What is it Like to Attend Bates College?

The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach—they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Jason graduated from Bates College in 2009. He currently is located in Boston and specializes in English tutoring, math tutoring, science tutoring, and a number of other areas. Read on for his review of his experience at Bates College:

Describe the campus setting and transportation options at Bates College.

Jason: Bates College is consistently ranked one of the most beautiful campuses in the United States. It sits in a quiet neighborhood of an old mill town in southern Maine and is filled with trees and brick buildings. It’s small so there’s no need for buses or even bikes (but some people use them) to get around. Every building is a short walk away—at most 20 minutes.

How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?

Jason: Given its small class sizes, Bates doesn’t really have teaching assistants, so professors drive all the classes. In my experience, I never had an issue finding a professor outside of class. They all keep office hours, and if you email saying you can’t make it to office hours for whatever reason, they’re usually more than willing to accommodate you.

How would you describe the dorm life—rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?

Jason: Dorm life at Bates is very strong. Most students live on campus all four years. Part of this has to do with the cold winters and lack of off-campus housing options, but it’s never much of a huge complaint. Each dorm (especially the majority of freshmen dorms) seems to have its own personality each year. These personalities also shift depending on what floor you’re on. At Bates, since it’s such a small school, there are no high-rise apartment-style dorms. You will get to know everyone on your hall and everyone in your dorm. There is also one dining hall. Where most schools have multiple dining halls, Bates’ single dining hall is sort of its hallmark. Today when schools feel they need to have multiple cafeteria-style food courts, Bates actually put it to a vote. Turns out, the students overwhelmingly wanted just one. There is one meal plan: you go in as often as you want, and eat as much as you want. All the food is made there by Dining Services, and although it can get old at times, it definitely does feel like someone’s making it for you—not like it was thawed and microwaved in mass quantities. Commons, as it’s called, acts as a meeting place for meals among friends who have busy schedules and it also functions as a campus bottleneck. Since everyone eats there, you will see people there whom you rarely see anywhere else. For this reason, every Batesie has a “commons crush.” The other beloved dining option is the Den. Newly renovated, it’s favored as a late-night place to get a burger and relax. It’s conveniently next to the library. They closed the Den for a few years and eventually brought it back by popular demand.

Which majors/programs are best represented and supported at Bates College?

Jason: Bates has quite strong departments in the humanities and arts. The faculty and staff also do a great job in supporting your education and in challenging you. One thing just about every Bates student learns is how to write. After working as a TA at other schools, it becomes pretty clear that that is not a skill fostered at all schools.

How easy or difficult was it for you to meet people and make friends as a freshman? Does Greek life play a significant role in the campus social life?

Jason: Bates is a great place to meet people. Since its founding, Bates has never had any fraternities or sororities. During my time there, I never met a student who did not appreciate that fact. People comingle to a great degree, and campus groups are widespread. Unlike larger universities, it’s not uncommon to form multiple groups of friends across wide disciplines at the college.

How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services?

Jason: The career center is definitely helpful and Bates does hold events for recruiters. Although, students tend to be more individualistic at Bates. Most students will use the career center to chart their own course. It’s a place for people who are motivated to do something different and new, not necessarily to just slide into an industry.

How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges?

Jason: For the most part, the places to study are the Ladd Library (which increases in quietness level by each floor) and Pettengill Hall. But don’t try to get too much work done in either the basement of Ladd or the Atrium of Pettengill. Those are places you go when you want to be social but also study a little. That said, students study everywhere across campus, and you can always find a place that’s all your own. Things do get dicey when finals roll around. In that case, people will camp out in different places and sometimes reserve rooms in Pettengill. There is a real sense of comradery at this time, and despite being unbelievably overwhelmed from work, there is a particular energy in the air.

Describe the surrounding town at Bates College.

Jason: Bates College is in a quiet neighborhood of an old mill town in Southern Maine. The campus itself is gorgeous with brick buildings covered in ivy and a pond (“The Puddle”) at the northern end of campus. Students will either walk or bike into Lewiston, or toward St. Mary’s Hospital for Dairy Joy ice cream. However, once the winter hits, driving is the chosen mode of transportation for anything outside the extended radius of the campus—including grocery stores. Since Bates is a small school, buses aren’t really required on or near campus. On campus, you can get anywhere you want on foot.

How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?

Jason: Class sizes are just under 500 people, with a total enrollment of just under 2,000. I personally liked the small class sizes, but it can get a little claustrophobic at times. Overall, it’s a great size if you do well in small school environments.

Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.

Jason: My most memorable experiences at Bates were in my music theory classes. As the small core of us progressed to the more advanced classes, we developed a close relationship and classes became increasingly more personable. I learned so much more in those classes as a result.

Check out Jason’s tutoring profile.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.