Middlebury vs. Northwestern: A Side-by-Side Comparison

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

college student leaning against campus wall

Middlebury vs. Northwestern: A Side-by-Side Comparison

If you’re considering attending college in the United States, Middlebury and Northwestern are two institutions that may be on your list. Both are known for their academic excellence, vibrant student life, and unique campus culture. However, they are located in different parts of the country and have varying programs, and distinct social scenes. This article will provide an in-depth comparison of Middlebury vs. Northwestern, allowing you to make an informed decision about which university is the right fit for you.

Introduction: Why compare Middlebury and Northwestern?

While Middlebury and Northwestern are both highly respected institutions, they differ in terms of academics, location, and campus culture. By comparing these two side-by-side, you can get a better understanding of which school is the best choice for your specific needs. Whether you’re looking for a small liberal arts college or a large research university, there are pros and cons to each option.

Northwestern University sign with campus map below

One major difference between Middlebury and Northwestern is their location. Middlebury is located in a small town in Vermont, while Northwestern is located in the bustling city of Evanston, Illinois. This difference in location can greatly impact your college experience, as it affects the types of activities and opportunities available to you outside of the classroom. For example, Middlebury’s rural location may offer more opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking and skiing, while Northwestern’s urban location may offer more opportunities for internships and networking with professionals in your field.

Location: Comparing the campuses of Middlebury and Northwestern

Middlebury is located in the picturesque town of Middlebury, Vermont, nestled between the Green Mountains and the Adirondacks. The campus is known for its stunning natural beauty, historic architecture, and small class sizes. In contrast, Northwestern is situated in the Chicago suburbs and is one of the largest universities in the country. The campus is spread out over 240 acres and features modern buildings, cutting-edge research facilities, and a bustling urban environment.

Despite their differences in location, both Middlebury and Northwestern offer unique opportunities for students. Middlebury’s rural setting allows for easy access to outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing, and kayaking. The small-town atmosphere also fosters a tight-knit community and a sense of belonging. On the other hand, Northwestern’s location near Chicago provides students with endless opportunities for internships, networking, and cultural experiences. The city’s diverse population and thriving arts scene make it an exciting place to live and learn.

Academics: Differences in the curriculum and academic programs at Middlebury vs. Northwestern

Both Middlebury and Northwestern offer rigorous academic programs, but they differ in terms of majors, minors, and course requirements. Middlebury is a liberal arts college that emphasizes interdisciplinary learning, critical thinking, and creative problem-solving. Students can choose from over 50 majors, including Environmental Studies, Neuroscience, and International Politics and Economics. Northwestern, on the other hand, is a comprehensive research university that offers over 200 academic programs, ranging from Engineering and Computer Science to Journalism and Theatre.

Additionally, Middlebury has a unique academic program called the “February Program” where students can take a one-month intensive course during the month of February. This program allows students to explore a topic in-depth and gain hands-on experience. Northwestern, on the other hand, offers a wide range of study abroad programs, allowing students to immerse themselves in different cultures and gain a global perspective on their academic studies.

Faculty: Comparing the quality, diversity, and expertise of professors at Middlebury and Northwestern

The quality of faculty is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a university. Both Middlebury and Northwestern have renowned faculty members who are experts in their respective fields. Middlebury has a student-faculty ratio of 8:1, which means that professors are able to offer personalized attention to their students. Northwestern’s ratio is higher, at 7:1, but the university has an array of world-renowned professors and researchers who conduct cutting-edge research and teach innovative courses.

Group of friends doing their homework.

However, when it comes to diversity, Middlebury has a more diverse faculty compared to Northwestern. Middlebury has made a conscious effort to increase diversity among its faculty members, resulting in a faculty that is 25% people of color. Northwestern, on the other hand, has a faculty that is only 16% people of color. This difference in diversity can have a significant impact on the experiences of students from underrepresented backgrounds, as they may feel more supported and represented by a faculty that reflects their own identities.

Student Life: Examining the student experience at Middlebury vs. Northwestern

One of the biggest differences between Middlebury and Northwestern is the social scene. Middlebury is known for its tight-knit community, where students form close bonds with each other and with their professors. The campus is also home to a vibrant arts scene, with numerous student-run theatre productions and musical performances throughout the year. Northwestern, on the other hand, has a larger student body and a more diverse array of social opportunities. The campus is home to over 500 student organizations, ranging from political groups to sports teams, and there are always events and activities happening on campus.

Another notable difference between Middlebury and Northwestern is the location of the campuses. Middlebury is located in a small town in Vermont, surrounded by mountains and natural beauty. This provides students with a unique opportunity to explore the outdoors and engage in activities such as hiking, skiing, and camping. Northwestern, on the other hand, is located in the bustling city of Evanston, just outside of Chicago. This provides students with access to a wide range of cultural and entertainment options, including museums, theaters, and restaurants.

Housing: Comparing the dormitories, apartments, and housing options available to students

Both Middlebury and Northwestern offer housing options to their students, but they differ in terms of availability, cost, and amenities. Middlebury guarantees housing to all its students for all four years, and students can choose from a variety of options, including traditional dormitories, theme houses, and apartments. Northwestern offers housing to freshmen and sophomores, and upperclassmen can choose to live off-campus or in university-owned apartments. The cost of housing at Northwestern varies, depending on the type of accommodation, but it is generally more expensive than Middlebury’s.

Additionally, Middlebury’s housing options are known for their sustainability and eco-friendliness. Many of the dormitories and apartments are equipped with energy-efficient appliances and use renewable energy sources. Middlebury also has a program called “Eco-Reps,” where students can learn about sustainable living practices and promote them within their dorm communities. Northwestern, on the other hand, does not have a specific focus on sustainability in its housing options.

Extracurricular Activities: Analyzing the clubs, organizations, sports teams, and other activities offered at Middlebury vs. Northwestern

In addition to academics and social life, extracurricular activities are an important part of the university experience. Middlebury has a wide range of student-run clubs and organizations, including Acapella groups, a radio station, and an outdoor club. The campus is also home to numerous sports teams, including hockey, basketball, and lacrosse. Northwestern offers a similar selection of clubs and organizations, as well as a competitive Division I sports program that includes basketball, football, and soccer.

View of sports equipments placed on the floor.

Both Middlebury and Northwestern also offer unique extracurricular activities that cater to specific interests. Middlebury has a student-run organic farm, where students can learn about sustainable agriculture and participate in hands-on farming activities. Northwestern has a student-run fashion publication, where students can showcase their creativity and gain experience in the fashion industry. These specialized extracurricular activities provide students with opportunities to explore their passions and develop new skills outside of the classroom.

Career Opportunities: Assessing the job prospects, internships, networking opportunities, and alumni networks

One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a university is its ability to help you achieve your career goals. Middlebury and Northwestern both have strong career centers that offer job search assistance, networking opportunities, and career-related events. Middlebury has an alumni network of over 30,000, with graduates working in a wide range of fields. Northwestern boasts a similarly impressive alumni network, with notable graduates including former U.S. Senator and 2020 presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Garry Wills, and Nobel laureate and physicist Jack Steinberger.

Additionally, both offer a variety of internships and co-op programs that provide students with hands-on experience in their chosen fields. Middlebury’s Center for Careers and Internships offers over 1,000 internships annually, with opportunities in fields such as finance, journalism, and environmental studies. Northwestern’s Career Advancement office also provides students with access to a wide range of internships, including opportunities in the arts, business, and healthcare industries. These programs not only provide valuable experience but also help students build their professional networks and make connections that can lead to future job opportunities.

Admissions Process: Comparing the application requirements, acceptance rates, selection criteria, and financial aid policies of Middlebury vs. Northwestern

Getting accepted to Middlebury or Northwestern is no easy feat, as both have competitive application processes. Middlebury has an acceptance rate of 15%, while Northwestern’s acceptance rate is slightly higher, at 9%. Both institutions look for students who have excelled academically, demonstrated leadership potential, and exhibited a passion for learning. Both also offer generous financial aid packages to their students, with Middlebury ensuring that all demonstrated need is met, and Northwestern offering need-based aid to students who qualify.

However, there are some differences in the application requirements between the two. Middlebury requires applicants to submit two teacher recommendations, while Northwestern only requires one. Additionally, Middlebury allows students to submit an optional arts supplement, while Northwestern does not. It is important for applicants to carefully review the application requirements for each university and ensure that they meet all of the necessary criteria.

Diversity & Inclusion: Analyzing how Middlebury vs. Northwestern promote diversity, equity, and inclusion on their campuses

Both Middlebury and Northwestern are committed to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion on their respective campuses. Middlebury has a strong commitment to social justice and is home to a range of diversity and inclusion initiatives, including the Anderson Freeman Resource Center, which provides support for students of color, first-generation college students, and LGBTQ+ students. Northwestern has a similar commitment to diversity and inclusion, offering resources such as the Black House, the Women’s Center, and the LGBTQ+ Resource Center, as well as workshops, events, and support groups for underrepresented student populations.

Students sitting next to each other while studying.

In addition to these resources, Middlebury also has a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force, which is responsible for developing and implementing strategies to promote diversity and inclusion across the campus community. The task force works closely with student organizations, faculty, and staff to ensure that all members of the Middlebury community feel valued and supported.

Similarly, Northwestern has a Diversity and Inclusion Council, which is made up of students, faculty, and staff who work together to promote diversity and inclusion on campus. The council is responsible for developing and implementing initiatives that support underrepresented groups, as well as providing training and education to the campus community on issues related to diversity and inclusion.

Rankings & Reputation: Evaluating Middlebury vs. Northwestern is ranked nationally and internationally in various categories

Both Middlebury and Northwestern are highly regarded institutions, with strong rankings and reputations. Middlebury is consistently ranked as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country, with Forbes ranking it #6 in its 2019 list of America’s Top Colleges. Northwestern, on the other hand, is consistently ranked as one of the top research universities in the country, with U.S. News & World Report ranking it #9 in its 2022 National University Rankings.

Additionally, Middlebury has a strong reputation for its language programs, with the Middlebury Language Schools offering immersive language learning experiences in over 10 languages. Northwestern, on the other hand, is known for its strong programs in journalism and communication, with the Medill School of Journalism consistently ranked as one of the top journalism schools in the country.

Conclusion: Summing up the key differences between Middlebury vs. Northwestern universities for prospective students to consider

While both Middlebury and Northwestern are excellent schools, they differ in terms of location, campus culture, academic programs, and social scene. Middlebury offers a tight-knit community, personalized attention from professors, and a strong focus on the liberal arts. Northwestern offers a larger student body, more diverse social opportunities, and a comprehensive range of academic programs. Ultimately, the choice between these two will depend on your specific needs, goals, and preferences. We hope this side-by-side comparison has helped you make an informed decision about which university is the right fit for you.

It is important to note that Middlebury is located in a small town in Vermont, while Northwestern is located in the bustling city of Evanston, Illinois. This means that Middlebury students have limited access to off-campus activities and amenities, while Northwestern students have easy access to a wide range of cultural events, restaurants, and entertainment options.

Additionally, Middlebury has a strong focus on sustainability and environmentalism, with a number of initiatives aimed at reducing the university’s carbon footprint. Northwestern also has sustainability initiatives, but they are not as prominent as those at Middlebury. If environmentalism is an important factor in your decision-making process, Middlebury may be the better choice for you.


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