UVM vs Skidmore vs Denison

I am having a lot of trouble deciding where to commit and I only have a few days left!

A bit about me:
From the Northeast/New England
I really like the outdoors
possibly interested in env sci or global health but not really sure
needs accommodations for extra time and would probably benefit from smaller classes

All 3 schools are around the same amount of money all things considered and cost isn’t a huge factor but is still something to consider.
Skidmore is the most expensive due to the lack of merit scholarships – could negatively affect the vibe of the student body.
UVM is the cheapest but not by much.
Would have to start in the spring at UVM - not necessarily a bad thing.
I was able to go to the revisit day at both Skidmore and Denison and was much more impressed by Denison’s however I do worry about the town/area feeling too small and feeling like there aren’t enough outdoor spaces to explore/hike.
Denison is the farthest away and would need to take a plane or drive 12ish hours.
Not super into the idea of Greek life offered at Denison.
Worry about feeling lost at a big school like UVM especially academically although I love Burlington and all there is to do there and think I could find many people like me.
A bit worried about all the substances on-campus/parties.
I have heard there’s a real artsy and athlete divide at Skidmore and as someone who is more of a floater who doesn’t identify solely with either group, I am concerned I would feel like an outcast. Saratoga is a super nice college town with lots to do, many areas to hike, and places to eat which is nice.

All in all, it seems Skidmore/UVM are a better match although I am having a hard time getting rid of Denison since it was a pretty campus/town with an impressive revisit day and great career counseling which my parents are impressed by. Parent is Skidmore alum and loved it there (although that was many years ago) but was more impressed by Denison. I also think that I could find people like me anywhere and be successful which makes the decision harder!

Visit days are marketing. Sure, it may show the school is a well oiled machine - but if Dennison isn’t right for you, it isn’t right.

How much does money matter? if not, that’s your answer.

are you ok starting in spring? you will be behind the curve meeting people, etc.

also think that I could find people like me anywhere and be successful

That previous line is correct - believe it or not, there’s likely not one right school for anyone. There are probably multiple right schools.

So pick one, love it, go with it and don’t look back.

You’ve narrowed from however many to three - so all three will probably work for you.

To me, it sounds like Skidmore…UVM but i’m not a fan of spring starts personally.

Good luck


I think the first thing you really need to decide is if want a small LAC or a larger school experience. If you decide larger than it’s easy UVM. If a LAC appeals to you than you have to evaluate the differences between Denison and Skidmore. My daughter gravitated to Denison because in addition to all the positives of LAC experience in a prototype college town, Columbus (14th largest city) being 30-minutes away gave her access to culture and dining. This may or may not be important for you. Finally given that Denison’s Greek life is non residential, not pledging hasn’t negatively impacted my daughters social life at all. You can have a great 4 years at any of these schools. Agree with advice make a decision and don’t look back.

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If this is on your radar as a concern, I think you may find it to be true. I know current students who find the entitled vibe at Skidmore too much for them and they are transferring. Whether it’s something that you can handle and still find your people (who are certainly there) I don’t know. I don’t think you have a bad choice here and your success at any of these schools will depend on how much dive in. Personally I think Burlington is an ideal college town. A spring start has pros and cons. Does UVM do anything to help acclimate and orient spring starting 1st years?


We recently went to an Admitted Students day at Denison and were very impressed. As far as hiking, there is a 360-acre biological reserve as part of the campus where you can hike and some students live on The Homestead there. It looks like there’s a lot of opportunities for outdoor recreation nearby including the T.J. Evans bikeway trail, a nearby lake where the the rowing club rows, etc. Most colleges have an outdoors club with hiking trips, etc. and I’m sure Denison does too. One thing about Denison is they really make admitted students feel wanted. If you have any questions, contact admissions and ask if you can speak to a student. I’m sure they would be happy to have you do that.

As for Greek life, it’s non-residential and the old frat houses were converted to student housing where anyone can live, so I don’t think there is an overwhelming presence. Good luck with your choice.


Extremely minor point that may or may not still be true: I thought Skidmore did offer merit scholarships. My son got one in 2018, although he decided to go elsewhere.

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As best I recall – Skidmore does limited music and STEM merit awards which are $15k year.

For someone who “floats” among groups, Denison can work really well because students are involved across all sorts of activities and don’t usually fit into any single category. The campus culture is about “engaging with difference” and kids really do not get “siloed” into single groups – my athlete was also in studio art and entrepreneurship and not in greek life. His circle of friends was largely non-athletes, non-greek life, with acapella kids doing student govt, social activists doing dance etc.

My kid also appreciated the broader range of socio-economic diversity at Denison – while a lot of private schools have a high percentage of full pay and then low income students, without many “doughnut hole” families from the middle class, Denison’s merit awards pulls in those middle class kids.

Congrats on 3 wonderful choices!


I’ve never heard anything negative about Greek life at Denison; I don’t think it should be a deterrent. 70% of students are non-Greek, and the Greek scene is non-residential as already noted. The Global Health major sounds like potentially a good fit for you; and the school has a notable commitment to diversity - both racial/ethnic and economic - for a private LAC.

There will be substances/parties at all three schools, and there will be people who don’t partake at all three schools.

The economic differences are real. These profiles are a good tool for comparing. The median family income at Denison is about halfway between UVM’s and Skidmore’s, but Denison has a higher percentage of low-income students (bottom 20%) than either of the other two.

If it weren’t for the geographic/environmental factors, I would give Denison the edge as the school that seems to hit the sweet spot for you. I think it’s true, though, that both Burlington and Saratoga are more appealing than Granville, OH… although that’s not because Granville isn’t nice - Saratoga and Burlington are just exceptionally attractive college towns with lots of great nature nearby. Granville may have enough to offer to stay in the running, though; and Columbus, as a nearby city, has a lot of nice resources too.

The support services at Denison seem to be making a real effort to support students with different kinds of challenges. I don’t know what your particular issue, for which you need accommodations, may be, but this seems like good proof of concept even if ADHD isn’t an issue for you: The Potential Awesomeness of ADHD | Wellness Center

I don’t think you can go wrong with any of these schools, honestly. Congrats on having great options!


You’re getting good info here, although there is not a consensus! My input is that sometimes incoming freshmen overestimate how much time they will spend on off-campus/surrounding area activities. I think that the large majority of students spend most of their time, including weekends, on campus. All schools will have campus clubs and activities that can get you to the outdoors, FYI. Maybe check out what Denison’s outdoor club is doing, if you can find it online or social media. If hiking is super important to you and you think you will be doing it most weekends, then yes, factor that in. But once you are in school you might not be spending as much time on outings as you might think. And, I live in Columbus…it is true that Granville is small, and even with nearby Columbus there is not the outdoor beauty and features of Burlington or Saratoga. Will you have a car?
Also, a spring start seems to have disadvantages socially, although no one in my family has experienced it. And I also think that smaller schools/smaller class sizes can have definite advantages that you do seem to be leaning towards.

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The economic diversity and outcomes report is always interesting for different colleges, but the data are from 2013 and things may have improved a bit since then for some of these schools making deliberate attempts to improve diversity and equity.

We looked at Denison because the economy is growing in Ohio. Wanted to be 90 minutes from potential recruiters. Columbus was impressive city.


I don’t think UVM is as much of a party school as people think. Burlington is a great town, and the school is a nice size- not too big, not too small. Jan start is kind of a bummer, but I think there is a pretty good size group that comes in. Could be a good chance to do something cool in the fall. Agree all of these schools are good options!


Which school did you choose? Hope wherever you landed (or will land in spring), your college career is off to a great start!

I agree that kids overestimate how much time they will have for off-campus activities, but UVM is an exception, IMO, because outdoor activities and Burlington’s city-perks are so close by and accessible.
if the money is the same, I think you might get more personal attention and career counseling and better facilties at the private schools. Not always true, but maybe?

I will say that when we visited UVM a few years ago with our older daughter, we all loved it and it was definitely staying on her list as her top safety due to that mix of city and outdoors.
Skidmore has some of that but it’s more college towny and it’s not the same degree of nature so close by. Our daughter did not like it and didn’t even get out of the car but she knew she did not want a LAC or small school.

UVM is not too big. It’s not like some other massive publics. We have met many kids who went there and loved it, but it is self-selecting for a certain type, I guess.

I don’t know anything about Denison.
As far as athlete-artsy divide, I think that’s a potential issue at almost any small LAC.


So which one did you choose?