Outside University: 13. Bowdoin College

Brunswick, Maine

Aug 14, 2012
Outside Magazine

Bowdoin College.   

One of the more elite liberal-arts colleges (take a gander at the tuition), Bowdoin hosts sailing regattas and owns land on Merritt Island, from whence school-affiliated people launch sea-kayaking and canoeing voyages. Bowdoin also owns a coastal-studies center on Orrs Island and a 200-acre field station on the Bay of Fundy’s Kent Island. Not surprising, then, that the oceanographic program (and surfing the Atlantic) is a big deal here.

There are other courses of study, though, that’ll get you outdoors. The urge to study all aspects of nature is strong here, so fieldwork courses are many—they include “The Science of Food and Wine” and “The Physics of the Environment.”

As for Bowdoin’s Outdoor Club, it’s unique for its strong telemarking program; participants take Sunday classes on Saddleback Mountain. Other activities are reasonably priced (not more than $50 on average) and include whitewater rafting, climbing, and leadership training. For hikers, a student-built cabin in Monson (a two-hour drive from campus), just off the Appalachian Trail, can serve as base camp. Climbers drive three hours to the White Mountains and Mount Washington, the Northeast’s most challenging peak. Those with less aggressive outdoor ambitions can cruise the seven miles from campus to idyllic, wildlife-filled Baxter State Park.

Need gear? Pay just $45 at the beginning of the academic year to be entitled to take anything anytime you want.

Bowdoin, chartered by one Sam Adams, is the alma mater of ubiquitous names like Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Nathaniel Hawthorne but also graduated Robert Peary, the guy who claimed to have led the first successful North Pole expedition in 1908 (though there’s doubt about that) and Donald Baxter MacMillan, another important Arctic explorer—two men whose legacy probably has something to do with the fact that the school’s mascot is a polar bear.

CONTACT: (207) 725-3000, bowdoin.edu
STUDENT BODY: 1,762 undergraduates, zero graduates
TUITION: $42,816, room and board $11,654