Wellesley vs Middlebury: A Comprehensive Analysis

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Two college students standing in corridor

Wellesley vs Middlebury: A Comprehensive Analysis

If you’re a prospective college student looking for an excellent education in the Northeast, you’ve probably heard of Wellesley College and Middlebury College. Both are prestigious liberal arts institutions that consistently rank highly in college guides and listings, and both offer a broad range of majors and programs. But which college is right for you? In this article, we will undertake a comprehensive analysis to compare Wellesley vs Middlebury in terms of their academic programs, campus culture, student life, costs, and other factors.


Let’s begin with Middlebury College. The school is located in the town of Middlebury, Vermont, and has a small student body of just over 2,800 students, with a 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Middlebury’s academic programs are focused on the liberal arts, with majors ranging from English to physics to environmental studies. The college is highly selective, with an acceptance rate of 13%, and the student body is known for its diverse interests and backgrounds.

Warm Sunset in Middlebury College

Additionally, Middlebury College is known for its strong commitment to sustainability and environmentalism. The campus is home to several environmentally-focused organizations and initiatives, including a student-run organic garden and a biomass plant that provides heating for campus buildings. Middlebury also offers a variety of courses and programs related to environmental studies, including a major in Environmental Studies and a graduate program in Sustainability Leadership.

Admissions Process: Wellesley vs. Middlebury

Getting into Wellesley or Middlebury is no easy feat, as both schools are highly competitive and selective. The admissions process at Wellesley involves submitting a Common Application, SAT or ACT scores, high school transcripts, and teacher evaluations. Applicants can also submit additional materials, such as a resume or portfolio, to showcase their talents and interests. Middlebury’s admissions process is similar, requiring transcripts, test scores, essays, and teacher recommendations.

One advantage of applying to Wellesley is the school’s test-optional policy, which allows students to apply without submitting standardized test scores if they feel their scores are not representative of their abilities or potential.

Another factor that can increase your chances of getting into Wellesley or Middlebury is demonstrating a strong commitment to extracurricular activities. Both schools value well-rounded students who are involved in their communities and have a passion for something outside of academics. This can include sports, music, volunteering, or leadership roles in clubs or organizations.

It’s also important to note that both Wellesley and Middlebury have holistic admissions processes, meaning they consider a variety of factors beyond just grades and test scores. This includes factors such as personal essays, interviews, and demonstrated interest in the school. It’s important to take the time to research each school and tailor your application to showcase why you would be a good fit for their community.

Majors and Programs Offered: Wellesley vs. Middlebury

Both Wellesley and Middlebury offer a wide range of majors and programs in the liberal arts and sciences, with excellent opportunities for interdisciplinary study and research. Wellesley has a slightly larger student body than Middlebury, with just over 2,800 students, and a student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1. The school’s most popular majors include economics, psychology, and political science, and students can also participate in a variety of specialized programs, such as the Writing Program and the Davis International Scholars Program.

At Middlebury, students can choose from over 50 majors, including many interdisciplinary programs like International Politics and Economics (IPE) and Environmental Studies. One unique aspect of Middlebury’s academic offerings is the Middlebury Language Schools, which provide intensive summer language immersion programs in over a dozen languages.

Wellesley College also offers a number of unique programs, such as the Albright Institute for Global Affairs, which provides students with opportunities to engage in global issues through internships, research, and leadership development. Additionally, the school’s Madeleine Korbel Albright Institute for Global Affairs hosts an annual conference that brings together leading experts and policymakers to discuss pressing global issues.

Meanwhile, Middlebury College is home to the Bread Loaf School of English, a summer graduate program that offers courses in literature, writing, and pedagogy. The program attracts students from around the world and provides a unique opportunity for educators to engage in intensive study and professional development.

Faculty and Student Ratio: Wellesley vs. Middlebury

Both Wellesley and Middlebury have small class sizes and a commitment to personalized attention, with small student-to-faculty ratios and highly engaged faculty. Wellesley has about 350 faculty members, while Middlebury has around 300. Both schools take pride in their faculty’s commitment to undergraduate teaching and mentorship, and students at both schools have ample opportunities to work closely with professors on research projects, independent studies, and other academic endeavors.

View of a students writing in the board.

However, there are some differences in the faculty and student ratio between the two schools. Wellesley has a student-to-faculty ratio of 8:1, while Middlebury has a ratio of 9:1. This means that students at Wellesley may have more opportunities for one-on-one interactions with their professors, while students at Middlebury may have slightly larger class sizes. Despite this difference, both schools prioritize personalized attention and offer a supportive academic environment for their students.

Academic Reputation and Rankings: Wellesley vs. Middlebury

Wellesley and Middlebury are both well-known and highly respected institutions, with impressive academic reputations and numerous awards and honors to their names. According to U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 rankings, Wellesley is ranked #5 among national liberal arts colleges, while Middlebury is ranked #11 for Best Undergraduate Teaching and #6 among national liberal arts colleges. Both schools have also received accolades for their commitment to sustainability, global education, and diversity and inclusivity.

However, there are some differences between the two schools when it comes to their academic programs. Wellesley is known for its strong emphasis on women’s education and its rigorous curriculum in the humanities and social sciences. Middlebury, on the other hand, is renowned for its language programs and its focus on environmental studies and sustainability. Both schools offer a wide range of majors and minors, as well as opportunities for research and study abroad.

Campus Life and Culture: A Comparative Study

Wellesley and Middlebury have distinct campus cultures and atmospheres that have developed over many years. Wellesley is a women’s college that has a strong tradition of feminist activism and leadership, and students are encouraged to become leaders in their fields and communities. The school is located in Wellesley, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston, and has a beautiful campus with several impressive buildings and landmarks.

Meanwhile, Middlebury has a more rural and outdoorsy vibe, with a campus nestled in the mountains of Vermont. The school has a strong focus on sustainability, and many students participate in outdoor and environmental programs like the Middlebury College Organic Farm and the Snow Bowl ski resort. Middlebury also offers a Study Abroad program, where students can spend a semester or year studying in over 40 different countries.

Despite their differences, both Wellesley and Middlebury offer a wide range of extracurricular activities and clubs for students to get involved in. At Wellesley, students can join organizations like the Shakespeare Society, the Debate Society, or the Asian Student Association. Middlebury has over 150 student-run clubs and organizations, including the Middlebury College Quidditch team, the Mountain Club, and the Middlebury College Cheese Club. Both schools also have strong athletic programs, with opportunities for students to participate in varsity, club, and intramural sports.

Sports and Extracurricular Activities Comparison: Wellesley vs. Middlebury

Both Wellesley and Middlebury have robust extracurricular offerings, including a variety of clubs, organizations, and sports teams. At Wellesley, students can participate in over 150 student clubs and organizations, including a weekly newspaper, debate society, and several dance groups. The school also has a strong athletic program, with a variety of varsity and club sports teams, such as basketball, swimming, and tennis.

unidentified male tennis player playing in the court

Meanwhile, Middlebury has over 200 clubs and organizations, as well as a competitive Division III athletics program with over 30 varsity teams. The school is known for its successful skiing and snowboarding teams, as well as its highly acclaimed theater program.

Additionally, both schools offer unique opportunities for students to get involved in community service and outreach programs. Wellesley has a strong partnership with local organizations, providing students with opportunities to volunteer and make a positive impact in the surrounding community. Middlebury, on the other hand, offers a variety of international service trips, allowing students to travel abroad and engage in meaningful service work in different parts of the world.

Cost of Attendance: A Detailed Comparison of Expenses at Both Colleges

Attending college can be expensive, and both Wellesley and Middlebury have high tuition and fees, as well as additional costs like room and board, textbooks, and transportation. The cost of attendance at Wellesley for the academic year was approximately $81,000, while Middlebury’s cost was approximately $80,000. Both schools offer financial aid and scholarship programs, however, which can significantly lower the cost of attending for eligible students.

It’s important to note that the cost of attendance can vary depending on a student’s individual circumstances. For example, students who live off-campus or have a meal plan may have different expenses than those who live on campus and cook their own meals. Additionally, students who have dependents or other financial obligations may have higher expenses than those who do not. It’s important for students to carefully consider their own financial situation and explore all available options for funding their education.

Financial Aid and Scholarship Opportunities: Which College is More Affordable?

Both Wellesley and Middlebury are committed to making college affordable for all students, regardless of their financial situation. Wellesley has a need-based financial aid program that covers up to 100% of tuition and fees, and the school meets 100% of demonstrated needs without loans. Middlebury also has a need-based financial aid program that covers up to 100% of tuition and fees, and the school has a no-loan policy for students with a family income of less than $75,000 per year.

In addition to need-based financial aid, both Wellesley and Middlebury offer merit-based scholarships to students who demonstrate exceptional academic achievement, leadership skills, and community involvement. These scholarships can cover a significant portion of tuition and fees and are awarded on a competitive basis.

Furthermore, both colleges have partnerships with external organizations that provide additional scholarship opportunities for students. For example, Wellesley has partnerships with organizations such as QuestBridge and the Posse Foundation, which offer full-tuition scholarships to high-achieving, low-income students. Middlebury has partnerships with organizations such as the Davis United World College Scholars Program, which provides scholarships to international students who have attended a United World College.

Alumni Network and Career Services Comparison: Wellesley vs. Middlebury

Both Wellesley and Middlebury have an extensive network of alumni who are successful and influential in various fields. Wellesley has produced several notable alumnae, including former Secretary of State and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist. The school has a robust career services program that offers internship and job search resources, as well as networking and mentoring opportunities.

An electrical engineer smiling at the camera.

At Middlebury, the alumni network includes many prominent figures in politics, business, and academia, such as the former President of Ireland and Amazon CEO. Middlebury’s career services program offers similar resources to Wellesley, including job and internship fairs, employer visits, and alumni networking events.

However, there are some differences between the two schools’ alumni networks. Wellesley’s alumnae tend to be more concentrated in the Northeastern United States, while Middlebury’s alumni are spread out across the country and even internationally. This can be an advantage for Middlebury students who are looking to work in a specific region or industry outside of the Northeast.

Additionally, Middlebury has a unique program called the “MiddCORE” experience, which is a four-week immersive program that helps students develop skills in innovation, leadership, and entrepreneurship. This program is led by Middlebury alumni who are successful entrepreneurs and business leaders, providing students with valuable networking opportunities and real-world experience.

Student Satisfaction and Graduation Rates: Which College Has Higher Retention Rates?

Both Wellesley and Middlebury have high retention rates, indicating that students are generally happy with their college experiences and choose to continue attending. According to U.S. News & World Report, Wellesley has a retention rate of 96%, while Middlebury has a retention rate of 96%. Both schools also have high graduation rates, with around 84% of students graduating within four years.

However, there are some differences between the two colleges when it comes to student satisfaction. Wellesley has a higher percentage of students who report feeling satisfied with their college experience, with 92% of students reporting satisfaction in a recent survey. Middlebury, on the other hand, has a slightly lower satisfaction rate, with 88% of students reporting satisfaction.

Another factor to consider is the size of the schools. Wellesley is a smaller college with around 2,500 undergraduate students, while Middlebury has around 2,800 undergraduate students. Some students may prefer the smaller, more intimate community at Wellesley, while others may prefer the slightly larger community at Middlebury.

Diversity and Inclusivity on Campus: How Welcoming Are These Colleges to Minorities?

Diversity and inclusivity are important values for both Wellesley and Middlebury, and both schools have made efforts to create welcoming and supportive environments for students of all backgrounds. Wellesley is committed to promoting gender equity and inclusion and has several programs and initiatives to support underrepresented students, such as the Davis Degree Program for non-traditional students and the Women’s and Gender Studies program.

Meanwhile, Middlebury has made a concerted effort to increase diversity and inclusion on campus, with initiatives like the Office of Institutional Diversity, the Middlebury College Queer Studies House, and the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. The school has also hosted several diversity and inclusion events, such as the Black Student Union Conference and the Racial Justice Leadership Program.

Cheerful women of different body types and ages standing together in studio

In addition to these initiatives, Wellesley has also established the Multicultural Affairs Office, which provides resources and support for students of color, international students, and LGBTQ+ students. The office offers mentorship programs, cultural events, and workshops on topics such as microaggressions and allyship. Wellesley also has a diverse student body, with over 40% of students identifying as students of color.

Similarly, Middlebury has implemented a Bias Response Team, which provides a mechanism for students to report incidents of bias or discrimination. The team works to address these incidents and educate the community on issues of diversity and inclusion. Middlebury also has a strong commitment to sustainability and environmental justice, with programs like the Franklin Environmental Center and the Middlebury College Organic Farm, which promote sustainable practices and engage with local communities.

Study Abroad Opportunities Comparison: Wellesley vs. Middlebury

Studying abroad is a popular and enriching experience for many college students, and both Wellesley and Middlebury offer excellent opportunities for international study and travel. Wellesley has several study abroad programs, including the Wellesley-in-Aix program in France and the Wellesley-Yenching Program in China. The school also offers a Winter Break Travel Course program, where students can spend winter break studying and traveling to a different country.

At Middlebury, the Study Abroad program is a central part of the college’s curriculum, with over 40 programs in countries like Spain, India, and Costa Rica. The school’s Language Pledge, which requires students to speak only the language of their study abroad destination, is a unique aspect of the program that promotes language immersion and cultural exchange.

Additionally, both Wellesley and Middlebury offer financial aid and scholarships for students who wish to study abroad. Wellesley’s Global Scholars Program provides funding for students with financial need, while Middlebury’s International Student Scholarship supports students who are studying abroad for a full academic year.

Furthermore, both schools have partnerships with universities and institutions around the world, allowing students to study in a variety of academic disciplines and cultural contexts. These partnerships also provide opportunities for research, internships, and community service projects abroad.

Conclusion: Which College is the Better Choice for You?

After taking a comprehensive look at Wellesley and Middlebury, it’s clear that both schools offer exceptional academic programs, vibrant campus cultures, and numerous opportunities for personal and professional growth. The choice between the two ultimately depends on your individual priorities and interests. If you value a strong women’s college tradition, a supportive and empowering campus culture, and a close proximity to Boston, then Wellesley may be the right choice for you. Alternatively, if you prefer a rural setting, a focus on sustainability and the outdoors, and a robust study abroad program, then Middlebury may be the better fit. Whatever your choice, both schools are excellent options for a comprehensive and challenging liberal arts education.

It’s important to note that while both Wellesley and Middlebury have their unique strengths, they also have their own set of challenges. For example, Wellesley’s location near Boston can make it a more expensive option for students, while Middlebury’s rural setting may not be ideal for those who prefer a more urban environment. Additionally, both schools have competitive admissions processes, so it’s important to have a backup plan in case you are not accepted to your top choice. Ultimately, it’s important to carefully consider all factors and make an informed decision that aligns with your personal and academic goals.

College Admissions

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up now to receive insights on
how to navigate the college admissions process.