Burlington manages to be one of the nation’s greener, more liberal cities while still maintaining a small-town vibe. It’s on Lake Champlain, near the Green and Adirondack Mountains, and an easy drive from Mt. Mansfield State Forest. UVM’s campus is adjacent to the Centennial Woods Natural Area, and the Winooski River runs nearby.
To take advantage of all that Vermont wilderness, the school’s 100-year-old Outing Club runs classes in sailing, climbing, and scuba, as well as almost daily outings, including hiking trips ($15), backpacking weekends ($30), telemarking and ice-climbing lessons ($40), and canoeing overnights ($40). The rental policy is fair ($10 per day for a tent, $2 for a stove or ski poles) and the range of equipment is decent but not huge.
New students are encouraged to participate in the six-day Wilderness Trek program ($550 to $900, with financial aid available) before starting classes “to build lasting friendships, initiate self-discovery, and explore the people and landscapes that are Vermont.” These late-summer outings are led by upperclassmen, and “Trekkies” can choose a journey based on their sport of interest: rock-climbing, hiking (up to eight miles per day), canoeing in Adirondack National Park, kayaking the North Country, or cycling (30 miles daily) the Lake Champlain Valley.
If you’re more of a snow-sports person—and are really talented—go out for the varsity ski teams, which are perennial powerhouses on a national level. Or the freeski club or the snowboard team, both of which had medal winners at the USASA nationals.
Professors, for their part, make sure their pupils experience Vermont’s wealth of nature. Classes that require fieldwork span departments, but to ensure that you spend your study time heading out a lot, major in agriculture, animal science, biology, environmental studies, or wildlife and fisheries biology. Two classes, “Florida Ecology Field Trip” and “Texas Wildlife Field Trip,” examine the ecosystems of other states. Back in Vermont, the school’s horticulture farm and master-gardener class helps students graduate knowing how to grow food and flowers.
In the Bolton Valley Ski area is UVM’s cabin, a woodsy structure that’s available to students, staff, and alumni for $15 to $20 per person per night—it’s right near a network of hiking trails and prime locations for skiing, rock and ice climbing, and canoeing and kayaking.
CONTACT: (802) 656-3131, uvm.edu
STUDENT BODY: 11,593 undergraduates, 1,961 graduates
TUITION: residents $14,784, nonresidents $34,424, room and board $9,708