Amherst vs Cornell: Which University is the Best Fit for You?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Amherst campus from afar

Amherst vs Cornell: Which University is the Best Fit for You?

Choosing a university is one of the most significant decisions a student can make. There are numerous factors to consider, including the location, academic programs, student life, and more. This article will compare Amherst College vs Cornell University, two prestigious universities in the United States. We will examine various aspects of both universities and provide an in-depth comparison to help you decide which school is the best fit for you.

Location and Campus: How do Amherst and Cornell compare?

Amherst College and Cornell University are located in different regions of the United States. Amherst is a small town in Massachusetts, while Cornell is located in Ithaca, New York. Despite their geographical differences, both universities have beautiful and well-maintained campuses.

Amherst’s campus is known for its picturesque scenery and classic New England architecture. It is relatively small, allowing students to easily navigate the campus and develop a sense of community. On the other hand, Cornell’s campus spans over 700 acres and has a mix of architectural styles. Cornell’s campus also boasts stunning gorges, streams, and waterfalls, making it a popular destination for hikers and nature enthusiasts

Another notable difference between the two campuses is their size. Amherst’s campus is relatively small, with a total area of 1,000 acres. In contrast, Cornell’s campus is much larger, with a total area of 2,300 acres. This difference in size is reflected in the number of students enrolled at each university. Amherst has a student population of around 1,800, while Cornell has over 23,000 students. Despite their size differences, both universities offer a wide range of academic programs and extracurricular activities to their students.

Cornell Chimes at the Cornell campus

Academic Programs: Amherst vs Cornell

Academic programs are a crucial factor for students when choosing a university. Both Amherst and Cornell have formidable academic reputations and offer various majors and minors. At Amherst, students can choose from 38 majors, including popular options like economics, biology, and psychology. In contrast, Cornell offers over 80 majors across its seven undergraduate colleges, including agricultural and life sciences, business, engineering, and arts and sciences.

Both universities also provide ample opportunities for research and experiential learning. Students at Amherst can conduct research with faculty or participate in the college’s open curriculum, allowing them to personalize their educational experience. Cornell students can work on research projects through the Office of Undergraduate Research and have access to prestigious programs like the Cornell Cooperative Extension for hands-on learning.

Furthermore, both universities offer a wide range of minors that complement their majors. At Amherst, students can choose from 850 courses across 45 departments, allowing them to explore their interests and passions. Cornell offers over 100 minors, including unique options like atmospheric science, game design, and inequality studies.

Additionally, both universities have strong graduate programs, providing students with opportunities to continue their education and pursue advanced degrees. Amherst offers graduate programs in fields like neuroscience and computer science, while Cornell has over 100 graduate fields of study, including law, medicine, and veterinary medicine.

Student Life: A comparison of the social scene, clubs, and extracurricular activities at Amherst and Cornell

Student life is another essential factor to consider when deciding which university to attend. At Amherst, social life is centered around small dorms and fraternity parties. The college also has various clubs, including an improv group, environmental club, and newspaper.

Cornell, on the other hand, has a larger student population and more diverse extracurricular activities. The university has over 1,000 registered student organizations, covering a broad spectrum of interests from music to sports to social justice. Cornell’s Greek life scene is more prevalent than Amherst’s, providing ample opportunities for students to socialize and network.

Additionally, Amherst has a strong focus on community service and encourages students to participate in volunteer work. The college has partnerships with local organizations, and students can get involved in projects such as tutoring, mentoring, and fundraising. This emphasis on giving back to the community is a significant aspect of student life at Amherst.

Meanwhile, Cornell has a robust sports program, with over 30 varsity teams and numerous club and intramural sports. The university also hosts several annual sporting events, including the Big Red Freakout hockey game and the Cornell vs. Harvard football game. For students who enjoy athletics, Cornell provides ample opportunities to participate in and support sports teams.

front view of Cornell University surrounded by trees

Cost of Attendance: Which university is more affordable, Amherst or Cornell?

Both Amherst and Cornell are private universities, making them more expensive than public institutions. However, there are a few differences in cost to consider.

Amherst’s annual tuition and fees cost approximately $60,000, making it one of the more expensive liberal arts colleges in the United States. However, the college offers generous financial aid packages, which means that most students graduate debt-free.

Cornell, on the other hand, charges around $57,000 in tuition and fees, but their sizeable student body can make some programs more competitive, which can limit opportunities for internships and financial aid.

It’s important to note that the cost of attendance at both universities goes beyond just tuition and fees. Students must also consider the cost of room and board, textbooks, and other expenses. At Amherst, the average cost of room and board is around $16,000 per year, while at Cornell, it’s closer to $15,000.

Another factor to consider is location. Amherst is located in a small town in western Massachusetts, which can limit opportunities for off-campus employment and entertainment. Cornell, on the other hand, is located in Ithaca, New York, which is a larger college town with more options for students. However, the cost of living in Ithaca is generally higher than in Amherst.

Admission Requirements: A breakdown of the admissions criteria for both universities

Admission to both universities is challenging as they are highly selective. Amherst College and Cornell University each have an acceptance rate of around 10%.

Amherst is need-blind in its admission process, meaning that it does not consider an applicant’s ability to pay when making admission decisions. The college requires either the SAT or ACT as well as two SAT Subject Tests. Additionally, Amherst values extracurricular activities and community involvement in its admission criteria.

Cornell requires either the SAT or ACT and two SAT Subject Tests from applicants. The university is not need-blind in its admission process, however, it meets 100% of demonstrated financial need for admitted students. Cornell also emphasizes leadership and community service activities in its admission decisions.

Aside from academic achievements and extracurricular activities, both universities also consider an applicant’s personal essay as an important factor in the admission process. The essay provides an opportunity for the applicant to showcase their writing skills and express their personality and values. Amherst College requires a personal essay as part of the Common Application, while Cornell University requires applicants to respond to one of seven essay prompts.

Furthermore, both universities encourage applicants to participate in an interview as part of the admission process. Amherst College offers optional interviews with alumni or admissions officers, while Cornell University offers interviews with alumni or current students. The interview provides an opportunity for the applicant to demonstrate their interest in the university and ask any questions they may have about the school.

Cornell University building

Student Body: A comparison of the demographics and diversity at Amherst and Cornell

The student body’s diversity is another important consideration when selecting a university. Amherst College and Cornell University boast diverse student populations.

Amherst has a student body of roughly 1,800 and is known for its commitment to diversity. Approximately 45% of the student body are students of color, and the college has various programs and initiatives to promote inclusivity and equity.

Cornell’s student population exceeds 23,000, with students hailing from over 100 countries. The university has a diverse range of perspectives and experiences, making it an attractive destination for students seeking a global perspective.

In addition to their commitment to diversity, both Amherst and Cornell have active student organizations and clubs that celebrate and promote diversity. These organizations provide a space for students to connect with others who share similar backgrounds and experiences, and to learn about different cultures and perspectives.

Furthermore, both universities have dedicated resources and support systems for underrepresented students. Amherst has a Multicultural Resource Center that provides programming and support for students of color, LGBTQ+ students, and first-generation college students. Cornell has a number of diversity and inclusion initiatives, including the Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, which provide resources and support for students from diverse backgrounds.

Faculty and Resources: Amherst vs Cornell

The university’s faculty and resources contribute significantly to the educational experience. Amherst and Cornell have highly qualified faculties and offer ample resources to support students.

Amherst has a student-to-faculty ratio of 7:1, which allows students to work closely with professors. Many of the professors have Ph.D. or equivalent degrees in their respective fields and actively publish research.

Cornell also has a distinguished faculty composed of many experts in various fields. The university is also home to cutting-edge research facilities, libraries, and centers of excellence, providing ample resources for students.

However, one notable difference between the two universities is the size of their faculties. Cornell has a much larger faculty than Amherst, which can make it more challenging for students to develop close relationships with their professors. Additionally, while both universities offer extensive resources, Cornell’s resources may be more spread out across its many campuses and departments, making them less accessible to some students.

Amherst College

Career Services: Amherst vs Cornell

Career services are an essential factor to consider when choosing a university. Amherst and Cornell offer impressive career services, including internships, job fairs, and counseling.

Amherst’s Career Center offers services, including one-on-one career counseling, mock interviews, and graduate school advising. The center also teaches students how to write a resume and cover letter and provides guidance on job and internship searches.

Cornell’s Career Services provides similar services, including career counseling and resume/cover letter reviews. The university is known for connecting students with top employers and has partnerships with over 1,300 companies.

Additionally, both universities have career development programs that help students explore their interests and skills, and connect them with alumni and professionals in their desired fields. Amherst’s program, called “Amherst Select,” offers students the opportunity to participate in career treks, where they visit companies and organizations in various industries. Cornell’s program, called “Cornell Career Exploration,” provides students with resources to explore different career paths and gain hands-on experience through internships and job shadowing opportunities.

Alumni Networks: Amherst vs Cornell

Alumni networks can be an invaluable resource in finding internships, jobs, and mentors. Both universities have a vast and robust alumni network.

Amherst has a tight-knit alumni network, with over 21,000 members worldwide. Alumni often give back to the college by volunteering their time, connecting current students with job prospects, or contributing to the school’s endowment.

Cornell’s massive alumni network includes over 255,000 members spanning over 160 countries and offers various programs to support and engage alumni. Alumni often serve as mentors, recruit new talent, and provide philanthropic support to the university.

Despite the differences in size and structure, both Amherst and Cornell alumni networks offer unique benefits to their members. Amherst’s smaller network allows for more personalized connections and a sense of community, while Cornell’s larger network provides a wider range of opportunities and resources. Regardless of the size, both networks are a testament to the strong bonds formed between alumni and their alma maters, and the importance of maintaining those connections long after graduation.

Amherst College

Athletics: Amherst vs Cornell

Athletics and sports programs contribute significantly to campus life. Amherst and Cornell have competitive athletic teams and top-tier facilities.

Amherst is a Division III school and is part of the New England Small College Athletic Conference. The college fields teams in athletics, soccer, basketball, ice hockey, and other sports, and its teams frequently rank highly in intercollegiate sports.

Cornell, on the other hand, is a Division I school and has a storied history in college athletics. The university competes in the Ivy League and has won national championships in sports like wrestling, lacrosse, and football. Cornell’s athletic facilities are also top-notch, including a brand-new athletic center and state-of-the-art training facilities.

Despite the differences in division, both universities prioritize the well-being of their student-athletes. Amherst has a dedicated sports medicine team that provides comprehensive care to its athletes, including injury prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation. Cornell also has a robust sports medicine program, with a team of physicians, athletic trainers, and physical therapists who work together to ensure the health and safety of its athletes.

Another notable difference between the two universities is the level of fan support for their respective sports teams. Amherst has a strong tradition of school spirit, with students, faculty, and alumni coming out in droves to support their teams. Cornell also has a passionate fan base, but its large size and diverse student body make it more challenging to create a unified fan culture. Nevertheless, both universities offer a vibrant and exciting sports scene that adds to the overall college experience.

Campus Safety: Amherst vs Cornell

Campus safety is a crucial consideration when selecting a university. Both Amherst and Cornell take campus safety seriously and have numerous measures in place to ensure student safety.

Amherst’s campus security team is available 24/7 to ensure campus safety and provides services like safety escorts and emergency response. The college also has emergency telephones and text alert systems to ensure students’ safety in case of an emergency.

Cornell’s campus safety measures include multiple emergency notification systems, a campus police department, and a safety escort service. Additionally, the university has implemented a variety of safety protocols, such as safety training for students living off-campus and mental health support services.

Despite the similarities in their safety measures, there are some differences between the two universities. For example, Amherst has a strict policy on alcohol and drug use on campus, which is enforced by campus security. Cornell, on the other hand, has a harm reduction approach to drug and alcohol use, which includes providing resources and support for students struggling with addiction.

Another difference is in the way the universities handle sexual assault cases. Amherst has a dedicated Title IX office that handles all reports of sexual assault and harassment, while Cornell has a network of resources, including a Sexual Assault and Violence Prevention Program, to support survivors and prevent future incidents.

Amherst College

Reputation & Rankings: Amherst vs Cornell

Both Amherst and Cornell have excellent reputations and rank highly in various university rankings.

Amherst is consistently ranked as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the United States by publications like U.S. News & World Report and Forbes. The college is also recognized for its academic excellence and social mobility initiatives.

Cornell is a distinguished research university and is consistently ranked in the top 20 national universities by U.S. News & World Report. The university is also recognized for its strength in subjects like engineering, business, and hospitality, earning high rankings in these areas.

Another factor that contributes to Amherst’s reputation is its commitment to diversity and inclusion. The college has a diverse student body and offers various programs and initiatives to support underrepresented groups. Amherst is also known for its strong alumni network, with many graduates going on to successful careers in various fields.

Similarly, Cornell is recognized for its global reach and impact. The university has a strong international presence, with campuses and partnerships around the world. Cornell also has a reputation for innovation and entrepreneurship, with many successful startups and inventions coming out of the university’s research labs.

Graduate Outcomes: Amherst vs Cornell

Graduate outcomes are a crucial factor to consider when selecting a university. Employers often consider where job candidates attended university, the skill set they obtained, and the employment rate of recent graduates.

Amherst College has a robust alumni network, and its graduates typically go on to successful careers in various fields. Approximately 86% of Amherst graduates enter the workforce within six months of graduation, and many pursue graduate school opportunities.

Cornell graduates are also highly sought after by employers, with more than 90% of graduates being employed or pursuing further education soon after graduation. The university’s strong alumni network, cutting-edge research facilities, and diverse educational experiences all contribute to its high post-graduation employment rate.

In addition to high post-graduation employment rates, both Amherst College and Cornell University offer a range of resources to support their graduates’ career development. Amherst College’s Career Center provides students and alumni with career counseling, job search assistance, and networking opportunities. Similarly, Cornell’s Career Services offers a variety of career-related resources, including career fairs, workshops, and individual advising sessions.

Furthermore, both universities have strong internship programs that provide students with hands-on experience in their chosen fields. Amherst College’s Career Center helps students find internships in a variety of industries, including finance, healthcare, and education. Cornell’s Career Services also offers internship opportunities, as well as research and study abroad programs that allow students to gain valuable experience and expand their professional networks.

Conclusion: Which university is the better fit for you?

The decision to choose between Amherst and Cornell ultimately depends on individual students’ needs, preferences, and goals. Both universities have their unique strengths and weaknesses, and students must carefully consider the various aspects before making a final decision.

For students seeking a small and tight-knit community with a focus on undergraduate education and personalization, Amherst College could be the perfect choice. In contrast, students seeking a larger and more diverse university with a broader range of academic programs and extracurricular opportunities may find Cornell University to be the better fit. Whatever decision you make, you can be sure that both universities offer exceptional academic experiences, numerous resources, and a robust alumni network, setting you up for a successful career and future.

Amherst College

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