- Class: Junior
- Major: History
- Gender: M
- High School: Concord High School (Concord, NH)
- Transfer Student: N
One of the best things about Bates has to be the size--it's a small place which is home to a lot of tight-knit groups of friends, most of whom are on the lookout to meet new and exciting people. If you're looking to remain anonymous, I would say that Bates is probably not the school for you. Likewise, if you're looking to be in a bustling city, Bates is also probably not your speed. The Lewiston-Auburn area is about 60,000 people and primarily composed of blue-collar people, who are sometimes less than overjoyed to be reminded of the presence of an elite college in their midst. That said, I think that Lewiston often takes students by surprise both by being a big fat reality check for those from wealthy backgrounds, and by having far more to offer than one would initially assume. Frequent student complaints include the lack of things to do in Lewiston (I would write these folks off as not being adventurous enough), and people who are displeased with the lack of big-school resources at a small college.
At Bates, it is hard to find a class with more than 40 people, and even in these intro classes you will find that the professors genuinely care about learning your name, often to the extent of making flash cards with your picture on them. Professors at Bates are largely there to teach (we're not exactly a research institution), and they (reasonably) assume that you are there to learn. Class participation, while not always mandated by grading rubrics, is nearly always expected. Doing your homework is both common and expected, resulting in a fair amount of time spent in the library or other study locations every day. That said, most of us spend a good amount of our days doing something fun, be it playing competitive ultimate frisbee or waking up before dawn to row on the Androscoggin River. My majors (History and German) are both relatively small, but I get the impression that most majors feel small in that your advisors know you well, and know their colleagues, and care about your well-being. Lastly, and definitely unique to Bates, is the fact that all seniors have to complete a thesis of some sort for their major, whether it be a lengthy research project, a scientific experiment, or a series of paintings. This brings you closer to a member of the faculty (your advisor), and gives you something to be really proud of as you complete your major.
My experience with most campus groups is that they love to get new members and take on new projects (definitely true for those I am part of), but that most groups prefer to be autonomous rather than working with other student organizations. I can also attest to the fact that it is relatively easy to form a new student organization and receive funding from the student government, having headed up an effort to start a woodsmen team. We are currently in our first year of existence and have just purchased equipment, but we have ambitious plans to be competing in the fall. Different types of students absolutely interact--when classes are small, it's all but impossible not to meet all kinds of people that Bates has to offer. And there are all kinds of people--though plenty hail from New England, that in itself means a pretty wide range of experiences, and on the whole, people are from all over, and from a broad scope of backgrounds. Many of us are on financial aid, but--by and large--finances are not a divisive topic, with most students electing to keep those matters private. Students are largely liberal, though some vocal right-wingers make their presence known, and on the whole we are largely aware and active when it comes to politics.
The Best Things
The student body and its friendliness.
The Worst Things
The limitations of a small campus.