Harvard vs. Hamilton College: Which Is the Better Choice?

July 15, 2023
By AdmissionSight
Group of students smiling in the camera.

Harvard vs. Hamilton College: Which Is the Better Choice?

Choosing a college can be daunting, especially when comparing two prestigious institutions, such as Harvard University and Hamilton College.  In this article, we will comprehensively compare Harvard vs. Hamilton College, covering admission requirements, academic programs, student life, faculty expertise, alumni network, location, cost of attendance, and more.

Both offer top-notch education, outstanding faculty, and a wide selection of academic and extracurricular programs. But how do they differ, and which one is the better fit for you?

Overview of Harvard and Hamilton College

Harvard University was established in 1636 and is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world, consistently ranked among the top three universities globally. Harvard has a diverse student body of approximately 22,000 students and offers a wide range of undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree programs.

In contrast, Hamilton College is a small liberal arts college located in Clinton, New York. It was founded in 1793 and has a student population of approximately 1,900. Although it may not have the global recognition of Harvard, Hamilton is known for its intimate class sizes, rigorous curriculum, and emphasis on critical thinking and writing.

Despite their differences, both Harvard and Hamilton College share a commitment to academic excellence and a dedication to providing their students with a well-rounded education. Both institutions offer a variety of extracurricular activities, including sports teams, clubs, and organizations, to help students develop their interests and skills outside of the classroom.

Additionally, both Harvard and Hamilton have a strong alumni network, with graduates going on to successful careers in a variety of fields.

Harvard vs. Hamilton College: Admission Requirements

The admission process for these two institutions differs significantly. Harvard has an acceptance rate of around 4.9%, making it one of the most selective universities in the world.

View of students studying in a table.

The requirements for admission include a high school diploma or equivalent, standardized test scores (either the ACT or SAT), transcripts, recommendation letters, and essays. Supplemental materials, such as additional essays and resumes, may also be submitted.

Hamilton College, on the other hand, has a higher acceptance rate of around 21%. The admission requirements include a high school diploma or equivalent, standardized test scores (either the ACT or SAT), transcripts, recommendation letters, and essays. Hamilton also allows students to submit additional materials such as art portfolios, research projects, and videos.

It is important to note that while Harvard has a lower acceptance rate, it does not necessarily mean that it is a better fit for every student. Harvard is known for its rigorous academic programs and highly competitive environment, which may not be suitable for everyone. Hamilton College, on the other hand, is known for its strong sense of community and personalized attention to students. It offers a variety of majors and programs, including a unique program in Creative Writing.

Another factor to consider when applying to these institutions is their location. Harvard is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which is a bustling city with a rich history and culture. Hamilton College, on the other hand, is located in Clinton, New York, which is a small, rural town. While both locations have their advantages and disadvantages, it is important to consider which environment would be the best fit for you.

Harvard vs. Hamilton College: Academic Programs Offered

One of the biggest differences between Harvard and Hamilton College is the range of academic programs offered. Harvard boasts over 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, ranging from engineering and computer science to law and business. Hamilton, as a liberal arts college, offers a more limited set of majors and minors, including majors in English, History, Political Science, and Economics.

However, Hamilton’s curriculum is designed to provide a well-rounded education to its students, with a strong emphasis on writing and critical thinking. Students must take courses in various subjects, including humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Additionally, Hamilton offers various interdisciplinary programs, such as Environmental Studies and Women’s Studies.

Another notable aspect of Hamilton’s academic programs is its emphasis on experiential learning. The college offers various opportunities for students to engage in hands-on learning, such as internships, research projects, and community service. These experiences not only enhance students’ academic knowledge but also prepare them for their future careers.

Comparison of Student-Faculty Ratio at Harvard and Hamilton College

Another significant difference between these two institutions is the student-faculty ratio. At Harvard, the ratio is approximately 7:1, meaning there are seven students for every faculty member. This ratio allows for a more personalized educational experience, with students having more direct access to their professors.

Hamilton boasts an even lower ratio, with approximately 9:1. This means that students can expect a more intimate classroom setting where they can develop strong relationships with their instructors.

However, it is important to note that the student-faculty ratio is not the only factor determining education quality. The teaching style, curriculum, and resources available also play a significant role. Both Harvard and Hamilton have exceptional faculty members dedicated to providing their students with a top-notch education.

Additionally, both institutions offer a wide range of academic programs and extracurricular activities to enrich the student experience.

Harvard vs. Hamilton College: Financial Aid and Scholarships

Cost is a significant factor for many students when considering where to attend college. Both institutions offer need-based financial aid to students who qualify. Harvard has a generous financial aid program, with around 70% of students receiving financial aid and an average grant of over $50,000.

Hamilton College also offers need-based financial aid, with approximately 52% of students receiving aid and an average grant of over $42,000.

A notebook fit for financial aid.

In addition to need-based aid, both institutions award merit-based scholarships to exceptional students. Harvard offers a range of scholarships, including the prestigious Harvard College Scholarship and the Harvard National Scholarship.

Hamilton offers several merit-based scholarships, including the Hamilton College Presidential Scholarship and the Hamilton College Dean’s Scholarship.

It is important to note that Harvard and Hamilton College have resources available to help students navigate the financial aid process. Harvard has a dedicated financial aid office that provides personalized assistance to students and families. Hamilton College also has a financial aid office offering guidance and support throughout the application process.

Furthermore, both institutions offer work-study programs to help students offset the cost of tuition. These programs provide students with part-time employment opportunities on campus, allowing them to earn money while gaining valuable work experience.

Campus Life: Social Activities, Clubs, and Athletics at Harvard vs. Hamilton College

Both Harvard and Hamilton College offer a vibrant campus life with a wide range of social activities, clubs, and athletics. Harvard has over 450 student organizations, ranging from academic to social to cultural.

Students can participate in a variety of sports, including football, basketball, and crew. Hamilton, with its small size, has a more intimate campus community, with around 100 student organizations. However, it still offers a range of sports teams, including basketball, soccer, and hockey.

Harvard also has a strong tradition of performing arts, with numerous theater productions, music ensembles, and dance groups. The Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra is one of the oldest collegiate orchestras in the country, and the Harvard Glee Club is a renowned men’s chorus. In addition, Harvard has a number of a cappella groups, including the famous Harvard-Radcliffe Veritones.

At Hamilton, students can take advantage of the college’s location in upstate New York by participating in outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing, and snowboarding. The college also has a strong commitment to sustainability, with several student-led initiatives focused on environmental conservation and renewable energy.

Hamilton’s campus is home to a community garden, a solar-powered greenhouse, and a student-run bike share program.

Faculty Expertise and Research Opportunities at Harvard vs. Hamilton College

Both Harvard and Hamilton College have a reputation for outstanding faculty and research opportunities. Harvard has over 2,400 faculty members, many of whom are leaders in their fields. The university also boasts over 20 research centers and institutes, providing students with a wealth of opportunities to engage in research activities.

Hamilton, although smaller, has a talented and dedicated faculty with a strong commitment to teaching and research. The college offers several research opportunities for students, including the Summer Research Institute and the Levitt Center for Public Affairs.

One notable difference between the two institutions is the size of their classes. Harvard’s undergraduate classes can be quite large, with some lecture courses having hundreds of students. In contrast, Hamilton College prides itself on its small class sizes, with an average class size of 16 students.

Female student standing near a group of students talking about the National Merit Scholarship..

This allows for more personalized attention from professors and a greater opportunity for students to engage in class discussions and debates.

Another difference is the availability of resources for research. While Harvard has a larger budget and more resources for research, Hamilton College has a strong focus on undergraduate research.

It allows students to work closely with faculty members on research projects. This can be particularly beneficial for students interested in pursuing graduate studies or careers in research.

Alumni Network and Career Services at Harvard vs. Hamilton College

Both institutions have a vast and influential alumni network, with graduates making significant contributions in various fields. Harvard has a notable alumni network that includes eight U.S. presidents, over 150 Nobel laureates, and the founders of many successful companies. Hamilton also has a vast alumni network, with graduates excelling in various industries and fields.

In terms of career services, Harvard offers comprehensive support to students, including career counseling, internship opportunities, and job fairs. Hamilton provides similar services, with a dedicated career center that assists students with career exploration, resume building, and job search strategies.

However, there are some differences in the approach to career services between the two institutions. Harvard has a larger career services team, with more specialized advisors for different industries and fields.

They also have a wider range of internship opportunities, including partnerships with top companies and organizations. Hamilton, on the other hand, focuses on personalized career guidance, with advisors working closely with students to identify their strengths and interests and match them with relevant opportunities.

Another notable difference is the level of alumni involvement in career services. At Harvard, alumni play an active role in mentoring and networking with current students, providing valuable connections and insights.

Hamilton also has a strong alumni network, but their involvement in career services is more limited, with a focus on providing job and internship opportunities through the college’s online job board.

Location, Campus Size, and Surrounding Community: Comparing Harvard and Hamilton College

Location, campus size, and surrounding community are significant factors when choosing a college. Harvard is located in Cambridge, a historic city known for its academic and cultural offerings.

The campus itself covers over 200 acres and includes multiple libraries, museums, and academic buildings. Hamilton College’s campus, although smaller, is nestled in a picturesque rural setting in the village of Clinton. The college covers over 1,300 acres and includes various academic, athletic, and residential buildings.

The surrounding community is another factor to consider. Cambridge offers a bustling city environment, with access to various cultural and entertainment venues. Clinton, although smaller, offers a more idyllic small-town atmosphere, with opportunities for hiking, skiing, and outdoor activities.

One additional factor to consider when comparing Harvard and Hamilton College is the student population. Harvard has a much larger student body, with over 31,000 students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs.

In contrast, Hamilton College has a smaller student body, with just over 1,900 students enrolled. This can impact the overall campus culture and the opportunities for student involvement in extracurricular activities and organizations.

Student Diversity: Comparing the Demographics of Harvard and Hamilton College

Student freshman walking in the campus.

Finally, student diversity is an essential factor for many students when considering where to attend college. Harvard has a diverse student body, with approximately 50% of students identifying as juveniles.

There is also a strong international student presence, with students from over 100 countries. Hamilton, although smaller, also has a diverse student population, with approximately 25% of students identifying as juveniles.

It is important to note that while both Harvard and Hamilton have diverse student populations, the types of diversity may differ. At Harvard, there is a strong emphasis on socioeconomic diversity, with a significant number of students coming from low-income backgrounds. Hamilton, on the other hand, has a higher percentage of students from rural areas and small towns.

In addition to demographic diversity, both schools also prioritize diversity of thought and experience. Harvard offers a wide range of academic programs and extracurricular activities, allowing students to explore their interests and engage with diverse perspectives.

Hamilton, known for its open curriculum, encourages students to take courses across a variety of disciplines and engage in independent research projects, fostering a culture of intellectual curiosity and exploration.

Harvard vs. Hamilton College: Campus Safety Measures

Campus safety is a critical concern for many students and parents. Both institutions have robust security measures, including 24/7 patrols, emergency call boxes, and security cameras. Harvard, located in a city, has a larger security force and more extensive security measures than Hamilton. However, Hamilton’s small size and tight-knit community also contribute to its overall sense of safety.

In addition to these security measures, both Harvard and Hamilton College also offer various safety resources and programs for their students. Harvard has a comprehensive sexual assault prevention and response program, as well as a shuttle service for students traveling on and off campus at night.

Hamilton College offers self-defense classes and a campus-wide emergency notification system. Both institutions prioritize the safety and well-being of their students and continuously work to improve their security measures.

Cost of Attendance: Comparing Tuition, Room, Board, and Additional Expenses at Harvard and Hamilton College

Finally, the cost of attendance is a crucial factor when choosing a college. Harvard’s total cost of attendance for the 2020-2021 academic year was around $77,000, including tuition, room, board, and additional expenses.

Hamilton’s total cost of attendance for the same year was around $76,000. However, both institutions offer generous financial aid packages and scholarship opportunities to help offset these costs.

It’s important to note that the cost of attendance can vary depending on a student’s circumstances, such as residency status, family income, and academic achievements. Students should research and compare the net price of attending each institution, which takes into account financial aid and scholarships, to get a more accurate estimate of their out-of-pocket expenses.

Additionally, students should consider the cost of living in the surrounding area. For example, Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Harvard is located, has a higher cost of living compared to Clinton, New York, where Hamilton College is located. This can impact a student’s overall expenses, including transportation, food, and entertainment.

Prospective Student Feedback: What Do They Say About Their Experience at Harvard vs. Hamilton College?

Portrait of a woman looking like she is thinking about something important.

Overall, both Harvard and Hamilton College have much to offer prospective students. Harvard’s global reputation, extensive academic programs, and research opportunities make it an excellent choice for many students.

Hamilton’s intimate community, rigorous curriculum, and emphasis on critical thinking and writing have also launched many students to success in various fields. Ultimately, the choice between these two prestigious institutions will depend on your personal preferences and career goals.

However, it is important to note that while Harvard may have a larger and more diverse student body, Hamilton College offers a more personalized and individualized approach to education. With smaller class sizes and a focus on student-faculty interaction, Hamilton students often have more opportunities for mentorship and hands-on learning experiences.

Additionally, Hamilton’s location in upstate New York provides a unique setting for outdoor activities and exploration of the surrounding natural beauty.


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