UPenn vs. Middlebury: Which School is Right for You?

July 15, 2023
By AdmissionSight
Female student smiling with her classmates.

UPenn vs. Middlebury: Which School is Right for You?

If you are considering attending an Ivy League institution or a liberal arts college in the Northeast, you have probably heard of the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) and Middlebury College. In this article, we will compare UPenn vs. Middlebury in every aspect, from location and campus to academic programs and extracurricular activities, to help you make an informed decision.

Both schools are leaders in their respective categories, offering students a world-class education and ample opportunities to succeed. However, choosing between these two prestigious institutions can be challenging.

Location and Campus Comparison: UPenn vs. Middlebury

One of the most significant differences between UPenn and Middlebury is their location. UPenn is located in the heart of Philadelphia, a bustling urban center with a vibrant culture and diverse population. In contrast, Middlebury is situated in a small rural town in Vermont, offering a more laid-back and scenic environment.

UPenn’s campus covers over 299 acres, while Middlebury has a 350-acre main campus surrounded by picturesque mountains. Both campuses are beautiful, but the location preference depends on your lifestyle and personal preferences.

Another difference between UPenn and Middlebury is the size of their student body. UPenn has a much larger student population, with over 25,000 students enrolled, while Middlebury has a smaller student body of around 2,500 students.

This means that UPenn offers a wider range of academic programs and extracurricular activities, while Middlebury provides a more intimate and personalized learning experience.

Additionally, UPenn is known for its strong business and finance programs, with the Wharton School of Business being one of the top-ranked business schools in the world. Middlebury, on the other hand, is renowned for its language programs and environmental studies, with the Middlebury Language Schools being one of the most prestigious language programs in the country.

This means that students interested in these fields may prefer one school, depending on their academic interests and career goals.

Academic Programs and Majors Offered: UPenn vs. Middlebury

UPenn’s academic programs are diverse, with twelve undergraduate schools offering majors in areas ranging from business to engineering to liberal arts. Middlebury, on the other hand, is a liberal arts institution offering 44 majors in areas such as international politics, environmental studies, and literary studies.

Both schools are known for their academic rigor, with challenging coursework and cutting-edge research opportunities. However, UPenn’s more significant emphasis on professional programs might make it a better choice if you’re looking to pursue a career in business or science.

It’s worth noting that Middlebury has a strong focus on interdisciplinary studies, with many majors combining multiple fields of study. For example, the Environmental Studies major incorporates coursework in biology, geology, and policy, while the International Politics and Economics major combines political science and economics.

This approach can be beneficial for students who want to explore multiple interests and develop a broad skill set. Additionally, Middlebury’s small class sizes and close-knit community can provide a more personalized and supportive learning environment for students.

Admission Requirements and Acceptance Rates: UPenn vs Middlebury

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The admission process at UPenn and Middlebury is competitive, but UPenn’s acceptance rate of 8.4% is lower than Middlebury’s 16.7%. However, both schools have high standards for applicants, looking for students with excellent academic records, extracurricular achievements, and unique life experiences.

Applying to both schools is a good idea if you’re looking to increase your chances of acceptance, but keep in mind that both schools are highly selective.

It’s important to note that while acceptance rates are a significant factor in the admissions process, they are not the only factor. Both UPenn and Middlebury consider a variety of factors when evaluating applicants, including essays, letters of recommendation, and demonstrated interest in the school.

Additionally, both schools offer need-blind admissions, meaning that a student’s financial need is not taken into account during the admissions process. This allows for a more equitable and diverse student body at both institutions.

Extracurricular Activities and Student Life: UPenn vs Middlebury

UPenn and Middlebury both offer students a plethora of extracurricular activities, from clubs and organizations to athletics and volunteer work. UPenn’s campus has over 450 student organizations, including performing arts groups, cultural clubs, and academic societies.

Middlebury, too, has over 150 student organizations, ranging from a cappella groups to clubs that promote environmental activism. Both schools also have active campus life, with events and activities happening all year round

. Whether you are interested in Greek life, the arts, community service, or sports –you are likely to find a welcoming community at both UPenn and Middlebury.

However, there are some differences in the types of extracurricular activities offered at each school. UPenn has a strong focus on entrepreneurship and innovation, with many clubs and programs dedicated to helping students start their own businesses.

Middlebury, on the other hand, has a strong emphasis on outdoor activities and sustainability, with many clubs and organizations focused on environmentalism and outdoor recreation.

Additionally, the student life experience at each school can vary depending on the size and location of the campus. UPenn is located in the heart of Philadelphia, a bustling city with endless opportunities for cultural experiences and internships.

Middlebury, on the other hand, is located in a small town in Vermont, surrounded by beautiful natural scenery and a tight-knit community. This can impact the types of events and activities that are available to students, as well as the overall atmosphere of the campus.

Faculty and Class Size Comparison: UPenn vs Middlebury

UPenn and Middlebury are both known for providing students with access to world-class faculty. UPenn has over 4,000 faculty members, many of whom are experts in their fields and have received numerous awards for their research.

Middlebury has a smaller faculty, but the student-to-faculty ratio is also smaller, meaning that students have more opportunities to engage with their professors and receive individualized attention. Furthermore, Middlebury’s faculty is entirely committed to undergraduates, while UPenn has both undergraduate and graduate students.

Despite the difference in size, both universities offer a wide range of courses and majors. UPenn has 12 undergraduate schools, including the Wharton School of Business and the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Middlebury, on the other hand, is known for its strong liberal arts curriculum and offers majors in fields such as environmental studies, international politics and economics, and neuroscience.

Another factor to consider when comparing these two universities is class size. While Middlebury has a smaller student body overall, it also has a smaller average class size. The majority of classes at Middlebury have fewer than 20 students, allowing for more discussion and interaction between students and professors.

At UPenn, class sizes can vary widely depending on the school and major, with some classes having hundreds of students.

Cost of Attendance Comparison: UPenn vs Middlebury

The cost of attendance at UPenn and Middlebury varies, depending on several factors, such as your financial need and merit scholarships. UPenn’s tuition for the 2021-22 academic year is $59,720, while Middlebury’s tuition is $62,025.

However, both schools are committed to providing need-based financial aid to students who require assistance, and they also offer merit scholarships for high-achieving students. It’s crucial to factor in the cost of living, textbooks, and other expenses when calculating the total cost of attendance.

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Another factor to consider when comparing the cost of attendance at UPenn and Middlebury is the availability of on-campus jobs. Both schools offer work-study programs that allow students to earn money while gaining valuable work experience.

Additionally, Middlebury has a program called MiddWorks, which connects students with local employers for part-time jobs and internships.

It’s also important to note that UPenn and Middlebury have resources available to help students manage their finances. UPenn’s Student Financial Services office guides budgeting, loan repayment, and other financial matters. Middlebury’s Center for Careers and Internships offers workshops and one-on-one advice on salary negotiation and financial planning.

Alumni Network and Career Opportunities Comparison: UPenn vs Middlebury

Graduating from UPenn or Middlebury can significantly benefit your job prospects and launch your career. UPenn has a comprehensive career services center, providing students with job search assistance, employer connections, and internship opportunities.

UPenn alumni are well-known for their success in business, entrepreneurship, and the arts. Middlebury’s alumni network is also thriving, with alumni highly involved in fields such as finance, politics, and education. Both schools have robust alumni networks that can help you leverage your education and make valuable connections.

However, there are some differences between the two schools’ alumni networks. UPenn’s alumni network is larger and more diverse, with graduates spread across a wider range of industries and locations. This can be advantageous for students who are interested in exploring different career paths or relocating to different parts of the country.

Middlebury’s alumni network, on the other hand, is more tightly knit and focused on specific industries, such as finance and politics. This can be beneficial for students who are interested in pursuing careers in these fields and want to tap into a well-connected network of alumni.

Another factor to consider is the availability of resources for alumni. UPenn’s career services center offers a range of resources and support for alumni, including job search assistance, networking events, and professional development opportunities.

Middlebury also provides resources for alumni, such as career counseling and access to job postings, but these may be more limited in scope. Ultimately, the strength of each school’s alumni network and career services will depend on your individual career goals and interests.

Campus Diversity and Inclusion Comparison: UPenn vs Middlebury

Both UPenn and Middlebury are committed to promoting diversity and inclusion on their campuses. UPenn has a diverse student body, with students from all 50 states and 122 countries. The school also has a robust initiative to promote diversity and inclusivity, including mandatory diversity training for incoming students, faculty, and staff.

Middlebury has a similar focus on diversity and inclusion, with a student body that includes students from over 70 countries. The college also has numerous initiatives and programs aimed at promoting equity, inclusion, and social justice.

One of the initiatives at UPenn is the Penn First Plus program, which supports first-generation and low-income students. The program provides academic and financial support, as well as a community for students who may feel out of place on a campus with a high percentage of students from affluent backgrounds.

Middlebury also has a program for first-generation and low-income students called the First@Midd program. This program provides similar support and resources to help these students succeed academically and socially.

Both schools also have active student organizations focused on promoting diversity and inclusion. UPenn has over 50 cultural and identity-based student groups, including the Black Student League, the Asian Pacific Student Coalition, and the Queer Student Alliance.

Middlebury has a similar range of student organizations, including the Black Student Union, the Middlebury Asian Students Association, and the Middlebury Open Queer Alliance. These groups provide a space for students to connect with others who share their experiences and identities and advocate for greater campus diversity and inclusion.

Research Opportunities and Facilities Comparison: UPenn vs Middlebury

Research is an integral part of the educational experience at UPenn and Middlebury. UPenn has numerous research centers and institutes, offering students a vast array of research opportunities, ranging from biomedical research to environmental science.

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Middlebury, too, provides students with ample research opportunities with state-of-the-art facilities and equipment. While research opportunities at both schools are abundant, UPenn might have a slight edge, with its significant focus on graduate programs and research.

Additionally, UPenn has a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary research, encouraging collaboration between different departments and fields of study. This approach allows students to explore research topics from multiple perspectives and gain a more comprehensive understanding of their subject matter.

On the other hand, Middlebury’s research opportunities are more focused on undergraduate students, providing them with hands-on experience and mentorship from faculty members. This approach allows students to develop their research skills early on in their academic careers and prepares them for future graduate studies or careers in research.

Student-Faculty Interaction Comparison: UPenn vs Middlebury

Student-faculty interaction is an essential aspect of the undergraduate experience, and both UPenn and Middlebury provide students with opportunities to interact with their professors in multiple ways. UPenn’s larger size might make it more challenging to establish close relationships with professors.

Still, the school has numerous resources to facilitate interaction, such as office hours, mentorship programs, and research centers. Middlebury’s smaller size and exclusive focus on undergraduates make it easier for students to engage with their professors, with many mentioning that one-on-one meetings are common.

However, it is important to note that the type of student-faculty interaction may differ between the two schools. At UPenn, students may have more opportunities to engage in research projects with their professors, given the school’s strong emphasis on research.

On the other hand, Middlebury’s liberal arts curriculum may encourage more classroom discussions and debates, leading to more frequent interactions with professors during class time. Ultimately, the type of student-faculty interaction that is most beneficial for a student will depend on their individual learning style and academic goals.

Campus Safety and Security Comparison: UPenn vs Middlebury

Campus safety and security are paramount concerns for students and parents. UPenn takes campus security seriously, with a team of highly trained and equipped police officers patrolling the campus 24/7. The school also has numerous safety and emergency protocols in place, ensuring that students feel safe at all times.

Middlebury also prioritizes campus safety, with a campus safety team that patrols the campus regularly. The school also provides students with safety resources, such as safety escorts, emergency phones, and safety training.

However, there are some differences in the approach to campus safety between UPenn and Middlebury. UPenn has a larger campus and is located in a more urban area, which may require a higher level of security measures. Middlebury, on the other hand, has a smaller campus and is located in a more rural area, which may have different safety concerns.

Despite these differences, both schools are committed to providing a safe and secure environment for their students.

Student Housing Options Comparison: UPenn vs Middlebury

Student housing is an essential aspect of the undergraduate experience, and both UPenn and Middlebury offer students a variety of housing options. UPenn’s campus has numerous dormitories, apartments, and residential colleges, providing students with ample living options.

Middlebury has similar housing options, ranging from traditional residence halls to themed houses and language houses. Both schools provide highly livable and comfortable dorms, with numerous resources and amenities, such as laundry facilities, lounges, and kitchens.

However, there are some differences between the two schools’ housing options. UPenn’s residential colleges offer a unique living experience, with students living and learning together in a close-knit community. Middlebury’s themed houses, on the other hand, provide students with the opportunity to live with others who share similar interests or identities.

Additionally, Middlebury offers a limited number of off-campus housing options for upperclassmen, while UPenn does not. Overall, both schools prioritize providing their students with comfortable and convenient housing options, but their approaches differ slightly.

Athletics Programs and Facilities Comparison: UPenn vs Middlebury

View of sports equipments placed on the floor.

Athletics play a prominent role in campus life at both UPenn and Middlebury. UPenn’s Division I athletic program comprises 33 varsity teams and numerous club and intramural sports, including football, basketball, and hockey.

The school’s facilities are state-of-the-art, with numerous fitness centers, sports stadiums, and arenas. Middlebury’s athletics program is strong, with 31 varsity teams in sports such as lacrosse, cross country, and ice hockey. The school’s athletic facilities are also top-notch, with athletic centers, fitness centers, and outdoor fields, among others.

Study Abroad Opportunities Comparison: UPenn vs Middlebury

Studying abroad is an excellent way to broaden your horizons and immerse yourself in new cultures. Both UPenn and Middlebury offer students numerous study abroad opportunities, ranging from semester-long programs to summer internships.

UPenn’s Study Abroad Program offers over 100 programs in over 50 countries, allowing students to study everything from French literature to environmental sustainability. Middlebury’s study abroad programs are also extensive, with students having the opportunity to study in countries such as China, Jordan, and Spain, among others.

International Student Support Services Comparison: UPenn Vs MIddlebury

International students have specific needs when studying abroad, and both UPenn and Middlebury are equipped to provide robust support. UPenn’s International Student and Scholar Services take care of visa processing, immigration advising, and language support, among other services.

The school also has numerous global centers worldwide, providing students with a network of support and resources in different countries. Middlebury’s International Student and Scholar Services offer similar resources, including advising and support for immigration policies and visa regulations.

The school also has numerous resources to help international students adjust to American culture, such as language programs and cultural events.

Extracurricular Activities for International Students at UPenn Vs MIddleburry

International students might face unique challenges when adjusting to campus life, but both UPenn and Middlebury provide ample opportunities for international students to engage in extracurricular activities. UPenn’s International Student and Scholar Center has numerous student groups and cultural organizations catering to different cultures and interests.

Middlebury has a similar range of activities and clubs, including clubs focused on international relations and language groups. Both schools also have campus events and activities that are inclusive and welcoming to all students, including international students.

Research Opportunities for International Students at UPenn vs. Middlebury

An open laptop placed on top of a table near a window.

International students might be interested in research opportunities, and UPenn and Middlebury provide numerous such opportunities. UPenn’s campus has over 165 research centers and institutes, providing students with the resources and facilities to conduct cutting-edge research.

The school also has numerous research opportunities for international students, including summer research programs and internships. Similarly, Middlebury’s research opportunities are diverse and plentiful, with students accessing state-of-the-art labs and research centers.

The school also offers international students the opportunity to conduct research abroad, enhancing their academic experience.

In conclusion, both the University of Pennsylvania and Middlebury are exceptional schools that provide students with a world-class education and ample opportunities to succeed. Choosing between the two schools will depend largely on your individual factors, such as academic interests, location preference, and campus culture.

Consider all the points mentioned in this article, and take time to research each school carefully to make an informed decision that aligns with your aspirations and goals.


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