MIT vs Amherst: Which College is Right for You?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Young woman smiling while lounging in the campus.

MIT vs Amherst: Which College is Right for You?

Choosing the right college is an important decision and one that can shape the course of your future. Two highly regarded institutions in the United States are MIT and Amherst College. While both are known for their academic rigor and accomplished students, there are important differences between the two. In this article, we will compare MIT and Amherst on a range of important factors, allowing you to make an informed decision about which college is right for you.

The History and Mission of MIT and Amherst

MIT was founded in 1861 with a mission to promote practical, scientific education and research. The university is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and boasts a reputation for innovation and entrepreneurship.

Amherst, founded in 1821, is a private liberal arts college located in Amherst, Massachusetts. Its mission is to provide students with a broad, liberal education that prepares them for a lifetime of learning and leadership.

MIT has a long history of groundbreaking research and technological advancements. In 1916, the university established the first academic program in aeronautical engineering in the United States. In the 1960s, MIT played a key role in the development of computer science and artificial intelligence. Today, the university continues to be at the forefront of scientific and technological innovation.

Amherst College is known for its rigorous academic program and commitment to diversity and inclusion. The college has a long-standing tradition of providing need-blind admission and meeting the full demonstrated financial need of all admitted students. In recent years, Amherst has also made significant efforts to increase the diversity of its faculty and student body, with the goal of creating a more inclusive and equitable community.

Campus Culture: MIT vs Amherst

There are cultural differences between the two institutions. MIT is known for a culture of hard work and innovation, with students often spending long hours in the labs or working on projects. At Amherst, the emphasis is on the liberal arts and a well-rounded education. The campus features a range of cultural events, such as theater productions and art exhibitions.

Another notable difference between the two campuses is the size. MIT is a larger institution with a student body of over 11,000, while Amherst has a smaller student body of around 1,800. This size difference can impact the campus culture, with MIT having a more bustling and fast-paced atmosphere, while Amherst has a more intimate and close-knit community.

Students walking around the school campus.

Additionally, the location of the two campuses also plays a role in their respective cultures. MIT is located in the heart of Cambridge, Massachusetts, a bustling city with a vibrant tech scene. Amherst, on the other hand, is situated in a more rural area of western Massachusetts, surrounded by scenic mountains and forests. T

his difference in location can impact the types of activities and events that are available to students, with MIT students having access to more urban amenities, while Amherst students can enjoy outdoor activities and natural beauty.

Academic Offerings: MIT vs Amherst

Both MIT and Amherst offer rigorous academic programs. MIT is known for its strong programs in engineering, computer science, and natural sciences, with a high rate of research output and funding. Amherst offers a wide range of majors in the liberal arts and humanities, with a focus on interdisciplinary studies.

Class Size and Faculty-to-Student Ratio: MIT vs Amherst

Class size and faculty-to-student ratio are important factors in determining how much personal attention students receive. MIT has a higher student-to-faculty ratio, with 3,659 students to 1,044 faculty members, while Amherst has a lower ratio of 1,849 students to 203 faculty members. Amherst’s smaller class sizes mean that students may have more opportunities for one-on-one interaction with professors.

However, it’s important to note that class size and faculty-to-student ratio are not the only factors that determine the level of personal attention students receive. The teaching style and approach of individual professors can also play a significant role.

At MIT, for example, many professors prioritize research over teaching, which can lead to less interaction with students. On the other hand, Amherst’s faculty members are known for their dedication to teaching and mentorship, which can create a more supportive and personalized learning environment.

Another factor to consider is the type of student body at each institution. MIT is known for attracting highly motivated and academically gifted students, who may require less individual attention from faculty members. At Amherst, the student body is more diverse in terms of academic backgrounds and interests, which can create a greater need for personalized attention and support from professors.

Admissions Requirements: MIT vs Amherst

Both MIT and Amherst are highly selective colleges. MIT’s acceptance rate was 7.3% in 2019, while Amherst’s was 11.3%. These are some of the lowest acceptance rates in the country, reflecting the high caliber of students who apply to these institutions.

However, it’s important to note that acceptance rates only tell part of the story. Both MIT and Amherst have rigorous admissions requirements, including high standardized test scores, impressive extracurricular activities, and outstanding academic achievements.

A male and female student standing in the middle of the hallway, talking to each other while the female student is looking through the notebook that the male student is holding

Additionally, both schools place a strong emphasis on essays and personal statements, looking for students who can articulate their passions and goals in a compelling way. Therefore, while the acceptance rates may seem daunting, it’s important to focus on presenting the strongest possible application to increase your chances of being admitted to these prestigious institutions.

Student Life: MIT vs Amherst

MIT offers a range of extracurricular activities, including sports teams, clubs, and student organizations. The campus also features a number of cutting-edge research facilities and maker spaces. Amherst offers a variety of student organizations, as well as opportunities for community engagement and service.

At MIT, students can participate in a number of unique extracurricular activities, such as the Solar Electric Vehicle Team, which designs and builds solar-powered cars to compete in international races. The campus also has a vibrant arts scene, with opportunities to participate in theater productions, music ensembles, and dance performances.

Amherst College offers a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, skiing, and rock climbing. The college also has a strong focus on sustainability, with a number of student-led initiatives aimed at reducing waste and promoting environmental awareness. Additionally, Amherst has a thriving literary community, with opportunities to attend readings and workshops with visiting authors.

Housing Options:  MIT vs Amherst

Both MIT and Amherst offer a variety of housing options for students. MIT has a range of dormitories and apartments, as well as co-op living arrangements. Amherst offers a variety of dormitories, apartments, and townhouses, which are designed to foster a sense of community among students.

In addition to traditional dormitories and apartments, both MIT and Amherst offer unique housing options for students. MIT has a number of themed living communities, such as the Women’s Technology Program and the Global Environment and Sustainability Living Learning Community. Amherst offers special interest housing, including language houses where students can immerse themselves in a foreign language and culture, and substance-free housing for students who choose to live in an environment free from alcohol and drugs.

Campus Facilities: How Do the Libraries, Labs, and Athletic Facilities Compare?

MIT is home to a number of world-class research facilities and labs. The university’s libraries are also extensive and well-stocked. Amherst’s library system is highly regarded, with a focus on providing students with a comprehensive liberal arts education. The college offers a range of athletic facilities, including a fitness center, pool, and playing fields.

Students lounging around the school grounds.

In addition to the impressive libraries, labs, and athletic facilities, both MIT and Amherst offer a variety of other campus facilities to enhance the student experience. MIT has a state-of-the-art performing arts center, which hosts a range of concerts, plays, and other cultural events throughout the year.

Amherst has a student-run coffeehouse, where students can relax and socialize while enjoying a cup of coffee or tea. Both campuses also have a variety of dining options, including cafes, restaurants, and food trucks, to satisfy any craving.

Location: What Is the Surrounding Area Like for Each College?

Cambridge, where MIT is located, is a bustling city with a range of cultural events and activities. Amherst is located in a small town, surrounded by beautiful natural scenery. While both locations offer different experiences, it’s important to consider what kind of environment you prefer.

Additionally, Cambridge is home to many historical landmarks, such as Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The city also has a thriving food scene, with a variety of restaurants and cafes to choose from.

On the other hand, Amherst is known for its quaint downtown area, which features local shops and restaurants. The town is also surrounded by hiking trails and parks, making it a great location for outdoor enthusiasts.

Social Life: MIT vs Amherst

Both MIT and Amherst have active social scenes, though they differ in nature. MIT is known for its vibrant engineering and technology-focused culture, with events like HackMIT and the MIT Entrepreneurship Competition drawing crowds. Amherst has a more traditional college party scene, with fraternities, sororities, and student organizations hosting events.

However, both schools offer a variety of social activities beyond just parties. MIT has a strong focus on community service, with many student groups dedicated to volunteering and making a positive impact on the world. Amherst has a thriving arts scene, with student-run theater productions, music performances, and art exhibitions.

Additionally, both schools are located in areas with plenty of off-campus entertainment options. MIT is situated in the heart of Cambridge, a bustling city with a diverse range of restaurants, bars, and cultural attractions. Amherst is located in Western Massachusetts, surrounded by picturesque towns and natural beauty, with opportunities for hiking, skiing, and exploring the outdoors.

Career Opportunities: Which College Offers More Opportunities for Job Placement and Networking?

MIT has a strong reputation for producing successful graduates in STEM fields, many of whom secure high-paying jobs with cutting-edge tech companies. Amherst’s graduates go on to excel in a range of fields, including finance, law, and medicine. Both institutions offer excellent career services and opportunities for students to network with alumni and potential employers.

Group of students sitting on the bench while talking.

However, MIT’s location in the heart of the tech industry in Boston gives its students a unique advantage in terms of job placement and networking. The proximity to major tech companies such as Google, Microsoft, and Amazon provides students with opportunities for internships, co-op programs, and job shadowing experiences that are not as readily available to students at Amherst.

On the other hand, Amherst’s smaller size and close-knit community allow for more personalized career guidance and networking opportunities. The alumni network at Amherst is also known for being highly supportive and active in helping recent graduates find job opportunities in their respective fields.

Affordability: MIT vs Amherst

Attending either MIT or Amherst is a significant investment in your future. That being said, Amherst’s tuition is lower than MIT’s, making it a somewhat more affordable option. It’s important to research financial aid and scholarship options at both colleges to determine which is the best fit for your budget.

However, it’s important to note that the cost of attendance goes beyond just tuition. Other expenses such as room and board, textbooks, and transportation can add up quickly. MIT and Amherst both offer estimates of these additional costs on their websites, so be sure to factor them into your decision-making process.

Additionally, it’s worth considering the potential return on investment of your education. While Amherst may have lower tuition costs, MIT is known for its strong reputation in STEM fields and may offer more opportunities for high-paying jobs after graduation. Ultimately, it’s important to weigh the costs and benefits of each school to make an informed decision about your future.

Student Success Stories: Profiles of Notable Alumni from Each College.

Both MIT and Amherst have produced many notable alumni over the years. Some notable MIT alumni include Buzz Aldrin, Kofi Annan, and I.M. Pei. Amherst’s alumni include former U.S. President Calvin Coolidge, writer David Foster Wallace, and composer Aaron Copland.

In addition to these well-known alumni, MIT has also produced many successful entrepreneurs, including the co-founders of Dropbox, Airbnb, and Reddit. These individuals have made significant contributions to the tech industry and have revolutionized the way we share information and connect with others.

Students laughing while walking in the school campus.

Amherst College has also produced notable alumni in the fields of politics and law. Former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State Daniel Webster, as well as Supreme Court Justice David Souter, both graduated from Amherst. These individuals have had a significant impact on American politics and the legal system.

Conclusion: Which College is the Better Choice for You?

Choosing between MIT and Amherst is a personal decision that depends on a variety of factors, including your academic interests, professional goals, and personality. Both institutions offer world-class education in their respective areas, with a range of opportunities for students to thrive.

Ultimately, the decision of which college to attend depends on your individual needs and preferences. We hope this article has helped you make an informed decision about which college is right for you.

It is important to consider the location and campus culture when making your decision. MIT is located in the heart of Cambridge, Massachusetts, a bustling city with a vibrant tech scene. Amherst, on the other hand, is situated in a small town in western Massachusetts, with a more laid-back and intimate campus atmosphere.

If you thrive in a fast-paced urban environment, MIT may be the better choice for you. However, if you prefer a tight-knit community and a quieter setting, Amherst may be the way to go.

Another factor to consider is the cost of attendance. MIT is a private institution with higher tuition and fees compared to Amherst, which is a liberal arts college with a lower price tag. However, both schools offer generous financial aid packages to eligible students, so it is important to research and compare the financial aid options available to you.


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