Gorgeous and serene were the words that came to mind as we approached the Middlebury College campus on a very cold, snowy day in February. The Adirondacks and Green Mountains bookend the landscape and gray granite buildings dot the sprawling 350-acre campus.
This highly selective, small liberal arts college is located halfway between Burlington and Rutland Vermont in the Champlain Valley and is home to 2,400 undergraduate students. Students hail from all 50 states and 45 countries. Ten-percent of the student body are international students (not US or Canadian citizens).
Two articulate seniors led the information session. They told us that all students are required to fulfill seven of the eight distribution requirements. Middlebury (Midd) is internationally known for its outstanding foreign language department. Ten languages are taught on campus and each language is linked to a study abroad program. Students must be proficient in the native language before studying abroad and must enroll in the same language during their study abroad experience. Sixty-percent of Midd students study abroad. The physical and social sciences are strong here as well. With its Vermont location, it is no surprise that environmental studies is a popular major here. The state-of-the-art science building is impressive and research opportunities are plentiful.
Middlebury has a 4-1-4 semester system: two traditional semesters with a full course load and one concentrated four week “J” term, when students take one course. “J” Term is during the month of January. Students are encouraged to explore a discipline outside their area of study. Some “J” term experiences include: a musical theater production and an adventure writing and digital story telling class. Students are required to spend two “J” terms on campus.
What makes Middlebury standout from some other small liberal arts colleges is its Commons System. Freshmen are assigned one of the five residential neighborhoods and are required to live there for two years. Each residential community has its own First Year Counselor to help with the students’ transition to college and a Commons Resident Advisor, (a recent Middlebury grad who serves as a liaison between students and administration), and a dean.
Middlebury students are very active outside the classroom. Midd competes in Division III athletics. My husband and I spent much of the weekend inside Midd’s athletic center watching our son and his teammate (from a rival college) compete in the New England Small Athletic Conference Association (NESCAC) Swimming and Diving Championships. The gorgeous, large athletic complex houses facilities that are usually found at large, private universities. During our stay there was a lacrosse scrimmage being played on the outdoor turf field—in single digit temperatures! If you are a skier or snow boarder, you’ll be happy to know that Midd has its own ski area, Snow Bowl, which is located just 14 miles from campus. There is an on-campus art museum and a beautiful, new performing arts building.
I met with Assistant Director of Admissions, Karen Bartlett, after our tour. I asked her to describe the Middlebury student. Although she told me that there is no typical Midd student, she said that most students are easy-going, collaborative, passionate, deeply involved, concerned about the environment and are not seeking a Greek system. The students we met were very preppy, articulate and confident.
The town of Middlebury is quintessential Vermont and is an easy walk from campus. Coffee shops, eateries, a bookstore, boutiques and country inns line the streets of this quaint town. Students can access public transportation in Burlington, which is approximately 30 miles away.
Febmester: Each year 80 first year students are admitted to begin their Middlebury experience in February. Middlebury believes that this is a great opportunity for students to explore their passions before beginning their Middlebury experience.
Admissions and Financial Aid
Midd is test flexible, and admissions requires students to submit either the ACT, SAT or three SAT Subject Tests for review. Although there are no on-campus admissions interviews, many students take advantage of alumni interviews either in-person or through SKYPE. Middlebury is need-blind and meets 100-percent of the financial need for qualified U.S. and Canadian citizens.
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