“Climbing to the Top:” Lehigh University


In order to gain admission into Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, a prospective student needs three things: notable passions, impressive grades, and strong calves.

Before visiting Lehigh the weekend before this school year started, I was most nervous about the latter. It seemed whomever I asked to tell me about the school responded with something along the lines of, “I love it, but the campus is set on one big hill.” Whether or not being a “slanted school” would make or break your decision to apply is a matter of personal opinion. However, after my visit I can personally say that there are a lot of positive factors that may “level” the playing field.

Size: Lehigh University is a relatively small school with just over 5,000 undergraduate students enrolled this year. The small size allows for their student-to-faculty ratio of 10:1, and average class size of 28 – both impressive statistics compared to other schools that meet Lehigh’s level of academic excellence. Lehigh’s campus covers about 2,350 acres, allowing all classes to be just a short walk away (there are busses to accommodate for the steep climb).

Friendliness: While on my tour, one thing that stuck out to me was the tour guide’s explanation about how willing her peers are to work together. She noted that Lehigh is academically comparable with some of the top Ivy League schools; however, Lehigh is unmatched in the students’ willingness to work together and help each other out.

Spirit: Lehigh has 25 NCAA Division I sports and 40 intramural and club sports that students are able to participate in. And although the school is smaller, Lehigh is certainly not missing the passionate, “rah-rah” characteristic that many students look for. Any Lehigh student, and most collegiate sports’ fans, could tell you about the Lehigh-Lafayette rivalry. Students travel around the tri-state area to attend these games when they roll around each year, and seemingly take over the cities that the games are played in.

Academic Opportunities: Lehigh offers 2,000 courses which belong to over 100 undergraduate degree programs and 13 Master/Doctorate degree programs. These degree programs fall into one of the four colleges at Lehigh: College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business and Economics, P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science, and College of Education. The P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science is the usually the most popular, with 37% of students enrolled in that college this year. Lehigh is a liberal arts college, which makes it easy for students to change majors if they discover new passions.

Extracurricular Opportunities: Lehigh offers, encourages, and expects students to be active members in the “Lehigh Community” once they arrive on campus. In fact, Lehigh admissions officers look for students who show a passion for extracurricular activities in high school in order to be sure that they will participate once on campus. For instance, 96% of Lehigh students take part in at least one extracurricular activity. These activities range from volunteering and community service to athletics or on campus events. In addition, Lehigh offers hundreds of study abroad opportunities, including some that connect you with international internships.

Lehigh University truly has it all – Friendly and spirited students, reputable and approachable professors, and a multitude of academic and extracurricular opportunities. If you choose to look into Lehigh and ultimately enroll, be ready to bleed brown and white, and probably be in the best shape of your life.