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Cornell vs. Tufts

TacosaurTacosaur Registered User Posts: 15 New Member
Hi all,
I was recently accepted to both Cornell and Tufts as a transfer student and I am very conflicted as to which i should attend! I take my academics very seriously and intend on studying political science (but that is definitely flexible), I'm not very big on partying and the greek life scene, both colleges are equidistant from where I live so distance is not an issue, and how much I would be paying for both is very similar. Given all of this, I am very unsure which college I should choose! I have visited Tufts but not Cornell (not sure if I will be able to).

Thanks in advance!
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Replies to: Cornell vs. Tufts

  • RenomammaRenomamma Registered User Posts: 840 Member
    edited June 8
    It would be difficult to choose a school if you can not visit, in my opinion. Cornell is beautiful and large, and there are all types there. But only you could decide what environment suits you best.
  • Tufts2021Tufts2021 Registered User Posts: 35 Junior Member
    edited June 8
    If you are going into polisci, I would choose Tufts over Cornell (and if it's specifically for IR, it's Tufts hands down). As I am an incoming Tufts freshman, and three of my cousins just graduated from Cornell, I know a lot about both schools. The Greek life at Cornell is a much bigger part of social culture than the Greek life is at Tufts. Tufts is also much more undergraduate focused than Cornell is. Cornell does have the Ivy tag, though, so if that's important to you...

    In terms of internship opportunities, I'd say Tufts is great due to its proximity to Boston (and being in its IR program will really help when trying to get political internships). Cornell is relatively in the middle of nowhere, so I don't know much about what year round internships are like there.

    Tufts has a quaint, New England LAC feel to its campus which is just outside Boston in suburbia. Cornell, on the other hand, has a beautiful campus in a remote location.

    Actually, after talking about where to apply with my cousins, I ended up not even applying to Cornell. They told me that the work was too intense to the point where people just weren't having any fun and, in some cases, even became depressed (but that could be from a combination of things). Tufts' quality of life is very high, and it's known for its bright, quirky, happy, and unique student body. There's also never a shortage of things to do since you're near a big city. Tufts, while challenging, is able to allow students to push themselves while giving them ample time to do extracurricular things.

    Just a little anecdote: when I went to admitted students day at Tufts, I met someone who was deciding between Tufts and Cornell. When I asked him where else he was considering, he said, "Cornell, but, I mean, it's in the middle of nowhere and it just seems super depressing and rigorous." Needless to say, he will be my classmate come fall.
  • monydadmonydad Registered User Posts: 7,355 Senior Member
    There was a former CC poster on this subforum who transferred from Tufts to Cornell. He said Tufts was harder.
  • TheGreyKingTheGreyKing Registered User Posts: 619 Member
    The area around Ithaca is surpassingly gorgeous ("Ithaca is gorges") with its gorges, lake and waterfalls. In terms of area, if you like scenic beauty and charm, points to Cornell. If you like a suburb very close to a big city with urban opportunities, points to Tufts. If you like a small-end-of-medium sized college with more small classes, points to Tufts. If you like a really, really huge college-- like a small city onto itself-- points to Cornell.

    You said you like poli sci; Tufts is well known for international relations. And Tufts has the smaller class sizes and more intimate community. I think a student making the transition from high school to college might find a more supportive environment there without having to look as hard for it (though I am sure it would be there at Cornell if you seek it out) and more of an undergrad focus.

    I don't perceive Ithaca as the "middle of nowhere." Our family visited, and our son found Cornell too big for his tastes, but we all agreed we'd be happy to live in Ithaca. The town has everything-- beauty, charm, ethnic restaurants, lake sports, endless waterfall hikes. Cornell University and Ithaca College provide lots of cultural opportunities, so I don't know how much not being by a big city would matter. Cornell would have all the entertainment most mortals could need. It might be harder for a student who needs a nearby international airport, but that's not your situation.

    Congratulations on having two great choices! You really can't go wrong here; both are wonderful schools.

    Think about why you are transferring. What didn't you like about your old school and what were you looking to change? Pick the school that better matches what you are seeking. (If you are transferring from a two-year school, ignore the question about a former school.)
  • ColoradomamaColoradomama Registered User Posts: 834 Member
    Boston does offer a lot that Ithaca just cannot, like city life, the North End (Little Italy of Boston), neighborhoods like Inman Square, lots of music venues, internships, and career positions, lots of cross registration options, ocean and mountains close by, and a nice mid sized city with public transportation. It is quite hard to fly in and out of upstate NY, and expensive, so budget for that if you are not planning to bring a car and drive back and forth to Ithaca. Boston is less expensive to fly to, and way more flights per day, and you can get public transportation from Logan Airport to Tufts U. To fly to Cornell, you have four airports to choose from, all are small (Syracuse is 65 miles away, , Rochester is 85 miles away, Elmira/Corning is 30 miles but only offers flights to a few cities on a hopper airplane, and Ithaca Airport is the same, only a few flights on tiny airplanes in and out). Boston has a small theatre district, Boston Symphony, Boston Pops, blue water sailing, Fine Art Museums, and over 100 universities, six law schools, multiple Medical schools and a vibrant student focused energy.

    Ithaca is charming, small hippy town, thats a little full of itself, kind of like most small college towns. Hiking is spectacular, skiing OK, sailing is outstanding. Cornell offers a much superior engineering college to Tufts, if you want to make friends with very smart engineers and scientists,Cornell has an edge, although Tufts has strong biology and chemistry, not so much strength in physics and engineering, but still very solid in most majors.

    Cornell offers some very unusual majors like hotel management, vino-culture, grape vine virology, ornothology etc, and its own hotel, attracting a diverse set of students to its campus.

    Both have really harsh winters, windy, snowy, and cold. Both are grey and dreary a good deal of the winter. Ithaca is less sunny than Boston in the summers. Boston does have hotter summers, most years.

    I think Cornell is slightly more collegial and friendly and maybe a tad more intellectual, learning for learning's sake, due to its isolation. Tufts is in the shadow of Harvard and MIT, to some degree, and for political science, certainly Harvard attracts students who are aiming for political careers.

    Cornell may have slightly more spirit. Its a much larger campus, with lots of traditions.
  • gardenstategalgardenstategal Registered User Posts: 2,642 Senior Member
    Because Cornell has different colleges, should you wish to change majors outside your college ( or have access to classes in othe areas), Tufts may offer more flexibility on that front. But really, you should pick the one where you think you'll be happier. The environments are so different but they are both excellent schools. Tufts political science /IR programs are highly regarded.
  • monydadmonydad Registered User Posts: 7,355 Senior Member
    edited June 9
    re#6:
    Cornell's Arts & Sciences college ("CAS") has the full range of majors anyone would expect of an arts & sciences college.

    From Cornell CAS, if you wanted to change majors to : Hotel Administration, Architecture, Entomology, Apparel Design, etc. you would have to apply for internal transfer to the respective college within the university that houses the relevant major. Which for the most part are not typical Ars & Sciences college majors.

    At Tufts, if you wanted to do likewise, you would probably have to transfer to a different university. Like Cornell. Because Tufts probably doesn't offer those specialized programs/colleges, at all.

    Tufts graduate IR program is well regarded. I don't know to what extent the same people teach undergrad there. I also don't know about political science there. I think I've read otherwise about that, on CC. People just assume things, because of the graduate IR, that may or may not be the case. Suggest OP should investigate this further, if relevant

    Small college in a small city can indeed be a cause for concern. Cornell however is not small.

    I already posted elsewhere about D2s unsatisfactory experience with an urban school, and found similar phenomenon when we investigated some suburban schools. And subsequent transfer to Cornell. She loved Cornell. YMMV.

    But anyway I would never choose a school I hadn't visited.
  • Tufts2021Tufts2021 Registered User Posts: 35 Junior Member
    ^I agree that I would never choose a school that I haven't visited.
  • monydadmonydad Registered User Posts: 7,355 Senior Member
    edited June 9
    BTW, although you would have to change colleges to actually major in these specialized areas, at Cornell you do NOT have to change colleges to take courses in them. Cornell students routinely take courses at several of its colleges. A potential Government major might want to check out courses offered in the College of Industrial & Labor Relations, or the Policy Studies program in the College of Human Ecology, regional & urban planning courses in the College of Architecture. And maybe others. .This just expands the course options, beyond what a typical arts & sciences college is likely to provide.
  • gardenstategalgardenstategal Registered User Posts: 2,642 Senior Member
    edited June 9
    Thanks, @monydad! I was responding to #5 re all the cool things Cornell offers. Your posts clarify.

    Tufts undergraduate IR program has an excellent reputation (independent of Fletcher). But I think OP wants political science.
  • ColoradomamaColoradomama Registered User Posts: 834 Member
    Lots of students cannot afford, or do not have time to visit all the colleges they apply to, especially a transfer student like @Tacosaur . Its a two or three year decision, and if OP find out its not a perfect fit, time will fly by anyway. He/She can also take a semester abroad to break things up, or have a change of pace. Both schools are well ranked
    so a roll of the dice may be the way, if OP does not have strong criteria that point to one school over the other.
  • oldfortoldfort Registered User Posts: 20,735 Senior Member
    D1 had the option of deciding between Tufts and Cornell years ago. I visited both schools with D1.

    When we visited Tufts it was the first sunny day they had (according to our tour guide), I noticed there were very few students out on the quad playing frisbee or playing balls. I made a comment about it and the tour guide said it was during their exam period. I thought it was a bit intense. D1 also did a stay over at Tufts. Her host took her to a choir rehearsal and a coffee/tea shop. People she met were a bit quirky and smart.

    When we visited Cornell we had brunch at the school's cafeteria. There were students who had backpacks hurrying off to the library, but we also saw groups of kids who just got up after a long night of partying and they were still talking/laughing about what happened the night before. D1 thought she could very well hang out with some of those kids.

    Speeches that were given at Tufts' acceptance day had a lot of reference to Harvard. It was as if Tufts was in Harvard's shadow.

    D1 chose Cornell over Tufts for the size, diversity, and breadth of curriculum it offered. Later she also appreciated the beauty of campus.
  • monydadmonydad Registered User Posts: 7,355 Senior Member
    edited June 11
    re #12, your D1s experience was what it was, I would never discount that.
    But in fairness, there have been posters to this subforum who have made similar observations after visiting Cornell during what turned out to have been an exam week. And one of its a capella groups even has some stupid song about not going to Harvard. So I'm not sure how significant those two items are as real distinguishing factors, to the level that someone should give any material weight to them in such a decision.

    I think the last paragraph of #12 more reliably captures some of the real differences.
    As well as the differences owed to their different locations/settings. Both positive and negative.

    Re#11, the cost of a visit to this one school is a drop in the bucket compared to how much will be spent on attending one of these two schools. There are undoubtedly cases where this is truly undoable. If that is truly the case here, so be it. I personally wouldn't choose a college without first visiting it. But that's me.
  • mom2twogirlsmom2twogirls Registered User Posts: 809 Member
    Someone else's personal experience and observation in visiting both colleges is certainly as (or more) fair as the hyperbolic "it's in the middle of nowhere" description of Cornell. Every time I see that, I can't help but think posters who say that have never been out of a large city.
    OP, since you have visited Tufts, what did you like or dislike about it on your visit?
  • TacosaurTacosaur Registered User Posts: 15 New Member
    Thank you so much for the replies everybody! I carefully read over everybody's comment and took it into consideration. Unfortunately I was truly unable to visit Cornell - my parents could not sacrifice a day of work to take me there, and I did not feel comfortable going alone (considering they work 24 hour shifts often....it just didn't work).

    @mom2twogirls Concerning my visit to Tufts, I thought the campus was incredibly beautiful and I definitely liked how the campus as a whole was very nucleated and accessible. What i disliked was the fact that it was also very isolated from any nearby town. Although campus was accessible, it did make me feel a little trapped, in the sense that I was on a small grassy hill with nowhere to go. I also had the impression that the campus was a little "empty" and figured that I would prefer a college with more people. I am aware that Ithaca is also "isolated" in a sense, but I do feel better about it because I live in NY and am much more familiar with the state than Massachusetts or Boston.
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