If you’re into cybersecurity or game design – or both – and you love the outdoors, Champlain College is your ideal college experience. Located in Burlington, Vermont – which is big for a small town – Champlain has 35 really interesting majors which are all focused on preparing students for real-world jobs and the collaborative work environment. ‘When you leave here, you’re ready,’ President Alex Hernandez told our counselor group. ‘You’re ready for work, you’re ready for life, you’re ready to make a difference.’
Champlain’s 2100 undergraduates (no graduate students here) choose majors and minors in the College’s four divisions: the Stiller School of Business, Information Technology and Sciences (ITS), Communication and Creative Media and Education and Human Studies. Some disciplines are represented in multiple divisions: game production and the business side of gaming are in the business school; game art and design (including sound design) are in the Communications and Creative Media division, and game programming is in ITS. Of course Champlain has other really interesting majors, including a few you’ll find at other colleges, like criminal justice, communications, education, applied mathematics and law (and many others), but also some unique offerings such as applied sustainability, broadcast media production, data science and international business. Champlain calls its curriculum ‘ upside down,’ in that students take core courses throughout their four years here instead of all at the beginning, which means they get to jump right into their major courses first year. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 12:1, and an average class size of 17, professors here really get to know students and their interests. My tour guide told us he met with a career counselor on campus who immediately began finding possible internship opportunities for him, and he started one within 2 weeks.
Champlain’s InSight program helps students with important skills including career positioning, personal finance and well-being. It’s not just that they offer these things – they are built into the curriculum. Students must attend seminars in these areas.
Campus life is vibrant at Champlain, despite the fact that there are no varsity sports and no fraternities or sororities. The big game here is esports! Champlain has both a varsity team that competes nationally and recreational esports clubs and events. Students here are involved in many different facets of the industry, from playing to coaching to managing teams – and in fact there are actually “athletic” scholarships (partial, not full) for those who play, coach and manage the nationally ranked team. Not surprisingly, sustainability is a major topic here as well, with many clubs involved in environmental issues in some way. Champlain has bought a variety of old Victorian mansions within a block or two of campus, so students have the choice of living in the mansions or in suite-style on campus residence halls.
Champlain College is very intentional about building community, and you can hear and feel it when you speak with students, faculty and administrators.
Burlington is a college town! There are 14k students in town, with the University of Vermont just down the street. There are hundreds of restaurants and dozens of studios and galleries, and the city is easily walkable. Lake Champlain has a beautiful lakeside – on the other side is Plattsburgh, NY. There are tons of ski resorts within a short drive. accessing Burlington is quite easy – there are direct flights from Denver, Minneapolis and Chicago, as well as many east coast cities. Most students are from outside Vermont – maybe 20% of the class is from in state.
Application to Champlain College is simple – there’s no application fee and they are permanently test-optional. Some creative majors require a portfolio (animation, game art, game design, graphic design, visual comms, filmmaking, creative media). Champlain is definitely for the adventurous student who’s a bit techie and who’s looking for a nice little college town environment.
Michelle and Evelyn visited Champlain College in September, 2022. You can see all of our photos from the visit below.