terms are required, but most students participate in at least three.
Thesis is the culmination of four years of academic growth and development. Almost every student, regardless of major, completes a senior thesis here. Students work closely with one faculty member for either one semester or one academic year. Professors work hard to push your writing and develop your skills as a researcher and scholar. The caliber
of writing usually allows students to use the writing as material for their application to graduate school and in some cases, students publish segments of their thesis in scholarly journals.
Most Popular Fields of Study
Harward Center for Community Partnerships
One of the ways this college remains connected with the community
is through the Harward Center for Community Partnerships. The Harward Center is
comprised of four program areas that focus on teaching students how to live socially
responsible lives and behave as democratic citizens. Further, many professors use the Center
to integrate community involvement into their syllabus. It is an excellent way for students and community members to volunteer and develop
as civic leaders. For example, students are currently working on a mentoring and tutoring
project with the Longley School in Lewiston.
The academic curriculum is designed to challenge students and to push students
beyond their comfort zones. Many schools talk about the learning that takes place outside
of the classroom, but here the lessons outside the classroom span the entire globe.
About seventy percent of the student body studies abroad at some point during their
college career and the lessons and knowledge gained through this experience is paramount.
Students not only learn about different parts of the world while studying abroad, but
they also learn about what they are capable of accomplishing.
Like many colleges in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), Bates is a highly selective institution and one of the most competitive colleges in the United States. The applicant pool, which is increasing every year, consists of highly motivated and talented students from around the world. However, there is not one standard of student.
Unlike many other elite colleges in the United States, applicants are not required
to submit SAT or ACT scores. Even though most applicants have excellent standardized
scores, the optional SAT/ACT policy illustrates that the college understands that there is more
than one way to measure intelligence.
The admissions staff is committed to carrying out the college’s mission to foster an inclusive and heterogeneous community. Instead of just looking at the numbers, the admissions staff also strongly considers a student’s record of leadership and evidence of special talents since they are looking for students who can contribute to the community.
The essay and interview are valuable components of the application because they also offer the admissions staff an opportunity to see more than a list of extracurricular activities and test scores. If you are strongly interested in attending, it is highly recommended that you schedule an interview and distinguish yourself in your essay. Use the essay as a chance to stand out and disclose more than the common application allows.
There are competitive financial aid packages to assist qualifying families
with the cost of tuition. In addition, the financial aid office
can provide information on student loan programs and available student employment
opportunities on campus.
While the school follows federal guidelines for distributing financial aid, it
approaches the matter by thinking about the individual. Every member of the admissions
staff is knowledgeable about the financial aid policies and can concisely translate information
that is otherwise confusing. The financial aid office and the admissions office
attend to the matter of financial aid carefully, and it is common to see admissions personnel
sending reminder e-mails to applicants regarding financial aid deadlines to ensure that
students are not disqualified from the process.
Approximately forty percent of all students receive some form of financial aid,
and many students hold jobs on campus. On-campus jobs range from working in the library
to working as a junior adviser. Pay varies, but wages are sufficient to cover weekly and incidental
expenses of student life. In addition to putting some money in your pocket, campus
jobs also provide students with skills for the working world outside of class. Whether that is learning how to manage a business through your work at the Ronj or how to research in
a lab, jobs can give a studentmore than just expendable income, and none of the jobs encroach on the time one needs
to devote to studies.
Student Financial Aid Details
Balance is a key component of this college experience. Classes require students to
devote a good deal of time to their studies, but even with a full course load of four classes,
students find the time to enjoy a number of the 112 available extracurricular activities.
Students practice with their bands in the new rock room, throw Frisbees on the quad, take
day trips to Portland for the First Friday art openings, and organize weekend camping
excursions to a nearby lean-to. Sports, clubs, service projects, and time with friends not
only help the community come together and share a part of themselves with other
students, but they also help the students learn more about themselves.
Even though the energy here is pretty relaxed, movement characterizes the Bates
student body. Activities begin almost immediately after stepping onto the campus and
continue for four years. One of the most popular activities on campus is the first-year orientation
program, Aesop, which is a manifestation of the college’s longtime emphasis on
individual initiative and personal responsibility. Students have been the sole organizers of
Aesop for years, and students lead virtually all the trips. Trips vary in level of difficulty and
range from kayaking to hiking and camping, but the spirit of shared learning is the thread
that runs through all of the options. Aesop shows off Maine’s beautiful mountains, forests,
and ocean. Upperclassmen pass on insights into college life around campfires, and first
years can have a chance to take a deep breath before starting school.
Some of the most enjoyable social activities are the quirky ones. The types of
events that happen annually are the settings of epic and memorable stories year after
year. Some of the prime events are puddle jump, Gala, a Mount David hike, a (legal) beer at the Goose, ocean clambakes, and Trivia Night. Even if swimming in freezing water or staying up all night to compete in the radio station’s trivia bonanza are not what you consider fun, nearly everyone here agrees that the President’s
Gala is one of the annual highlights.
Student Enrollment Demographics
Student Graduation Demographics
Nearly seventy-five percent of the student body participates in either one of the thirty one
intercollegiate sports available to men and women or the sixteen intramural
sports available to men and women. Students play on varsity sports as well as on intramural
You graduate from Bates not only with a diploma and a leading education,
but also with a place in a family. The network of alumni is strong and the friendly
spirit and “need any help with that” attitude that defines the campus atmosphere carries
on after graduation. Alumni regularly come to campus to speak about career paths and
employment opportunities. Alumni are willing to help in any way that they can, both
on and off campus.
- Benjamin Mays ’20, Spiritual
Mentor to Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Edmund Muskie ’36, U.S. Senator,
Secretary of State, Author of Clean
Air and Clean Water acts
- Bryant Gumbel, ’70, Television
- Valerie Smith, ’75, Princeton
Professor of Literature
- Stacey Kabat, ’85, Documentary
Justine Ventimiglia graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Michigan – Dearborn. Currently residing in a 1950’s modest ranch in Metro Detroit, she enjoys researching and writing about Mid Century Modern furniture and decor as she works on restoring her home and documenting the process.