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Amherst vs Princeton: Which University is Right for You?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Amherst College

Amherst vs Princeton: Which University 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 Princeton to help you decide which school is right for you.

Location and Campus Environment

Location and campus environment are two important factors for prospective students. Amherst College is located in Amherst, Massachusetts, a small town in the western part of the state. The campus is surrounded by greenery and has a quaint and secluded feel. Princeton University, on the other hand, is located in Princeton, New Jersey, in close proximity to both New York City and Philadelphia. The campus is larger, with grand buildings and a more urban feel. Both campuses have a strong sense of community and offer a variety of on-campus activities for students.

Aside from the physical environment, the location of a college can also impact the opportunities available to students. Amherst College is situated in the Five College Consortium, which includes nearby colleges such as Smith and Mount Holyoke. This allows for cross-registration and access to a wider range of courses and resources. Princeton University, on the other hand, is located in the heart of New Jersey’s technology corridor, providing students with opportunities for internships and networking with industry professionals.

View of the campus of Princeton University, New Jersey, under snow after a winter storm.

Another important aspect of campus environment is the student body. Amherst College has a student population of around 1,800, with a strong emphasis on diversity and inclusivity. Princeton University has a larger student population of around 8,000, with a focus on academic excellence and research. Both schools have a commitment to providing a supportive and engaging community for their students.

Academic Programs and Offerings

Academic programs are the foundation of any university. Amherst College has a reputation for offering a well-rounded education with a strong focus on the liberal arts. They offer courses in over 40 academic departments and have a student-faculty ratio of 8:1. Princeton University is also known for its strong academics and research opportunities. They offer undergraduate programs in engineering, social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities, among others. The student-faculty ratio at Princeton University is 5:1, providing students with ample opportunities to interact with their professors.

In addition to their undergraduate programs, both Amherst College and Princeton University offer graduate programs in various fields. Amherst College offers graduate programs in neuroscience, chemistry, and mathematics, while Princeton University offers graduate programs in engineering, public affairs, and economics. These graduate programs provide students with the opportunity to further their education and specialize in their chosen field.

Amherst vs Princeton: Student Body Demographics

Both Amherst College and Princeton University have diverse student bodies. Amherst College has an enrollment of approximately 1,800 students, with a 56% female and 44% male gender ratio. The student body is also ethnically diverse, with 45% of students identifying as students of color. Princeton University has an enrollment of approximately 8,000 students, with a 51% female and 49% male gender ratio. They also have a diverse student body, with 47% of students identifying as students of color.

Additionally, both schools have a significant international student population. At Amherst College, 11% of students are international, representing over 50 countries. Princeton University has an even larger international student population, with 12% of students coming from outside the United States, representing over 100 countries.

Admissions Statistics and Criteria

Admission to both Amherst College and Princeton University is highly competitive. Amherst College has an acceptance rate of approximately 11%, with an average SAT score range of 1410-1570 and an ACT score range of 32-35. Princeton University has an acceptance rate of approximately 5%, with an average SAT score range of 1460-1570 and an ACT score range of 33-35. The universities value academic excellence, extracurricular involvement, and personal character in their admissions process.

Aside from academic excellence, extracurricular involvement, and personal character, Amherst College also considers an applicant’s demonstrated interest in the college. This can include attending information sessions, visiting the campus, and communicating with admissions representatives. Princeton University also values diversity and actively seeks to admit students from a variety of backgrounds, including underrepresented minorities, first-generation college students, and low-income students.

Both universities also offer need-blind admissions, meaning that an applicant’s financial need is not taken into consideration during the admissions process. However, they do meet 100% of demonstrated financial need for admitted students through a combination of grants, scholarships, and work-study programs. This ensures that all admitted students, regardless of their financial background, have access to the same opportunities and resources while attending the university.

Financial Aid and Scholarship Opportunities

Both universities have a commitment to providing need-based financial aid and offer generous financial aid packages. Amherst College has a “no-loan” financial aid policy, meaning that students do not have to take out loans to pay for their education. Princeton University also has a need-based financial aid policy and has eliminated loans for students in financial need. Additionally, both universities offer merit-based scholarships to exceptional students.

It is important to note that the financial aid and scholarship opportunities at both universities are not limited to domestic students. International students are also eligible for financial aid and scholarships, although the application process may differ slightly. Amherst College offers need-based financial aid to international students, while Princeton University offers need-blind admission and full-need financial aid to international students. Both universities also offer merit-based scholarships to international students based on academic achievement and other criteria.

Blair Hall on the Princeton University campus.

Sports and Extracurricular Activities

Both Amherst College and Princeton University offer a wide range of sports and extracurricular activities. Amherst College is a Division III school and has 27 varsity sports teams. They also have over 100 student-run clubs and organizations, ranging from service organizations to cultural clubs. Princeton University is a Division I school and has 37 varsity sports teams. They also offer over 300 student-run clubs and organizations, including a student-run television station and a rocket club, among others.

Additionally, both schools have a strong emphasis on community service and offer numerous opportunities for students to get involved in service projects both on and off campus. Amherst College has a Center for Community Engagement that connects students with local organizations and provides resources for community service projects. Princeton University has a Pace Center for Civic Engagement that offers service trips, internships, and volunteer opportunities for students to make a positive impact in their communities.

Housing and Residential Life

Housing and residential life are an important part of the college experience. Amherst College offers a variety of housing options, including traditional dorms, suites, and apartments. They also have specialized housing options, including a wellness housing community and language housing communities. Princeton University offers a similar range of housing options, with traditional dorms, upperclassmen apartments, and specialized housing options, including residential colleges and themed living communities.

It is important to note that both Amherst College and Princeton University prioritize creating a safe and inclusive living environment for all students. They have policies in place to ensure that all students feel comfortable and respected in their living spaces. Additionally, both colleges offer resources and support for students who may be experiencing housing insecurity or difficulty finding affordable housing options off-campus.

Campus Dining Options

Both Amherst College and Princeton University have a variety of on-campus dining options. Amherst College has several on-campus dining halls that offer a range of cuisines. They also have a farm-to-table program that sources food locally. Princeton University offers similar dining options, including multiple dining halls and cafes. They also have a sustainable dining program that focuses on environmentally-friendly practices.

In addition to the on-campus dining options, both Amherst College and Princeton University have partnerships with local restaurants and food trucks. These partnerships allow students to explore the surrounding community and try new foods. Amherst College has a program called “Food for Thought” which hosts events that bring together students and local chefs to discuss food-related topics. Princeton University has a “Food Truck Fiesta” event every semester where food trucks from the area come to campus and offer a variety of cuisines.

Amherst vs Princeton: Career Services and Opportunities for Graduates

Both Amherst College and Princeton University offer career services and opportunities for graduates. Amherst College has a robust career center that provides students with career advice, job search resources, and networking opportunities. Princeton University offers a similar range of services, including career counseling, job and internship search assistance, and alumni networking events. Both universities also have strong alumni networks that can provide valuable career connections and opportunities.

In addition to the career services offered by Amherst College and Princeton University, both institutions have partnerships with various companies and organizations that provide internship and job opportunities for their graduates. These partnerships allow students to gain valuable work experience and make connections in their desired fields.

Furthermore, both universities have programs and resources specifically designed for students interested in entrepreneurship and starting their own businesses. Amherst College has an Entrepreneurship Initiative that offers workshops, mentorship, and funding opportunities for student entrepreneurs. Princeton University has the Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education, which provides resources and support for students interested in entrepreneurship and innovation.

Faculty and Teaching Quality

The quality of faculty and teaching is a crucial factor in determining the academic experience of a university. Amherst College has a student-faculty ratio of 8:1 and boasts a faculty comprised of scholars who are leaders in their fields. Princeton University has a student-faculty ratio of 5:1 and is home to Nobel laureates and MacArthur Fellows, among other distinguished scholars. Both universities emphasize small class sizes and a personalized approach to teaching.

Additionally, both Amherst College and Princeton University prioritize undergraduate education, with faculty members who are dedicated to teaching and mentoring students. This focus on undergraduate education allows for opportunities such as research projects, independent studies, and close relationships with professors. Students at both universities have access to a wealth of knowledge and expertise, and are encouraged to engage in critical thinking and intellectual exploration.

View of Princeton Main Building

Amherst vs Princeton: Research Facilities and Opportunities

Research opportunities can provide students with valuable hands-on experience and are highly sought after by students interested in pursuing graduate school or careers in research. Amherst College offers research opportunities through its independent study program, where students work closely with a faculty member on a research project. Princeton University has a strong research program and provides opportunities for students to work with faculty on research projects, either on-campus or abroad.

In addition to independent study programs, both Amherst College and Princeton University have state-of-the-art research facilities that allow students to conduct cutting-edge research in their fields of interest. Amherst College’s Keefe Science Library provides access to a wide range of scientific journals and databases, while Princeton University’s Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics is a world-renowned research center that focuses on interdisciplinary research in genomics and systems biology. These facilities offer students the opportunity to work with advanced equipment and technology, and collaborate with leading researchers in their fields.

Amherst College

Amherst vs Princeton: Internship Opportunities for Students

Internships can provide students with real-world experience and can be a valuable addition to their resumes. Amherst College has a dedicated internship program that provides students with internship opportunities and support throughout the application process. Princeton University also has a career center that helps students find internships, and students can also apply for internships through their departmental advisers or alumni networks.

It is important for students to research and apply for internships early, as many companies have application deadlines several months in advance. Additionally, some internships may require specific skills or qualifications, so students should carefully review the job descriptions before applying. Students can also consider reaching out to professionals in their desired field for informational interviews or networking opportunities, which can lead to potential internship opportunities.

Amherst vs Princeton: Study Abroad Programs

Study abroad programs can be a transformative and enriching part of the college experience. Amherst College offers a variety of study abroad programs, ranging from semester-long programs to intensive language immersion programs. Princeton University also has a range of study abroad programs, including semester-long programs and summer programs. They also offer funding for students who want to participate in international research opportunities.

Additionally, Harvard University offers a wide range of study abroad programs, including semester-long programs, summer programs, and even year-long programs. These programs are available in various countries around the world, allowing students to immerse themselves in different cultures and gain a global perspective. Harvard also offers language study programs to help students improve their language skills before embarking on their study abroad experience.

Yale University also has a variety of study abroad programs, including semester-long programs, summer programs, and even short-term programs during winter break. These programs are designed to provide students with unique academic and cultural experiences, and they are available in countries all over the world. Yale also offers funding opportunities for students who want to participate in study abroad programs but may need financial assistance.

Amherst vs Princeton: Alumni Network and Connections

The alumni network and connections of a university can be valuable resources for career advice and networking opportunities. Amherst College has a robust alumni network that provides mentorship and networking opportunities for students. Princeton University also has a strong alumni network, with notable alumni in fields such as politics, business, and academia.

Choosing between Amherst College and Princeton University can be a difficult decision. Both universities offer exceptional academics and a range of opportunities for students. Consider your passions, ambitions, and preferences before making your choice. Ultimately, the right university for you is the one that best fits your personal and academic goals.

It is important to note that the strength of an alumni network can vary depending on the field of study. For example, if you are interested in pursuing a career in finance, you may want to consider the alumni network of each university in that specific field. Additionally, some universities have alumni networks that are more active in certain regions or industries. Researching the alumni network of each university can provide valuable insight into potential career paths and opportunities.

Amherst College

In Conclusion

Ultimately, the choice between Amherst College and Princeton University depends on your individual preferences, goals, and values. Whether you lean towards Amherst’s liberal arts approach or Princeton’s rigorous research environment, both institutions offer remarkable opportunities for growth, learning, and personal development. Take the time to research, visit campuses, and reflect on what matters most to you in your higher education journey. Remember that both institutions hold a strong reputation for nurturing brilliant minds and creating meaningful impacts in the world.

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