Is the University of Vermont the School for You?

Go Catamounts!

Whether you have just finished submitting your college applications or are just now beginning to think about your life beyond high school, the thought of deciding where to go after graduation can always seem daunting. While I cannot relieve some of the pressure that comes with the infamous college search, I hope to be of some assistance with narrowing down the options. Personally, I find that one of the best ways to determine if a school is a good fit is to physically visit the campus and get a true feel for it yourself. However, I know that sometimes it is not exactly plausible to visit each and every one of the colleges on your list, especially if they are outside of South Carolina’s borders. 

Over the past few years, many colleges have expanded their campus tours and interest meetings to be online, permitting a greater number of students and parents to have access to valuable information for their college searches. While I do find these to be extremely beneficial and a step in the right direction toward making the school search more accessible, I think that it is more advantageous to get opinions on a school from people who are not affiliated with it. The whole point of college tours and Q&As with admissions officers is to increase interest from prospective families, so of course they will try to paint the school in the best possible light. On the other hand, garnering information from other students who have experienced the school for themselves may give you a more authentic picture of the campus life there.

That being said, it is always best to take everything you hear and read about a school with a grain of salt. Everyone has different opinions and interests, so what may be a green flag for them may be a turn off for you, so please keep that in mind even when reading articles such as this!

UVM Campus (The University of Vermont)

UVM Quick Facts

When exploring your options for college, some of the most important and basic factors of the school can quickly establish whether or not the school is for you. According to College Board’s BigFuture, here is an overview of the University of Vermont (UVM):

  • Type of School: Public, 4-year
  • Location: Burlington, VT
  • Acceptance Rate: 67%
  • SAT Range: 1180-1360
  • ACT Composite Range: 26-31
  • Graduation Rate: 77%
  • Rate of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 54%
  • Average Net Price for Tuition (after financial aid): $19,185 per year
  • (Estimated) Amount of Undergraduate Students: 11,100
  • POC Population: 18%


Location and Climate

Lake Champlain (Hallie Cole)

UVM is located in the quaint, little town of Burlington, Vermont; a town known for its highly concentrated liberal population and its contribution of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, Burlington has a lot to offer no matter your interests. I had previously visited Vermont back in August of 2021, and although I did not tour the school then, I got a feel for the area itself. 

Vermont in general is very big on healthy living and “farm-to-table” cuisine; many of the stores and restaurants are local to the area, and it is not uncommon to see large amounts of people taking advantage of the town’s greenspaces. For instance, Burlington rests on the edge of Lake Champlain, and here is where many bike/walk along the four mile long trail, paddleboard, and practice yoga.

Tubing hard obviously (Hallie Cole)

Surrounding the Burlington area, there are numerous hiking trails and mountains to explore Vermont’s wildlife, such as Stowe Mountain and Red Rocks Park, which makes the college town an ideal place to live for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.

During my latest visit, though, it was not what most would consider “walk-in-the-park-weather,” for it was about 20°F – 30°F for a majority of the time I was there, resulting in random snow squalls and icy roads for the weekend. However, the freezing weather did not deter me nor others from enjoying all of the natural recreations Vermont has to offer. Even for those who cannot/have never skied or snowboarded before, there are still plenty of active, outdoor activities available, such as snow tubing. I honestly did not expect it to be as enjoyable as it was, but snow tubing is not just a leisure activity for families and young kids, especially if you visit mountains with long, windy tubing routes. I ended up testing out Sharp Park’s tubing tracks, which was a seemingly popular destination for Vermonters and visitors the weekend I went.

Ferry ride over Lake Champlain to New York (Hallie Cole)

Furthermore, winter activities in Vermont are not solely limited to sports; another great option for exploring the area and seeing the sights is to take a ferry. While there, we decided to take a short, 20 minute ride over to New York via the ferry because some of our local Vermont friends told us that during the winter, Lake Champlain freezes over, and when on the ferry, one can hear the ice underneath being cut through by the boat, resulting in a pretty sick view of the lake. Whether it be hitting the slopes, checking out all of the local businesses and restaurants, or driving around in hopes of spotting a moose, there is always plenty to do in Burlington.


UVM Colleges

UVM is home to 12 different schools within the university, classifying them by the different majors/minors accepted and whether they pertain to undergraduates or graduates. The schools are as follows: Agriculture and Life Sciences, Arts and Sciences, Grossman School of Business, Education and Social Services, Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, Nursing and Health Sciences, Honors College, Graduate, Larner School of Medicine, Professional and Continuing Education, and Extension.

Snow-trudger (Hallie Cole)

I originally applied to the Grossman School of Business with the intended focus on Marketing, and I attended the Admitted Students’ Day to tour that school in particular. And while I find that the Grossman School of Business’s buildings and classes are very well organized and seemingly challenging, I discovered that it was actually not the school for me. After talking to a current junior at UVM, I discovered the UVM major of Public Communications (PComm) which is within the School of Agriculture and Life Sciences. For me personally, switching over to PComm from Business Administration was the perfect change because I could still pursue and learn about Marketing, but I no longer would be required to attend classes that I was not necessarily going to need for my intended career, such as Economics and Accounting. I think this just goes to show that if given the chance to see for yourself what your major’s classes would be like and the opportunity to talk to people with similar career goals, you can discover that there are different approaches to the same goal, and not everyone’s path will be as straightforward as you think.

To find out more about UVM’s schools and majors, click here.

UVM Housing

Although other schools may do this as well, I think one of the most interesting aspects of UVM is the way their housing is set up; all incoming freshmen and sophomores who choose to live on campus are given the option to choose a Learning Community, which “are built around a common theme, faculty engagement, and easily accessible events and activities coordinated by a dedicated program staff,” according to UVM’s website. Basically, where you live for your first two years on campus will be decided by your own interests and hobbies.

For example, if I attend UVM, I would love to join the Cultural Crossroads Learning Community because their common interest is all about discovering and embracing different cultures. The Learning Community coordinates events, such as Lunar New Year celebrations, guest speakers, authentic African storytelling, and field trips for all those involved so that everyone can not only bond with people with similar interests, but so that everyone can also gain new insights that actually intrigue them.

UVM’s other Learning Communities are:

  • Arts and Creativity “allows you to cultivate your creativity and celebrate the arts while connecting with faculty, staff, and artists within UVM and the wider Burlington community”
  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship “where you can (in the birthplace of Burton and Ben & Jerry’s) develop the next big idea that could solve a global problem, launch a business, or design the future”
  • Leadership and Social Change “gives students the opportunity to learn to take a lead on issues that matter. Connect with Burlington community partners to find your passions, and enhance your strengths and talents. Learn to lead from anywhere, not just the top. Be a change-maker in a community that cares!”
  • Outdoor Experience “fosters a space for continual development of self, teamwork, and leadership. Residents who seek to become better students and an active part of their community—all while exploring the outdoors—will find a home here”
  • Sustainability “a place where students can celebrate a connection to the natural world and seek to deepen and celebrate their sense of place—the built environments that we inhabit, and the natural landscape that surrounds us”
  • Wellness Environment (WE) “students are committed to building a healthy brain through fitness, nutrition, mindfulness, and relationships. WE students study neuroscience and receive resources and incentives to live a healthy lifestyle (e.g., Peloton bikes, in-house fitness centers, yoga classes, etc). All WE students are required to sign the WE Code, where they promise to keep drugs, alcohol, and their influence out of the Environment”
  • The Honors College “provides a multi-disciplinary academic challenge that complements and enriches the entire undergraduate experience. Students invited to the Honors College are also invited to live in University Heights North”
  • Liberal Arts Scholar Program (LASP) “options for first-year students in the College of Arts and Sciences, students in these full-year programs dive deep into big questions through 4-6 connected courses or join a community to support their work in first-year science courses. Admission is by application”

The residence halls set-ups vary depending on what part of campus you are staying on, so some of the dorms are suite-style, some are triples, some are doubles, and some are singles; your rooming options just depend on what dorm building you are staying in. Some things to note while I was there was that, at least in the dorms that I got to see, they did not have air conditioning, but I am not exactly certain if that is true for all residence halls and dorms. While staying on campus, though, there is a plus side that all laundry is free, meaning that you do not need to pay at all to use the washing machines and dryers, which I think is pretty nifty!

I think it is also pretty important to note that after one’s sophomore year at UVM, one will likely have to find housing off-campus because UVM does not prioritize juniors, seniors, and graduate students for on-campus housing. That is to say, it is not impossible to get on-campus housing as a junior, but the freshmen and sophomores have first pick, and there is only really enough on-campus housing for about half of all undergraduates.

To find out more about UVM housing and residence life, click here.

Miscellaneous Things to Mention

CW: SA in the next two paragraphs and next image

CW: SA MENTIONED UVM protesters’ flyer (Hallie Cole)

Per Vermont fashion, there was a student-led protest happening during the Admitted Students’ Day, advocating for the disciplining of the UVM men’s basketball team for their several sexual assault accussations. The students held a rally outside the Dudley H. Davis Center, the main student activity/resource building of the main campus, and then proceeded to walk through the building chanting and displaying their signs. Some of the students even walked into the Admitted Students’ Day Information Fair with their signs and passed out flyers to spread the word.

I ended up talking to one of the students to find out more about why they were protesting, and what they hoped to come out of it. The students were extremely nice and well-spoken, explaining that the official Instagram of UVM had published a post the night prior that essentially dismissed a lot of UVM students’ concerns over sexual abusers on the UVM men’s basketball team, and ignored their pleas for change while simultaneously congratulating the basketball team on their most recent win.

One of the UVM tour guides even mentioned that there would be a protest during our Admitted Students’ Day, clarifying that the school is in no opposition to the students’ right to free speech and that the school is in full support of non-violent, student-led protests and activities. In fact, as the protesters were marching through the Davis Center, many of the visiting families and nearby students stopped to watch and applaud, demonstrating the type of liberal atmosphere that the UVM campus has.

On a different note, one other thing I wanted to mention was UVM’s extensive student resources for generating independence and community involvement. For example, similar to other colleges, UVM has its own student-led radio (90.1 WRUV FM), which plays over the speakers in some of the rooms and hallways of the Davis Center. There is also The Vermont Cynic, an independent news source that covers news both within and beyond the campus, allowing prospective journalists to get a taste of the publishing life.

UVM campus building (Hallie Cole)

UVM also has a student-led club called the Vermont Students Toward Environmental Protection club, “which gives students the opportunity to sell their art at its sustainable pop-up thrift store in the Davis Center,” according to Caroline Hess, a writer for The Vermont Cynic. As aforementioned, Vermont is very big on sustainability and local goods and services, so by providing students the opportunity to reach an audience for their businesses, UVM is allowing them to possibly get a head-start on any future business ventures and hobbies while still providing other students the opportunity to buy locally and ethically.

Closing Statements

Overall, I found UVM to be an exceptional school, but that being said, it is not for everyone. It is a relatively smaller school, and it is very left-leaning/fairly open when it comes to politics, so that may not be a pro for some people. However, I do think that the area of Burlington, Vermont in of itself is very beautiful and worth the trip to see if given the opportunity! I highly recommend visiting the school if you are interested even in the slightest, and do not hesitate to ask me any questions about it. I am not an expert obviously, but I can connect you to current UVM students who will definitely know more than me!