Vermont College Road Trip: University of Vermont

At nearly 10,200 full-time undergraduates, the University of Vermont is “a happy medium” in terms of its size and scope, says Julia Campanella, a 2018 grad from Manchester, Vermont, who majored in business administration with a minor in studio art.

UVM has many of the same academic options and research opportunities available at large research universities, yet with class sizes averaging 33 students, it fosters close student-teacher connections and a small-town feel. “You have a chance to find your niche, whatever that may be,” Campanella says.

Unlike at many large state schools, the student-faculty ratio is 16:1, and 98 percent of classes are taught by faculty rather than teaching assistants from among the university’s 1,500 grad students.

[See: 2019 Best Undergraduate Teaching Programs.]

“Students sense the enthusiasm from professors who are engaged with their work” as both teachers and scholars, says Kathy Fox, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and a sociology professor. Fox has taught a justice studies class to UVM undergrads and women from the nearby Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility based on her research on reintegrating prisoners into society.

Teaching extends beyond the classroom in a number of ways. Students can participate in hands-on learning experiences on the peak of nearby Mount Mansfield or UVM’s aquatic research vessel Melosira.

Undergrads might take a class on the opioid epidemic taught by medical school faculty, and an intensive Wall Street seminar concludes with a trip to New York City to give a presentation to executives at Morgan Stanley. The way that UVM allows students to pursue “a malleable education” attracted JD Kelly, a 2018 grad in economics and finance from Westfield, New Jersey, who participated in the Wall Street seminar and got a postgrad job at a commercial real estate firm in New York.

[Read: College Programs Offer a Path to Professional Degrees.]

In general, students can’t say enough good things about the school’s location in Burlington — although it requires enduring some cold winters. The city of about 42,000 is located on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain, roughly 50 miles from the Canadian border.

There are a range of options for enjoying live music, eating out and shopping along the pedestrian-only Church Street Marketplace, as well as a bike path along the lake. Ice cream fans can take note that Ben & Jerry’s was founded in Burlington, and its headquarters is nearby.

Contrary to popular belief, “you don’t have to ski to come here,” says Rosie Steinberg, a 2018 math and economics grad from Natick, Massachusetts. But winter sports enthusiasts have easy access to several popular mountains. Students in the Ski & Snowboard Club get discounted passes and free transportation to the peaks, and the Outing Club takes frequent trips open to all.

[Read: Discover 3 College Programs That Help Students Thrive.]

All told, students can participate in 200-plus clubs, and many enjoy watching the Division I Catamounts sports teams compete. Rugby, crew, football and more are offered at the club level, and intramurals include some quirky options like canoe battleship and broomball, a twist on ice hockey.

Less than 10 percent of students join a fraternity or sorority.

Undergraduates must live on campus for two years, and nearly all student housing is grouped by common interest. The themes include Sustainability, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and the Wellness Environment, an initiative that has gained national recognition for encouraging healthy behavior.

More From the Vermont College Road Trip:

Middlebury College

Bennington College

St. Michael’s College

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