Vermont is a true original among states. Indeed, not only was Vermont the very first state added to the Union following the unification of the original 13 colonies, but it is also the only state east of Texas that once constituted its own independent republic. It was during this period of independence, which coincided with the Revolutionary War, that Vermont established its first postsecondary learning institution.
In 1787, Castleton State College was founded as a public, liberal arts school. Statehood would follow four years later, as would the establishment of Vermont’s first public research university. In 1791, the University of Vermont opened its halls in Burlington, which is at once Vermont’s most populous city and the least populous of any state’s largest municipality (got that?).
Today, this community of roughly 12,000 enjoys a campus of breathtaking beauty and a Top 100 national ranking, according to U.S. News & World Report. The school also recently ranked as #18 in a Wall Street Journal survey ranking public universities for their success in placing students in prestigious postgraduate programs. And if you’re into that sort of thing, the freewheeling student population at the University of Vermont participates by the hundreds in the annual, student government-organized midnight Naked Bike Ride, which is exactly what it sounds like. It is perhaps not a surprise that this modestly sized student population is the single largest in the U.S. state boasting the highest ratio of dairy cows-to-citizens.
The University of Vermont is one of six public schools but Vermont is also well-recognized for the excellence of its private, non-profit universities, which total 17. Bennington College is a shining example. Founded as an all-women’s college in 1932, the liberal arts school went coed in 1969. With roughly 800 students sharing more than 400 acres in the rural town from which the school takes its name, Bennington is a perfect portrait of academic intimacy.
Indeed, as the 2nd least populous state in the nation, Vermont is home to any number of intimate educational experiences at the postsecondary level. This may help to account for the 62.9% six year graduation rate of its students, which far exceeds the national average of 56%.