March 25, 2009
I visited Bates right after I visited its neighbor, Colby, and I think this had a lot to do with my impression of it. Whereas Colby came off as a place with nothing unique to offer, Bates came off as a one of a kind community in an unnoticeably small package. With just under seventeen hundred students, Bates is a remarkably small place- the smallest on this list. The campus atmosphere of Bates is difficult to describe. Though not quite urban, it’s definitely clustered and fits on a small footprint. Its main academic buildings are pretty close together, separated by well groomed pathways reminiscent of those at Columbia and Brown, with one huge athletic quad in the middle. Though the architecture at Bates comes off as plain, the ornate details on the original buildings make the campus stand out. On top of being appealing on the outside, the buildings were very modern and classy on the inside. In one word, the campus was “bustling”, as was Bates’ Lewiston just a few blocks down the road.
With the campus already making a positive impression on me, my tour guide lead me inside two of the dorms- one new and one old. I was stunned at the quality of both facilities and how even though these buildings look dated and classic on the outside, the interior living space could be so nice. Each freshman dorm consisted of groups of eight or so doubles dorms grouped around one common study space and a junior resident advisor’s room. The system seemed to work very well and the rooms all looked really top notch. There were also large lofted lounges with refreshments sitting out at each dorm room on top of some very nice laundry and kitchen facilities.
On from the dorms, we proceeded to look into a variety of academic buildings. With most of the buildings being recently renovated, the materials were bright and really eliminated the dated feel of the building. The furniture was also very versatile and allowed for a variety of classroom layouts. The class I sat in on was one of the largest classes offered at the college with about thirty students. Located in the basement of a brand new facility, the classroom space was fantastic and I felt that all of the students were well positioned and exceptionally comfortable in the state of the art classroom. The building we were located in was perhaps one of the most impressive buildings I have seen so far. Designed as an academic hub for several social science departments, this huge new building features a great slew of classroom spaces and lounges for each department and really stuck out as being customized for each department. The atrium of the building was also very impressive considering the size of the school, and the building had a number of small study spaces tucked away for each department. On another note, the campus library was similarly huge, but somewhat dated.
Onto the rest of the school’s facilities, the dorms looked especially nice and I think the housing situation might be one of the school’s best features. Considering that nearly two thirds of the students will study abroad, the process of housing selection and trading spaces seemed to flow very nicely. Housing also goes hand in hand with the college’s single dining facility, which was built within the last two years. With an unlimited access meal policy and a focus on quality local food, food doesn’t seem to be a problem at Bates. With the dining hall being so new, several spinoff dining rooms offer different settings from the main dining room, which also looks well furnished.
Since the new dining hall has been built, the old one has gone to use as a student activities center and the students are loving it. With a tradition for outrageous student activities fairs and mass involvement in athletic school spirit, Bates certainly has a lot to entertain its students. One great tradition is the winter ice jump into what students call “the puddle”, a pond on one corner of the campus which is used throughout the year as a center for the outing clubs winter carnival in the winter and as a regular hangout during the summer.
Academically, the Bates calendar revolves around a regular two semester system with an added one course term in the spring with some unusual course offerings. Although Batesies are required to take two of these terms, many students use this time to get a leg up on internships or study abroad programs. The campus career development office seems to have a lot of experience with getting students into the internships and other programs they want and has a history of great selection among programs. Further, I noticed the bulletin boards all around campus were literally packed with internship and summer abroad programs in nearly every major the college offers. Although it may have been junk posted just to fill up the boards, the effect was very impressive and I felt like opportunities were really flourishing in the departments that encouraged such participation. The economics department is also particularly strong and involving.
During my class visit and my other wanderings around the campus, I felt like the students here were really happy to be a part of the Bates experience, and at such a small school, it really showed. Random people smiled at me and I head a lot of solid interaction going on in the quads. Strangely enough, the college seems to book classes in chunks of time so that students move around to some sort of inaudible tardy bell creating the feeling of a high school passing period, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In the class I sat in on, sadly only a few of the students participated again and again and I became aware that many students were just going through the motions. For the ones who did though and certainly for the professor, the class seemed to be extremely involving and the professor had a really great way of teaching and encouraging class input. Jumpy discussions carried the class lesson for the day, and the professor was very alright with that, as long as either he or one of the students continually referenced back to the text in hand. Bates stands out to me as a really great community, considering the caliber of the students and the small size of the college. Some really great traditions and a small school feel on top of top notch professors and opportunities really sealed the deal marking Bates as a solid choice.
For the class of 2012, the average SAT is 1335. The average ACT range at Bates is 28-32 (25-75 percentile). Overall Acceptance rate is 29.6%, with Early Decision also offered.