Middlebury Or Carleton? [undecided, interested in economics]

I am trying to decide between Carleton and Middlebury. The cost for me will be the same. Middlebury is a 4 hour drive, while Carleton is a 4 hour flight. I am undecided but interested in econ. I don’t play a varsity sport, but might do IM. Any help on what school to choose would be appreciated.

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That might be a good thread to read…


Thanks for the response but I already read the post. Any additional insight would be appreciated.

Are you interested in foreign languages in addition to Econ (as a minor)?
Do you want to discover another part of the country or stay within driving distance of home?
Do you want to be roughly 45mn to a major metropolis or would you rather be in a classic New England area?
What would your IM sport be? Are you more into frisbee or skiing ? :wink:

Thanks for the response. I am not really interested in language as a minor, ideally I would stay within driving distance but this is not a major factor, and I would love to learn to ski. Two specific questions I have are as follows: The social scene at both Middlebury/Carleton (potential cliquishness), and career prospects in the finance sector with an econ degree from either school.

I think distance from home, unless important to you, isn’t a big deal or if it is, you have your answer. You do come home - but not all the time…unless you get homesick or have an issue.

So then it becomes, after visiting, which spoke to you?

It could be - you’d be happy at both.

Niche rates Midd much higher in econ than Carleton

Both show up in this rank - but Midd higher as well.

I’m sure you’d find both in IB as IB takes place not just in NYC but I imagine Midd has a better presence there.

Good luck.

2022 Best Economics Schools - College Factual

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For econ, I would give the tip to Middlebury. Not a lot, but enough to tip the scales. That being said - no wrong choice here.


Midd seems a better fit. Carleton’s econ department is great but IB is a rare choice. You won’t learn to ski at Carleton unless you take a trip, which is also not common. I wouldn’t describe either school as cliquey.

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Carleton has groomed nordic (cross country) skiing trails in its arboretum.

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Which hardly anyone uses. I also assumed the OP meant downhill, which is popular and easily accessible at Midd.

Untrue! Both the Carleton and St. Olaf teams practice there on a regular basis. Anybody can join the team from very competitive skiers to raw beginners. And there are about 40 students on the Alpine club team. Don’t you insult Buck Hill now! https://www.golfdigest.com/story/lindsey-vonns-career-began-on-a-ski-hill-so-small-you-might-not-even-see-it-off-the-highway

How do you feel about the trimester system? It’s fast paced, but it also means you will take many varied classes during your time at Carleton. You need to stay on top of the work. That’s a great motivator for some kids and not for others.

If it had been me choosing back in the day, I’d go for Carleton because I think it’s got a slight nerdier, casual and intellectual vibe. The campus is lovely and the town is nice. Having a big city nearby is useful and the airport has flights to all over.

I also think Midd is excellent. It will have a more traditional New England college feel and there will probably be a good mix of outdoorsy types, prep school kids, creative sorts, and everyone in between. It is unquestionably more isolated, though the high retention rate speaks for itself. I do think it’s going to be a bit more cliquey than Carleton.

The academics at both will be great. If you are interested in taking a wider variety of classes in your four years, I’d give the nod to Carleton.


That’s not true about the course variety. A Carleton trimester is 3 courses for a total of 9 courses per year. Midd is also 9 total courses per year. The pace at Carleton will be more intense.


I stand corrected. I was forgetting that there is a winter term, but I believe students only have to take two winter term courses.

Carleton sounds more like your social vibe but you will find your tribe at Midd.

For most students, econ at either will be more than good enough.

Carleton is a great opportunity to explore a new part of the country. Midd is likely to make it a bit easier to find a job closer to home post-grad.

You may want to look at a course catalog and map out the 4 years – including all distribution and major required as well as study abroad – and see if one comes out clearly on top.

The good news here is that you can’t make a bad decision. You are just optimizing.


Two great options, but Midd has the edge when it comes to econ. Econ is the most popular major at Middlebury, and the curriculum offerings reflect this. Midd also has a very strong alumni presence at the top banks in the East, especially when it comes to IB.

In terms of environment, Midd is 45 mins from Burlington and new daily direct train service to New York City (and Burlington) will begin in July. Carleton will get you closer to a major metro area, if that’s important to you.

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Go on the Instagram groups for the class of 2026. Which group of kids feels more like a match with you?


Sounds like you can’t go wrong but your preferences seem to be pushing you toward Middlebury.

For the study of economics in the context of your career interests, Middlebury seems to offer everything you would need to reach your goals.

My son is deciding between these two as well. We are in MA so Vermont is much more familiar territory for him. He is planning econ. Tour for accepted students at Middlebury wasn’t that comprehensive. Met around 4-5 students only, no professors. It was a Saturday morning to the campus was dead. We toured Carleton before we knew son was accepted and their non-accepted student tour was much more welcoming, met more students, saw the campus on a Friday. I don’t know if the Middlebury small tour with very little contact was COVID related. Middlebury certainly talked about COVID much more than most colleges we toured. Son is interested in econ and the IB major but not interested in a career on Wall Street. Minor would be political science.