Previously Published on July 23, 2013:
Bowdoin College has released its essays for the 2023-2024 admissions cycle. In addition to The Common Application’s Personal Statement, applicants to Bowdoin’s Class of 2028 will be required to write one supplemental essay of up to 250 words. Applicants are also offered the chance — although it’s deemed “optional” — to write an additional supplemental essay of up to 250 words and submit a video. Of course, nothing deemed optional in elite college admissions should ever be interpreted as optional. So, what are this year’s essay prompts?
2023-2024 Bowdoin Essay Topics and Video
The first essay prompt, which is required of all Bowdoin applicants to the Class of 2028, reads as follows:
Generations of students have found connection and meaning in Bowdoin’s “The Offer of the College,” written in 1906 by Bowdoin President William DeWitt Hyde.
To be at home in all lands and all ages;
to count nature a familiar acquaintance,
and Art an intimate friend;
to gain a standard for the appreciation of others’ work
and the criticism of your own;
to carry the keys of the world’s library in your pocket,
and feel its resources behind you in whatever task you undertake;
to make hosts of friends…who are to be leaders in all walks of life;
to lose yourself in generous enthusiasms and cooperate with others for common ends –
this is the offer of the college for the best four years of your life.
Which line from The Offer resonates most with you?*
- To be at home in all lands and all ages
- To count nature a familiar acquaintance……and Art an intimate friend
- To gain a standard for the appreciation of others’ work and the criticism of your own
- To carry the keys of the world’s library in your pocket, and feel its resources behind you in whatever task you undertake
- To make hosts of friends… who are to be leaders in all walks of life
- To lose yourself in generous enthusiasms and cooperate with others for common ends
The Offer of the College, a staple of the Bowdoin supplement, makes for a beautiful essay prompt — one of the most memorable of any school’s for applicants to the Class of 2028.
It offers students the opportunity to write about their appreciation of nature. After all, Bowdoin is situated in picturesque Maine. Or students can write about how they will admire the work and thinking of their fellow students and be open to receiving feedback on their own work. Or students can write about their love of all they can learn from books. Or what they’ll value in their relationships with their fellow students. The possibilities are endless.
The second essay prompt, which is optional for applicants to respond to in up to 250 words, reads as follows:
Bowdoin believes that only through building a more diverse and inclusive campus community will the College best prepare graduates to be contributing and useful citizens of the world. Every graduate of this institution should be confident in their preparation to be able to navigate through differences and in all sorts of situations. A Bowdoin education does not guarantee these skills, but it does impart a set of tools necessary to bravely enter unfamiliar conditions with the confidence to deal effectively with ambiguity.
If you wish, you may share anything about the unique experiences and perspectives that you would bring with you to the Bowdoin campus and community or an experience you have had that required you to navigate across or through difference.
This second essay prompt is a straight-up-the-middle community essay. While the United States Supreme Court outlawed the practice of Affirmative Action, Chief Justice John Roberts penned a loophole in the majority opinion.
Chief Justice Roberts wrote, “Nothing in this opinion should be construed as prohibiting universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race affected his or her life, be it through discrimination, inspiration, or otherwise.”
The loophole led many schools, including Bowdoin, to ask applicants to write about their backgrounds, experiences, or where they come from to demonstrate how they will contribute to Bowdoin’s diversity.
Bowdoin College extends you the opportunity to add a video response to your application materials. Instructions for completing the optional video response will be available in your application acknowledgment email and in your Bowdoin Application Portal. Learn more about it.
The video essay does not have to be extremely well-edited. In fact, we at Ivy Coach strongly discourage applicants from making any fancy schmancy adjustments to their videos as it will only reek of privilege, rendering them less likable.
While applicants should prepare their answer in advance, they should not sound rehearsed. So, it should sound like the student is speaking off the cuff — but their response, which should showcase their intellectual curiosity and not repeat anything they’ve written about previously, should be planned out in advance.
Ivy Coach’s Assistance with Bowdoin Essays and Video
If you’re interested in optimizing your case for admission to Bowdoin by submitting compelling essays and a video that sways admissions officers to root for you, fill out Ivy Coach‘s free consultation form, and we’ll be in touch to outline our college admissions counseling services for seniors.
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