Lehigh and Carleton: A Look at the Rivalry

August 11, 2023
By AdmissionSight

Lehigh and Carleton: A Look at the Rivalry

When it comes to choosing the right college, there are many factors to consider. From academics to campus life, every aspect of a college can have a significant impact on your experience as a student. In this article, we’ll take a detailed look at Lehigh and Carleton, two colleges known for their long-standing rivalry in sports and academia.

A Brief History of Lehigh and Carleton

Lehigh University was founded in 1865 and is located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. It has a rich history, having been at the forefront of engineering and science education in America. Carleton College is a private liberal arts college in Northfield, Minnesota, that was founded in 1866. It is considered one of the top liberal colleges in the country, known for its outstanding academic programs and beautiful campus.

Despite being founded only a year apart, Lehigh and Carleton have vastly different histories. Lehigh was originally established as a technical school to train engineers for the rapidly growing industrial sector in the United States.

In contrast, Carleton was founded as a liberal arts college with a focus on providing a well-rounded education to its students. Despite these differences, both institutions have a strong commitment to academic excellence and have produced many successful alumni in a variety of fields.

Campus Life: A Comparison between Lehigh and Carleton

Both Lehigh and Carleton have beautiful and well-maintained campuses that provide an excellent learning environment for their students. Lehigh’s campus covers over 1,600 acres and features state-of-the-art facilities, including a new science and engineering building. Carleton’s campus, on the other hand, covers 1,040 acres and is designed in a traditional New England style.

College students walking in the campus.

One distinct difference between the two campuses is their location. Lehigh is located in a suburban setting, while Carleton is in a rural area. This difference can have an impact on the student experience, as students attending Lehigh may have more opportunities for internships and networking with nearby businesses, while Carleton students may have a quieter, more secluded campus experience.

Another difference between the two campuses is the size of the student body. Lehigh has a larger student population, with over 7,000 undergraduate and graduate students, while Carleton has a smaller student population of around 2,000.

This can affect the social atmosphere on campus, as larger schools may offer more diverse extracurricular activities and events, while smaller schools may have a more tight-knit community.

Academics at Lehigh vs Carleton: Which College is Right for You?

Lehigh and Carleton are both highly respected institutions, but they have differing academic programs. Lehigh is known for its engineering and science programs, while Carleton is more renowned for its excellent liberal arts education.

Both colleges offer a wide range of majors and minors, and they have similarly rigorous academic standards.

If you’re interested in attending a college that’s more research-oriented, Lehigh might be a better fit for you. However, if you’re interested in a more personalized and well-rounded liberal arts education, Carleton should be your top pick.

It’s important to note that both Lehigh and Carleton have strong academic support systems in place for their students. Lehigh offers tutoring services and academic advising, while Carleton has a writing center and peer mentorship programs.

Alumni Networks: How Lehigh and Carleton Compare

Both Lehigh and Carleton have extensive alumni networks, which can provide valuable opportunities for internships and careers.

Business people discussing documents and ideas at meeting

Lehigh’s network is particularly strong in the Northeast, with numerous alumni working in finance and business. Carleton’s network is more spread out across the country, with alumni successful in a wide range of fields and industries.

However, Lehigh’s alumni network is known for its strong connections in the engineering and technology industries, with many alumni holding leadership positions in major companies such as Google and Microsoft.

On the other hand, Carleton’s alumni network is known for its focus on social justice and activism, with many alumni working in non-profit organizations and advocacy groups.

Both universities also offer various programs and events to connect current students with alumni.

Lehigh hosts an annual career fair where students can network with alumni and potential employers, while Carleton offers mentorship programs where students can be paired with alumni in their field of interest.

The Impact of Location on Education: Comparing Lehigh and Carleton

As mentioned earlier, Lehigh’s suburban location provides unique opportunities for students interested in internships and networking with local businesses.

Carleton’s rural location creates a quieter, more secluded campus experience. However, Carleton is located close to major metropolitan areas, including Minneapolis and St. Paul, which can provide unique cultural opportunities for students.

Another factor to consider when comparing the impact of location on education at Lehigh and Carleton is the availability of outdoor recreational activities.

Lehigh’s location in the Lehigh Valley provides easy access to hiking, skiing, and other outdoor activities in the nearby Pocono Mountains. Carleton’s location in Minnesota offers students opportunities for outdoor activities such as fishing, boating, and camping in the state’s many lakes and parks.

Additionally, the impact of location on education can also be seen in the diversity of student populations. Lehigh’s location in the Northeast attracts a more diverse student body, with students from a variety of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Carleton’s location in the Midwest, while still diverse, tends to attract a higher percentage of students from the region and neighboring states.

Student Experience at Lehigh and Carleton

Both colleges have a vibrant student life, with a wide range of extracurricular activities available to students.

Group of students talking in a room.

Lehigh has over 170 clubs and organizations, ranging from academic societies to sports teams and special interest groups. Carleton has over 200 clubs and organizations, covering everything from arts and culture to social justice and activism.

One notable difference between the two colleges is their approach to Greek life. Lehigh has a strong Greek presence, with over 20 fraternities and sororities. Carleton, on the other hand, is a dry campus and does not have any official Greek organizations.

Another difference between the two colleges is their location. Lehigh is located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, a small city with a population of around 75,000. Carleton, on the other hand, is located in Northfield, Minnesota, a small town with a population of around 20,000. While both locations offer a tight-knit community feel, Bethlehem offers more urban amenities, while Northfield offers a quieter, more rural setting.

Diversity on Campus: A Comparison between Lehigh and Carleton

Both Lehigh and Carleton are committed to promoting diversity and inclusivity on their campuses.

Lehigh has a diverse student body, with over 20% of its students coming from ethnic backgrounds. Similarly, Carleton has a diverse student body, with over 25% of its students identifying as students of color.

However, Carleton is particularly notable for its commitment to inclusivity and equity. It has a robust set of programs and initiatives designed to support underrepresented students and promote a more inclusive campus culture.

Lehigh has recently implemented several similar initiatives, but it still has a way to go to match Carleton’s level of engagement in this area.

One of the initiatives that Carleton has implemented is the Bias Response Team, which provides support and resources to students who have experienced bias or discrimination on campus. The team also works to educate the campus community on issues related to bias and discrimination.

Student Life in Bethlehem, PA vs Northfield, MN at the Two Colleges

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and Northfield, Minnesota, are vastly different in terms of culture, climate, and lifestyle.

Bethlehem is a small city with a rich history and a vibrant arts and culture scene. Northfield, on the other hand, is a small town known for its scenic beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities.

Both areas have their perks, and the decision about which college to attend should depend on your personal preferences and interests. Students who prefer a more urban lifestyle may prefer Lehigh and the surrounding area, while those who enjoy outdoor recreational activities may enjoy Carleton’s location more.

One of the major differences between the two colleges is the size of the student body. Lehigh University has a larger student population, with over 7,000 undergraduate students, while Carleton College has a smaller student population of around 2,000 undergraduate students. This can impact the social scene and the sense of community on campus.

Another factor to consider is the academic programs offered at each college. Lehigh University is known for its strong engineering and business programs, while Carleton College is known for its strong liberal arts programs.

Tuition Costs and Financial Aid Options at Lehigh vs Carleton

College tuition can be a significant financial burden, and both Lehigh and Carleton are relatively expensive compared to other colleges in the country.

Group of students walking in the campus.

As of 2021, Lehigh’s tuition and fees are approximately $57,000 per year, while Carleton’s tuition and fees are around $58,000 per year. However, both colleges offer robust financial aid packages designed to make education more accessible for all students.

If you’re worried about paying for college, Lehigh and Carleton are both excellent options, as both institutions offer generous need-based aid and merit scholarships. However, it’s crucial to carefully research and compare their financial aid packages to determine which college will be more affordable for you.

It’s important to note that financial aid packages can vary greatly depending on a student’s individual circumstances, such as family income, academic achievements, and other factors. Lehigh and Carleton both have online calculators that can help estimate the amount of aid you may be eligible for based on your specific situation.

Research Opportunities at Lehigh vs Carleton

Research opportunities play an essential role in the college experience, as they offer valuable hands-on experience and can help build a professional network. Lehigh is known for its extensive research programs, particularly in engineering and science.

A group of students gathered around a table working on a project

Carleton also has an active research program, with numerous opportunities for students to collaborate with faculty and conduct research in various fields.

However, the research opportunities at Lehigh and Carleton differ in terms of their focus areas. Lehigh’s research programs are heavily focused on applied research, with a strong emphasis on industry partnerships and real-world applications. On the other hand, Carleton’s research programs are more focused on fundamental research, with an emphasis on theoretical and conceptual frameworks.

Additionally, the research opportunities at Lehigh and Carleton also differ in terms of their accessibility to students. While both institutions offer research opportunities to their students, Lehigh’s research programs tend to be more competitive and selective, with limited spots available for students.

Extracurricular Activities Available at Both Colleges: Which Offers More?

Extracurricular activities are an essential aspect of college life, as they provide students with valuable opportunities to explore their interests and develop new skills. Both Lehigh and Carleton have a wide range of student-led organizations and clubs that offer something for everyone.

Lehigh has a particularly active Greek life and sports program, while Carleton has a strong emphasis on the arts, culture, and social justice. However, both colleges provide students with numerous opportunities to get involved on campus, from academic clubs to sports teams and everything in between.

Additionally, both colleges offer unique extracurricular activities that set them apart from each other. Lehigh has a popular entrepreneurship club that provides students with resources and mentorship to start their own businesses.

Admissions Requirements Compared: What do you need to get into Lehigh or Carleton?

The admissions requirements for Lehigh and Carleton are quite similar. Both colleges accept the Common Application and require applicants to submit transcripts, test scores, essays, and letters of recommendation. However, Lehigh has a slightly lower acceptance rate than Carleton, so it may be more challenging to get into.

Additionally, both colleges place a significant emphasis on extracurricular activities and community involvement, so it’s essential to have a well-rounded application that highlights your accomplishments outside of the classroom.

One notable difference between the admissions requirements of Lehigh and Carleton is their standardized test score policies. While both colleges require applicants to submit either SAT or ACT scores, Lehigh allows students to submit self-reported scores, whereas Carleton requires official score reports directly from the testing agency.


As we’ve seen, Lehigh and Carleton are both excellent colleges, but they have a few key differences that can impact your college experience. Whether you prioritize location, academics, or extracurricular activities, there is a college that will be the right fit for you.

Ultimately, the decision about which college to attend should be based on your personal preferences and goals. We hope that this article has provided you with valuable insights into Lehigh and Carleton and will help you make an informed decision about your college education.

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