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Lehigh and UIUC: Which University is Right for You?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

A female student sitting on a coach while holding a notebook and a pen.

Lehigh and UIUC: Which University is Right for You?

Are you in the process of choosing a university to attend? Do you find yourself torn between Lehigh University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)? You’re not alone. Each year, thousands of prospective students face this same decision.

With so many similarities between these two institutions, it can be challenging to determine which one is right for you. That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive comparison to help you make an informed decision. Let’s dive in!

Overview of Lehigh University and UIUC

Lehigh University is a private research university located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1865, the institution boasts a picturesque campus spanning over 2,350 acres. UIUC, on the other hand, is a public research university in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois. Established in 1867, UIUC is renowned for its rigorous academic standards and cutting-edge research programs.

Lehigh University offers over 100 undergraduate and graduate programs across four colleges: the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science, the College of Business and Economics, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the College of Education.

The university is also home to several research centers, including the Center for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology and the Institute for Cyber Physical Infrastructure and Energy.

UIUC is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities and offers over 150 undergraduate and graduate programs across 16 colleges and schools. The university is particularly renowned for its programs in engineering, computer science, and business.

Campus Life and Culture at Lehigh University

If you’re looking for a tight-knit community, Lehigh University may be the perfect fit for you. With a student population of just over 7,000, the campus has a small, intimate feel. Students rave about the sense of community, and there is a strong fraternity/sorority presence on campus.

Group of students working together and talking.

The university is also known for its Division I sports teams, with particular emphasis on football, basketball, and lacrosse.

As far as facilities go, Lehigh is home to state-of-the-art science and engineering labs, as well as a massive athletic complex, including a stadium, field house, and fitness center. For those who enjoy the outdoors, the university has plenty of green spaces, hiking trails, and scenic overlooks.

Lehigh University also offers a wide range of extracurricular activities and clubs for students to get involved in. From academic clubs to cultural organizations, there is something for everyone.

The university also hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including concerts, lectures, and performances. Additionally, Lehigh has a strong commitment to community service, with many opportunities for students to volunteer and give back to the surrounding area.

Campus Life and Culture at UIUC

UIUC is a sprawling campus with a student population of around 50,000. With that many students, it’s no surprise that there is always something going on. The university boasts more than 1,400 student organizations, ranging from cultural clubs to intramural sports leagues.

The institution is also home to the largest Greek system in the country, with over 90 fraternities and sororities. Sports fans will love UIUC’s Big Ten Conference Division I sports teams, including football, basketball, volleyball, and wrestling.

Facilities-wise, UIUC offers plenty of resources for research, including top-notch libraries, labs, and data centers. The campus also has extensive sustainability initiatives, including the iCAP program, which aims to make UIUC a carbon-neutral campus.

UIUC is known for its diverse student body, with students from all 50 states and over 100 countries. This creates a vibrant and inclusive campus culture, with opportunities for students to learn from and engage with people from different backgrounds and perspectives.

Additionally, UIUC has a strong commitment to community service and civic engagement. The university offers numerous volunteer and service opportunities, and many students participate in programs like Alternative Spring Break, where they travel to different parts of the country to volunteer and learn about social issues.

Academic Programs Offered at Lehigh University vs. UIUC

When it comes to academics, both Lehigh and UIUC offer a wide range of programs. Lehigh is particularly strong in engineering and business, with highly regarded undergraduate and graduate programs in both disciplines. Additionally, the university has a renowned journalism program and an excellent theatre and art department.

UIUC, on the other hand, is known for its STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) programs. The institution is ranked among the top engineering schools in the country and is home to the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, where the first web browser was developed. UIUC also excels in fields such as computer science, agriculture, and accounting.

View of computer engineers working on a project.

Lehigh University also offers a variety of interdisciplinary programs, such as the Integrated Business and Engineering Honors Program, which combines coursework in both fields to prepare students for careers in technology-driven industries. The university also has a strong environmental studies program, which focuses on sustainability and conservation efforts.

UIUC has a highly regarded library and information science program, which prepares students for careers in the rapidly evolving field of information management. The university also offers a unique program in crop sciences, which combines traditional agricultural studies with cutting-edge research in genetics and biotechnology.

Admission Requirements for Lehigh University and UIUC

Admission to both Lehigh and UIUC is competitive, with acceptance rates hovering around 20% and 60%, respectively. At Lehigh, the average SAT score for admitted students is around 1400, while the average ACT score is around 32. Students applying to UIUC typically have an average SAT score of 1450 and an average ACT score of 33.

Other factors that both universities consider include GPA, extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation, and personal essays. It’s important to note that UIUC gives preference to in-state residents, while Lehigh does not have a residency requirement.

Additionally, Lehigh University and UIUC both offer early decision and early action options for prospective students. Early decision is a binding agreement, meaning that if a student is accepted, they must attend the university.

Early action is non-binding, allowing students to apply to multiple universities and make a decision later. It’s important to note that both universities have different deadlines and requirements for early decision and early action applications.

Tuition Fees and Financial Aid Options for Lehigh University and UIUC

As a private institution, Lehigh University is more expensive than UIUC, which is a public university. For the 2021-2022 academic year, the estimated cost of attendance at Lehigh is around $77,000, which includes tuition, room and board, and fees.

Group of students walking in the campus.

At UIUC, the estimated cost of attendance for in-state students is around $35,000, while out-of-state students can expect to pay around $53,000.

Both universities offer extensive financial aid options, including scholarships, need-based grants, and work-study programs. It’s important to note that UIUC offers merit scholarships, while Lehigh does not.

Lehigh University has a strong commitment to providing financial aid to its students, with over 50% of its undergraduate students receiving some form of financial assistance. The university offers need-based aid, which is determined by the student’s family income and assets, as well as merit-based aid for exceptional academic achievement.

UIUC also offers a variety of financial aid options, including need-based grants and scholarships, as well as merit-based scholarships for high-achieving students. The university also has a program called the Illinois Commitment, which provides free tuition and fees for Illinois residents whose family income is below a certain threshold.

Student-to-Faculty Ratio Comparison between Lehigh University and UIUC

Class size is an important consideration when choosing a university. At Lehigh, the student-to-faculty ratio is 9:1, which means that students benefit from small class sizes and close interaction with their professors. UIUC, on the other hand, has a slightly larger student-to-faculty ratio of 20:1, which is still relatively low for a public university of its size.

However, it is important to note that the student-to-faculty ratio is not the only factor that affects class size. The number of students enrolled in a particular program or course can also impact the size of the class. At Lehigh, some courses may have larger class sizes due to high demand, while at UIUC, some courses may have smaller class sizes due to lower enrollment.

Another factor to consider is the availability of teaching assistants (TAs) and other support staff. At Lehigh, TAs are often available to assist professors with grading and other tasks, which can help to maintain small class sizes and provide more individualized attention to students. UIUC also has a strong support system in place, with TAs and other staff available to assist students and professors as needed.

Sports Teams and Facilities Available at Lehigh University vs. UIUC

If you’re a sports fan, both universities have a lot to offer. At Lehigh, the Mountain Hawks compete in Division I sports, including football, basketball, and lacrosse. The university has state-of-the-art athletic facilities, including a 16,000-seat stadium, an indoor track, and a 10-lane swimming pool.

UIUC is also a powerhouse in Division I athletics and competes in the Big Ten Conference. The university has top-notch facilities, including a 60,000-seat football stadium, a basketball arena that seats over 16,000 fans, and a world-class track and field complex.

View of a coach using a whistle during practice.

Aside from traditional sports, both universities also offer a variety of club and intramural sports for students to participate in. Lehigh has over 25 club sports, including ultimate frisbee, rugby, and equestrian. UIUC has over 50 club sports, including quidditch, broomball, and water polo.

Additionally, both universities have programs in place to support student-athletes academically. Lehigh has a dedicated academic support center for student-athletes, offering tutoring, study halls, and academic advising. UIUC has a similar program called the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics Academic Services, which provides academic support and resources to student-athletes.

Research Opportunities at Lehigh University and UIUC

Research is a major part of the university experience, and both Lehigh and UIUC offer extensive opportunities for students to get involved in research projects. At Lehigh, students can work with faculty members on research initiatives in fields such as engineering, the arts, and the sciences.

UIUC is renowned for its cutting-edge research programs and is home to a number of research centers, including the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. Students are encouraged to pursue research projects in areas such as computer science, engineering, and agriculture.

Lehigh University offers a unique research opportunity through its Mountaintop Initiative, which allows students to work on interdisciplinary projects with faculty members and industry partners. This program provides students with hands-on experience in problem-solving and collaboration, preparing them for future careers in research and innovation.

UIUC also offers a variety of research opportunities for undergraduate students, including the Illinois Scholars Undergraduate Research (ISUR) program. This program provides funding for students to conduct research with faculty members in a wide range of fields, from social sciences to humanities to engineering.

Career Prospects after Graduating from Lehigh University or UIUC

Both Lehigh and UIUC have excellent career services offices that offer resources such as career counseling, resume review, and job search assistance. Graduates from both universities are highly sought after by employers across a wide range of industries.

Lehigh graduates are particularly well-prepared for careers in engineering, business, finance, and journalism. While UIUC graduates excel in fields such as computer science, engineering, and agriculture.

Additionally, both Lehigh and UIUC have strong alumni networks that provide valuable connections and networking opportunities for recent graduates. These networks can help graduates find job opportunities, mentorship, and professional development opportunities.

Alumni Network Comparisons between Lehigh University and UIUC

The alumni network can be a valuable resource for graduates, providing opportunities for mentorship, career advice, and networking. Both Lehigh and UIUC have highly active alumni associations that offer a wide range of resources and events for graduates.

Lehigh alumni are known for their loyalty to the university, with many remaining involved in the institution long after graduation. UIUC alumni are similarly active, with a strong presence in major cities across the country and around the world.

However, there are some differences between the alumni networks of Lehigh and UIUC. Lehigh’s alumni network is more focused on building personal connections and fostering a sense of community among graduates. They often organize smaller, more intimate events that allow alumni to connect on a more personal level. On the other hand, UIUC’s alumni network is more focused on professional development and career advancement. They offer a wide range of career-related resources, such as job boards, resume reviews, and networking events with industry professionals.

Location Comparisons: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania vs. Urbana-Champaign, Illinois

When it comes to location, both universities offer their own unique charm. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is a small town with a quaint downtown area and plenty of green spaces. The city is home to a number of music festivals and cultural events throughout the year.

Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, is a larger city with a bustling downtown area and plenty of entertainment options. The city is known for its eclectic restaurants, music venues, and art galleries. However, there are some notable differences between the two locations.

Bethlehem experiences all four seasons, with cold winters and hot summers, while Urbana-Champaign has a more temperate climate with milder winters and warmer summers.

Additionally, Bethlehem is located in the eastern part of the United States, making it easily accessible to major cities like New York and Philadelphia, while Urbana-Champaign is located in the Midwest, with Chicago being the closest major city.

Campus Sustainability Initiatives: Comparing Lehigh’s Eco-Commons to UIUC’s iCAP program

Sustainability is an important consideration for many students when choosing a university. Both Lehigh and UIUC have made significant efforts to reduce their carbon footprint and promote sustainable practices on campus.

two female students holding a garbage bag while picking up garbage

Lehigh’s Eco-Commons is a 755-acre research and conservation park that promotes environmental education and research. The university has also implemented sustainable practices across campus, including a comprehensive recycling program and a green roof garden.

UIUC’s iCAP program sets ambitious sustainability goals for the campus, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2050. The university has implemented a number of energy-saving initiatives, including the use of solar power and energy-efficient lighting and heating systems.

Additionally, both universities have implemented sustainable transportation options for students and faculty. Lehigh offers a bike-sharing program and has installed electric vehicle charging stations on campus.

UIUC has a robust public transportation system, including a free campus shuttle and bike-sharing program. These initiatives not only reduce carbon emissions but also promote healthy and active lifestyles.

Final Verdict: Which is Better –Lehigh or UIUC?

So, which university is right for you – Lehigh or UIUC? Ultimately, the answer depends on your individual needs and preferences. Lehigh offers a small, tight-knit community with a strong emphasis on engineering and business, while UIUC is a larger, more diverse institution known for its STEM programs and research opportunities.

Both universities have extensive resources and services to support students throughout their academic journey and beyond. Regardless of which institution you choose, you’ll be setting yourself up for success and a bright future.

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