UPenn vs. Lehigh: Which University is Right for You?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Female student walking in the campus.

UPenn vs. Lehigh: Which University is Right for You?

If you’re a high school student preparing for college, choosing the right university is a critical decision. The college you select will shape your future and create paths for your career.  However, the universities vary in multiple aspects. In this article, we will compare UPenn vs. Lehigh University and examine their key differences to help you decide which is the right fit for you.

These two well-renowned universities, the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) and Lehigh University, both located in Pennsylvania, offer high-quality education and resources to students.

Overview of UPenn and Lehigh University

First, let’s start with an overview of the two universities. UPenn is a private Ivy League research university located in Philadelphia, founded in 1740, with a total enrollment of approximately 25,000 students.

Lehigh University, on the other hand, is a private research university located in Bethlehem, founded in 1865 as a technical school with a total enrollment of approximately 7,000 students.

Despite their differences in size and location, both UPenn and Lehigh University offer a wide range of academic programs and opportunities for students. UPenn is known for its strong programs in business, law, and medicine, while Lehigh University is known for its engineering and science programs.

Both universities also have a strong commitment to research and innovation, with numerous research centers and institutes on campus.

Key Differences Between UPenn and Lehigh University

One of the primary differences between UPenn and Lehigh University is their size. UPenn is a large university with multiple schools and more than twice the number of students as Lehigh University. The size of UPenn makes it more diverse, with students from different backgrounds and a broader range of academic programs.

Lehigh University, on the other hand, is smaller and offers a more intimate and personalized academic experience. Small class sizes, high faculty-to-student ratios, and an extensive alumni network make Lehigh University a top choice for students who value close-knit communities.

Another significant difference between UPenn and Lehigh University is their location. UPenn is located in Philadelphia, a bustling city with a vibrant culture and numerous opportunities for internships and networking.

In contrast, Lehigh University is situated in Bethlehem, a smaller town in Pennsylvania with a more relaxed atmosphere. While Bethlehem may not offer the same level of excitement as Philadelphia, it provides a peaceful and safe environment for students to focus on their studies and personal growth.

UPenn vs. Lehigh: Campus Culture

high school students looking at the camera

Another difference between the two universities is their campus culture. UPenn defines itself as an intellectual powerhouse that provides a diverse range of academic and extracurricular activities. Students at UPenn are highly collaborative, team-oriented, and focused on developing problem-solving skills.

Lehigh University, on the other hand, has a lively campus community that encourages students to participate in various clubs and organizations. The university takes pride in its magnificent campus and rich history. Students show their school spirit by hosting events and participating in various activities on campus.

At UPenn, students are encouraged to engage in research and innovation. The university has a strong focus on entrepreneurship and provides students with the resources to start their own businesses. The campus is also home to various research centers and institutes that offer opportunities for students to work on cutting-edge projects.

In contrast, Lehigh University emphasizes the importance of community service and social responsibility. The university has a strong commitment to sustainability and encourages students to participate in environmental initiatives.

Another aspect of campus culture that differs between the two universities is the social scene. UPenn has a vibrant social scene with a variety of events and parties happening on and off campus. The university is located in the heart of Philadelphia, which provides students with access to a diverse range of cultural and entertainment options.

Lehigh University, on the other hand, has a more laid-back social scene. The university is located in a small town, and students often spend their weekends exploring the surrounding nature or attending events on campus.

Academic Programs Offered at UPenn vs. Lehigh University

When it comes to academic programs, both UPenn and Lehigh University offer students a broad range of fields. UPenn boasts a wide array of academic options across multiple schools, ranging from Engineering, Wharton School of Business, and the College of Arts and Sciences.

Lehigh University has four undergraduate colleges: the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science, the College of Business, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the College of Education. Students at Lehigh University can explore interdisciplinary programs that cut across boundaries to solve society’s most intricate problems.

One of the unique academic programs offered at UPenn is the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business. This program combines business education with an intensive language and cultural curriculum, preparing students for careers in global business and diplomacy.

Lehigh University offers a program in Integrated Business and Engineering, which combines the strengths of both fields to prepare students for careers in technology-driven industries.

Both universities also offer a variety of graduate programs, including doctoral programs in fields such as engineering, business, and education. UPenn’s graduate programs include the highly-ranked Perelman School of Medicine and the Wharton School of Business.

At the same time, Lehigh University offers graduate programs in fields such as environmental policy, computer science, and materials science and engineering.

Admissions Requirements and Process for Both Universities

Young woman working in front of a laptop in a room.

When it comes to admissions and requirements, UPenn and Lehigh University are somewhat similar. Both universities seek to attract top-performing students from diverse backgrounds. Students applying to UPenn require an SAT score of 1500 or higher, two letters of recommendation, a comprehensive essay, and an application fee of approximately $75.

Lehigh University’s requirements include standardized test scores (either SAT or ACT), GPA, and letters of recommendation. Admissions decisions at both universities are highly competitive, and students must have exceptional academic achievements, leadership potential, and extracurricular activities to gain acceptance.

However, there are some differences in the admissions process between the two universities. UPenn places a strong emphasis on demonstrated interest, which means that students who have visited the campus, attended information sessions, or interviewed with admissions officers are more likely to be admitted.

On the other hand, Lehigh University does not consider demonstrated interest in its admissions decisions.

Another difference is that UPenn offers an Early Decision option, which is a binding agreement that students will attend the university if accepted. This option can increase a student’s chances of acceptance, but it also means that they must withdraw all other college applications if accepted. Lehigh University also offers an Early Decision option, but it is not binding.

UPenn vs. Lehigh: Student Life

When it comes to student life, both universities provide their students with countless opportunities to engage in extracurricular activities, clubs, and organizations. However, the choice and scope of events differ between the two universities.

For instance, UPenn students can participate in a broader range of student organizations across different schools. Lehigh University provides a conducive environment for students to join various clubs based on values and intellectual breakthroughs.

Another difference between student life at UPenn and Lehigh is the social scene. UPenn is located in the heart of Philadelphia, which offers a diverse range of cultural events, nightlife, and dining options.

On the other hand, Lehigh is situated in a smaller town, Bethlehem, which has a more laid-back atmosphere. However, Lehigh students often take advantage of the nearby city of Allentown for entertainment and social activities.

Furthermore, both universities have unique traditions that contribute to their respective campus cultures. UPenn has the annual Spring Fling, a week-long celebration of music, food, and games. Lehigh, on the other hand, has the Le-Laf rivalry, a century-old football game against their rival Lafayette College. These traditions bring students together and create a sense of community and pride.

Location and Surrounding Areas: Comparing UPenn and Lehigh University

Location is an essential factor for many students considering universities, and UPenn and Lehigh University are located in two different environments. UPenn is located in an urban setting in the bustling city of Philadelphia, making it a top choice for students who want to immerse themselves in city life.

Lehigh University is located in a suburban setting in Bethlehem, offering a beautiful campus and an ideal setting for students who prefer a quieter location.

However, the surrounding areas of both universities offer unique opportunities for students. UPenn is located in the heart of Philadelphia, a city known for its rich history, diverse culture, and vibrant arts scene.

Students can take advantage of the city’s many museums, theaters, and restaurants, as well as its proximity to other major cities on the East Coast. On the other hand, Lehigh University is located near the Pocono Mountains, offering students access to outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing, and camping.

The university is also close to the Lehigh Valley, a region known for its thriving arts and music scene, as well as its many festivals and events throughout the year.

Housing Options at UPenn vs. Lehigh University

Young woman smiling at the camera while holding her books.

Both UPenn and Lehigh University provide on-campus and off-campus housing options for students. UPenn offers a diverse range of housing options, including dormitories, apartments, and fraternity and sorority housing.

Lehigh University offers on-campus housing and off-campus apartments, with students typically staying on campus for their first two years before transitioning to off-campus housing. Both universities prioritize creating home-like living environments to provide students with the most comfortable accommodations possible.

However, there are some differences in the housing options offered by the two universities. UPenn has a larger number of on-campus housing options, with most students living on campus for all four years. In contrast, Lehigh University has a smaller number of on-campus housing options, with most students transitioning to off-campus apartments after their first two years.

Additionally, UPenn’s fraternity and sorority housing options are more extensive than those offered by Lehigh University. Overall, both universities strive to provide their students with comfortable and convenient housing options that meet their individual needs.

UPenn vs. Lehigh: Cost Comparison

The cost of attending a university is a critical factor for many students, and it’s essential to compare the tuition and fee structures for both universities. UPenn’s tuition and fees cost approximately $80,000 per year, while Lehigh University’s average cost is around $72,000 per year.

However, both universities offer scholarships, grants, and financial aid opportunities to help cover the cost of tuition for their students. It’s crucial to research and understand the various financial aid opportunities and long-term costs associated with each university before making a decision.

Additionally, it’s important to consider the cost of living in the surrounding areas of each university. Philadelphia, where UPenn is located, has a higher cost of living compared to Bethlehem, where Lehigh University is located.

This means that students attending UPenn may need to budget more for housing, food, and other expenses. On the other hand, Lehigh University’s location may offer more affordable options for students. It’s important to factor in these additional costs when comparing the overall cost of attending each university.

UPenn vs. Lehigh: Career Opportunities After Graduation

Both UPenn and Lehigh University have an excellent reputation for producing top-performing graduates who succeed in their chosen careers. UPenn is known for its exceptional business and law programs and is ranked highly in global rankings.

Lehigh University, on the other hand, is renowned for its engineering and science programs. The universities have strong career services departments that offer support and guidance to students seeking internships, co-ops, and full-time jobs after graduation.

However, there are some differences in the types of career opportunities available to graduates of each university. UPenn graduates tend to have more opportunities in finance, consulting, and other business-related fields, while Lehigh graduates often find success in engineering, technology, and research-based careers.

Additionally, UPenn’s location in Philadelphia provides students with access to a wider range of job opportunities in a variety of industries, while Lehigh’s location in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, may limit the types of jobs available in the immediate area.

Sports and Athletics Offered at Both Universities

student athletes running

Sports and athletics are a fundamental part of the university experience for many students, and both UPenn and Lehigh University offer athletic programs for students. UPenn is a member of the Ivy League conference and has a wide range of varsity sports, including basketball, soccer, track and field, and football.

Lehigh University is part of the Patriot League and provides students with various sports and athletic programs, including football, basketball, lacrosse, and volleyball.

In addition to varsity sports, both universities also offer a variety of intramural and club sports for students who want to participate in athletics at a more casual level. UPenn has over 30 club sports, including ultimate frisbee, fencing, and rugby. Lehigh University offers over 20 club sports, including ice hockey, equestrian, and water polo.

Both universities also have state-of-the-art athletic facilities for students to use. UPenn’s Pottruck Health and Fitness Center has a 25-yard pool, basketball courts, and a rock climbing wall. Lehigh University’s Taylor Gymnasium has a weight room, indoor track, and racquetball courts. Both universities also have outdoor fields and courts for various sports.

UPenn vs. Lehigh: Notable Alumni

UPenn and Lehigh University have a long list of notable alumni who have significantly contributed significantly to various fields. Notable UPenn alumni include Elon Musk, Warren Buffet, and Donald Trump.

Lehigh’s notable alumni include Lee Iacocca, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Chrysler Corporation, and György Buzsáki, a neuroscientist known for his work on the structure and function of the brain.

Aside from these well-known names, UPenn has produced many other notable alumni in fields such as politics, business, and entertainment. Some of these include former Vice President Joe Biden, actress Elizabeth Banks, and businessman and philanthropist Ronald Perelman.

Lehigh University has also produced notable alumni in various fields, including engineering, science, and sports. Some of these include John Fritz, a pioneer in the field of mechanical engineering, Nobel Prize-winning chemist Ahmed Zewail, and NFL quarterback Marty Horn.

Both universities have also produced notable alumni who have significantly contributed to society through their philanthropic work. UPenn alumni include Jon Huntsman Sr., who founded the Huntsman Cancer Institute, and Judith Rodin, who served as the President of the Rockefeller Foundation.

Lehigh alumni include Robert Woodruff, who was a major donor to Emory University and the founder of the Woodruff Foundation, and Robert Leibensperger, who founded the Leibensperger School of Accountancy at Lehigh University.

Student Diversity: A Comparison Between the Two Universities

Group of students talking in a room.

Diversity among students is another critical factor to consider when comparing universities. Both UPenn and Lehigh University attract students from different countries and backgrounds, but UPenn has a more diverse student population.

UPenn students come from more than 100 countries, and the university values diversity, equity, and inclusion. Lehigh’s student body comprises mostly white students, with more local geographic recruitment within the region.

However, Lehigh University has been making efforts to increase diversity among its student population. In recent years, the university has implemented various initiatives to attract more students from underrepresented groups, such as offering scholarships and hosting diversity-focused events.

These efforts have resulted in a gradual increase in the number of students from diverse backgrounds at Lehigh.

Moreover, both universities have student organizations and clubs that celebrate diversity and promote inclusivity. UPenn has a wide range of cultural and identity-based groups, such as the African American Arts Alliance and the Asian Pacific Student Coalition.

Lehigh also has several student organizations that focus on diversity, including the Black Student Union and the Latin American Student Association.

Final Verdict: Which University is Best Suited for You?

In conclusion, UPenn and Lehigh University both offer high-quality education and resources to their students. However, the universities differ in several aspects, including their campus culture, academic programs, student life, location, and surrounding areas, and cost of attendance.

If you prefer a large university with a diverse student body and a variety of academic programs across multiple schools, UPenn might be the best fit for you. However, if you prefer a smaller academic community with a personalized academic experience and a close-knit campus community, Lehigh University might be the better fit.

It is also important to consider the extracurricular activities and opportunities available at each university. UPenn offers a wide range of student organizations, clubs, and sports teams, as well as access to the city of Philadelphia for cultural and social events.

Lehigh University, on the other hand, has a strong focus on community service and offers numerous opportunities for students to get involved in volunteer work and service projects. Consider what type of extracurricular activities and opportunities you are interested in and which university can provide those experiences for you.

Ultimately, the choice depends on your personal preference, career goals, and priorities. Ensure that you research and analyze the different university options and choose the institution that aligns with your priorities and needs. Choose wisely, and best of luck with your decision!


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