Middlebury vs. Columbia: Which Institution is Right for You?

September 12, 2023
By AdmissionSight

Middlebury vs. Columbia: Which Institution is Right for You?

Making a decision about where to attend college is a significant and sometimes daunting task. There are so many factors to consider, such as location, academic programs, extracurricular activities, campus culture, and cost of attendance, to name just a few. This article will take a closer look at two prestigious institutions, Middlebury College vs. Columbia University, and compare them across a range of categories.

Location and Campus: A Comparative Analysis

Location and campus amenities play a significant role in shaping the college experience. Middlebury College is located in Middlebury, Vermont, a small town that offers a tight-knit community feel. In contrast, Columbia University is situated in New York City, one of the most vibrant and diverse cities in the world. Both campuses have well-maintained buildings and top-notch facilities, but Columbia’s campus is much larger and more expansive than Middlebury’s.

View of Columbia university.

Despite the size difference, Middlebury’s campus has a unique charm with its picturesque surroundings and natural beauty. The campus is nestled in the Green Mountains, providing students with ample opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing, and camping. In contrast, Columbia’s urban location offers students access to a wide range of cultural and entertainment options, including museums, theaters, and restaurants.

Another factor to consider when comparing the two campuses is the student population. Middlebury College has a smaller student body, with just over 2,500 undergraduate students, while Columbia University has over 8,000 undergraduate students. This difference in size can impact the sense of community and the opportunities for social interaction on campus. Middlebury’s smaller size allows for more personalized attention from professors and a closer-knit student body, while Columbia’s larger size offers a more diverse student population and a wider range of extracurricular activities.

Academic Programs and Curriculum: How Middlebury vs. Columbia Differ

Academic programs and curriculum are essential to consider when choosing a college. Middlebury College offers a broad range of liberal arts and sciences majors, including anthropology, environmental studies, and film & media culture. Columbia University, on the other hand, is renowned for its professional schools and Ivy League reputation. Students can choose from a vast array of majors and minors in fields such as business, engineering, journalism, and social work.

When it comes to academic programs, Middlebury College emphasizes interdisciplinary studies and encourages students to explore multiple fields of study. The college also offers unique programs such as the Middlebury Language Schools, which provide intensive language immersion programs in languages such as Arabic, Chinese, and Russian. In contrast, Columbia University has a more structured approach to academics, with a focus on specialization and professional development. The university’s professional schools, such as the Columbia Business School and the Columbia Law School, are highly regarded and attract students from around the world.

Another factor to consider when comparing academic programs is the availability of research opportunities. Middlebury College has a strong commitment to undergraduate research, with opportunities for students to work closely with faculty members on research projects in a variety of fields. Columbia University, with its extensive research facilities and resources, offers students unparalleled opportunities to engage in cutting-edge research in fields such as science, engineering, and medicine.

Admissions Criteria: What You Need to Know between Middlebury vs. Columbia

Admissions criteria can vary greatly from school to school, but both Middlebury and Columbia are highly selective institutions. Middlebury College has an acceptance rate of around 17%, while Columbia University’s acceptance rate is around 6%. Both schools consider factors such as academic achievement, extracurricular activities, recommendations, and essays when assessing applicants.

a group of college students walking side by side in a hall way

It’s important to note that while these factors are important, they are not the only ones considered in the admissions process. Both Middlebury and Columbia also value diversity and seek to create a well-rounded student body. This means that factors such as socioeconomic background, geographic location, and cultural experiences may also be taken into account when evaluating applicants.

Extracurricular Activities: Which School Offers More Options?

Extracurricular activities are a crucial part of the college experience, allowing students to pursue their interests and connect with others who share their passions. Middlebury College has a vibrant extracurricular scene, with over 150 student-run organizations ranging from cappella groups to club sports to community service programs. Columbia University has a similarly robust extracurricular scene, with over 500 student organizations covering all types of interests and activities.

However, the size of the student body at Columbia University means that there is more competition for leadership positions and limited resources for some of the smaller organizations. On the other hand, Middlebury College’s smaller student body allows for more intimate and close-knit communities within the extracurricular organizations.

Additionally, Middlebury College offers unique extracurricular opportunities, such as the Middlebury Language Schools, where students can immerse themselves in intensive language study during the summer. Columbia University, on the other hand, has a strong emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, with resources such as the Columbia Startup Lab and the Columbia Venture Competition available to students interested in starting their own businesses.

Campus Culture: How it Affects Your College Experience

Campus culture can significantly impact student life, from the social scene to the study culture to the type of student who attends the school. Middlebury College has a close-knit, friendly community where students are encouraged to explore their interests and connect with others. Columbia University has a more competitive and intense campus culture, with a high emphasis on academic achievement and professional success.

However, it’s important to note that campus culture can also change over time. For example, in recent years, Middlebury College has seen an increase in activism and social justice initiatives, leading to a more politically engaged student body. Similarly, Columbia University has made efforts to prioritize mental health and wellness with the creation of new resources and support systems for students.

Housing and Accommodation: A Closer Look between Middlebury vs. Columbia

Housing and accommodation can play a significant role in shaping the college experience. Both Middlebury and Columbia offer a range of housing options, from traditional dormitories to apartment-style living. Middlebury’s housing is known for its architectural charm, with many buildings dating back to the early 20th century. Columbia’s housing options are more modern, featuring high-rise apartment buildings and suites for students.

It’s important to note that the availability of housing can vary between the two schools. Middlebury guarantees housing for all four years, while Columbia only guarantees housing for the first year. However, Columbia does offer a variety of off-campus housing options for upperclassmen.

Another factor to consider is the cost of housing. Middlebury’s housing costs are included in the overall tuition and fees, while Columbia’s housing costs are separate and can be quite expensive, especially for students living in high-rise apartment buildings.

Student Life: What to Expect at Middlebury vs. Columbia

Student life at Middlebury and Columbia is diverse and exciting, with plenty of opportunities for students to get involved, make connections, and explore their passions. Middlebury’s student life is centered around its tight-knit community, with events and activities that bring students together. Columbia’s student life is more fast-paced and frenetic, with an endless array of events, cultural happenings, and social opportunities.

Young woman talking to an interviewer.

At Middlebury, students can expect to find a wide range of extracurricular activities, including clubs and organizations focused on everything from sports and fitness to music and the arts. The college also offers a variety of community service opportunities, allowing students to give back to the local community and make a positive impact.

Meanwhile, at Columbia, students can take advantage of the university’s location in the heart of New York City. From attending Broadway shows and visiting world-class museums to exploring the city’s diverse neighborhoods and cuisine, there is always something new and exciting to discover. Additionally, Columbia’s student organizations reflect the university’s commitment to social justice and activism, with groups focused on issues such as environmental sustainability, human rights, and political advocacy.

Faculty and Research Opportunities: How Middlebury vs. Columbia Compare

Faculty and research opportunities are an essential part of the college experience, allowing students to learn from experts in their field and engage in cutting-edge research. Middlebury College boasts a 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio, ensuring that students receive personalized attention and guidance. Columbia University’s faculty is world-renowned, with Nobel laureates and MacArthur “Genius” grant recipients among its ranks. Both schools offer extensive research opportunities for students.

At Middlebury College, faculty members are not only experts in their fields but they are also dedicated to teaching and mentoring students. They are easily accessible and often work closely with students on research projects. In addition, Middlebury offers a variety of research grants and fellowships to support student research in a wide range of disciplines.

Columbia University’s research opportunities are vast and varied, with over 200 research centers and institutes. Students have the opportunity to work alongside faculty members on groundbreaking research projects, and many students have the chance to present their research at national and international conferences. Columbia also offers a number of research fellowships and grants to support student research.

Career Services and Opportunities Post-Graduation between Middlebury vs. Columbia

Career services and opportunities post-graduation are crucial for students looking to launch successful careers. Both Middlebury and Columbia have robust career services offices offering career counseling, job search assistance, and networking opportunities. Columbia’s location in New York City gives students a significant advantage in terms of access to internships and job opportunities, particularly in fields such as finance, media, and technology.

Additionally, Middlebury has a strong alumni network that provides valuable connections and mentorship opportunities for recent graduates. The college also offers a variety of career-focused programs and events, such as career fairs and employer information sessions, to help students explore different industries and connect with potential employers. Furthermore, Middlebury’s liberal arts curriculum provides students with a well-rounded education that prepares them for a wide range of careers and graduate programs.

Cost of Attendance: Budgeting for College Expenses

The cost of attendance is a crucial factor for many students and families when considering colleges. Middlebury College’s tuition and fees are around $58,000 per year, while Columbia University’s tuition and fees are around $63,000 per year. However, both schools offer significant financial aid packages, including grants, scholarships, and work-study opportunities, to help students afford their education.

It’s important to note that the cost of attendance goes beyond just tuition and fees. Other expenses include room and board, textbooks, transportation, and personal expenses. These costs can vary greatly depending on the location of the college and the student’s individual needs.

Additionally, students should also consider the potential return on investment in their education. While a higher cost of attendance may seem daunting, attending a prestigious university with strong career connections and opportunities may lead to higher earning potential in the long run.

Alumni Network and Support: Which School Has a Stronger Network?

Alumni networks can be incredibly valuable for students looking to build connections and launch successful careers. Middlebury College has a strong and active alumni network, with graduates working in fields such as finance, government, and the arts. Columbia University has a similarly robust alumni network, with notable graduates including former US President Barack Obama and businessman Warren Buffett.

Black students talking to an interviewer in a room.

However, Middlebury College’s alumni network is known for its close-knit community and willingness to help fellow graduates. The college has a mentorship program that connects current students with alumni in their desired fields, providing valuable guidance and networking opportunities. Additionally, Middlebury’s alumni often return to campus to speak with students and offer career advice, further strengthening the network and support system for graduates.

Diversity on Campus: A Comparative Study between Middlebury vs. Columbia

Diversity on campus can significantly impact the college experience, allowing students to engage with people from different backgrounds and perspectives. Middlebury College has a reasonably diverse student body, with about 20% of students identifying as students of color. Columbia University also has a diverse student body, with over 50% of students identifying as racial or ethnic minorities.

However, diversity on campus goes beyond just racial and ethnic diversity. It also includes diversity in terms of socioeconomic status, gender identity, sexual orientation, and more. Middlebury College has made efforts to increase diversity in all of these areas, including implementing need-blind admissions and offering resources for LGBTQ+ students. Columbia University has also taken steps to promote diversity and inclusion, such as creating a center for first-generation and low-income students and offering gender-neutral housing options.

Studies have shown that a diverse campus can lead to better academic outcomes and a more positive college experience for all students. It allows for a wider range of perspectives and ideas to be shared, leading to more meaningful discussions and a deeper understanding of different cultures and experiences. Both Middlebury College and Columbia University continue to prioritize diversity and inclusion on their campuses, recognizing the importance of creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for all students.

The Hiring Process: Which School is Preferred by Employers?

The hiring process can be competitive and challenging, and attending a prestigious institution can be an advantage. Middlebury College and Columbia University are both highly regarded by employers, with graduates from both schools finding success in a range of industries. Columbia’s location in New York City can be a particular advantage, given the broad range of opportunities available in the city.

However, it’s important to note that attending a prestigious institution is not the only factor that employers consider during the hiring process. Relevant work experience, internships, and extracurricular activities can also play a significant role in demonstrating a candidate’s skills and qualifications.

Additionally, while Middlebury and Columbia may be highly regarded by employers, it’s important to research and consider other schools that may also have strong programs in your field of interest. Networking and building relationships with professionals in your desired industry can also be a valuable asset in the job search process.

Student Success Rates: An Overview of Graduation Rates and Employment Outcomes

Student success rates are essential to consider when choosing a college. Middlebury College has a strong track record when it comes to graduation rates, with a six-year graduation rate of around 92%. Columbia University also has a high graduation rate, at around 95%. Additionally, both schools boast impressive employment outcomes, with graduates finding success in fields such as business, law, medicine, and the arts.

View of a woman unboxing her things in a dorm room.

It’s important to note that graduation rates and employment outcomes can vary depending on the specific program or major. For example, at Middlebury College, the graduation rate for STEM majors is slightly lower than the overall graduation rate, but the employment outcomes for those graduates are still strong. Similarly, at Columbia University, graduates from the School of Journalism have a high employment rate, but the graduation rate for that program is lower than the university’s overall graduation rate. Therefore, it’s important to research and consider success rates for your specific area of study when choosing a college.


Choosing between Middlebury College vs. Columbia University is a difficult decision, but hopefully, this article has provided you with a comprehensive overview of the two institutions and what they have to offer. Ultimately, the best choice for each student will depend on their individual preferences, goals, and interests. Middlebury College is an excellent choice for students looking for a tight-knit community and a broad range of liberal arts and sciences majors. Meanwhile, Columbia University is an excellent choice for students looking for a world-renowned faculty, a rigorous academic program, and a vibrant campus culture in the heart of New York City.

It is important to note that both Middlebury College and Columbia University offer a variety of extracurricular activities and opportunities for students to get involved on campus. Middlebury has a strong focus on outdoor activities, with its location in the beautiful Green Mountains of Vermont. Students can participate in activities such as hiking, skiing, and rock climbing. Columbia, on the other hand, offers a wide range of clubs and organizations, including a thriving arts scene and a variety of student-run publications.

Another factor to consider when choosing between these two institutions is the size of the student body. Middlebury College has a smaller student body, with just over 2,500 undergraduate students. This can lead to a more intimate and personalized educational experience, with smaller class sizes and more opportunities for one-on-one interactions with professors. Columbia University, on the other hand, has a larger student body, with over 8,000 undergraduate students. This can lead to a more diverse and dynamic campus culture, with a wider range of perspectives and experiences represented.


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