Cornell vs Bates: Which College is Right for You?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a father helping her daughter to make recommendation letter

Cornell vs Bates: Which College is Right for You?

Are you trying to decide between Cornell University and Bates College? With both institutions offering exceptional academic programs, top-notch faculty, and impressive extracurricular opportunities, the choice might seem overwhelming. By examining the similarities and differences between Cornell vs Bates, you can make an informed decision about which college is the right fit for you.

Location and Campus Comparison

Cornell University is situated in Ithaca, New York, a small city in upstate New York. With its rolling hills and stunning natural beauty, the campus boasts breathtaking views of the surrounding area and offers students a respite from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Bates College, on the other hand, is located in Lewiston, Maine, a small city that provides access to the wilderness of northern New England. Students at Bates are in close proximity to the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the Acadia National Park. Bates College is a smaller, more intimate campus, which offers students an accessible and community-based learning environment.

Despite their differences in location, both Cornell University and Bates College offer students a variety of outdoor activities. Cornell’s campus is home to the Cornell Botanic Gardens, which features over 4,000 species of plants and stunning natural landscapes.

Additionally, students can take advantage of the nearby Finger Lakes region, which offers opportunities for hiking, kayaking, and other outdoor activities. Bates College also offers students access to outdoor recreation, with nearby skiing and snowboarding opportunities in the winter and hiking and camping in the summer.

Another difference between the two campuses is their architecture. Cornell University’s campus features a mix of historic and modern buildings, with notable examples including the Gothic-style Sage Chapel and the contemporary Bill and Melinda Gates Hall.

Bates College, on the other hand, is known for its classic New England architecture, with many of its buildings dating back to the 19th century. The campus also features a number of green spaces and outdoor gathering areas, including the historic Quad and the scenic Lake Andrews.

Academic Programs and Majors Offered: Cornell vs Bates

Both Cornell and Bates offer students access to a broad array of academic programs and majors. Cornell University boasts a highly regarded faculty, committed to innovative research, and the generation of new knowledge in a broad range of disciplines.

Cornell is known for its strength in engineering, applied mathematics, biological sciences, social sciences, and humanities. Bates College, on the other hand, is well known for its liberal arts curriculum. Bates encourages broad inquiry and exploration across all areas of study. The College is recognized for its strengths in the humanities, social sciences, and environmental studies.

Unknown person writing on a board full of Math concepts.

In addition to their academic programs and majors, both Cornell and Bates offer a variety of extracurricular activities and resources to enhance the student experience. Cornell has over 1,000 student organizations, including clubs focused on community service, sports, and the arts.

The university also has state-of-the-art research facilities and libraries, providing students with access to cutting-edge technology and resources. Bates, on the other hand, offers a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, skiing, and kayaking, as well as a strong emphasis on community engagement and social justice. The college has a robust internship program, connecting students with local organizations and businesses to gain real-world experience in their field of study.

Student Life and Campus Culture: Cornell vs Bates

Cornell and Bates both offer rich and dynamic student life experiences. Cornell University is a large campus with over 23,000 students, a wide range of student organizations, clubs, and activities. With a diverse range of student interests represented, Cornell offers a vibrant community that is accessible and welcoming to all students.

Bates College has a smaller student body, which fosters a tight-knit community and encourages student leadership, civic engagement, and community service. Bates has a robust student life program, which includes musical and theater performances, a student-run campus farm, and numerous clubs and organizations.

Additionally, both Cornell and Bates offer a variety of opportunities for students to engage in research and experiential learning. Cornell has numerous research centers and institutes, as well as a strong emphasis on undergraduate research.

Bates offers a unique program called the “Short Term,” where students can participate in intensive, experiential courses or projects during a four-week period in May. These opportunities allow students to apply their classroom knowledge to real-world situations and gain valuable skills and experience.

Admissions Requirements and Acceptance Rates: Cornell vs Bates

Both Cornell and Bates seek high-achieving students who are committed to academic excellence, civic engagement, and community involvement. Cornell requires a comprehensive application that includes essays, recommendation letters, and standardized test scores.

With an acceptance rate hovering around 7.4%, Cornell is one of the most selective colleges in the United States. Bates College seeks students who are self-motivated and eager to learn. The application process includes essays, letters of recommendation, and transcripts. Bates has a selective acceptance rate of around 12%, which still makes it a competitive college to get into.

Aside from academic achievements, both Cornell and Bates also value extracurricular activities and leadership experiences. Cornell encourages applicants to showcase their involvement in clubs, sports, and community service. Bates, on the other hand, values applicants who have demonstrated leadership skills in their school or community.

It is important to note that both colleges have a need-blind admission policy, which means that they do not consider an applicant’s financial situation when making admission decisions. However, they do offer generous financial aid packages to students who demonstrate financial need.

Tuition and Financial Aid Comparison: Cornell vs Bates

Both Cornell and Bates are private institutions, which means that tuition costs are amongst the highest in the United States. Cornell is more expensive, with tuition and fees for the 2021-2022 academic year totaling approximately $60,000.

Bates College, on the other hand, has a more modest tuition bill, coming in at around $56,000 per year. Both institutions offer financial aid and scholarships to reduce the burden of tuition costs, with Bates College providing need-based financial aid to approximately 50% of its students, while Cornell provides need-based financial assistance, merit-based scholarships, and other grants to approximately 60% of its students.

It is important to note that while the tuition costs at both institutions may seem high, the value of a degree from these prestigious colleges can lead to higher earning potential and career opportunities. Additionally, both Cornell and Bates have robust career services departments that offer support and resources to help students secure internships and job opportunities after graduation.

Athletics and Extracurricular Activities Comparison: Cornell vs Bates

Cornell and Bates offer students a wide range of athletics and extracurricular activities. Cornell’s athletic program has a rich and varied history, with teams competing in the Ivy League. The university has teams in over 30 varsity sports and numerous club and intramural teams.

Bates College also has a strong athletic program, with teams competing in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC). Bates has teams in over 18 sports, emphasizing the importance of the student-athlete experience. Both institutions offer diverse extracurricular activities, including student government, social clubs, volunteer organizations, and the performing arts.

a group female ballet dancers performing at a stage

Aside from the traditional sports and activities, both Cornell and Bates offer unique opportunities for students to get involved. Cornell has a renowned equestrian team, which competes in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA). The university also has a strong tradition of rowing, with the Cornell Heavyweight Crew winning numerous national championships.

Bates, on the other hand, has a strong Outing Club, which offers students the chance to explore the outdoors through hiking, camping, and skiing trips. The college also has a popular a cappella scene, with several groups performing on campus and in the surrounding area.

Furthermore, both institutions prioritize community service and civic engagement. Cornell’s Public Service Center offers students the opportunity to get involved in local and global service projects, while Bates’ Harward Center for Community Partnerships connects students with community organizations and initiatives. Both centers provide students with the chance to make a positive impact on the world around them, while also developing valuable skills and experiences.

Faculty and Class Size Comparison: Cornell vs Bates

Both Cornell and Bates have exceptional faculty who are leading experts in their respective fields. Cornell University has approximately 4,000 faculty members, many of which have achieved recognition as leaders in their fields.

Cornell’s faculty-to-student ratio is approximately 9:1, allowing for a personalized and intensive educational experience. Bates College, with its smaller student population, offers students an even more personalized and intimate learning experience, with a faculty-to-student ratio of approximately 10:1.

Additionally, both Cornell and Bates prioritize small class sizes, ensuring that students have ample opportunities for individualized attention and engagement with their professors. At Cornell, over 70% of classes have fewer than 20 students, while at Bates, the average class size is just 16 students. This focus on small class sizes allows for lively discussions, personalized feedback, and a deeper understanding of course material.

Research Opportunities and Facilities Available

Cornell University is renowned for its scientific research programs, through which faculty and students are working to transform their respective fields. Cornell has outstanding research facilities available to its students and faculty, including world-renowned research centers, labs, and libraries.

Bates College also encourages undergraduate research, providing students with numerous opportunities to engage in research projects, and working alongside faculty. Bates College students are actively involved in research that spans the sciences, humanities, and social sciences.

Furthermore, both Cornell University and Bates College offer research funding and grants to support student research projects. These opportunities allow students to pursue their research interests and gain valuable experience in their field of study.

Additionally, both institutions have partnerships with industry leaders and government agencies, providing students with access to cutting-edge technology and resources. With these resources and opportunities, students at Cornell and Bates are well-equipped to make significant contributions to their respective fields of study.

Student Support Services Comparison: Cornell vs Bates

Both Cornell and Bates offer a full range of student support services. Cornell has a wide range of student support services, including tutoring, counseling, and academic advising.

The university also has comprehensive health services and wellness programs, ensuring that students are healthy and happy during their time on campus. Bates College also has an extensive support network, including writing and tutoring centers, counseling services, and wellness resources.

However, there are some differences between the two institutions when it comes to student support services. Cornell has a larger staff-to-student ratio, which means that students may have more one-on-one time with support staff.

Additionally, Cornell offers specialized support services for students with disabilities, including assistive technology and accommodations for exams and assignments. On the other hand, Bates College has a strong focus on community building and offers a variety of extracurricular activities and clubs that promote social connections and personal growth.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Policies Comparison: Cornell vs Bates

Both Cornell and Bates are committed to creating an inclusive and equitable campus environment, where diversity and respect for all individuals are valued.

Cornell’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is reflected in its institutional mission statement and its diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Bates College also has a strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, as part of the college’s educational mission. The college has numerous programs and resources dedicated to promoting diversity and inclusivity on campus.

Group of students walking in the campus.

One of the ways that Cornell University promotes diversity and inclusion is through its Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives (OADI). OADI provides academic and personal support to students from underrepresented backgrounds, including first-generation college students, low-income students, and students of color. The office offers mentorship programs, academic workshops, and research opportunities to help students succeed academically and professionally.

Similarly, Bates College has a program called the Purposeful Work Initiative, which aims to help students connect their academic interests with their career goals.

The program emphasizes the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace and provides resources for students to explore career paths that align with their values. Through internships, job shadowing, and networking opportunities, students can gain valuable experience and make meaningful contributions to their communities.


Ultimately, both Cornell University and Bates College are exceptional institutions that offer their students a high-quality education, extensive extracurricular opportunities, and a range of support services. When choosing between Cornell vs Bates, it’s important to consider your personal priorities, including academic interests, location preferences, campus culture, and potential career paths. With careful consideration of these factors, you can be sure to make the right decision about which college is the best fit for you.

Want to learn more about getting into College? You’ve come to the right place. At AdmissionSight, we have over 10 years of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions process.

AdmissionSight can help you put your best foot forward when applying to college this fall. Contact us today for more information on our services.


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