Amherst vs Columbia: Which College is Right for You?

August 16, 2023
By AdmissionSight

Amherst vs Columbia: Which College is Right for You?

Choosing the right school for your undergraduate studies can be a challenging and overwhelming experience. With so many options available, it can be tough to differentiate between schools that all seem to offer similar academic and social opportunities. In this article, we’ll compare Amherst vs Columbia to help you decide which school is right for you.

Location: Comparing the Pros and Cons of Amherst and Columbia

One of the most critical factors to consider when deciding between Amherst and Columbia is the location. Amherst is located in the charming town of Amherst, Massachusetts, offering a serene and scenic environment. In contrast, Columbia is situated in the bustling city of New York, offering endless job opportunities and cultural experiences.

While the small town environment of Amherst may be ideal for some students looking for a peaceful college life, others may find it limiting. Similarly, the fast-paced lifestyle of New York may prove too stressful for some students, while others may thrive in the city environment.

Another factor to consider when comparing the locations of Amherst and Columbia is the cost of living. Amherst, being a small town, has a lower cost of living compared to New York City. This means that students in Amherst may be able to save more money on housing, food, and other expenses. On the other hand, living in New York City can be expensive, and students may need to budget more carefully to make ends meet.

Columbia University of New York in winter

Size Matters: A Look at the Student Population of Each College

Another essential factor to consider is the number of students in each school. Amherst is a small liberal arts college with around 1800 students, while Columbia is a research university with approximately 31,500 students.

Small colleges have the advantage of tight-knit communities and personalized attention from professors, while large universities offer more diverse academic programs and a wider range of extracurricular activities. It all comes down to what you prioritize as a student.

However, it’s important to note that the size of a college can also impact the social scene. Small colleges may have a more limited social scene, while larger universities may offer more opportunities to meet new people and get involved in different groups and organizations.

Additionally, the size of a college can also affect the resources available to students. Larger universities may have more funding for research and technology, while smaller colleges may have more limited resources but may offer more opportunities for hands-on experience and individualized attention from faculty.

Amherst vs Columbia: Campus Culture

The campus culture is also a vital consideration when deciding on a college. Amherst is known for its collaborative and community-focused atmosphere, while Columbia has a more competitive and individualistic culture.

Do you prefer a more collaborative and supportive environment or a more competitive and independent culture?

It’s important to note that campus culture can vary within different departments and student groups at both Amherst and Columbia. For example, the engineering department at Amherst may have a more competitive culture compared to the art department, which may have a more collaborative culture. Similarly, certain student organizations at Columbia may prioritize teamwork and community building over individual achievement. It’s important to research and consider the specific subcultures within each college when evaluating campus culture.

Low Memorial Library at Columbia University with the statue of Alma Mater, New York City

Amherst vs Columbia: Academics

One of the most crucial factors to consider when choosing a college is the academic programs offered. Amherst offers an extensive range of majors and has a reputation for its exceptional liberal arts programs. Columbia, on the other hand, has a wide variety of academic programs, including highly respected graduate schools.

When considering your academic interests and goals, it’s essential to research the programs offered at each college.

In addition to the range of majors offered, Amherst also has a unique open curriculum that allows students to design their own course of study. This approach gives students the flexibility to explore their interests and passions while still meeting graduation requirements. On the other hand, Columbia has a more structured curriculum that requires students to fulfill specific distribution requirements in addition to their major courses.Another important aspect to consider is the quality of faculty and research opportunities. Both Amherst and Columbia have renowned faculty members who are experts in their fields. However, Columbia’s location in New York City provides students with unparalleled access to research opportunities and internships in various industries. Amherst, on the other hand, has a smaller student-to-faculty ratio, which allows for more personalized attention and mentorship from professors. Ultimately, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each college’s academic offerings and determine which one aligns best with your academic goals and interests.

Faculty Quality: A Comparison of the Teaching Staff at Amherst and Columbia

The quality of the teaching staff can make a significant difference in your college experience. Amherst boasts a student-to-faculty ratio of 8:1, while Columbia has a ratio of 6:1.

In addition, both schools have a high percentage of professors with Doctorate degrees, ensuring that students receive the highest quality of education from experienced professionals.

However, there are some differences in the faculty composition between the two schools. Amherst has a higher percentage of full-time faculty members, while Columbia has a higher percentage of adjunct professors. This means that at Amherst, students are more likely to have consistent interactions with their professors, while at Columbia, they may have a mix of full-time and part-time instructors.

Furthermore, Amherst has a strong emphasis on undergraduate teaching, with professors who prioritize teaching over research. At Columbia, there is a greater focus on research, with professors who are actively engaged in their fields and may have less time for individual student attention.

Amherst vs Columbia: Research Opportunities

Research opportunities are a crucial factor to consider, particularly if you plan to pursue a career in academia. Columbia’s research facilities are among the best in the world, offering unparalleled opportunities for students to conduct groundbreaking research.

While Amherst may not have the same level of research facilities as Columbia, students have access to research opportunities through the Five Colleges Consortium, which includes Amherst, Smith, Mount Holyoke, Hampshire, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

View of Columbia university.

It’s important to note that research opportunities at a college are not solely dependent on the facilities available. The faculty and their research interests also play a significant role. At Columbia, the faculty members are renowned experts in their fields, and students have the chance to work alongside them on research projects. At Amherst, the faculty members are also highly accomplished and dedicated to mentoring students in their research endeavors.

Additionally, both Columbia and Amherst offer undergraduate research programs that provide funding and support for students to conduct independent research projects. These programs allow students to explore their interests and gain valuable research experience, regardless of the size or resources of the college’s research facilities.

Amherst vs Columbia: Extracurriculars

Extracurricular activities play a vital role in the college experience, allowing students to develop leadership skills, make friends, and pursue interests outside of their academic studies.

Both Amherst and Columbia offer a wide range of clubs and organizations, from sports teams to community service groups. However, Columbia’s location in New York City gives students access to even more opportunities, such as internships in top companies and cultural events.

At Amherst, students can participate in unique clubs such as the Cheese Club, which explores different types of cheese and their origins, or the Astronomy Club, which hosts stargazing events and lectures. Columbia, on the other hand, offers clubs such as the Columbia University Film Productions, which allows students to create and produce their own films, and the Columbia University Science Fiction Society, which discusses and analyzes science fiction literature and media.

Cost of Attendance: Comparing the Tuition, Fees, and Financial Aid Options

Cost is a critical factor to consider when choosing a college. Amherst has a tuition fee of around $62,300, while Columbia’s tuition fee is around $61,850. However, Columbia’s location in New York City makes the cost of living higher than Amherst.

Both schools offer generous financial aid programs to help students afford the cost of attendance, but it’s crucial to explore your options and choose the most affordable college for you.

In addition to tuition and living expenses, it’s important to consider other costs associated with attending college. These may include textbooks, transportation, and extracurricular activities. Amherst offers a variety of clubs and organizations for students to get involved in, but some may require additional fees.

Columbia, on the other hand, has a reputation for its strong internship and job placement programs, which can help offset the cost of attendance in the long run. It’s important to weigh all of these factors when making a decision about where to attend college.

Career Prospects: Which College Offers Better Career Opportunities?

Career prospects are essential to consider when choosing a college, as you want to ensure that your education sets you up for success in the working world. Columbia has a reputation for its strong alumni network and offers excellent job opportunities in New York’s industries.

Amherst also has a strong alumni network and offers valuable career opportunities, particularly in liberal arts fields.

However, it’s important to note that career prospects also depend on the individual student’s interests, skills, and career goals. For example, if a student is interested in pursuing a career in finance, Columbia may be the better choice due to its proximity to Wall Street and strong finance program. On the other hand, if a student is interested in pursuing a career in education or social work, Amherst’s focus on liberal arts and community engagement may provide better opportunities.

Amherst College

Amherst vs Columbia: Student Life

One of the best ways to get a feel for a college is to experience a day in the life of a student. At Amherst, students can expect a slower-paced college experience, with campus events such as poetry readings, followed by quiet nights studying.

At Columbia, students will experience a vibrant college life, with up to three campus events per day, as well as nightlife in New York city.

However, despite the differences in campus life, both Amherst and Columbia offer a wide range of extracurricular activities for students to get involved in. At Amherst, students can join clubs such as the Debate Society or the Outing Club, while at Columbia, students can participate in organizations such as the Columbia University Marching Band or the Columbia Daily Spectator newspaper.

Amherst vs Columbia: Housing Options

Last but not least, housing options are essential to consider when choosing a college. Amherst offers traditional dormitory living, while Columbia offers a wide range of housing options, including apartment living in the city.

While both colleges offer various on-campus and off-campus housing options, choosing the right housing option for you depends on your budget and lifestyle.

One advantage of living in a dormitory is the sense of community it provides. Living in close proximity to other students can lead to lifelong friendships and a built-in support system. Additionally, dormitories often have resident advisors who can provide guidance and support to students.

On the other hand, living off-campus can provide more independence and privacy. Students who choose to live off-campus often have more space and the ability to cook their own meals. However, off-campus living can also come with additional responsibilities, such as paying rent and utilities.

Amherst College

Admission Requirements: What it Takes to Get Accepted into Amherst or Columbia

Admission requirements are always a crucial factor, as they determine whether or not you will be accepted into the college of your choice. Both Amherst and Columbia are highly selective and look for a well-rounded student with strong academic records.

Each college has its specific requirements, and it’s essential to research and prepare adequately for the application process.

In addition to strong academic records, both Amherst and Columbia also value extracurricular activities and community involvement. They want to see that you have a passion for something outside of the classroom and that you have made a positive impact in your community. It’s important to showcase your leadership skills and highlight any awards or recognition you have received for your extracurricular activities.

Amherst vs Columbia: Alumni Networks

Alumni networks can significantly impact your career prospects after graduation. Both Amherst and Columbia maintain active alumni networks, providing students with various networking opportunities.

Columbia’s alumni network is particularly strong due to its location in New York City, but Amherst also has a dedicated alumni network that offers valuable career resources.

However, it’s important to note that the strength of an alumni network also depends on the field of study. For example, if you’re interested in pursuing a career in finance, Columbia’s alumni network may be more beneficial due to its proximity to Wall Street and the large number of alumni working in the finance industry.

On the other hand, if you’re interested in pursuing a career in education, Amherst’s alumni network may be more helpful as many alumni have gone on to become educators and can provide valuable insights and connections in the field.

Conclusion: Choosing Between Amherst and Columbia Based on Your Priorities

In conclusion, both Amherst and Columbia are excellent colleges, with a unique set of characteristics and benefits. Choosing between them should ultimately be based on your priorities, whether its location, size, campus culture, academics, research, community, extracurricular activities, cost, career prospects, student life, housing or the admission requirements.

We hope that this comparison of Amherst and Columbia has helped you determine which college is right for you.

It is important to note that while both colleges offer a great education, they have different strengths and weaknesses. For example, Amherst is known for its small class sizes and personalized attention from professors, while Columbia is known for its strong research programs and location in the heart of New York City.

Ultimately, it is up to you to weigh the pros and cons of each college and decide which one aligns best with your goals and priorities. Remember to consider not only the academic offerings, but also the social and cultural aspects of each campus.

Amherst campus from afar

How AdmissionSight Can Help You With College Admissions

AdmissionSight is a college consulting firm that provides personalized assistance to students throughout the college admissions process. Here are some ways that AdmissionSight can help you:

Admissions strategy: AdmissionSight can help you develop a strategic plan for your college application process. Our professional consultants can assist with identifying schools that are a good fit for your academic, extracurricular, and personal goals and help you plan and prioritize your application strategy.

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Extracurricular planning: AdmissionSight can help you plan and develop your extracurricular activities to make them more impactful and meaningful. We can suggest activities that align with your interests and goals and provide guidance on demonstrating your leadership and initiative.

Overall, AdmissionSight can provide valuable guidance and support throughout the college admissions process to help you maximize your chances of getting accepted into the college of your choice.

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