The following reviews are the views of students or alumni at this school and are unrelated to the school data and other editorial content on usnews.com. These reviews neither reflect nor impact a school's position within the Best Colleges rankings.
Middlebury has a pretty stable relationship with the town of Middlebury, Vermont. No one gets stabbed like at Bates, no one gets mugged like at Trinity, and you can leave your house open and the keys in your ignition when you go to the liquor store. The community is really important downtown, and there is significant collaboration with the college in some respects. The college is the major employer in Middlebury, so people are a little uncomfortably dependent on it. It drives rents up all over town, and certainly has a very influential say in town politics. That being said, the college has done more for the town than the town has ever done for anyone. The small slices of culture in midwestern Vermont are directly solicited by Middlebury College. The college brings music, guest speakers, readers, orchestras, sports events, artists-in-residence, racial and geographical diversity to the town, and nearly all its facilities, events, and resources are open to the public - though privileges are naturally reserved for students. Adversely, the community provides some pretty awesome resources too, that the college could never do on its own. Vermont has a highly-honored tradition of living well, and keeping its priorities in the right place - since no one lives in Vermont to make it big. This manifests itself in several incredible things you won't find anywhere else. First: the Otter Creek Brewery. You can ride your bike or drive here, and drink free samples of micro-brewed beer and eat delicious gourmet whole-seed mustard and pretzels while you decide what beer to buy. Otter Creek has the most incredible deals I've ever seen. You can get a growler, a 64-oz glass jug of beer, for $4. That's almost four pints of excellent micro-brew for $4. (There's a $2 deposit on the growler itself.) Then they have specials on their seasonal beers when the seasons are changing, which is all the time. Last time I was there, I bought a case (24 bottles) of their delicious Oktoberfest for $11. Can you beat that? Then there is the Meat Shack. Follow a dirt road off of Weybridge St one mile out of town until you come to the unmarked farm that has animals on its mailbox. It's not easy to find, and most college students don't know about it. You go down the driveway and feel like you're trespassing until you enter a small red house, the size of a bathroom. Three walls are refrigerators and freezers, filled with freshly-cut vacuum-sealed farm raised meat. Their bacon is un***ingbelievable. They've got four kinds of sausage, pork-chops, sheep-sticks, hamburgers, Canadian bacon, etc, and you pay the same as you would in the supermarket, for hormone and antibiotic infused crap that will make you *** liquid. And the best part is, the whole thing operates on The Honor System, which, in this case, is a small metal box overflowing with cash. Each customer is asked to fill out an invoice saying what they're buying, and then you put your money in the money box and take your change. Just like that.
Middlebury does not exaggerate about its academic rigor or its dedicated professors. The incredible learning that occurs is certainly one of the school's most impressive aspects. However, the environment is absolutely a double-edged sword. What may appear to be a gorgeous, vibrant refuge from the hustle and bustle of civilization in the fall and spring can also become vicious, bone-chilling loneliness during the five-month-long winter. Similarly, a small campus of approximately 2350 means faces are familiar and the community is intimate, but also means one has no chance from escaping from undesired company, or from the questions of a professor in class. Students from cities will not at all understand the feeling of sheer isolation until they visit. The College can easily become a bubble, even from the town five to ten minutes away, if one does not make the effort to walk there.
Overall, despite how many different kinds of intelligent people go to Middlebury, there was always a sense of a smaller community within that of active and interested people. People always wonder how I got all the way across the country to a small school in Vermont. Either they've heard of it and are properly impressed or they are completely clueless and think I'm crazy for moving away from Football U. Middlebury students are driven, but despite the myriad of things people could choose to be up in arms and active about these days, it was always crazy to me how impassioned students got about the littlest things. "Stop the Lockdown" had people angry. How DARE they lock doors during the day and keep us safe? And "Save Proctor." Now I love Proctor dining hall as much as the next guy, but I think pouring your energy into keeping an old, dirty, but amazing dining hall open, is extremist in the way only Midd kids tend to be. What is immediately important, right in front of my face, affecting my day to day life? That, I'll fight tooth and nail for. Anyone who remembers the New Logo debaucle summer of '08 will see it. It's that stupidly strange power, that we hope will later be harnesed for good in the world, that makes Middlebury unpredictable.
middlebury is building itself as a name in the field of liberal arts education. the current administration has a five-year plan to expand the college into an all-encompassing educational experience. this means that they are borrowing against the current students with promises of greatness in 5,10,15 years. there's a lot of distance between the students and the administration and the students often get left behind, even on relatively small points to which one would hope a college would be committed. there's a very strong desire, on the college's part, to have us subscribe to their philosophy and vision. should you not, it has become increasingly difficult to just to find spaces and people who are outside of it. in a sense, middlebury has forgotten about the atypical student and only caters to those that fit in its plan. the practical effects of which involve attempts to control college social life leading to an increasingly cliquey and divided campus as well as a general centralization process that has taken control out of the hands of many student-run organization and made it so that everything must be approved by governing bodies (wrmc, the radio station, has always been committed to bringing small, up-and-coming acts to campus for cheap, but this past year that was lost to a new larger concert committee to which wrmc sends delegates to, but has lost control of its funding.)
The best thing about Middlebury is its student body. Almost everyone is really intelligent, friendly, open-minded, and loves being outside. If I could change one thing, it'd be the transportation on and off campus. The school population is just right. I'd say about 3/4 of the people I tell that I go to Middlebury have great reactions, and the other 1/4 haven't heard of it. I spend most of my time on campus in the science building or my room. Good college town. Middlebury's administration is a little too rigid and image-centric. The biggest recent controversy was over very prominent homophobic graffiti. There is a lot of school pride. Middlebury's Geography department and its environmental impetus are unusually active. I will always remember sleeping outside in the organic garden. The most frequent student complaints are about the administration.
The school is just a little too small for me, but I still meet people I've never heard of in my class. People do, however, tend to run in the same circles, as everywhere, so I see the same people a lot. People can often be defined by dining hall. that might change next year when Proctor Dining Hall closes for renovation, but here it is anyway. The three dining halls are Proctor(to be moved to Freeman), Ross, and Atwater. Proctor is where all the radio kids hang out in a secluded lounge off the side of the dining hall. vegetarians love proctor for the great salad bar. Proctor also is the only dining hall with panini machines. People who live near proctor eat there, tennis people (close to tennis courts) and everyone great (i am a proctor person). Proctor has a great terrace for warm weather. proctor people tend to be really loyal; last year a girl down the hall sold Save Proctor shirts when they wanted to tear it down. Ross is pretty standard, orange colored food. there's a "mongolian grill" and there's always pizza. people who live in the building eat here and preppy people and people without much personality. atwater is the people who live nearby and the outdoorsy ones and some athletes. by telling someone where you want to eat, you're saying much more. there is also a definite dining culture at middlebury. people take forever to eat. they get a meal, get something else, get dessert, then coffee or tea... When I tell people I go to Middlebury, they say what/ where is that? you'd think being ranked 5th in US ..Report would get some recognition. They only put out the Adirondack chairs when the prospective students come. Students lack much activist spirit. the other day at lunch, i was trying to think of something that would get students to riot and couldn't think of a thing. even if someone got tazered, people would write articles and maybe maybe maybe protest, but no rioting, sadly. I spend most of my time on campus, I'd say between the dining hall, my room, the grille, and the art studio. the tuition is rising tremendously.
Mandy JuniorReviews provided by: Unigo