Building community has always been at the heart of Orientation. “And this year it’s built deeper into Orientation than ever,” says Blake Reilly, an assistant dean of student affairs who oversees the massive on-boarding of the college’s newest students, the Class of 2025.

With the 556 members of the new class poised to arrive and move in on Aug. 26, the meaning is definite and clear: the need to help Bates’ newest students go from strangers to acquaintances to friends, from individuals to part of a community.  

Last August, in the teeth of the pandemic, Opening Day was brief and festivity-free. Professionals, rather than fellow students, helped haul gear into residences.

First-years stayed inside until testing negative for COVID-19. During Orientation, all meals, as they would be all year, were grab ‘n’ go. Programming was highly virtual. There were no outdoor AESOP trips around Maine and New Hampshire. Physical distancing was required.

“We all realize, from data and anecdotally, what was missing last year, and what our students craved, especially our first years, was being able to move beyond their residential social groups,” Reilly says.

“It was difficult for them to make connections outside pre-built social structures, which is your residence or your classes. And it was out of necessity” because of the pandemic.

After a hiatus due to the pandemic, off-campus student-led AESOP trips return for the Class of 2025. Seen here in 2015, students on an outdoor AESOP trip to nearby Mount Blue State Park play light-up frisbee over the campfire and under the stars. (Josh Kuckens/Bates College)

This year, Bates seeks to redouble efforts to “create in-person opportunities for building relationships and having conversations in a structured, positive ways.”

Also stepped up is the number of returning students who will help welcome the Class of 2025, says Reilly, more than 400, including student Junior Advisers and Residence Coordinators, who support students in the residences; Orientation Week Leaders who help coordinate activities; AESOP leaders; and members of several varsity teams.

Still recognizing the multi-faceted pandemic, Reilly describes this year’s six-day Orientation as “traditional but with as many transmission-reduction strategies as possible.”

That means lots of events outside under tents (two of ‘em) and “fewer events where we meet as a full class. More gatherings where we split the class in half, or in quarters.” Student-led off-campus AESOP trips return this year, featuring day trips over two days rather than overnight trips.

Last year’s Orientation coincided with a long-planned shift in programming to make Orientation a more intentional time for “students to encounter and explore, for the first time, the values that are central to our community,” says Stephen Engel, a professor of politics who also serves Student Affairs as a Faculty Fellow and worked extensively on the new programming.

Threaded throughout Orientation, through both online programming and in-person events, those values are specifically defined as Community; Equity, Inclusion, Access, Anti-Racism, and Educational Justice; Academic Inquiry and Exploration; Purpose and Identity; Health and Wellness; and Sense of Place.

Also ramped up this year is the number of returning students, more than 400, says Reilly, who will be on hand to welcome the Class of 2025. The throng includes student Junior Advisers and Residence Coordinators, who support students in the residences; Orientation Week Leaders who help coordinate activities; AESOP leaders; and members of several varsity teams.

“A lot of people are supporting this move-in. And we’re excited about that,” said Reilly.

Application, demographic, geographic numbers about the Class of 2025

Applications: 7,319 

Class size: 556

Admission rate: 17.3%

Yield rate: 43.8%

Female-identified: 53%

Male-identified: 47%

U.S. Students of Color: 27%

International Students: 11%

First Generation to College: 12% 

U.S. Geography

  • Middle Atlantic 25%
  • Midwest 7%
  • New England 35%
  • Southeast 4%
  • Southwest and West 18%
Fun facts about the Class of 2025

In myriad ways, this is another impressively multi-talented Bates class. Crossing the quad this fall you might pass a student who:

  • As part of a town commission, helped pass a citizen petition resolution for net zero emissions
  • Co-owns a Maine lobster boat with siblings, and made and donated more than 100 reusable shopping bags for their school eco club
  • Custom-paints sneakers with pop culture characters, donating 20 percent of profits to Girls Write Now
  • Started a sustainable, eco-friendly business creating bamboo straws
  • Created an online music-sharing platform
  • Became an Adirondack 46er by climbing all 46 of the traditionally recognized high peaks of the Adirondack Mountains
  • Competed in the European Youth Olympic Games as a member of the Belgian alpine team 
  • Authored and illustrated self-published a children’s book series
  • Is an advanced certified SCUBA diver with 70-plus dives worldwide since age 14
  • DJ’d at their school’s radio station and chaired its board of directors
  • Was first author on a four-year research analysis of how adolescents view vaping content on YouTube
  • Has competed in 20 triathlons
  • Is a nomadic sheep and goat herder in Mongolia — and also an official Slytherin House member of the Potterheads of Mongolia
  • Finished in the top 20 at the Harvard College World Schools Debate Invitational  
  • Is a trained blacksmith who apprenticed under their father
  • Co-founded the Disarm Hate activism student group in their California town 
  • Is a professional illustrator selected to co-create a comic with 55 other Paraguayan artists
  • Is a nationally competitive equestrian
  • Is a skilled parkour enthusiast
  • Is a self-taught Irish bagpipe player
  • Created a series on TikTok about Dracula, as portrayed by the Hungarian actor Bela Lugosi, as a way to make cross-cultural connections, that has over 140,000 thousand views and 20,000 thousand likes  
  • Co-created a TikTok brand with more than 277,000 followers and 5.2 million likes
  • Is a professional table tennis player