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middlebury vs. amherst


Replies to: middlebury vs. amherst

  • johnwesleyjohnwesley - 4473 replies137 threads Senior Member
    Lets be real guys: Midd is a great school and the students are very smart. But its academic level is not Amherst, Williams or Swarthmore (any more than Brown, for example, is HYPS).

    Who cares what the academic level appears to be on paper when on the ground-level Amherst, and Williams, to perhaps a greater degree than Swarthmore, are full of such dullards? Both have acquired a certain brand that seems to emphasize hard work within a carefully prescribed, largely adult-supervised, playground for well-rounded, middle-of-the-roaders. That they seem to attract the risk-averse more than most schools, is amply demonstrated by the fact that what seems to draw them to their schools in the first place, are their "top top" roost on various college polls.

    They are not known for their discussions of work outside the classroom. Art and music at both schools, for the most part, translate as, art history and _a capella_ singing. Radical politics (which seems to include environmentalism) are a definite no-no. And, for some strange reason, they seem obsessed with the idea that Brown (???) is an inferior college (presumably, because Brown finishes lower in these magazine polls than HYPS.)

    Seriously, stop. You're embarassing yourself.
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  • PantherPride99PantherPride99 76 replies7 threads Junior Member
    Johnwesley: have admired your posts for a long time, and this one reflects that admiration perhaps better than any single one. Protected environments, or let's say the risk-averse cultures of some LACs, are a huge weakness that will strip away any advantage a 1500 (or 2250) average SAT score, or a top ranking in a poll, might suggest. "Doing" things that build upon the great education these colleges offer will distinguish those colleges worth attending (in 5 years, if not sooner) from those not worth it.
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  • urbanslaughterurbanslaughter 1137 replies68 threads Senior Member
    When I was applying to colleges I applied to one - Middlebury early decision. I always wondered whether or not I'd have been admitted at Williams or Amherst (honestly, couldn't have cared less about Swarthmore). My parents always told me there's no difference in the quality of education between a school like A or W and Midd, but I liked believing there was a difference between 5 and 1. I had a fantastic experience at Middlebury and wouldn't trade it for anything. Today I refuse to believe there's any qualitative difference between USN&WR #1 and #5, or #5 and #10 for that matter. Does anyone out there really believe that Harvard offers a better education than Columbia, or MIT or CalTech? We're not talking the difference between Harvard and Brown (although I doubt there's really any difference between the educations at those institutions either). You're talking about Harvard and MIT. Give me a break. People need to get over this idea that the rankings are absolute standards. If you're in that top group you're getting a great education. And, through the years, I've met my share of Amherst alums that made me thrilled I never bothered to apply. Williams is filled with interesting people . . . who just made the mistake of choosing to be a purple cow rather than a Panther.
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  • jennielingjennieling 315 replies24 threads Member
    Oldbatesiedoc, I'm really interested in your view (or your son's view) that Amherst kids are more "preppie" than those at Midd. We live in the Midwest, so before our East Coast college tour this past June we just tried to learn all we could about the LAC's from sbooks and blogs, such as CC. We did not visit Midd or Bowdoin just because everything we read suggested that they were more preppie than Amherst and Williams (ie more wealthy kids, polo shirts and Docksider shoes, drinking as an integral part of socializing, ...). My son does not want to be in a preppy environment or one that has a high percentage of Greeks. My son adored Amherst, Williams, and Carleton (the latter is not East Coast, of course). He found all three of them to have a diverse student body and they seemed warm, fun, and not at all "preppy". However, I'm not saying we are right or you are wrong; again, we didn't visit Middlebury and Bowdoin.
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  • OldbatesieDocOldbatesieDoc 2020 replies39 threads Senior Member
    Well, Jenn, it was an impression based on a tour, a tour guide, and an info session. We visited all the schools you mention, including Carleton, Macalaster, and St Olaf.
    The Amhert and Bowdoin tour guides and campus info sessions rubbed us the wrong way on the day we went.
    Midd is not any more (or less) preppy than the others, but my public school part scholarship boys are doing just fine there. They are amazed at how rich some people are, but so was I when I went to Bates years ago.
    I think location and campus feel are as good reasons to rule out one of these schools as anything. but if you don't visit, you c an't tell. Midd does have a higher environmentalist population because of their green initiatives, Bill McKibben, and the general politics of the average Vermonter.
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  • urbanslaughterurbanslaughter 1137 replies68 threads Senior Member
    Yeah, I have to agree with OBD. I wouldn't say Midd is any more or less Preppy than any of those schools. I'd probably say the Midd and Williams student bodies are virtually indistinguishable.
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  • johnwesleyjohnwesley - 4473 replies137 threads Senior Member
    I'd probably say the Midd and Williams student bodies are virtually indistinguishable.

    Still, I don't think you'll find Williams students banding together to do something like this: MIDD KID (Official Music Video) - YouTube

    Thirty years ago I could see them attempting something in the same vein; there was a similar lightheartedness and reluctance to take themselves too seriously that easily made them the more likable of the two Massachusetts members of NESCAC. A lot of that seems to have gone by the wayside, a consequence of its dynastic ambitions, IMHO.
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  • OldbatesieDocOldbatesieDoc 2020 replies39 threads Senior Member
    I think they are still a likable, friendly bunch. Like the golden retrievers of the NESCACs.
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  • urbanslaughterurbanslaughter 1137 replies68 threads Senior Member
    I want to be the first to claim that Middlebury is the Border Collie of NESCAC! haha
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  • prezbuckyprezbucky 4328 replies11 threads Senior Member
    "The most important thing is who are your classmates that you interact with everyday."

    Actually, in terms of education, the most important thing is the quality of the faculty. Students discuss issues and sometimes work in teams, sure, so being among smart students is important in those aspects... but really, professors (and, in some places TAs,) teach.

    Just thought I'd mention that.

    How this might be used in the college search:

    I've taken a hard look at Haverford's faculty. I see tons of Harvard PhDs and PhDs from other top schools in their fields... even a few from UW-Madison (my alma mater).

    You might say that Haverford's students' test scores are about 40 points (on average) lower than Swarthmore's... but those Haverford kids are being schooled by people who have themselves been schooled at very elite academic institutions. Faculty quality should be given more weight in figuring out the quality of education at colleges and universities, IMO.

    I tend to think that in terms of LACs, really the top ten (at least...) are pretty even overall. There is no true "HYP" among the LACs, IMO. If there were, it would be WASP -- can't forget Pomona.

    IMO these are pretty even:


    Some are more academically rigorous, some are more "fun", but all are excellent schools and are worthy (CMC's score fraud notwithstanding) of being called the elite of the LACs -- faculty, selectivity, overall vibe, and strength of students.
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  • prezbuckyprezbucky 4328 replies11 threads Senior Member
    sorry for the duplicate post... ran out of time to edit.

    If national universities have HPYCS(and M, and Ch, and CT, and P... lol make up your minds on #5, US News...), then why can't LACs have their own acronym representing the top five among them in the USN&WR rankings?

    ...and rearrange the letters/rankings to form said acronym:


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  • morandimorandi 598 replies8 threads Member
    interesting observation, urbanslaughter. williams like golden retrievers, middlebury like border collies...i think i'd like a school more like a good dog park :)
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  • johnwesleyjohnwesley - 4473 replies137 threads Senior Member
    ^^Do zoos count? :)
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