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Educational Consultant on Colby College and its "Bubble"

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College admissions counselor and educational consultant Mark Montgomery goes to Colby College in Waterville, Maine to talk about its “bubble”: the physical and psychological relative isolation from the nearest urban area. He explains that this effect can tend to attract students who are a little more on the studious end of the spectrum.


I’m here on the campus of Colby College in Waterville, Maine, and I had the pleasure of walking into the art museum today. It’s Sunday, it’s really not an ideal day to be visiting Colby because pretty much nothing is open. I tried with my companion here today, we were trying doors and I was trying to be optimistic, but most everything’s closed.

But we did have the occasion to walk into the art museum and spoke with a young woman who is a student here. And I asked her what she liked about it, and she said, “Well, you know, it’s really great, we’re up here on the hill and this is such a bubble.” And that’s a term that’s used quite often to describe a number of campuses around the country that are relatively isolated or separate from an urban area of any kind.

So Colby, in order to get to town, it’s probably, I don’t know, maybe two miles to get to the commercial heart of the city. Not too bad, not too far, but it’s not right next door.

The Bubble

So when students talk about the “bubble” of the campus, that means that it really is physically and psychologically isolated from the rest of the world. It’s its own little environment. It’s its own little terrarium, if you will, populated by college students who are eager to learn and eager to be involved and have fun, but they want to do it within the environment of the undergraduate experience.

Colby is an undergraduate college, it’s about 1,800 students, and the young woman we met, she was very enthusiastic that there’s tons to do here, there’s plenty to keep one active. And she did say, also, that students are pretty studious, that they take academics seriously. So students who want to come here, they are in some sense trying to avoid the distractions of a big city like New York or Boston or Los Angeles or Chicago, and they want to have a quiet academic life with others who share that priority, that their four years in college is to study, to learn stuff.

But they also still want to have fun

She was very quick to say that the kids at Colby have plenty of fun, very outdoorsy because we are in Maine and the opportunities for outdoor involvement are terrific, whether it’s skiing, whether it’s going to the lakes in the summertime, or there’s a pond over here, and I presume they have ice skating in the middle of the winter.

Tons to do, it’s also a very athletic school, it’s a member of the NESCAC group, the New England Small Colleges. Very, very busy place. But it’s separate from any sort of city. It has its own little environment and that’s why we call it the Colby Bubble here on the hill. So great place, nice day, next time I hope I can come on a day other than Sunday so I can actually get in some of the buildings. But a very attractive campus and clearly a top-notch liberal arts college in the north of New England.
Mark Montgomery
Expert Educational Consultant


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