College of the Atlantic

Bar Harbor, ME, USA

Reviews

College of the Atlantic

4.11 Average Rating

Anonymous

a current student here
2 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
A unique school with a small student body and a trans-disciplinary, self-designed approach to learning.
Tips for prospective students
Visit. It's definitely an interesting place that attracts a unique crowd. It feels much different than it appears online.
Academic Rigor
Most classes rely on rigorous reading, and a few incorporate different research projects and writings as well. The classes are typically less than ten students, and very discussion based. It's crucial to do your work and stay on top of things, or you'll fall behind very quickly. Grades are optional, but don't mistake that for meaning the classes are easy. If you don't do your work you will not pass the class and/or get an evaluation that reflects your poor performance.
Dorm Life
Most of the residencies are actual houses and that makes it really cozy. It's easy to make friends with the tight-knit community in your home.
Food and Dining
The food is excellent and very vegetarian and vegan friendly. Most of the produce comes from the school's farm and other local farmers as well!
What to do for fun
Explore Acadia! There's always stuff to do outside. The town of Bar Harbor is very cute and has a number of neat shops, as well. In the winter it's a bit of a ghost town, but it's still easy to find something to occupy your interest.
Bang for the buck
I'm learning a great deal and having a lot of fun.
Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus
Lots of cool paths along the shores to explore and a bunch of hidden spots with great views of the ocean.
Great for these types of students
Liberals and environmentalists.
Clubs and Activities
The school has a lot of clubs, but most of them aren't widely known so it can be hard to get involved. There's a hula-hooping club, ukulele club, and quidditch team to name a few.
Greek Life
There isn't any.
Campus Safety
The campus and Bar Harbor are very trustworthy communities as is, but the school also has a night watch crew who make sure that everyone is okay past dark. I feel comfortable leaving my belongings unattended just about anywhere on campus, and most people feel safe leaving their doors unlocked.
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Megan from Floresville, TX

a current student here
1 person found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
This is Human Ecology. A major where you have extreme academic freedom to choose your classes. I was looking for a school with many majors that seemed to suit me that way I could change my major without having to change schools. Here you have one major an can change and grow with your studies and shift emphasis without totally putting yourself years back with required classes.
Academic Rigor
You take 3 courses a trimester because each class is very demanding. And you better show up to every class, because classes are small, and people know when you are skipping.
Dorm Life
Every Freshman lives on dorm. Which really are houses with kitchens, normal bathrooms, and lovely Nooks and Crannies. I am in Sea Fox which is one of the best dorms; we have a piano, I have a huge room I share with 2 roommates, and we can go mattress surfing down the staircase.
And we just build a new series of buildings for 2nd and 3rd years which are pretty nice.
Food and Dining
This is the place to be a vegan if you're into that. Just saying it is sooo easy. the food is organic, with vegan, gluten-free and vegetarian options. I consider myself a carnivore, and the food here is great even for meat loves like me. We just had a BBQ here with pulled pork and it was delicious.
What to do for fun
Town is just a walk away. The town is a tourist town full of fun shops and interesting people. Don't be scared away, when at school it doesn't FEEL like a big tourist town. Even in the town square its calm and quiet, the town is beautiful and there is a free bus system that can take you all around the island. You are living on an island by the way. With nature trails, bike roads and mountains to climb.
Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus
The Bar Island swim. Do it!
You swim 500 meters in the freezing Atlantic water. It took me about 30 minutes, but I did it!
Great for these types of students
We have it all here. The amount of international students really makes this place very cultural, there are some people who lie on the more hippie side of the scale, but there are also many, many people here who have a strong passion for change in the world. Whether that is through environmental or humanitarian means.
Greek Life
Hooray No Greek Life!
Campus Safety
I feel very safe here. We have two night guards who actually feel like they could defend me. Not some chubby cop who couldn't chase a dog. And both are very nice and friendly.
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Emmanuel from Burlington, VT

a current student here
1 person found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
Basically, it's for people who are serious about what they're doing and want to change the world. It's for people who don't want to define themselves to one major and instead see the world as interconnected. It's a college for doers.
Tips for prospective students
Be careful in selecting classes on Wednesdays. Also try to finish off your graduation requirements as soon as possible.
Academic Rigor
The classes aren't too hard but they're also not too easy. They're perfectly challenging and you will retain a lot of the information.
Dorm Life
The dorm life is great. The dorms are spacious and everything's really close.
Food and Dining
The cafeteria serves some of the best college food in the country, enough said. They take pride in their constant omnivore, vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options.
What to do for fun
You're living in Bar Harbor, Maine so there's an entire national park, Acadia, right behind you. There's things to do in town but people mostly just socialize with their peers.
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Sky

a current student here
18 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Am learning a lot
The positive energy at COA is infectious. When everyone around you is incredibly passionate about what they're studying, it's hard to resist your own curiosity. The concept of going to class is completely redefined at the college by spirited professors, field work, independent studies, and hands-on applications. COA believes that college should not be a time out of life, but should be a time of learning that inspires your future. Professors become good friends. Your education is virtually completely up to you - if you have an idea, people at the college will be enthusiastic to help make it happen. An internship and senior project are required, and the products and experiences of each student are drastically individual and unique. At around 300 students, classes of about 8 people or so engage in in-depth conversations. You will not only be able to engage in your own passions, you will learn HOW to learn, which is an invaluable aspect of education.
Am enjoying being here
Most people will tell you that as soon as they stepped on campus, they knew it was home. It could have been the view from the cozy, woodsy campus - from the patio of Kaelber hall, you can look out onto the breathtakingly beautiful Frenchman bay. Perhaps it was the people that felt like home. Friendly, energetic intellectuals who welcome just about anyone they see around campus. Maybe it took the classroom experience to pull them in. Sitting in on your first COA class is like being introduced to an entirely new world of possibilities. Challenging, fun, often mind-blowing.

So what do we do for fun on a tiny island off the coast of Maine?
Acadia National Park is more or less the back yard of College of the Atlantic. It is an amazing opportunity for recreation and education, beautiful year-round. At the college, students are rarely bored. From All College Meetings (or ACM), where students have a powerful voice in the college's decisions, to open mics, theater presentations, dances, and field trips.
Bang for the buck
The price tag of any college can add sticker-shock. Admittedly, College of the Atlantic isn't cheap. It is a private institution and is priced as such. However, students at College of the Atlantic come from all walks of life, all income levels, etc. An impressive number of international students flock here each year. COA is extremely generous with scholarship money, grants, etc. A very committed staff will personally take the time to make sure you can afford your tuition. You can also choose to be involved in work-study, which is an enriching part of the COA experience. One of the positions is well sought after - kitchen duty, where students learn to prepare organic and local foods with care.

Whatever the price tag, COA is invaluable. It will diversify you, allow you to travel (money is set aside for this), change your perspective on the world, and introduce you to people that can and will help you grow as a person.
Tips for prospective students
Prospective students should definitely visit in person. Most students are from out of state, and travel may be difficult, but it is definitely worth it. College of the Atlantic can not be put into words, it is an experience in itself. I would advise students to apply for the Fall Fly-in before their senior year. For this program, students write a personal essay on a given topic and if they are selected, COA will provide an all-expenses paid trip to visit the college, stay in a dorm, and interview with a counselor.

Great for these types of students
Students at COA are interested in a myriad of subjects and studies. Don't let the one major concept scare you. Human ecology is, in very brief and broad terms, the study of the nature of human interaction with their environment.

That being said, the typical COA student (if you can call them typical) is dedicated, curious, and self-driven. Whether you're into economics, plants, or art, you can find a place at College of the Atlantic.
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Brittany from Ventura, CA

a current student here
10 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Am learning a lot
Professors here are passionate and devoted to their students, in addition, to being well recognized in their fields. Class sizes are small, usually about 10 students, allowing professors to get to know their students personally. They usually recommend meeting every couple weeks to check in and give feedback. Classes have been challenging, pushing me to excel, but not too difficult to the point where it is over my head.
Am enjoying being here
COA is in a beautiful location on the coast on Maine, right next to Acadia National Park. You can always find something to do outside, even in the winter. The community is really welcoming and supportive, making it easy to meet people and make friends right away. On campus every Sunday, there are community dinners, where people cook and eat, with the other residents. On Wednesdays, there are All College Meetings, where students have the opportunity to voice their opinions about issues on campus. COA is a truly amazing place and I am really enjoying being a part of it.
Bang for the buck
COA gives generous financial aid and is a need-blind school. I received the Presidential Scholarship so I am granted $12,000 in addition, to money set aside for research or study abroad. But, I hear from my friends as well that COA offered them more aid than any of the other schools they applied to.
Tips for prospective students
The people in the admissions office are welcoming and they just want to get to know you. You should come visit and see it for yourself. Schedule an interview while you are here and if you can't make it, at least, schedule a phone or Skype interview.
Great for these types of students
COA is for students that are passionate about learning that don't want to be bound to one area of study. They see the interconnections between subjects and want to integrate them and create their own curriculum. COA is for students that want to be involved in a community. Students tend to have a sense of social and environmental responsibility, and are the idealistic types. The motto for the school is life changing, world changing and I think students really reflect that.
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Alex from Cedarburg, WI

a current student here
9 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
Built to let you find your own way to your own passion. Wedged between the Atlantic Ocean and a national park, it's the perfect setting for experiential learning. This is a school of Human Ecology, and it's up to the students to make that phrase do work for them.
Tips for prospective students
Bring rubber boots! Chances are you'll be wading in tidal pools and rivers. Come prepared to explore absolutely everything you have ever been interested in. Stop thinking for a minute about how college is usually run.
Academic Rigor
The school is all about letting you test your limits and plumb your passions. You can choose to take classes for a grade, or pass-fail, and many professors encourage the latter because they believe that grades are not actually representative of a student's learning or ability.
Students often set up independent studies and can take a term-long residency in which they fully explore any topic of interest to them.
Classes are often small and discussion based. Because of this intimate setting, a lot is expected of students, and they can often be found reading dense, but interesting, material at all hours of the day and loving it.
Dorm Life
I live off campus, but the dorms all have character and lead to fantastic community.
Food and Dining
Vegan, veg, gluten-free friendly. Typically pretty tasty food, much of which is sourced locally or even from the school's organic farm. Can be a bit pricey, but the grocery store (and a small natural foods store) is not far away in town.
What to do for fun
Swim in the ocean, explore Acadia National Park, sail one of the school's boats, paddle a kayak or canoe, go snowshoeing, jam with students, play a pickup game of soccer or ultimate or ice hockey, make great food with your housemates, learn!
Bang for the buck
It's an expensive school, make no mistake, but the financial aid is still very good. In the end, it comes out (for me) to be slightly more expensive than a state school back home.
Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus
There are endless little nooks and places to explore along the waterfront or in the gardens of the school. The buildings themselves have a lot of character, and if you need some perfect spot to study or read or think or sit, you will most certainly find it.
Great for these types of students
Adventurers, outdoorsy types, artists, critical thinkers, go-getters, problem-solvers, questioners of all things, explorers, voracious learners.
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Meghan from Toms River, NJ

researching this school
4 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
If this college is anything, it's genuine. From the people to the location, everything about COA is holistic and caring. From the moment I set foot on campus to when I left two days later, I felt like I was home- I was incredibly at peace -and unshakably happy.
Tips for prospective students
VISIT! It can be difficult to arrange travel and such, but visiting is worth it. There's so much about the college itself that can't be fully realized until you step on campus, smell the salt air, see the smiling faces that abound there, and explore a bit for yourself. Also, apply to the Fall Fly-In program. It's an amazing opportunity, and even if you don't get accepted, just applying can help you (I wasn't accepted, but received a $200 voucher to help pay for travel expenses when I went to visit the college anyway).
Academic Rigor
I sat in on three classes, and from what I could tell, the workload wasn't too bad, and the material was interesting. The professors are quirky and dedicated to their students- truly passionate people doing what they love. If you're passionate about learning, you'll do well indeed!
Dorm Life
I stayed at College of the Atlantic for two days and two nights when I went to visit. Now, I'm normally very shy, but everyone was so incredibly nice, I was seldom nervous, and felt VERY welcome. The dorms are full of character, clean, comfortable, and homey. They range from old summer houses that were converted into dorms to more modern, recently built dorms.
Food and Dining
The food is amazing, and obviously made with care. The students at COA make the food, serve the food, and probably help plant it too (the college owns two farms). It's some of the best food I've ever had, and I love how they're so conscious of other people's preferences (There are always vegan options and more. Certainly, COA is a college full of choices and freedom!).
What to do for fun
Hike in Acadia National Park, swim in the ocean, explore! Canoe, kayak, climb the rocky shore, play games, chill with friends, read... the opportunities are limited only by you!
Great for these types of students
Lovers of nature, knowledge, choices, and freedom. Anyone who longs to take control of their education and learn more about themselves, the world, and learning itself.
Clubs and Activities
There is SO much to do at COA. While I was there, I went to a Peace-talk, listened to the chorus practice, and watched students play cricket and practice tight-rope walking.
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