Middlebury College Top Questions

What are the academics like at your school?


Midd has a very personal academic environment, with extremely high expectations


Professors know everyone's name, even in lectures. But this isn't so hard, since "lectures" here are usually around forty to fifty students, although some intro courses can reach 100. Class sizes are generally closer to twenty-five, and they get smaller the higher the level. Participation is common, although this is often because grades depend on it, and the comments that ensure are sometimes less than worthy. There are usually some people who talk a lot, some who talk occasionally, and some who you forget are there. Middlebury professors are by and large very intelligent people with a lot to teach. Although there are plenty of mediocre ones to avoid, few actually have the reputation of being bad, and there are many who you'll hear "You just HAVE to take a class with _____!!!!" about. Professors are usually quite friendly, and close bonds sometimes form between professors and students, but only if the student makes an effort. But many do, and there are plenty of people who have babysat for their teachers or whatever. You don't even have to be in a class with a professor to make this happen -- I've gotten on great terms with two whose classes I couldn't get into but who I went to visit during office hours anyway. Middlebury students study way too much. I mean, they study as much as they have to. Which is a ton, the workload here is really insane. The immense amount of work makes it hard to actually learn, because in order to do all the reading, you've got to skim and rush through it all. "Stressed" is everyone's default state during the week. Adding to all this is the fact that B's are common, but professors are miserly with their A-'s and especially A's. The golden GPA's we all got in high school are a thing of the past. Grades aren't a talking point though, and students are very collaborative, rather than competitive. Middlebury has an honor code that we all take very seriously (I hope), which really fosters a comfortable academic environment. Middlebury has a fair amount of distribution requirements, but they're very flexible -- you even get to pick one subject you don't have to take a class in if you don't want to, as long as you fill the other requirements. The requirements can be pesky if you worry about them, but most seem to fill them just by taking courses that seem interesting to them. The education at Middlebury is geared towards learning for its own sake -- only Econ majors seem to talk a lot about jobs. That is, until senior year when everyone starts freaking out about how useless a liberal arts education is in the job market. Can't wait! Intellectual conversations are not common, last night and this weekend are more important to many. Some people have intellectual conversations frequently, but this is an elusive group. Find them. Go to Weybridge for dinner.


Complaining about how much work one has is in vogue with some, but even though the workload can be sizable it is ALWAYS doable. Professors here are exceptional: brilliant, interested in the lives of their students, and helpful (on average). Our reputation as arguably the best school in the country for foreign languages is completely deserved. I've taken courses in Spanish and German, and plan on adding more.


The academics here at Middlebury are top notch but the workload can be crushing. I have not experienced any academic competitiveness. Most people cut their teeth in the fall and spring academically, and live for J Term (The one class term in January) because it is much more laid back. I have liked every teacher thus far and each one was enthusiastic and passionate about his/her field of study. If you are ready to work your tail off, you will do fine.


Academics are challenging but rewarding. My major (English) is well-designed and the professors are great. Class participation is common- people love to do the reading and show off what they learned or are thinking about.


Professors will (usually) know your name really soon. Classes are great, and kids very frequently continue their class discussions throughout the day, outside the classroom. Kids do a TON of work. It's relatively hard to escape. There is always some work you can be doing, catching up on, or if you even can, get ahead. Students aren't terribly competitive- mostly with themselves. Kids here strive to do well for themselves, not to beat one another at anything.


Professors are great about knowing names. My favorite class ever was Anthropological Theory, required for the major. I was dreading it, but Prof. Sheridan is amazingly personable and highly intelligent. He's great at applying theory to life, and like many of the Anthro teachers, he insists you call him Mike. Students are competitive with themselves, unless you're in the econ dept. (I sort of dated an econ guy for a while and have some econ major friends if you're wondering where I get my information) These kids are highly stressed out because they're all interning for Goldman or Lehman or someone. as for everyone else: the lack of competition is something i absolutely love about middlebury.


Students and professors can have as close of a relationship as you. Studying is quite variable...for most students, it comes in spurts. Very intense spurts. But some take it a little seriously and spend all day in the library. Intellectual conversations come up, depending on the crowd. Sometimes its a little intense. Competition is pretty rare, but then again I'm not in a very competitive major. Philosophy is good, at times. Some of it is pretty grating. But the good stuff makes it worthwhile. Middlebury's academic requirements are pretty easy to fulfill. They're not rally a problem.


Classes at Middlebury are generally a lot of work. And it often pays off. In my experience, I have found that I only have time to get really involved in a one or two of my classes per semester and I learn from my other classes, but I don't have the time to get everything I would have wanted out of them. Also, it is very important to plan your schedule carefully: don't take all reading intensive classes, don't take all Lab classes. The Professors are universally nice people and are approachable. They are at a school like Middlebury to teach and interact with you, not to do research. Also academics at Middlebury offer you freedom. If you want you can chose to be very career oriented, or you can learn for the sake of learning. It's really up to you.


I feel like all of my professors learned my name very quickly; however I do feel that advising is not has helpful as it might be- navigating majors and steps you need to take early in college is daunting for a new freshman and I wish I had more support.


They are very strenuous.


I'm frankly underwhelmed with the professors; coming from a public school I thought that it would be leaps and bounds beyond my prior education in terms of engaging material and interesting lecturers. I just did not find it to be that different. This is not to say, however, that I have not had some great classes here. Also, I have never had a problem with the accessibility of my professors. I think my expectations are too high - I thought that by now I would have found a favorite professor who inspired me greatly to write all of my recommendations.


A mix of old-school with new-school professors. At the moment because of over enrollment there just arent enough classes for everyone. Some are seriously kick ass and others are so bad you want to tear out your eyes, but the midd kid website is helpful in figuring that out. Sadly, we spend so much time with class and homework that when you get a break academics are the last thing you want to talk about and this leads to a ridiculous weekend scene. Im not gonna lie, I've learned a lot, but not as much of it sticks as I would like because I'm always focused on getting everything done on time and less focused on actually taking the info in - cause the two are hard to do at the same time.


Difficult but rewarding, although sometimes it seems like there is too much a focus on doing lots and lots of work and making achievements that the liberal arts attitude is lost.


Though I am in a privileged position as a theater major, the professors are incredible. They are affectionate and giving. I can honestly say that I've had a mentor here, which is more than I bargained for. Students work very hard and like to show that during class times. Students are competitive but are also smart enough not to show that to one another. The most unique class I've taken is 'Advanced Techniques in Costume Design,' in which our curriculum was 'Project Runway,' and I've spent some of my best times at school with my professors outside of class. The CSO is very excited about getting me a job.




My professors are all, unabashedly, wonderful and supportive.


My professors, for the most part, are all incredibly challenging, interesting individuals. I respect all of them and think that they genuinely care about what they're teaching. That being said, I usually have at least one professor per semester who just speaks like he's reading off a teleprompter and is not inspiring in the least.


Professors have freakish abilities of memory, and even in larger lecture classes, everyone makes a concerted effort to learn your name and involve you in discussion.


Almost everyone takes academics very seriously, but students aren't competitive. No one is afraid to participate in class (almost to a fault). Professors are, for the most part, extremely accessible. Lots of studying every weekday night, breaking basically only for dinner, and staying up late. Almost everyone goes out/stops working on weekend nights, but the library is always totally full on weekend days. English department was [mostly] great, had lots of "old school" professors. English major is very rigid in its requirements (I would have appreciated the opportunity to take other English electives).


Middlebury has extermely good academic programs. THe professors are all very willing to help and to get to know their students, and that's helped by the small community. The requirements assure that everyone gets a good liberal arts education while still having a lot of control over what you study. People are generally genuinely interested in what they are studying although there are those students who complain about the amount of work they have to do.


Classes are small. Usually 15-30 kids, but Intro Psych has like 50 or 60 and seminars can have less than 10. Professors are usually easy to talk to and they'll know your name if you talk in class. The amount that people study is completely personal. I went to a public IB high school and feel like I have way way less work. Other people show up from an easy high school and freak out. Work is usually a bunch of reading every night and a couple of big tests and or papers per semester. If you obsessively read everything assigned you will live in the library and get A's. If you skim the readings and pay attention in class you may do an hour a day and get B's. But it all depends on what you are good at. Middlebury students consider grades to be very private and do not compare or compete. I have no idea what kind of grades my best friends get, which is preferable, I think to the cutthroat environment of my high school or shudder..... Williams.


Great professors, interesting subjects, motivated students, not exactly leading to a job or specialty but hey its liberal arts


All of my professors know my name. My favorite class was my freshmen seminar "The Art and Life of Winslow Homer," because the class and professor bonded incredibly well. The students from that class have expanded it into a 500-level project to design and execute an art exhibit of Civil War art and imagery. Class participation is very common. Most Middlebury students have intellectual conversations outside of class. Students are not competitive with each other, but hold themselves to high standards. The Winslow Homer class was my most unique, because of what it has transformed into. I am a Geography major, and I find that every professor and student in this department has a different and fascinating way of looking at and thinking about the world. I have lunch with the Geography professors once a week, and stop by my history teacher's office all the time. Middlebury's academic requirements are reasonable and not difficult to fulfill. Education here is geared towards learning for its own sake.


The profs are mostly great. The academics are fun because of the liberty we can take with the assignments. Most professors allow free thought and bolster ideas instead of brainwashing students. Students are very competitive and that's a good (i won't say great) aspect of classes. Learning does not only occur from reading and discussion but also from the presentations we do and with the great media resources of the college and the smart classrooms there is a lot one can do. For example last j-term. i know it was a j-term course but it still counts. i was in a class which received a lot of money to buy contemporary video and photography. and we went to galleries and learned how things worked and researched contemporary artists. and by the end of it i had real world experience in photography and video art and received a history of contemporary art at the same time.


TALK TO YOUR PROFESSORS outside of class, the teachers here are amazing and they waiting for you to barge in their office and shoot the breeze. Mostly everybody here loves their classes, even though this place is small it has a department and a professor for whatever you are interest in (ie Geography). But everybody does talk about school a little but much. Be prepared to work, classes are challenging.


Middlebury is also an environment where I have never been put off or overwhelmed by a sense of animosity stemming from academic competition. Students are willing to help each other and enjoy the class room experience, enjoy being challenged critically, and expect thoughtful classroom interaction with their peers. Basic fact recitation tests that were standard procedure in High schools are almost scoffed at as students expect more from their teachers, as well. Students are also very aware of the cost of the school, which makes the student body even less lenient towards sub par teachers. I am also on a first name basis with the majority of my teachers. A situation so foreign to me that I am sometimes corrected when I revert and address a few as "professor __." I frequently attend my teacher's office hours where many, especially my current Chinese teacher, have taken hours out of their day to discuss my personal life and other matters none related to class. There is a fair amount of learning for its own sake on this campus. That learning environment is only available to the student, not imposed upon the student by stringent academic requirements. A student is free to explore as abstract an applied science as the student chooses, but one can also ground their learning in core classes.


Dont even start. I live in the library. Is it like that for everyone or just me? Students should have the option to do just independent studies, or like two classes and two independent studies. I have to say though - some of the professors are exceptional, both in and outside the classroom


Academics are great. If you put enough effort and study a lot, you learn a lot. Because of the rogorous academic calender and ridiculous deadlines, students are forced to do this. Students are very competitive and strive for the best grades, because they are future-oriented. There is a mix between learning for its own sake (classes outside your major) and preparation for a job (major, stress on internships etc.). Most professors are very eager to teach you something and to share knowledge beyond the classroom


Professors always know your name. Even if you suck. My favorite class was a Shakespeare class taught by Timothy Billings. He speeds through is interesting lectures, takes a break halfway through because he knows we need energy, and signs his emails "Cheers! Timothy." My major is theatre and it's fabulous. We call them by their first names, they'd give us an hour of their time for monologue work or anything at any time of the day or week. They come in at 11 pm to watch a directing rehearsal, they party with us, we all love each other. And it's smart theatre. I'm so glad I didn't go to a conservatory. Because the quality of productions here is better and more intellectual. Middlebury can be used to get a great job, and many econ majors go that route. But many people are just in it for learning's sake. It depends on the student.


academics are for the most part really good work can be challenging depending on how much you put into it professors know your name chinese department is excellent there are intellectual conversations outside of class


The professors at Middlebury are great. The academics are demanding but manageable.


Chinese professors know my real name and my chinese name. Class participation is not only mandatory, it is mandatory.


Best thing academically: Ability to connect with professors outside of the academic context. At least this is true for Geography and Chinese depts. I see my professors often and know about their lives outside of the classroom.


academics are strong, but sometimes professors forget that students are human beings.


Just research the department you're interested. Seriously, don't choose a college, choose a department. I love Middlebury but the music program is really weak.


The work is tough and challenging, but the classes are usually small and the teachers are accessible. They definately care about their students and want to help them grow academically and intellectually, and in turn mentally.


Wonderful. Don't have a least favorite class. Profs are often personable, accessible, brilliant. Students are in general quite bright but not competitive. We don't know each other's grades nor do we care. My major is incredible because it is extremely interdepartmental and allows me a lot of independence. (Literary major.) I was looking for a liberal arts experience, a place to cultivate my mind, and I've definitely found it. There are some kids here who will graduate and make a lot of money. That is their goal. There are others who just love to learn. Others will try and save the world. In general, the underlying motives are mixed, but pretty much everyone is passionate about their education to some degree. I also appreciate the academic requirements--they have forced me to branch out in my interests.


i feel that many of the teachers here are not very welcoming. which is not to say that they won't put in time with you should you want, but rather it seems sometimes that they are doing their jobs and that's it. in my 3 years now, there are only 3 teachers with whom i still maintain a relationship. there was a fourth, but she was not granted tenure and since had to leave. most of the work that we are given seems more intended to keep us busy rather than to help inform us of any greater context. in fact, it is dealing with the greater context that middlebury seems weakest. many of the classes cram information in and then have you regurgitate it on papers and tests. there's very little self-reflection on the material until you get to higher courses (seminars or 300-level discussions). it feels at times like a very expensive high school.


The professors here are truly amazing! The work load is pretty rigorous. People work really hard here, but always manage to get their work finished and still have lots of fun on the weekends. I would like to think that all my conversations are intellectual outside the classroom. All of my friends are intelligent and we all feed off of each other. I like that.


Though I am an English and Theater major (which I think necessitates a closer relationship between student and teacher), I think the academics here are top-notch. Most teachers are very passionate about what they do and that passion is infectious. J-term is wonderful. The requirements are loose enough that one never feels stuck taking a class. Conversations outside of class are the best part of a Middlebury education.


Professors at Middlebury are incredible. I have had only one sub-par professor and I beleive she has been denied tenure. I really feel as though I have a say in whether or not to keep teachers, seeing that every student fills out a course evaluation at the end of each course. Classes are generally small, my largest is about 50 students, smallest is 6. Professors are available, and for the most part approachable. Lots of academic help is around for those in need. Labs for sciences are cool, especially the ones outdoors.


I had several professors who I loved. Who changed the way I thought about teachers-- into real people who could impact my educational and daily life. Who cared about me and my thoughts and passions and dreams. I loved how many smart, creative and excited people there were at Middlebury. Alternately, you hate it, though, it's awful. It becomes annoying or makes you feel small or puts on too much pressure. The theatre department is a special case in terms of Middlebury academics because everyone is so close. Your peers are your family. Your professors are your friends and mentors and life advisors. You can have a 3 hour coffee session with them, and it isn't strange. You pick their brain, they push yours. They remain important after graduation and you rely upon the fact that they had good taste and knowledge. And hope that some of it rubbed off and you will find success in the form of happiness and employment.


Academics here can be great, and can be the most stressful experience of your life. Class sizes are generally small, and you'll find yourself in a lot of discussion classes, which are great if that's the kind of learning you're looking for. The only problem is that although we have a lot of free time during the day, it is filled with work and during midterms and finals weeks, the stress level here reaches a ridiculous level, but again, each major is different, and each class load differs every semester.


I think the classes are excellent, especially the language courses which are often of a very small size. Students are not usually competitive and most likely collaborative. The requirements are understandable except for perhaps the Area studies part, which seems very poorly put together, although well-meaning. The education is definitely geared towards a liberal arts education as opposed to a "practical" one.


The best part of academics at Middlebury: The professors know you. The classes are small, individual attention is huge, and you can really get to know your professors if you put yourself out there. There are not a lot of core rerquirements at Middlebury and students often have a lot of freedom in choosing classes and--barring a double major or 300 minors--taking a number of classes outside of their major as well. Students work hard but aren't particularly competitive, but this might depend on the major. As an English major, I find the faculty to be phenomenal. There is a wide array of classes and a close connection with the Bread Loaf faculty allows for a lot of creative writing opportunities. The strongest departments here are the interdisciplinary ones: International Studies, American Studies, Geography, Environmental Science and--of course--English and American Literatures.


all my professors i have had in my major department know me by name. my favorite class was taught by my advisor, and my least favorite class was in a department unrelated to my studies. class participation is very common, and middlebury students have many intellectual conversations outside of class. students are very competitive, but try very hard not to show it. the most unique class i've taken was a class where we explored new media technology and actually created projects using it. education at middlebury i feel focuses on learning for its own sake, but provides more than enough opportunities to prepare for getting a job post-undergrad.


Classes are generally small to tiny. Profs. are uber accessible. Most people spend all of their waking hours working. Everyone complains but we all in the same boat.


Academics are important at Middlebury, but I don't think any more so than any school of its caliber. People work hard and play hard, and of course you can find people who only do one or the other.


Academics at Midd are HARD. That is until you learn how to get by without working yourself into the ground. i know some people who work tirelessly, seven days a week, twenty three and a half hours a day. i know others who do not even by the books for the class. But by and large, the college demands a lot from you. However, the largest lecture you will find yourself in is forty people, which is broken down to about ten for the discussion session. Most classes are considerably smaller, including any seminars which are rarely over seven people. Professors are readily available, and by and large are invested in the classes they are teaching.