Colby vs Princeton: Which University is Right for You?

October 25, 2023
By AdmissionSight

Colby vs Princeton: Which University is Right for You?

Choosing the right university can be a daunting task, especially when there are so many excellent options available. Two of the most popular universities in the United States, Colby and Princeton, are often on students’ radar. Both institutions offer top-notch education, student resources, and strong communities. However, they also have their unique features that distinguish them from each other. In this article, we’ll compare Colby vs Princeton and help you decide which university may be the right fit for you.

Location and Campus Size

The first factor to consider when comparing Colby and Princeton is their location and campus size. Colby is located in Waterville, Maine, while Princeton is situated in Princeton, New Jersey. Colby’s campus spans over 714 acres, while Princeton covers about 690 acres. Both universities have picturesque settings, with Colby surrounded by beautiful lakes, forests, and hills, and Princeton in the heart of charming and historic Princeton town.

If you’re someone who enjoys the great outdoors and wants to be surrounded by natural scenery, Colby may be the way to go. In contrast, if you prefer a lively city atmosphere and access to various cultural events and opportunities, Princeton may be the better choice.

Another important aspect to consider when comparing the two universities is the climate. Colby is located in Maine, which experiences cold winters and mild summers. On the other hand, Princeton has a humid subtropical climate, with hot summers and cool winters. This may be a deciding factor for students who have a preference for certain weather conditions.

Additionally, both universities have unique campus cultures. Colby is known for its strong sense of community and emphasis on outdoor activities, with opportunities for hiking, skiing, and other outdoor sports. Princeton, on the other hand, has a more competitive and academically rigorous environment, with a focus on research and innovation. Students should consider their personal preferences and goals when choosing between the two universities.

Academic Programs and Reputation: Colby vs. Princeton

The academic reputation of a university is an essential factor to consider when making a decision. Colby and Princeton both have excellent academic programs and prestigious reputations. Colby’s liberal arts curriculum offers over 60 majors and minors and encourages interdisciplinary studies, providing students with a well-rounded education. On the other hand, Princeton has a more focused curriculum and offers an expansive range of majors, including engineering, social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities.

an engineer working using his tablet

When it comes to academic reputation, both institutions boast impressive statistics. Princeton is consistently ranked in the top ten universities in the United States, while Colby has a top-twenty ranking among liberal arts colleges. Both universities have distinguished faculty members who have earned numerous accolades and awards.

Aside from their academic programs and reputation, both Colby and Princeton offer a variety of extracurricular activities and resources for students. Colby has over 100 student-run clubs and organizations, including a student-run radio station and a community service club. Princeton also has a wide range of extracurricular activities, including over 300 student organizations, a student-run newspaper, and a student-run theater group. Additionally, both universities have extensive libraries and research facilities, providing students with access to a wealth of resources and opportunities for academic exploration.

Admission Requirements and Acceptance Rates: Colby vs. Princeton

Applying to college can be a stressful process, so it’s wise to consider admission requirements and acceptance rates before applying. Colby’s acceptance rate is 8%, while Princeton’s is even more competitive at 6%. Both universities require standardized tests, transcripts, essays, and other standard admission materials. However, Colby is test-optional, meaning you can choose not to submit SAT or ACT scores, while Princeton requires these test scores.

If you’re someone who wants to apply to a university with a somewhat higher acceptance rate or no test-score requirement, Colby may be the better choice. But, if you’re ready to take on the challenge of a highly competitive admission process, Princeton may be perfect for you.

It’s important to note that admission requirements and acceptance rates can vary greatly depending on the program or major you’re applying to. For example, Colby’s acceptance rate for their computer science program may be lower than their overall acceptance rate. It’s important to research the specific requirements and acceptance rates for the program you’re interested in.

Additionally, some universities offer early decision or early action options, which can increase your chances of acceptance. However, these options often come with binding agreements, meaning you must attend the university if accepted. It’s important to carefully consider the pros and cons of these options before applying.

Student Life and Extracurricular Activities: Colby vs. Princeton

College is a time not just for academic growth but also for personal development and building a tight-knit community. Colby and Princeton offer impressive selections of extracurricular activities, clubs, and organizations to supplement students’ academic experiences and provide opportunities for socialization and leadership.

Colby’s campus has over 100 student-led organizations, including a debate team and a quidditch club. In contrast, Princeton offers over 300 student organizations, including a debate team, music ensembles, and clubs focused on entrepreneurship and innovation. Both universities have their unique student traditions that encourage community spirit and foster campus pride.

Group of students smiling at the camera while sitting on the stairs.

Aside from the numerous student organizations, both Colby and Princeton offer a variety of student life programs and events. Colby hosts an annual Winter Carnival, where students participate in winter sports and activities, while Princeton has a weekly farmers market and a yearly event called “Princeton Preview,” where prospective students can visit the campus and learn more about the university.

Furthermore, both universities have a strong commitment to community service and encourage students to get involved in volunteer work. Colby has a center for civic engagement that connects students with local organizations, while Princeton has a program called “Community Action” that allows incoming freshmen to participate in service projects before the start of the academic year.

Housing Options and Costs: Colby vs. Princeton

Housing also plays a significant role in campus life, and both universities offer a range of comfortable and convenient options. Colby offers on-campus housing for all students for the full four years, with traditional dorm rooms, apartments, and themed housing options. In comparison, Princeton guarantees on-campus housing for the first two years and offers off-campus housing or independent living in later years.

Both universities’ housing costs are significant and should be taken into account when considering attendance. Colby’s estimated cost of attendance is around $83,000 per year, while Princeton’s is around $79,000 per year.

It is important to note that both universities have policies in place to accommodate students with special housing needs. Colby has a Disability Services Office that works with students to provide accessible housing options, while Princeton has a Housing Accommodations Office that assists students with disabilities, medical conditions, and other special needs.

Additionally, both universities offer housing options for students who wish to live off-campus. Colby has a limited number of off-campus apartments available for upperclassmen, while Princeton has a variety of off-campus housing options, including apartments, houses, and co-ops.

Dining Options and Campus Food Culture: Colby vs. Princeton

Another aspect of campus life that is essential to student satisfaction is the quality of their dining options. Colby and Princeton both have dining services that provide tasty and healthy meals to their students, with a range of dining options and locations available on campus.

Princeton’s dining options are diverse, with a dozen dining locations, including kosher and halal options. Colby has four dining halls, including one certified as entirely gluten-free. Both universities have a strong food culture and encourage sustainable and healthy eating habits.

dining hall for students

Additionally, both universities offer meal plans that cater to students’ dietary needs and preferences. At Princeton, students can choose from a variety of meal plans, including a kosher meal plan and a vegetarian meal plan. Colby offers a flexible meal plan that allows students to choose from a variety of dining options, including vegan and vegetarian options.

Athletics and Sports Teams: Colby vs. Princeton

If you’re a sports enthusiast, you may be interested in the athletics program and sports teams offered at Colby and Princeton. Both universities are members of the NCAA Division III athletic conference and offer a range of varsity and club sports teams.

Colby has a strong athletics program, with 32 varsity sports teams and a reputation for athletic excellence. Princeton also offers an excellent athletics program, with 37 varsity sports teams and a program that has won over 500 Ivy League Championships.

In addition to varsity and club sports teams, both Colby and Princeton offer a variety of intramural sports programs for students who want to participate in sports at a more casual level. These programs provide opportunities for students to engage in friendly competition and stay active, regardless of their skill level or previous experience with sports.

Student Diversity and Inclusion: Colby vs. Princeton

The student population composition and the university’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential factors to consider when making a decision. Both universities are committed to fostering an inclusive and diverse community and have active diversity, equity, and inclusion offices.

Colby’s student body is relatively small, with around 2,000 undergraduate students, and is known for its tight-knit community and emphasis on community service. Princeton, on the other hand, has around 5,400 undergraduate students and is more diverse in terms of its student population’s socioeconomic background and geographical location.

Colby College has a strong commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion on campus. The college has a variety of student-led organizations that focus on promoting diversity and inclusion, such as the Colby African Society, the Asian Student Association, and the Latin American Student Association. Additionally, the college has a Multicultural Center that provides resources and support for students from underrepresented backgrounds.

Princeton University also has a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion. The university has a Diversity and Inclusion Plan that outlines specific goals and strategies for promoting diversity and inclusion on campus. The university also has a variety of student-led organizations that focus on promoting diversity and inclusion, such as the Black Student Union, the Asian American Students Association, and the First-Generation Low-Income Partnership. Additionally, the university has a Diversity and Inclusion Office that provides resources and support for students from underrepresented backgrounds.

Career Services and Alumni Network: Colby vs. Princeton

One of the primary reasons for attending college is to obtain a solid foundation for a bright future and secure meaningful employment. Both Colby and Princeton have robust career services offices that provide resources, counseling, and networking opportunities for students and alumni.

Princeton’s career services are particularly dense, offering resources for internships, job interviews, and graduate school applications across multiple industries and fields. Colby’s career services emphasize individual attention and mentorship from alumni and faculty members.

Young woman talking to two interviewers for internship

Additionally, both colleges have strong alumni networks that provide valuable connections and opportunities for current students and recent graduates. Princeton’s alumni network is extensive and includes notable figures in various industries, while Colby’s alumni network is tight-knit and supportive, often providing mentorship and job opportunities to fellow alumni.

Cost of Attendance and Financial Aid Options

College is expensive, so it’s essential to factor in the cost of attending Colby and Princeton and the financial aid options available. Both universities offer financial aid packages to their students, including need-blind admission policies and comprehensive scholarships and grants.

Colby’s financial aid package covers 100% of demonstrated financial need, and around 50% of its students receive merit-based scholarships. Princeton’s financial aid package covers 100% of demonstrated financial need, and no loans are required for undergraduate students.

It’s important to note that both Colby and Princeton also offer work-study programs as part of their financial aid packages. These programs allow students to work part-time on campus or in the local community to earn money to help cover their educational expenses. Additionally, both universities have financial aid counselors available to help students navigate the financial aid process and find the best options for their individual needs.

Graduate Outcomes and Employment Opportunities

The graduate outcome is another critical factor to consider when evaluating universities. Colby and Princeton have impressive graduate outcomes, with high post-graduation employment rates and successful alumni in various fields.

Colby graduates have impressive employment and graduate school outcomes, with over 95% either employed or enrolled in graduate school six months after graduation. Similarly, Princeton graduates have a robust post-graduation employment rate, with over 70% of graduates entering the workforce and a significant number pursuing advanced degrees.

Furthermore, both universities have strong career services departments that provide students with resources and support to help them secure internships and job opportunities. Colby’s Career Center offers career counseling, resume and cover letter reviews, and networking events with alumni and employers. Princeton’s Career Services provides similar resources, including career fairs, on-campus interviews, and workshops on job search strategies.

Campus Safety and Security Measures

Finally, students and their families need to feel reassured about the campus safety and security measures in place. Both Colby and Princeton have comprehensive campus safety offices and procedures to prevent and respond to security threats and emergencies.

Colby’s campus safety office offers a community safety program, 24-hour campus patrol, and emergency response and notification protocols. Princeton’s campus safety office provides round-the-clock patrol, emergency notifications, and resources for students experiencing crises.

In addition to these measures, both universities have implemented new safety protocols in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Colby has implemented a testing program for all students, faculty, and staff, as well as contact tracing and quarantine protocols for those who test positive. Princeton has also implemented a testing program and contact tracing, as well as mandatory mask-wearing and social distancing measures in all campus buildings and common areas.

Research Opportunities for Undergraduates

If you’re someone interested in getting involved with research as an undergraduate, you’ll be happy to know that both universities have robust research opportunities available. Colby’s student-faculty research program allows students to conduct independent research alongside a faculty member, while Princeton’s research initiative offers a range of research opportunities across multiple fields and provides funding, mentorship, and presentation opportunities for students.

Additionally, both universities have partnerships with local research institutions and organizations, providing students with even more opportunities to engage in cutting-edge research. Colby has partnerships with the Jackson Laboratory and the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, while Princeton has partnerships with the Institute for Advanced Study and the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. These partnerships allow students to work on interdisciplinary research projects and gain valuable experience in their chosen fields.

Study Abroad Programs Available

Studying abroad can be a life-changing experience, and both universities have study abroad programs available for their students. Colby offers over 200 study-abroad options in over 60 countries, and 60% of its students participate in a study-abroad program. Similarly, Princeton offers a wide range of study abroad options and encourages students to immerse themselves in different cultures and experiences.

Princeton Foreign Language Requirement

Colby’s study abroad programs are designed to provide students with a unique opportunity to explore different cultures, learn new languages, and gain a global perspective. The programs are open to all students, regardless of their major, and offer a variety of academic and cultural experiences. Students can choose to study abroad for a semester, a year, or even a summer.

Princeton’s study abroad programs are also designed to provide students with a unique opportunity to explore different cultures and gain a global perspective. The programs are open to all students, and offer a variety of academic and cultural experiences. Students can choose to study abroad for a semester, a year, or even a summer. Princeton also offers a number of language immersion programs, which allow students to fully immerse themselves in a new language and culture.

Faculty Quality and Teaching Styles

Finally, faculty quality and teaching styles are crucial factors that can ultimately make or break your college experience. Colby and Princeton both have distinguished faculty members who are committed to teaching and inspiring students to learn and explore.

Colby’s faculty members are known for their mentorship and personalized attention to students, while Princeton’s faculty members have a reputation for intellectual curiosity and academic rigor. Both universities emphasize small class sizes and encourage a participatory and interactive teaching style.

Moreover, Colby’s faculty members are actively involved in research and scholarship, which allows them to bring their cutting-edge knowledge and expertise into the classroom. This not only enhances the quality of education but also provides students with opportunities to engage in research and gain hands-on experience.

On the other hand, Princeton’s faculty members are known for their interdisciplinary approach to teaching and research. They encourage students to explore different fields of study and integrate diverse perspectives into their learning. This approach not only broadens students’ horizons but also prepares them for the complex challenges of the real world.

Campus Facilities, Resources, and Technology

Lastly, you’ll want to consider the campus facilities, resources, and technology available at Colby and Princeton. Both universities offer state-of-the-art resources and frequently invest in campus improvements and technological advancements.

Colby’s campus has a newly renovated library and student center, multiple academic and research centers, and comprehensive technological resources and support. Similarly, Princeton has extensive library collections, over 4 million physical books, and multiple academic and research facilities, including a cutting-edge science and engineering complex.

Sustainability Efforts on Campus

Sustainability is an increasingly important factor to consider when choosing a university, and both Colby and Princeton have made significant efforts to reduce their environmental impact and promote sustainability on campus.

Colby’s sustainability office promotes green practices on campus through educational events and community action initiatives. Similarly, Princeton University’s Office of Sustainability is actively working to minimize its ecological impact, with progress toward achieving a carbon-neutral campus by 2046.

Community Engagement Opportunities for Students

Finally, community engagement opportunities are essential for students seeking to make a difference and contribute to a better society. Colby and Princeton both offer impressive volunteer and community service programs, with a focus on community engagement and service learning.

two female students holding a garbage bag while picking up garbage

Colby’s Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement provides students with opportunities to work with local non-profits and government organizations. Similarly, Princeton’s Community-Based Learning Initiative offers opportunities for students to engage in service projects and community-based research.


Choosing the right university is a big decision and requires careful consideration of multiple factors. Colby and Princeton are two excellent institutions with unique features that cater to different student needs and aspirations. Ultimately, the choice between Colby and Princeton depends on your preferences and priorities. If you’re looking for a tight-knit community with a focus on community service and research opportunities, Colby may be the right choice. If you’re seeking a more urban atmosphere, a diverse student population, and a wide range of academic options, Princeton may be the way to go.


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