Middlebury vs. Notre Dame for Biology Major

Middlebury and University of Notre Dame are my top two choices right now, and I am having a hard time deciding between the two of them. My dream job is a veterinarian and probably am going to major in biology. My financial packages haven’t arrived yet but when I tried the net price calculators they give me almost the same amount in grants and loans with Notre Dame only a couple thousand more expensive, so money is not really an issue. I know that since one is a private university and another is a liberal arts they would have very different atmospheres, but am not sure how each school is in their biology departments.
School: I have always been attracted by the small population size provided by liberal arts colleges with easy communication with professors, and Notre Dame was one of the few private universities I applied to. But Notre Dame isn’t too large either compared to others, so I think it is okay. Mainly I am looking for a school which will better support me on my path to grad school.
Location: I heard that Middlebury is very isolated and people have a hard time getting anywhere without a car (although there are buses). Notre Dame is in a suburban area so more options to travel around the area.
Socializing: I’m not really a drinker and not a huge party-goer either, but that might change when I go to college, not sure. But since Middlebury is so isolated I heard that the drinking scene there is pretty intense, which doesn’t really bother me too much but I’ll keep it at the back of my mind. Since Notre Dame is a Catholic school drinking is less intense than other schools, but still present.
Overall I’m slightly leaning towards Middlebury even though its location puts me off a bit, but I know academically it is a wonderful school and that is what is important (not saying Notre Dame is bad, I know it is fantastic, too). Any advice is greatly appreciated, thank you very much!
PS. Everything I have written are based on facts I have read from either CC or other forums, so please feel free to correct me if I am wrong. I live outside the US so sadly visiting is not an option :frowning:

I can’t speak to the Bio programs, but would suggest you should not discount the party scene at ND because it is Catholic. Both schools will have substantial party scenes and will have plenty of non-partiers as well. ND is known for a work hard play hard mentality but there will be plenty of options for students not interested in that.

Okay! I will keep that in mind thank you.

Based on your comments, ND seems like a better choice.

ND attracts a different type of student, one where big time school spirit is important and where they rejoice in nationwide attention.

ND will give you more social options. The elite LAC crowd is much more narrow than the kids you will find at ND.


Whoops! I guess in my overview I made it seem like the social scene was the main factor for me.
Actually, I am more interested in how both schools will help me academically toward my career path and my dream job as a veterinarian, and whether there are any pros or cons in that aspect.
But I will keep your advice in mind, thank you!

Both schools can definitely get you where you want to go, so I’d pick the school that is the better fit.

Both will be excellent. ND though has a very large of kids in pre-health tracks, disproportionately so. Pre-health is one of the largest tracks at ND.

Pick which you will like more, however.

See which of the two have pre-vet clubs or the best assistance with pre-vet ECs. Since most vet schools are big state schools, ND might have good relationships with the Big Ten schools.

To address some of your other questions, ND is very big on promoting undergrad research and has built an undergrad science building, so it might be worth comparing the research options available at both schools. In terms of location, ND is in South Bend, a smaller city, and is about 90 minute drive from Chicago or a 2 1/2 hour train ride. It is easy to get to and from the Chicago airports with regular bus shuttles that run from O’Hare and Midway to campus. Both schools will have serious winter weather!

Both are excellent, but Midd is especially strong in foreign languages, literature and international relations, whereas ND is strong in sciences (among others).

Middlebury has a science building, too.

@tk21769 I was referring to the fact that, although there is Ph.D. program in bio at ND, ND recently built a stand-alone building dedicated to undergrad science teaching and research. It might seem kind of nuts to build a separate undergrad building, but the point was to create dedicated space for undergrads, whichI would guess is not as common among mid-sized universities with graduate programs.

I have no doubt that every LAC has a science building as does every research university. . . .

I would venture a guess that Middlebury’s Science building is as big, if not bigger than, the new ND undergrad science building. This might present even more opportunities for research.

@urbanslaughter was #12 serious? My point is that, ND as a mid-sized university, might be considered more difficult environment for undergrads to get research opportunities, especially when compared to a LAC. However, creating opportunities for ND undergrads has been a big push for a number of years, with the new – some thought foolish – construction for undergrads only. The point simply being that, the OP should look at the specific opportunities at the two schools and not just assume they will be better at the LAC because there are only undergrads there.

My daughter LOVED ND! Go to the school where you feel you best fit in.

Yes @Midwestmomofboys it was in fact serious. I wasn’t trying to say anything bad about ND. I was just pointing out the ridiculous quality of the new science facilities at Middlebury. Honestly, I was too lazy to even check. I think most people will assume that the research university has more research opportunities. I was trying to illustrate how that might not be the case. I think we were both deferring to the other as being presumed superior.

Sorry, @urbanslaughter! Sounds like we were suggesting the OP look beneath the surface of broad categories, and research the specifics!

I think Midwestmom was talking about Jordan Hall at ND. It was completed at a cost of $70 million. It is the largest academic building at ND for undergrads. It has net sqf of 200,000 and 40 labs.

Naturally, since Middlebury is a smaller school the science building was not nearly as expensive or large, just reflecting the difference in the school size.

I think we can all agree that the OP has two excellent schools both of which will both be very good in the sciences. I suggest that the OP focus on other issues to determine which school would be the better fit. For example: religious affiliation v secular; LAC v mid-size university; big time sports v NESCAC; east coast v midwest; changing dorms each year v hall system etc.

And if the OP hasn’t done it already I suggest trying to see if you can read some college guide books (ex. Fiske, Princeton Review, Insiders Guide) and see if you can find the two school’s newspapers online to try and get a better sense of both schools. You might also look into the number/percent of internationals at both schools and research what type of supports are available.

@OnTheBubble you make a good point. The Middlebury science building is only 190,000 square feet at a cost of only $47.3 million . . . in 2001. Notre Dame has 8,500 undergraduates. Middlebury has 2,400.