I saw Bates on my second day in Maine, and while it is like Colby in that it is a small liberal arts school in Maine, has a five week course in its curriculum, and a decent study abroad program, the two are very different.
Bates has a very nice campus in/ near the second biggest town in Maine, (though you wouldn’t know it,) Lewiston. While this may sound somewhat like an urban campus it really is not because Lewiston is still very small and comprised mainly of a few restaurants. Still, having the town about five minutes away is nice should you need anything and Lewiston does have two big hospitals that welcome those looking curious about the medical career track.
The school is known for having a good pre-med program with a fairly high success rate in the number of its graduates getting into medical school. At the end of their time at Bates, each student has to do a semester long senior thesis or an honors thesis, which I think is a good challenge for the school to put on their students. Many students also choose to study abroad for a year, semester, or just five weeks.
What I thought was really special about Bates’ curriculum was that it includes a five week “dessert” academic course at the end of every year. Their rational for having this short term at the end of the year was that its a better time to spend in Maine when its just getting warm rather than in frigid January, and when students aren’t taking a course on campus, it gives them a good early start in looking for summer jobs and internships. Each student is required to partake in two and at most three while they are at Bates, and the courses are often more experimental than a regular class and/or fulfill one of the few course type requirements at Bates. The two main requirements are three natural science courses of choice and a writing seminar which every freshman takes first semester. These seminars both acclimate students to college writing expectations and serve as temporary homerooms.
Having a homeroom type required class complete with a two year advisor is one of the many signs that Bates is really centered around an all inclusive friendly ideal which the school works hard to perpetuate. There are and never have been any frats, all clubs must be open to everyone, and almost all the dorms are mixed years. I also noticed on campus and even in my tour group that there was a fair amount of socio-economic diversity.
I think it would be fair to say that Bates had a fairly relaxed and diverse in interests student body. There was no lack in athletes but they were not an overwhelming presence either, and I saw plenty of people who did not seem sporty at all. The students were dressed pretty casually and everyone was very nice. To give an example I got lunch with my dad on campus, and two people just introduced themselves to me while on line thinking I was a student. When I told them I was just visiting they continued to talk about the school and why they liked it and so on. It was really nice and something that hadn’t happened at any other school I have visited.
Personally I really loved Bates and could definitely see myself there. It suited my interests in that it has great history courses, a good pre-med program as well as a flourishing study abroad program. If you’re looking for a warm liberal arts college and don’t mind a few freezing Maine winters, I would definitely recommend looking into Bates.