UPenn vs Amherst: Which College is Right for You?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Female student using a laptop for research.

UPenn vs Amherst: Which College is Right for You?

Deciding which college or university to attend can be incredibly daunting. There are so many choices out there, each with its unique features. UPenn vs. Amherst College is often mentioned in the discussions. While both are prestigious, these institutions differ in several ways. In this article, we will delve deep into the details and help you decide which college is right for you.

The Basics: Location, Size, and Campus Culture

UPenn and Amherst are both located on the East Coast of the United States. However, their respective locations differ vastly. UPenn is situated in the heart of Philadelphia, which is the 6th largest city in the United States.

Amherst College, on the other hand, is located in the small town of Amherst, Massachusetts. As a result, UPenn has a more urban feel, while Amherst has a more rural feel.

In terms of size, UPenn is by far the larger institution, with an undergraduate enrollment of approximately 10,000 students. Amherst College, in comparison, has an undergraduate enrollment of around 1,800 students.

As a result, UPenn has a more diverse student body, with students from all over the world. Amherst prides itself on its small size and is known for its intimate classroom settings and close-knit community.

The campus culture of each institution also varies. UPenn is renowned for its interdisciplinary approach, collaborative environment, and entrepreneurial spirit. Amherst College is renowned for its liberal arts education, which emphasizes critical thinking, writing, and communication skills.

Another notable difference between UPenn and Amherst is their athletic programs. UPenn is a Division I school with a strong emphasis on sports, particularly football and basketball. Amherst, on the other hand, is a Division III school and does not offer athletic scholarships. However, Amherst has a strong tradition of excellence in sports such as soccer, basketball, and lacrosse.

Furthermore, UPenn has a wide range of graduate programs, including law, business, medicine, and engineering. On the other hand, Amherst only offers undergraduate degrees in the liberal arts. This means that students at Amherst have a more focused academic experience, while students at UPenn can explore a wider range of academic disciplines.

Admissions Statistics: Acceptance Rates and Requirements

Both UPenn and Amherst are highly selective institutions. For the class of 2025, UPenn had an acceptance rate of 5.7%, while Amherst had an acceptance rate of 13.2%. If you want to apply to either of these institutions, it is crucial to have an exceptional transcript, standardized test scores, and extracurricular activities.

It is important to note that acceptance rates can vary from year to year and may also differ based on the specific program or major you are applying to. Additionally, both UPenn and Amherst have holistic admissions processes, meaning they consider a range of factors beyond just grades and test scores, such as essays, letters of recommendation, and demonstrated interest in the school.

While the admissions process at these institutions may seem daunting, it is important to remember that there are many other excellent colleges and universities out there. It is always a good idea to apply to a range of schools, including some that may be considered “safety” schools, to ensure that you have options come decision time.

UPenn vs Amherst: Academics

Three students listening intently in class.

UPenn and Amherst College have very different academic programs. UPenn is a research university with a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs. Students at UPenn can choose from four undergraduate schools: the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the Wharton School of Business, and the School of Nursing.

Amherst College, on the other hand, only offers a liberal arts education and has 38 majors available.

The curriculum structure at UPenn is also different from that of Amherst. With courses offered on a semester basis, students at UPenn are required to take a minimum number of courses in various disciplines to fulfill their graduation requirements.

Amherst College, however, has an open curriculum that allows students to design their own academic programs with almost no mandatory courses.

Both institutions boast exceptional faculty and professors. The faculty at UPenn includes Nobel Laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, and MacArthur Fellows. Faculty members at Amherst are renowned for their teaching excellence, with several awards and accolades to their name.

Despite their differences, both UPenn and Amherst College offer unique opportunities for students to engage in research and academic pursuits. UPenn has a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary studies, with many research centers and institutes that encourage collaboration across different fields.

Amherst College, on the other hand, has a strong focus on undergraduate research, with many opportunities for students to work closely with faculty members on research projects.

Additionally, both institutions have a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion. UPenn has a number of initiatives and programs aimed at promoting diversity and creating a welcoming environment for students from all backgrounds.

Amherst College has a similar commitment to diversity, with a number of programs and resources available to support students from underrepresented groups.

Student Life: Housing, Extracurricular Activities, and Athletics

UPenn and Amherst College offer vastly different student life experiences. UPenn has a thriving campus life with over 300 student organizations, fraternities and sororities, and a Division I sports program. On-campus housing at UPenn is available for all four years, with multiple options available based on student preferences and needs.

Amherst College, on the other hand, has a smaller campus and a much smaller variety of extracurricular activities. However, the campus does have its brand of student organizations, including the Amherst Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, the French Film Festival, and the K-Pop Dance Club.

On-campus housing at Amherst College is guaranteed for just the first year, with students living off-campus or in student housing afterward.

Despite the differences in campus life, both UPenn and Amherst College offer unique opportunities for students. UPenn’s location in Philadelphia provides students with access to a vibrant city with numerous cultural and entertainment options.

Amherst College, located in a small town in Massachusetts, offers a more intimate and close-knit community where students can form strong relationships with their peers and professors. Both schools also offer study abroad programs, allowing students to gain international experience and broaden their horizons.

UPenn vs Amherst: Campus Resources

The resources available to students at UPenn and Amherst College vary in size and availability. UPenn has a whopping 15 libraries on campus, housing over 7 million books. The career center at UPenn, Career Services, coordinates students’ career exploration and preparation activities. There is also Student Health Services, which provides medical and behavioral health care.

Amherst College has fewer resources available, including three libraries and two museums. The career center, Loeb Center for Career Exploration and Planning, offers tailored career support to students. The Health Service Center, on the other hand, provides medical, psychological, and sexual health services to students.

Additionally, both UPenn and Amherst College offer a variety of extracurricular activities and clubs for students to get involved in. UPenn has over 450 student organizations, ranging from academic and professional groups to cultural and recreational clubs.

Amherst College has over 100 student-run organizations, including a student government, a newspaper, and a radio station. These extracurricular activities provide students with opportunities to develop leadership skills, make new friends, and explore their interests outside of the classroom.

Diversity and Inclusion: Demographics and Support Services

high school students looking at the camera

Both UPenn and Amherst College have diverse student bodies committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion. At UPenn, students come from all fifty states and over 100 countries worldwide, with the largest ethnicities being U.S. citizens of color. UPenn provides several resources and support systems to ensure that its diverse student body is represented, respected, and empowered.

Amherst College, on the other hand, proactively seeks out a diverse student body and ensures that its students are aware of diversity issues through classes, speaker series, and other events. The college also offers several resources for its diverse student body, including Asian Students Association, Black Students Union, and the LGBTQIA+ Advocacy Group.

Furthermore, both UPenn and Amherst College have implemented initiatives to promote diversity and inclusion on their campuses. UPenn has established the Office of Social Equity and Community, which is responsible for developing and implementing programs and policies that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Amherst College has also implemented several initiatives, including the Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan, which aims to create a more inclusive campus environment for all students.

UPenn vs Amherst: Alumni Network

Both UPenn and Amherst College have established alumni networks with connections that span the globe. UPenn alumni include several high-profile politicians, including Ivanka Trump, Elon Musk, and Jefferey Lurie. The university provides resources designed to connect students with alumni, including the PennLINK program.

The Amherst College alumni network is strong, with alumni achieving great success over the years. Alumni from Amherst include President Calvin Coolidge, Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, and former Secretary of State Robert Todd Lincoln.

The Amherst Alumni Network has regional chapters across the United States and the world, providing opportunities for recent alumni to connect with more established alumni in their respective fields.

UPenn’s alumni network also offers mentorship programs, where recent graduates can connect with alumni who are established in their fields. These mentorship programs provide valuable guidance and advice to recent graduates as they navigate their careers.

Additionally, UPenn alumni often return to campus to speak at events and share their experiences with current students, providing valuable insights into various industries and career paths.

Amherst College’s alumni network offers a variety of resources for recent graduates, including job postings, networking events, and career counseling services. The college also has a strong alumni giving program, with many alumni donating to support scholarships and other initiatives.

This support from alumni helps to ensure that current and future students have access to the same opportunities and resources that helped them succeed.

Cost of Attendance: Tuition, Financial Aid, and Scholarships

The cost of attendance at both universities varies. UPenn is much more expensive, with an undergraduate tuition rate of over $60,000 per year. Amherst College is less expensive, with a tuition rate of around $60,000.

However, both universities are committed to making their education accessible to all students. Both UPenn and Amherst provide generous financial aid to ensure that students have the opportunity to attend regardless of their financial background.

Additionally, both universities offer a variety of scholarships to help offset the cost of attendance. UPenn offers merit-based scholarships, need-based grants, and athletic scholarships. Amherst College also offers a range of scholarships, including those for academic achievement, leadership, and community service.

Students are encouraged to research and apply for scholarships to help reduce the overall cost of attending either university.

UPenn vs Amherst: Student Success

a male student and a female student shaking hands

Graduates from both UPenn and Amherst College are incredibly successful in their careers and education after graduation. UPenn graduates are known for their business acumen, with many going on to work at some of the largest corporations globally.

Students from Amherst College excel in the arts and academia, with many graduates furthering their education by attaining post-graduate degrees from some of the most prestigious universities in the world.

Additionally, both UPenn and Amherst College have high acceptance rates for graduate school programs. UPenn graduates have been accepted into top graduate programs in business, law, and medicine.

In contrast, Amherst College graduates have been accepted into prestigious graduate programs in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. This success is a testament to the rigorous academic programs and supportive communities at both institutions.

Campus Tours and Visits: What to Expect and How to Plan Your Trip

Both UPenn and Amherst College offer campus tours and visits for prospective students. These tours are an excellent opportunity to explore each campus, meet with faculty, and speak to current students about their experiences.

UPenn offers in-person tours, online tours with interactive maps, and virtual tours. Amherst College provides on-campus tours and information sessions as well as self-guided walking tours.

When planning your campus visit, it’s important to schedule your tour in advance. Both UPenn and Amherst College have a high demand for tours, especially during peak admissions season. Additionally, be sure to dress comfortably and wear appropriate footwear, as campus tours often involve a lot of walking.

It’s also a good idea to bring a notebook and pen to take notes during the tour and information sessions. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask questions and engage with your tour guide or admissions representative. They are there to help you make an informed decision about your college choice.

UPenn vs Amherst: Student Testimonials

Both UPenn and Amherst College provide unparalleled experiences for their students. We reached out to students from both institutions to understand their unique perspectives. One UPenn student stated that the university’s interdisciplinary approach allowed them to explore their interests across different fields while building lasting connections with their classmates.

An Amherst student reported that the small class sizes allowed for intimate and in-depth discussions, leading to more diverse perspectives.

Another UPenn student shared that the university’s location in Philadelphia provided them with numerous opportunities for internships and networking with professionals in their field. On the other hand, an Amherst student highlighted the college’s emphasis on undergraduate research, which allowed them to work closely with faculty members and gain hands-on experience in their chosen field.

Despite their differences, UPenn and Amherst students expressed a strong sense of community and support from their respective institutions. UPenn students praised the university’s diverse student body and inclusive campus culture, while Amherst students appreciated the college’s tight-knit community and personalized attention from faculty and staff.

Conclusion: Making Your Decision Based on Personal Factors

Female student holding a laptop while standing next to a white wall.

In conclusion, UPenn and Amherst College are both exceptional universities; however, each institution provides a unique experience. Choosing the correct college or university to attend is an incredibly personal decision. We hope that this article has provided the necessary information to help with your decision-making process.

Ultimately, your needs and goals should dictate your decision. Consider several factors, such as the location, size, and culture of each institution, before making a final decision.

Visit the campus if possible, speak to alumni, current students, and faculty, and take the time to weigh your options. Remember, your education is an investment in your future, and it is up to you to make an informed decision.

One important factor to consider when making your decision is the academic programs offered at each institution. Take the time to research the majors and courses available and determine if they align with your interests and career goals. Additionally, consider the resources and opportunities available for research, internships, and study abroad programs.

Another factor to consider is the financial aspect of attending each institution. Look into the cost of tuition, room and board, other expenses, and the availability of scholarships, grants, and financial aid. It is important to make a decision that aligns with your personal and academic goals and fits within your budget and financial situation.


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