Harvard vs. Amherst: Which College Is Right for You?

July 15, 2023
By AdmissionSight
Young man using a laptop while working on a laptop.

Harvard vs. Amherst: Which College Is Right for You?

If you’re trying to decide which college to attend, you may consider Harvard University vs. Amherst College. These two schools are both well-respected institutions, but there are significant differences between them that may help you choose which college is the right fit for you.

Location: Urban vs. Rural

One of the most obvious differences between Harvard and Amherst is their location. Harvard is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which is a bustling city just outside of Boston. In contrast, Amherst is located in a more rural area in western Massachusetts.

This means that Harvard students have access to all of the opportunities and excitement of a major city, while Amherst students enjoy a quieter and more peaceful environment.

However, the location of a college can also have an impact on the types of research and academic opportunities available to students. For example, Amherst College is located near several natural reserves and research centers, providing students with unique opportunities to study environmental science and conservation.

On the other hand, Harvard’s location in a major city allows for collaborations with nearby hospitals and research institutions, providing students with opportunities to participate in cutting-edge medical research and clinical trials.

Harvard vs. Amherst: Campus Size and Facilities

Another notable difference between the two schools is campus size and facilities. Harvard’s campus is quite large, with over 200 buildings spread across several different neighborhoods. Amherst’s campus is more compact, with a central quad and several surrounding buildings.

Despite the difference in size, both schools offer state-of-the-art facilities for their students, including libraries, research centers, and athletic facilities.

Harvard’s campus is not only large, but it is also historic. Many of the buildings on campus date back to the 18th and 19th centuries, giving the campus a unique and charming atmosphere. Amherst’s campus, on the other hand, is more modern, with many of its buildings constructed in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Both schools also offer a variety of dining options for their students. Harvard has over a dozen dining halls and cafes, serving everything from traditional New England fare to international cuisine. Amherst has several dining options as well, including a popular campus pub and a student-run cafe that serves organic and locally sourced food.

Harvard vs. Amherst: Academic Programs and Departments

One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a college is the academic programs and departments offered. Harvard and Amherst both offer a wide range of majors and areas of study.

A man working with his classmates on a library.

Harvard is known for its strong programs in business, law, and medicine, while Amherst is known for its focus on the liberal arts and sciences. However, both schools offer excellent programs in a variety of disciplines, so it’s important to research which programs would be the best fit for you.

It’s also worth noting that both Harvard and Amherst have unique interdisciplinary programs that allow students to combine multiple areas of study. For example, Harvard offers a joint degree program in computer science and economics, while Amherst has a program in neuroscience and behavior.

These programs provide students with a well-rounded education and the opportunity to explore their interests in multiple fields.

Harvard vs. Amherst: Student Body Diversity and Size

The size and diversity of a school’s student body can also impact your college experience. Harvard has a much larger student body than Amherst, with over 30,000 students compared to Amherst’s 1,800.

Harvard also has a more diverse student population, with students from all over the world and from various backgrounds. Amherst is known for its tight-knit community and small class sizes, which can be beneficial for those who are looking for a more personalized learning experience.

However, it is important to note that smaller schools like Amherst may have less diversity in terms of race and ethnicity. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Amherst’s student body is 50% white, 16% Asian, 11% Hispanic/Latino, and 7% Black or African American.

In comparison, Harvard’s student body is 41% white, 23% Asian, 12% Hispanic/Latino, and 8% Black or African American. It is important to consider your own personal values and priorities when choosing a school and to research the demographics of the student body to ensure that you will feel comfortable and supported on campus.

Harvard vs. Amherst: Admission Process and Requirements

Getting accepted to Harvard or Amherst can be a challenge, as both schools have highly selective admission processes. Harvard is known for its low acceptance rate and rigorous application requirements, including high test scores and impressive extracurricular activities.

Amherst also has a competitive admissions process but may focus more on a student’s academic achievements and personal qualities rather than extracurricular activities.

It is important to note that both Harvard and Amherst also consider factors such as essays, letters of recommendation, and interviews in their admissions decisions. Additionally, both schools offer need-based financial aid to students who qualify and encourage applicants from diverse backgrounds to apply.

It is recommended that prospective students thoroughly research the admissions requirements and process for each school, and seek guidance from their high school counselors or college advisors.

Cost of Attendance and Financial Aid

Attending Harvard or Amherst can be quite expensive, but both schools offer generous financial aid packages for those who qualify. Harvard has a higher cost of attendance than Amherst, but also offers more financial aid options to its students. It’s important to research the costs of attending each school and explore financial aid opportunities before making a final decision.

Additionally, both Harvard and Amherst have work-study programs that allow students to earn money while attending school. These programs provide part-time jobs on campus or in the local community, and the earnings can be used to offset the cost of attendance.

It’s important to note that work-study jobs are limited and highly competitive, so students should apply early and be prepared to balance their work and academic responsibilities.

Harvard vs. Amherst: Career Opportunities and Post-Graduate Success Rates

Ultimately, one of the main reasons to attend college is to prepare for a successful career. Both Harvard and Amherst have excellent career resources for their students, including career fairs, on-campus interviews, and alumni networks.

However, the post-graduate success rates for Harvard students may be slightly higher than those for Amherst students due in part to the prestigious reputation of the Harvard brand.

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Another factor that may contribute to the post-graduate success rates of Harvard students is the wide range of majors and programs offered at the university. Harvard has a diverse range of academic departments, including business, law, medicine, and engineering, which can provide students with a variety of career paths to choose from.

On the other hand, Amherst College has a strong focus on the liberal arts and offers a more limited range of majors. However, this can also be an advantage for students who are interested in pursuing careers in fields such as education, social work, or the arts, where a broad-based education can be an asset.

Extracurricular Activities and Social Life

College is also a time to explore new interests and make lifelong connections. Harvard and Amherst offer a variety of extracurricular activities and social opportunities for their students. Harvard has a strong athletic program and a variety of student clubs and organizations, while Amherst has a reputation for its close-knit community and unique traditions.

It’s important to consider which school’s social scene aligns with your personality and interests.

Additionally, both Harvard and Amherst have active volunteer and community service programs. These programs provide students with the opportunity to give back to the community and gain valuable experience in their field of study.

Whether it’s tutoring local students or participating in a service trip abroad, these programs allow students to make a positive impact while also building their resumes and developing important skills.

Harvard vs. Amherst: Campus Culture and Community Values

The overall atmosphere of a college campus can also make a big impact on your college experience. Harvard has a reputation for its competitive and intense academic environment, while Amherst values collaboration and creativity.

Both schools have strong traditions and a commitment to community service, but it’s important to research the campus culture and values to see if they align with your own priorities.

Another important aspect to consider when researching campus culture and community values is the diversity and inclusivity of the school. Some colleges prioritize creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for students from all backgrounds, while others may struggle with issues of discrimination and lack of representation.

It’s important to look into the school’s policies and initiatives regarding diversity and inclusion, as well as speak with current students to get a sense of their experiences.

In addition, campus culture can also be influenced by the location of the school. A college located in a bustling city may have a different vibe than one in a rural area. Some students may prefer the energy and opportunities of an urban campus, while others may prefer the peace and quiet of a more secluded location.

It’s important to consider your own preferences and priorities when researching the campus culture and community values of potential colleges.

Faculty Quality and Teaching Style

Ultimately, the quality of the faculty and the teaching style can make a big difference in your education. Both Harvard and Amherst have highly qualified faculty members who are committed to their student’s success.

However, their teaching styles may differ slightly, with Harvard professors often focusing on lecture-style teaching and Amherst professors emphasizing discussion-based learning. It’s important to consider which teaching style you prefer when choosing a college.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that both Harvard and Amherst offer opportunities for students to work closely with faculty members outside of the classroom. At Harvard, students can participate in research projects with professors or work as teaching assistants.

At Amherst, students can collaborate with faculty members on independent research projects or participate in small group seminars. These opportunities can provide valuable hands-on experience and mentorship and may be an important factor to consider when choosing a college.

Harvard vs. Amherst: Research Opportunities and Resources

For students who are interested in research, both Harvard and Amherst offer a variety of opportunities and resources. Harvard has a reputation for its cutting-edge research facilities and well-funded research projects.

Male student looking at his laptop.

At the same time, Amherst offers research opportunities for its students through its various academic departments and research centers. It’s important to research what kind of research opportunities are available at each school and which school aligns with your research interests.

Study Abroad Programs and International Opportunities

Many students are interested in studying abroad during their college years. Both Harvard and Amherst offer a variety of international opportunities for their students, including study abroad programs, international internships, and language immersion programs.

It’s important to research which school offers the kind of international opportunities that interest you the most and fit your academic goals.

Additionally, studying abroad can provide students with valuable cultural experiences and language skills that can benefit them in their future careers. It allows students to gain a global perspective and develop a deeper understanding of different cultures and ways of life.

Many employers also value international experience and consider it a valuable asset when hiring new employees. Therefore, taking advantage of study abroad programs and international opportunities can be a great way to enhance your education and career prospects.

Alumni Network and Support System

Finally, the alumni network and support system for each school can be an important factor in your decision-making process. Both Harvard and Amherst have strong alumni networks that offer a variety of career opportunities, networking events, and mentorship programs.

It’s important to research the strength of each school’s alumni network and support system to see if it aligns with your personal and professional goals.

Additionally, alumni networks can also provide valuable resources for students during their time at school. Many alumni are willing to offer advice and guidance to current students, whether it be through informational interviews or mentorship programs.

This can be especially helpful for students who are still exploring their career options and could benefit from the insights of those who have already navigated the job market.

Furthermore, alumni networks can also provide a sense of community and connection for students, even after they graduate. By staying involved with their alma mater, alumni can continue to build relationships with fellow graduates and stay up-to-date on the latest developments at the school.

This can be particularly beneficial for those who are looking to make a career change or relocate to a new city, as they can tap into the alumni network for support and advice.

Campus Safety and Security Measures

One thing that should not be overlooked when choosing a college is the campus safety and security measures that each school has in place. Both Harvard and Amherst place a high priority on campus safety, with on-campus security personnel, emergency alert systems, and safety training programs for students and staff.

It’s important to research and compare the safety measures of each school to ensure that you feel safe and secure on campus.

In addition to the safety measures mentioned above, both Harvard and Amherst have implemented various technological advancements to enhance campus safety. For instance, Harvard has installed security cameras in strategic locations across the campus, monitored 24/7 by trained security personnel.

Similarly, Amherst has introduced a mobile safety app that allows students to quickly and easily report any safety concerns or incidents to campus security. These technological advancements have significantly improved the safety and security of both campuses, making them ideal choices for students who prioritize safety.

Student Testimonials and Experiences

a female student with her laptop studying inside her dorm room

Ultimately, one of the best ways to get a sense of what it’s like to attend Harvard or Amherst is to read student testimonials and stories. Many current and former students have shared their experiences at these schools online, which can provide valuable insight into what life on campus is really like.

It’s important to read a variety of student testimonials and experiences to get a well-rounded view of each school.

Some of the common themes that emerge from student testimonials include the rigorous academic environment, the supportive community, and the many opportunities for extracurricular activities.

Students often speak about the challenging coursework and the need to manage their time effectively, but also about the sense of accomplishment they feel when they succeed. They also highlight the strong sense of community on campus, with many opportunities to connect with peers and faculty members.

Finally, students often mention the wide range of extracurricular activities available, from sports teams to clubs to volunteer organizations, which allow them to pursue their interests and make a difference in the world.

Campus Events, Traditions, and Athletics

Finally, campus events, traditions, and athletics can also play a big role in your college experience. Both Harvard and Amherst offer a variety of events and traditions throughout the year, including sporting events, theatrical productions, and cultural festivals.

It’s important to research which school’s campus events and traditions align with your interests and personality.

At Harvard, one of the most popular traditions is the annual “Primal Scream” event, where students gather in the courtyard at midnight before the start of finals week and scream at the top of their lungs to release stress.

Amherst, on the other hand, has a unique tradition called “LitFest,” which celebrates the literary arts with readings, discussions, and workshops featuring renowned authors and poets.

When it comes to athletics, both schools have a strong sports culture and offer a wide range of varsity and club teams. Harvard is known for its successful football and basketball programs, while Amherst has a dominant men’s soccer team and a strong women’s basketball team. Additionally, both schools have state-of-the-art athletic facilities, including gyms, pools, and outdoor fields, that are available for all students to use.

Harvard vs. Amherst: Accessibility for Students with Disabilities

For students with disabilities, it’s important to consider how accessible each school’s campus and facilities are. Both Harvard and Amherst offer a variety of accommodations for students with disabilities, including accessible buildings, on-campus transportation services, and disability support services.

It’s important to research the accessibility options at each school to ensure that you will have a comfortable and inclusive college experience.

Additionally, both Harvard and Amherst have active disability student organizations that provide a supportive community for students with disabilities. These organizations offer resources, events, and advocacy for disability rights on campus.

Joining one of these organizations can be a great way to connect with other students who share similar experiences and get involved in disability activism.

It’s also important to note that both schools have dedicated staff members who work specifically with students with disabilities. These staff members can provide individualized support and accommodations, such as note-taking assistance, extended testing time, and accessible course materials.

It’s recommended that students with disabilities reach out to these staff members early on in their college experience to ensure that they have the necessary support in place.

Sustainability Initiatives and Environmental Policies

Finally, for students who are interested in sustainability and environmentalism, it’s important to research each school’s sustainability initiatives and environmental policies.

Both Harvard and Amherst have made commitments to sustainability and have implemented a variety of policies to reduce their environmental impact. It’s important to research and compare each school’s sustainability efforts to see which school aligns with your values.

Harvard has implemented a number of sustainability initiatives, including the creation of a Sustainability Plan that outlines specific goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing energy efficiency, and promoting sustainable transportation.

Group of students walking in the school campus.

The university has also established a Green Office Program to encourage sustainable practices in campus offices and has implemented a composting program to reduce waste.

Similarly, Amherst College has made significant strides in sustainability, including the construction of a LEED-certified science center and the implementation of a comprehensive recycling program. The college has also committed to reducing its carbon footprint and has set a goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030.

Prospective Student Checklist for Choosing Between Harvard and Amherst

In summary, when choosing between Harvard and Amherst, it’s important to consider various factors. By considering these factors and researching each school thoroughly, you can make an informed decision about which college is the right fit for you.

Are you feeling overwhelmed by the college admission process? Look no further! AdmissionSight is here to guide you toward success. With our specialized college admission consultation service, we offer personalized assistance tailored to your unique goals and aspirations.

Our experienced consultants will provide expert advice on crafting a standout application, selecting the right colleges, and navigating the complex admissions world. Don’t let stress hold you back—let AdmissionSight be your trusted partner on your journey to higher education. Contact us today to take the first step toward a brighter future.

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