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Vanderbilt vs Amherst: A Comprehensive Look at Both Universities

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Students lounging in the stairs of a building.

Vanderbilt vs Amherst: A Comprehensive Look at Both Universities

When it comes to choosing a university to attend, there are so many factors to consider. From the location and campus facilities to the academic programs and extracurricular activities, each university has its own strengths and weaknesses. In this article, we’ll thoroughly compare Vanderbilt vs Amherst, scrutinizing everything from tuition costs to faculty and research prospects. By the end of this article, you should have a much better idea of which university is the right fit for you.

Location and Campus Facilities: Comparing Vanderbilt vs Amherst

When it comes to location, Vanderbilt University is located in Nashville, Tennessee, while Amherst College is located in Amherst, Massachusetts. Both universities have beautiful campuses, but they differ in terms of size. Vanderbilt’s campus spans over 330 acres, while Amherst’s campus is just over 1,000 acres.

Vanderbilt’s campus features a mix of traditional Gothic architecture and modern buildings, including state-of-the-art research facilities. The university also has an on-campus medical center, several libraries, dining halls, and recreation facilities, making it a self-contained campus.

In contrast, Amherst has a more traditional New England look, with red-brick buildings and white columns. The campus is also close to the center of town, which offers students access to local restaurants, cafes, and places to shop. However, unlike Vanderbilt, Amherst does not have a medical center on campus.

a group of college students looking at the camera

Another difference between Vanderbilt and Amherst is the availability of housing options. Vanderbilt offers a variety of on-campus housing options, including traditional dormitories, apartments, and suites. The university also has a program that allows students to live in themed communities, such as wellness or sustainability-focused housing.

In contrast, Amherst guarantees on-campus housing for all four years, but the majority of students live in traditional dormitories. The college also offers a limited number of apartments and houses for upperclassmen.

Both Vanderbilt and Amherst have strong athletic programs, but they differ in terms of the sports they offer. Vanderbilt is a Division I school and has a wide range of sports teams, including football, basketball, and baseball. The university also has a strong women’s soccer team that has won multiple SEC championships.

Amherst, on the other hand, is a Division III school and does not offer football. However, the college has a strong tradition of excellence in sports such as basketball, soccer, and lacrosse. Amherst has won multiple national championships in men’s basketball and women’s soccer.

Academic Programs: How Do Vanderbilt and Amherst Compare?

Vanderbilt is a larger university than Amherst and offers a wider range of academic programs. Vanderbilt has ten schools and colleges, including the College of Arts and Science, the School of Medicine, and the Peabody College of Education and Human Development.

Amherst, on the other hand, is a smaller liberal arts college that focuses on undergraduate education. The college offers 38 majors, with a focus on the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Both universities offer opportunities for research, with Vanderbilt placing a greater emphasis on scientific research and Amherst’s focus on undergraduate research opportunities.

Ultimately, the choice between these universities will depend on what type of academic program you are interested in pursuing.

One notable difference between Vanderbilt and Amherst is their approach to interdisciplinary studies. Vanderbilt encourages students to explore multiple fields of study and offers several interdisciplinary programs, such as the Medicine, Health, and Society program and the Environmental and Sustainability Studies program.

Amherst, on the other hand, emphasizes a traditional liberal arts education and does not have formal interdisciplinary programs. However, students can still take courses across different departments and create their own interdisciplinary majors.

Another factor to consider when comparing Vanderbilt and Amherst is their class sizes. Vanderbilt’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 7:1, while Amherst’s is 8:1. Both universities pride themselves on small class sizes and individualized attention from professors, but Vanderbilt’s larger size may mean that some classes are still larger than those at Amherst. However, Vanderbilt also offers more opportunities for graduate-level research and collaboration with faculty members.

Student Life: A Comparison Between Vanderbilt vs Amherst

When it comes to student life, both Vanderbilt and Amherst offer a wide variety of extracurricular activities. Vanderbilt has over 500 student organizations, ranging from cultural and ethnic groups to academic and honor societies. The university also has a thriving Greek Life community.

Amherst has over 100 student-run clubs and organizations, including a variety of performing arts groups and student publications. However, the college does not have a Greek Life community. Instead, it places a greater emphasis on the residential quad system, which provides students with a close-knit community and a sense of shared responsibility for the college’s social life.

Both universities offer numerous community service opportunities, and Vanderbilt has a particularly strong commitment to service, with over 70 percent of its students participating in community service programs.

Group of students talking in a coffee shop.

In addition to extracurricular activities, both Vanderbilt and Amherst offer a range of resources to support students’ academic success. Vanderbilt has a Writing Studio, a Quantitative Reasoning Center, and a Center for Teaching, among other resources. Amherst has a Writing Center, a Quantitative Skills Center, and a Center for Community Engagement, which connects students with community-based learning opportunities. Both universities also offer extensive academic advising and support services.

When it comes to campus amenities, Vanderbilt and Amherst differ in some ways. Vanderbilt has a state-of-the-art recreation center, which includes a climbing wall, indoor track, and swimming pool. The university also has a student health center, a counseling center, and a career center. Amherst has a fitness center, a health center, and a career center as well, but it does not have a counseling center on campus. Instead, the college partners with a local mental health clinic to provide counseling services to students.

Cost of Attendance: Which University is More Affordable?

Cost and financial aid are important considerations when choosing a university. According to the College Board, Vanderbilt had a total cost of attendance of $70,146 for the 2020-2021 academic year, while Amherst had a total cost of attendance of $76,400 for the same year.

However, both universities offer generous financial aid packages, with Vanderbilt meeting 100 percent of demonstrated need for admitted students and Amherst offering a policy of need-blind admission for all students who apply for financial aid. Ultimately, the cost of attendance will depend on your family’s financial situation, as well as the amount of financial aid you qualify for.

It’s important to note that the cost of attendance at both universities may vary depending on factors such as housing, meal plans, and other personal expenses. Vanderbilt offers a variety of housing options, including traditional dorms, apartments, and living-learning communities, while Amherst guarantees housing for all four years of undergraduate study.

Additionally, both universities offer meal plans and on-campus dining options, with Vanderbilt’s dining program being consistently ranked among the best in the country.

When considering the cost of attendance, it’s also important to take into account the potential return on investment. Both Vanderbilt and Amherst have strong reputations and high graduation rates, with graduates from both universities going on to successful careers in a variety of fields. Ultimately, the decision of which university to attend should be based on a variety of factors, including cost, financial aid, academic programs, campus culture, and personal preferences.

Admissions Criteria: What Are the Differences Between Vanderbilt vs Amherst?

Both Vanderbilt and Amherst are highly selective universities, with acceptance rates of around 9 percent and 11 percent, respectively. However, they differ in their admissions criteria. Vanderbilt considers a wide range of factors in its admissions process, including academic achievement, extracurricular activities, leadership, and community service. The university also takes into account diversity, including racial and ethnic diversity, socioeconomic status, and geographic diversity.

Amherst takes a more holistic approach to admissions, focusing on academic achievement, intellectual curiosity, and personal qualities such as leadership and maturity. The college also places a strong emphasis on diversity, specifically seeking to attract students from underrepresented backgrounds.

Another key difference between Vanderbilt and Amherst is their approach to standardized testing. Vanderbilt requires either the SAT or ACT, while Amherst is test-optional, meaning that students can choose whether or not to submit their scores. This allows Amherst to consider a wider range of applicants, including those who may not have had access to test preparation resources or who may not perform well on standardized tests.

the word admission flashed unto a laptop screen

Additionally, Vanderbilt and Amherst have different policies regarding demonstrated interest. Vanderbilt considers demonstrated interest, such as campus visits and communication with admissions counselors, as a factor in their admissions decisions. Amherst, on the other hand, does not consider demonstrated interest, instead focusing solely on the application materials submitted by the student.

Faculty and Research Opportunities: A Comprehensive Look at Vanderbilt vs Amherst

Vanderbilt has over 1,800 full-time faculty members, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 7:1. The university has a strong commitment to research, with over $731.1 million in sponsored research funding in the 2019-2020 academic year alone. Vanderbilt also has several research centers and institutes, including the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research and the Vanderbilt Institute for Energy and Environment. Amherst has a smaller faculty, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 7:1.

However, the college places a strong emphasis on undergraduate research and offers numerous opportunities for students to conduct research with faculty members. For example, the college has an exceptional science center with state-of-the-art facilities that allow students to work on research projects in various disciplines.

In addition to its commitment to research, Vanderbilt also has a strong focus on community engagement and service. The university has several programs that allow students to get involved in community service, such as the Vanderbilt Center for Community Health Solutions and the Vanderbilt Project Pyramid. These programs provide students with opportunities to work with local organizations and make a positive impact in the community.

Similarly, Amherst has a strong commitment to social justice and diversity. The college has several initiatives and programs that promote diversity and inclusion, such as the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Multicultural Resource Center. Amherst also has a strong focus on sustainability, with several programs and initiatives aimed at reducing the college’s environmental impact and promoting sustainable practices.

Extracurricular Activities of Vanderbilt vs Amherst

As we mentioned earlier, both Vanderbilt and Amherst offer a wide range of extracurricular activities. Vanderbilt has a strong Greek Life community, with over 35 fraternities and sororities on campus. The university also has a Student Recreation Center, which offers fitness classes, intramural sports leagues, and outdoor adventure trips.

Amherst has a variety of clubs and organizations, including a popular Outing Club that organizes hiking trips and other outdoor activities. The college also has a close-knit residential quad system that encourages students to get involved in social and cultural events on campus, such as parties, movie nights, and cultural dances.

Group of people talking in a table.

In addition to these offerings, Vanderbilt also has a thriving music scene. The Blair School of Music offers a wide range of music classes and ensembles, and the university hosts numerous concerts and performances throughout the year. Amherst, on the other hand, has a strong focus on community service. The college has a Center for Community Engagement that connects students with local organizations and encourages them to get involved in volunteer work.

Both universities also offer opportunities for students to study abroad. Vanderbilt has partnerships with over 50 universities around the world, and offers programs in over 20 countries. Amherst has its own study abroad program, which allows students to spend a semester or year studying in countries such as China, France, and Spain.

Campus Diversity: A Comparison of Vanderbilt’s and Amherst’s Student Body

Both Vanderbilt and Amherst have diverse student bodies and place a strong emphasis on creating an inclusive and welcoming campus environment. Vanderbilt has a student body that is 45 percent white, 12 percent Black or African American, 21 percent Asian, and 13 percent Hispanic or Latino. The university also has a strong commitment to supporting first-generation and low-income students.

Amherst has a student body that is 47 percent white, 11 percent Black or African American, 17 percent Asian, and 17 percent Hispanic or Latino. The college has a strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, with a chief diversity officer and several diversity and inclusion initiatives aimed at creating a more inclusive campus environment.

Despite their similarities in diversity and inclusion efforts, there are some notable differences between Vanderbilt and Amherst’s student bodies. For example, Vanderbilt has a larger international student population, with students from over 100 countries represented on campus.

In contrast, Amherst has a smaller student body overall, with just over 1,800 students compared to Vanderbilt’s 12,000. Additionally, Amherst has a higher percentage of students who identify as LGBTQ+, with 10 percent of the student body identifying as such compared to Vanderbilt’s 7 percent. These differences highlight the unique aspects of each institution’s student body and campus culture.

Career Opportunities: Which University Offers Better Prospects for Graduates?

Both Vanderbilt and Amherst have strong career centers that offer a variety of resources and services for students and alumni. Vanderbilt’s Career Center offers career counseling, job and internship search resources, and opportunities to connect with alumni mentors. The university also has a strong network of alumni who work in a variety of fields, including law, medicine, and business.

Amherst’s Career Center offers similar resources, including job and internship search assistance, career counseling, and access to alumni mentors. The college also hosts networking events both on and off-campus, aimed at helping students connect with employers and industry professionals.

Ultimately, the career opportunities available to graduates will depend on a number of factors, including the field of study, the individual’s skill set and experience, and the job market in their chosen field.

However, there are some differences between the two universities when it comes to career opportunities. Vanderbilt is located in Nashville, which is known for its thriving music and healthcare industries. This means that students studying in these fields may have more opportunities for internships and job placements in these industries.

On the other hand, Amherst is located in the heart of the Pioneer Valley, which is home to a number of prestigious colleges and universities. This means that students may have more opportunities for networking and collaboration with students and professionals from other institutions.

College student looking away from the camera.

Another factor to consider is the size of the universities. Vanderbilt has a larger student body, which means that there may be more competition for certain job and internship opportunities. However, the university also has a larger alumni network, which may be beneficial for graduates looking to make connections in their chosen field.

Amherst, on the other hand, has a smaller student body, which may mean that there are fewer opportunities available. However, the college has a strong reputation for producing successful graduates, which may be attractive to employers.

Alumni Network: How Do Vanderbilt’s and Amherst’s Networks Compare?

Both Vanderbilt and Amherst have strong alumni networks that offer a variety of resources and opportunities for graduates. Vanderbilt has a large and active alumni community, with over 145,000 alumni living in all 50 states and over 143 countries worldwide. The university offers a variety of alumni programs, including regional clubs and affinity groups, career services, and volunteer opportunities.

Amherst also has a strong alumni network, with over 23,000 living alumni around the world. The college’s Alumni Office offers a variety of programs and resources for alumni, including regional events and networking opportunities, career services, and opportunities for volunteering and community service.

Athletics Programs: A Comparison of Sports Teams at Vanderbilt vs Amherst

Vanderbilt is a member of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) and offers 16 varsity sports for men and women, including basketball, football, soccer, and baseball. The university also has several club sports teams and an extensive intramural sports program. Amherst is a member of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) and offers 26 varsity sports for men and women, including basketball, football, soccer, and lacrosse. The college also has several club sports teams and an intramural sports program.

Ultimately, the choice between these universities will depend on the individual’s interest in sports and the level of competition they are looking for.

Campus Safety: Which University Offers a Safer Environment for Students?

Both Vanderbilt and Amherst place a strong emphasis on campus safety and have dedicated resources to ensuring that their campuses are safe and secure. Both universities have campus police departments and offer safety training and emergency response programs. According to the most recent data available from the U.S. Department of Education, Vanderbilt reported 82 on-campus crimes in 2019, including 12 cases of rape, while Amherst reported 20 on-campus crimes, including one case of rape.

Students walking in the school campus.

However, it is important to note that crime statistics can be influenced by a variety of factors, including campus size and location. Ultimately, students should visit each campus and speak with current students and administrators to get a better sense of the campus safety culture.

Academic Support Services: Comparing the Resources Available to Students at Vanderbilt vs Amherst

Both Vanderbilt and Amherst offer a variety of academic support services to help their students succeed. Vanderbilt has a Center for Teaching that offers workshops and training for faculty members, as well as tutoring, writing support, and disability services for students.

Amherst has a Writing Center that offers one-on-one tutoring sessions, a Quantitative Skills Center that provides support for math and science courses, and a Disability Services office that offers accommodations for students with disabilities. The college also has a Learning Commons, which offers study space, access to technology, and academic support resources.

Conclusion: Which University Comes Out on Top?

As we have seen, both Vanderbilt University and Amherst College have a lot to offer. Vanderbilt is a larger university with a wider range of academic programs, a strong network of alumni, and a thriving Greek Life community. Amherst, on the other hand, is a smaller liberal arts college with a focus on undergraduate education, a strong commitment to diversity, and a close-knit residential quad system.

Ultimately, the choice between these universities will depend on your individual interests and priorities. We recommend that you visit each campus, speak with current students and faculty members, and consider all the factors we have discussed in this article before making your decision.

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