1. Is there any significant difference in grading policy between Harvard and Yale? I know that neither actively pursues grade deflation, but, for grad school placement and job opportunities, is grading easier at one or the other (especially in the natural sciences)?
2. Would internship / job opportunities / grad school placement be better with an undergrad degree from either Harvard or Yale?
I know that the two have very different environments, but, having been admitted to both, I am trying to determine if there is any objective difference in future opportunities from either one? Although I am definitely undecided when it comes to a major, I am most interested in either biology or economics.
Choose entirely on which place you feel better at. You have been admitted to the world's best colleges. Choosing between Yale and Harvard will NOT make any difference in terms of opportunities. Don't let people tell you that one can have better opportunities in certain areas. It is just that at each school people tend to go towards certain things.
personally I would choose Yale for Undergrad. It simply cannot be beat for undergrad (including prestige factor as well). Congratulations on your decision. You cannot make a wrong one here. Visit both and you'll see why Yale is better.
PS: I know it will not make a difference because a family friend is a recruiter for a top firm and I asked him to help me choose which colleges to apply to. He said Yale and Harvard are simply the best. It doesn't matter which one you go to, but the rest is your personal credentials.
I believe you are asking the wrong questions. Are you going to college to learn? If your goal is a GPA I personally wouldn't bother considering your resume. NOBODY hires on college GPA. I actually bias against high GPA's because it tells me that 1 they don't take chances to learn and 2 if they do screw up they might be a risk (cover up the situation. don't deal with it, etc).
Have fun at school and try to learn something Use the time to experiment and find something your passionate about. If you don't, your resume will likely find it's way to my circular filing system (that's a trash can).
There's no difference in grading policy that I'm aware of, and neither school is better than the other for post-grad opportunities. Honestly, they're the top two schools in the nation - no one is going to throw your resume in the trash because you went to Yale and not Harvard, or vice versa.
And Noitaraperp is correct - what bdawa said is nonsense. If you have any desire to get into graduate school, work at a law firm, investment bank, hedge fund, or anything like that, your GPA had better be high.
In deciding between Harvard and Yale, it really has to come down to what school you feel fits you best. You can be successful professionally and educationally coming from either one.
I came from Wall Street and am the CEO of a $1bn + hedgefund and unless you are a maths or comsci person what I say holds. Maybe the other posters can elaborate as to their experience as employers.
I can speak for myself and a dozen of my competitors that I know well. I can also speak for the majority of my family office, funds of funds, pension consultants and institutional clients.
Many years ago, I worked for the Capital Markets division of an Investment Bank and we NEVER hired on grades. We actually found them to be a negative.
We did, and do give critical reasoning tests. (for pure quantitative work we do look at thesis topic, but for undergrads we test them).
I can't speak directly for law firms since or Medical/Bio I can speak for the Econ side.
I'm not sure what "Wall Street" you're claiming to come from, but the Wall Street banks and hedge funds that hire at Harvard, Yale, and other top-tier schools most certainly do make hiring decisions taking GPA into account. Students applying to these places through the e-recruiting system are instructed to disclose not only their GPA on their resumes, but frequently their SAT scores as well. Also in many of the job listings, students who don't meet a certain GPA cutoff - let's say a 3.5, though it varies - are told not to apply at all.
I'd really hate to see someone take bdawa's advice and blow off their college coursework thinking that GPAs aren't important, and then find him- or herself limited from certain post-graduate opportunities as a result.
"It simply cannot be beat for undergrad (including prestige factor as well)."
The first part is something that quite a few schools claim, e.g. substitute Princeton, Dartmouth, Brown instead of Yale and it will sound just as familiar. But I've never heard a convincing argument why. It's almost always based on personal preferences and anecdotes of questionable accuracy. So I suggest you take this kind of claim with a big grain of salt.
The second part I don't think is true. Harvard edges out Yale on prestige. Studies have shown that Yale ranks very high in public perception in the Northeast (right below Harvard) but in other parts of the country, it usually drops below the local heavyweights, e.g. Stanford in the West, Duke in the South, and even state schools in the Midwest, etc. In contrast, Harvard ranks at the top throughout the country, above the local favorites, and also internationally as well. Harvard is really unmatched in that department, whether deserved or not.
The opportunities at the two schools are comparable and your success will depend on what you make of your opportunities not on whether your diploma is from Harvard or Yale.
When you are visiting the campuses, check out the Harvard bookstore known as the Harvard Coop (pronounced as in chicken "coop") and the Yale Co-op. They are very similar in their design and function, but you might also note some differences. For example, that the Harvard Coop is significantly larger, carry more books and merchandise, has more visitors, and more people buying Harvard insignia items.
Likewise, Harvard itself is larger, offers more of everything, and is more prominent than Yale in the public imagination, both in the U.S. and throughout the world. Maybe you prefer a slightly smaller bookstore that's a little quieter. Or you want something smaller still, where you can have long conversations about a book with the owner. You should follow your instincts.
What do people mean by "undergrad focus?" It's the most common stereotype of Harvard, yet I doubt that anyone who cites it could put into operational terms exactly what they think is less emphasized in undergrad life at Harvard compared to other universities. Because Harvard has 14 graduate schools in addition to Harvard College, there is some urban-legend idea that this must inherently eat into the quality of undergraduate life. Would it then follow that the citizens of Massachusetts must be disadvantaged by a state government that's inattentive to their needs since the U.S. has 49 other states as well as Massachusetts?
I'm not saying has a poor undergrad focus. It is truly phenomenal. But I have to say, that Yale's is probably a tiny bit better. That said, you are choosing between Harvard and Yale and are tearing your hair out about it. Who cares? Just visit both and go with your gut. You will not close a single door by going to either one. They are easily the two most well known colleges in the world. I don't care what you oxford or cambridge people have to say. Most people in the US don't know what those are. say yale or harvard anywhere and people will be interested.
Personally, I am a fan of yale and would say choose that no doubt.
Some people disagree.
That's why you should visit and make your decision... (Yale)
I am a soph at Harvard, and I have a sibling who graduated from Yale. Off the top of my head:
-Harvard somewhat more diverse; Yale a little preppier
-Yale somewhat more laid back and friendlier; warmer, more supportive environment in general; Harvardians slightly more individualistic and competitive
-More math and science gunners at Harvard; more theater and music and literature/poetry fanatics at Yale
-Food a little better at Yale
-Dorms at Yale used to be yuckier than Harvard's, renovations have made them better on average; Harvard will be renovating, though
-Slightly more grade inflation at Yale; more "honors" inflation still at Harvard
-Social life/party scene a little better at Yale, though Harvard's is improving
-Boston is better, obviously, than New Haven by a long shot; but better "cheap eats" and atmospheric "dive bar" options in immediate vicinity of Yale campus
-Larger contingent of driven law-med-wallstreet gunners at Harvard; more ditzy intellectuals at Yale