Harvard vs. Middlebury: Which University Is Right for You?

July 15, 2023
By AdmissionSight
Young male student holding her book and backpack in a hallway.

Harvard vs. Middlebury: Which University Is Right for You?

Choosing the right university is a big decision, and the comparison between Harvard vs. Middlebury is one that many students consider. These two institutions have excellent academic reputations, unique campus cultures, and different admission processes.

To help you make an informed decision, we’ve compiled a detailed comparison of Harvard vs. Middlebury on various aspects. In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about both universities and their suitability for your academic and personal goals.

Location and Campus Comparison: Harvard vs Middlebury

Regarding location and campus, Harvard is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, while Middlebury is in Vermont. Both universities have beautiful and historic campuses, but they differ in size and layout.

Harvard’s campus is situated near the vibrant city of Boston and offers a mixture of old and new buildings. Meanwhile, Middlebury’s campus is located in a small and picturesque town, and most of its buildings are made from traditional Vermont marble.

As for transportation options, both universities have reliable public transportation services that connect them with nearby cities and towns. However, Harvard’s proximity to Boston means that students have access to more cultural and entertainment options.

Another factor to consider when comparing the location and campus of Harvard and Middlebury is the climate. Harvard experiences four distinct seasons, with cold winters and hot summers.

In contrast, Middlebury has a colder climate, with longer winters and shorter summers. This may be a consideration for students who prefer a certain type of weather or are not accustomed to colder temperatures.

Additionally, the location of each university offers unique opportunities for outdoor activities. Harvard is located near the Charles River, which provides opportunities for boating and kayaking. Middlebury, on the other hand, is surrounded by the Green Mountains, offering hiking and skiing opportunities. Students who enjoy outdoor activities may want to consider these options when choosing between the two universities.

Academic Programs and Majors: Harvard vs. Middlebury

One of the most important aspects to consider when choosing a university is the range of academic programs and majors offered. Harvard and Middlebury offer vastly different programs and majors.

Harvard is known for its strong liberal arts programs, including History, English, and Philosophy. They also have some of the best law, Medicine, and Business programs.

On the other hand, Middlebury is known for its robust natural science programs, such as Biology, Chemistry, and Environmental Science. They also have strong Environmental Studies, Political Science, and Economics programs.

View of a young woman browsing through books.

Overall, the academic programs offered at both universities are top-notch and well-respected globally.

It is worth noting that both Harvard and Middlebury offer interdisciplinary programs that allow students to combine different fields of study. For example, Harvard offers a joint degree program in Computer Science and Philosophy.

In contrast, Middlebury offers a major in Environmental Chemistry that combines elements of both the natural sciences and environmental studies. These interdisciplinary programs provide students with a unique and well-rounded education that prepares them for a variety of career paths.

Admission Requirements and Selectivity: Harvard vs Middlebury

Another critical aspect to consider when choosing between Harvard and Middlebury is the admission requirements and selectivity of both universities.

Harvard is one of the most prestigious universities in the world and has an acceptance rate of just 4.9%. They require applicants to have a near-perfect academic record, exceptional test scores, and impressive extracurricular activities.

On the other hand, Middlebury has an acceptance rate of around 17% and looks for well-rounded students with a strong academic record, leadership skills, and a variety of extracurricular interests. They also have a test-optional policy, meaning that applicants can choose not to submit their standardized test scores.

It is important to note that while Harvard’s admission requirements may seem daunting, they also offer a need-blind admission policy, meaning that they do not consider an applicant’s ability to pay when making admission decisions. Middlebury also offers a need-blind admission policy and is committed to meeting 100% of demonstrated financial need for all admitted students.

Faculty and Student Ratio: Harvard vs Middlebury

The quality and size of the faculty at a university are important to consider when making a decision. In general, both Harvard and Middlebury have excellent faculty with a diverse range of expertise.

Harvard has a student-to-faculty ratio of 7:1, meaning that classes are often small and well-taught. Meanwhile, Middlebury has a ratio of 8:1, which is still considered very low and allows students to develop close relationships with their professors.

However, it is important to note that the student-to-faculty ratio is not the only factor that determines the quality of education. Other factors, such as class size, teaching methods, and resources available, also play a significant role.

At Harvard, for example, students have access to state-of-the-art research facilities and a wide range of extracurricular activities. Middlebury, on the other hand, is known for its strong emphasis on experiential learning and study abroad programs. Therefore, when choosing between these two universities, it is important to consider all aspects of the educational experience.

Extracurricular Activities and Opportunities: Harvard vs Middlebury

Both Harvard and Middlebury offer a range of extracurricular activities and opportunities for students.

Harvard has over 400 student organizations ranging from academic clubs to artistic groups and everything in between. They also have a robust athletics program with 42 intercollegiate sports teams.

Group of students involve in a club raising their hands.

Similarly, Middlebury has over 150 student organizations, including clubs focused on social and environmental justice, community service, and the arts. They also have a strong athletics program with 31 varsity teams and club sports.

Middlebury offers unique extracurricular opportunities, such as its Language Schools, which provide immersive language learning experiences in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. These programs are open to Middlebury and non-students and offer intensive language instruction and cultural immersion.

Housing and Accommodation Options: Harvard vs Middlebury

Housing and accommodation are fundamental aspects of a student’s experience, and both Harvard and Middlebury offer different options to their students.

Harvard has a mixture of on-campus dormitories and apartments, and students typically live on campus for at least their first year. They also have an active Greek life scene, with many students choosing to join fraternities and sororities.

At Middlebury, all students must live on campus for all four years of their undergraduate studies and can choose between traditional dormitories, co-ops, or language houses. They also have a unique residential system where students are grouped together based on their interests and can participate in activities and discussions related to their passions.

Additionally, Harvard offers off-campus housing options for upperclassmen who wish to live independently. These options include apartments and houses in the surrounding Cambridge area. However, these options can be more expensive than on-campus housing and may require a longer commute to classes.

On the other hand, Middlebury’s on-campus housing options are more affordable and convenient for students. The residential system also fosters a strong sense of community among students, as they live and learn together in the same spaces. This can lead to closer relationships with peers and a more immersive college experience.

Tuition Fees and Financial Aid: Harvard vs Middlebury

Tuition fees and financial aid are essential considerations when deciding between universities, as they can have a significant impact on your future financial stability.

At Harvard, tuition fees total around $70,000 per year, making it one of the most expensive universities in the world. However, the university offers extensive financial aid, including needs-based scholarships and work-study programs.

On the other hand, Middlebury’s tuition fees are around $71,000 per year, similar to that of Harvard. However, they also offer financial aid packages, including scholarships, grants, and loans, to help students pay for their education.

In addition to financial aid, both Harvard and Middlebury offer various resources to help students manage their finances. Harvard provides financial literacy workshops and counseling services to help students make informed decisions about their finances.

Middlebury offers a financial literacy program that includes workshops, one-on-one counseling, and online resources to help students understand and manage their finances.

Furthermore, both universities have programs to support students who want to pursue careers in public service. Harvard’s Public Service Initiative provides funding and resources for students interested in public service careers.

At the same time, Middlebury’s Center for Community Engagement offers internships, fellowships, and other opportunities for students to engage in community service and social justice work.

Career Prospects and Alumni Network: Harvard vs Middlebury

The career prospects and alumni networks of both universities are worth considering as they can have a substantial impact on your professional future.

Three students smiling at the camera while sitting on the bench.

Harvard has a strong alumni network, including many successful politicians, entrepreneurs, and academics. They also have a robust career services department, providing students with networking opportunities, job postings, and career counseling.

At Middlebury, students have access to a similar career services department, along with a traditionally strong alumni network, especially in the fields of politics and the environment.

Additionally, Middlebury has a unique program called the “MiddCORE, ” a four-week, mentor-led program that helps students develop skills in innovation, leadership, and collaboration. This program provides students with hands-on experience and networking opportunities with industry professionals, which can be beneficial for their future careers.

Student Life and Community Comparison: Harvard vs Middlebury

Finally, student life and community are crucial aspects of the university experience that can determine how comfortable and included a student feels.

Harvard has a diverse student body, with students from all around the world. They also have a unique residential system, which helps build a sense of community among students. However, with over 16,000 students, Harvard can sometimes feel impersonal.

At Middlebury, the student body is much smaller, and the environment is more intimate. Students have the opportunity to form close relationships with their peers and professors and can participate in a range of community events and activities.

In addition to the size of the student body, Middlebury also offers a more personalized approach to education. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 8:1, students have more opportunities to engage with their professors and receive individualized attention. This can lead to a more enriching academic experience and a stronger sense of community within the classroom.

On the other hand, Harvard’s size allows for a wider range of extracurricular activities and resources. With over 400 student organizations, students have the opportunity to explore a variety of interests and passions. Additionally, Harvard’s location in Cambridge, Massachusetts, provides easy access to the cultural and intellectual resources of the Boston area.

Sports Teams and Athletics Programs: Harvard vs. Middlebury

If you’re an athletic person, then the quality of sports teams and athletics programs offered by a university is an important factor to consider.

Harvard has highly competitive athletics programs, including well-known varsity teams in football, basketball, and track and field. They also have excellent facilities, including the Bright-Landry Hockey Center and the Harvard Stadium.

At Middlebury, athletics are a big part of student life, and the university has a strong reputation for skiing, soccer, and field hockey. They also offer a variety of club sports programs, including ultimate frisbee and rock climbing.

Additionally, Middlebury has a unique program called the “Peak Performance” program, which offers specialized training and support for student-athletes to help them balance their academic and athletic commitments. This program has been highly successful in helping Middlebury athletes excel both on and off the field.

Research Opportunities Comparison: Harvard vs Middlebury

Research opportunities are crucial for students interested in pursuing graduate education or a career in research.

Harvard is one of the leading research institutions in the world, and students have the opportunity to participate in research projects in a variety of fields. They also offer extensive resources, including cutting-edge laboratories and research facilities.

a group of students talking about their school activity.

Similarly, Middlebury offers undergraduate students the opportunity to engage in research through their independent research program. Students can work closely with their professors and receive funding to conduct research in several disciplines, including the sciences, social sciences, and humanities.

Furthermore, Harvard has a vast network of alumni who are leaders in their respective fields. This provides students with the opportunity to connect with professionals and potentially secure internships or job opportunities in their desired field of research.

On the other hand, Middlebury’s small size allows for more personalized attention and mentorship from professors. This can be especially beneficial for students who are new to research and need guidance in developing their skills and interests.

Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Comparison: Harvard vs Middlebury

Finally, the level of diversity, inclusion, and equity offered by a university is essential to consider, especially in the current social and political climate.

Harvard has made strides in recent years to improve diversity and inclusion on campus. They have a variety of initiatives, including a diversity and inclusion task force, a bias response team and a range of student-led organizations focused on promoting diversity and inclusivity.

Similarly, Middlebury has been actively working to promote diversity and inclusivity on campus, especially since the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020. They have implemented new programming and initiatives, including a Task Force on Anti-Racism and a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Implementation Team.

Despite these efforts, both Harvard and Middlebury still have work to do in terms of creating a truly inclusive and equitable campus environment. Harvard has faced criticism for its lack of diversity among faculty and staff, with only 4% of tenured faculty members being Black.

Middlebury has also faced criticism for its lack of diversity among faculty and staff, with only 5% of full-time faculty members being Black.

Furthermore, both universities have faced incidents of racism and discrimination on campus. In 2019, a Harvard student was physically assaulted because of their race, and in 2020, Middlebury students reported incidents of racist and anti-Semitic graffiti on campus. These incidents highlight the ongoing need for universities to prioritize diversity, inclusion, and equity in all aspects of campus life.

Conclusion – Which University is the Right Choice for You?

a student carrying her things and smiling in front of the camera

When it comes to choosing the right university for you, there are many factors to consider. Harvard and Middlebury both offer high-quality education, robust extracurricular activities, and diverse student communities.

Ultimately, the decision between these two great universities will depend on your individual preferences – whether you want a large or small campus, a liberal arts or natural sciences focus, or a big or small student body.

Regardless of your final decision, both Harvard and Middlebury offer incredible opportunities for personal and academic growth, and whichever you choose, you’re sure to receive an excellent education and form lifelong connections.

It’s important also to consider the location of the university and how it aligns with your personal goals and interests. Harvard is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which offers a bustling city atmosphere with access to numerous cultural and historical landmarks. Middlebury, on the other hand, is situated in a small town in Vermont, surrounded by beautiful natural scenery and outdoor recreational opportunities.

Think about what kind of environment you thrive in and what experiences you hope to have outside of the classroom when making your decision.


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