Okay, so, while this is a complete first-world problem, I have the utterly impossible task of choosing between Yale and Stanford as an admitted student at both universities. I've done god knows how much research, endured the East Coast-West Coast polemics, and no one in my life really seems to have a strong opinion either way.
Financial aid appears to be of little issue in either school, and while I have a friend at Yale who can be of immense help as I adjust to college life, I can't help but feel that there's merit to the idea of attending Stanford as the first person from my school to be accepted. A pioneer instinct, if you will.
In a nutshell, I have no idea what to do and I'd be immeasurably grateful if the CC community could help me out here.
As a Stanford student i obviously would say come to stanford, but the fact of the matter is you cant ever go wrong choosing any of the HYPSM school over another.
And with the financial aid being pretty much equal, you seriously have to flip a coin at this point
Still, what aspect in particular would help you tilt the scale a bit towards one school over another?
Ill try to help you out if i can. PM me if you need to.
Needless to say they are both fantastic schools and since money is not an issue then you should probably think about which school 'you' will feel most comfortable. The overall atmosphere at both schools is different. Stanford is very laid back and non-competitive. Yale not as much. Where will fit in best?
I'd steeled myself and was set on Yale, but Stanford is absolutely gorgeous, and as mentioned above, I'm not really into the whole Ivy League dynamic. My future is also rather unclear. It's a forked road that can lead either into corporate law (my mild interest) or medicine (parents and family friends really keen on this).
Furthermore, I'm not a big fan of snow/rain, but Stanford's campus seems a bit too large for me. The residential college system is entirely too appealing. Plus, it's another loooong plane ride across the country before I cross the Atlantic to go home for the holidays. A lot of family is also on the East Coast, it'd be all to easy to register a few visits every now and then.
As for flipping a coin, I actually did that, and it said Yale, but Stanford just won't leave my heart, so I don't know. I'm all about the laid-back and non-competitive, to the point where my friends accuse me of being emotionless actually :P Stanford seems to have greater academic depth in all disciplines, though this isn't really on my mind.
Pre-law or pre-medicine is the strength of Yale college. Yale regularly sends many graduates to top law and top medical schools. Although Stanford is not too shabby in these areas, Yale seems fitting you extremely well. However, if you want to pursue physics or engineering, it would an entirely different matter.
^ Stanford premeds have debunked that before. In reality, you can't get through the premed curriculum by being competitive - you have to work with others doing problem sets and studying if you want to survive.
My D was in your exact situation a year ago: accepted to both Yale and Stanford. So we hopped on the airplanes in April and visited first Yale's admitted student days and then Stanfords. When we visited Yale it was cold and rainy. While D had an OK time at on the visit, she wasn't absolutely convinced that she should attend. Her Mother and I, on the other hand, were extremely impressed with the college. We then visited Admitted Student Days at Stanford and D knew by the end of the visit that Palo Alto was the place for her. She absolutely loved it. My wife and son are actually flying out in the morning for a visit. If you can possibly visit both schools on their admitted student days, you'll have a much better "feel" for each school. While D would have probably had a good experience at YALE, she is having a great experience at Stanford. Visit if you can.
I think the OP is international student.
You have some definite pros in your list
- closer to flying across the atlantic
- family in the East coast (this is really very important. I have seen many international students stuck in empty dorms over break..guess you can get used to it but it is still nice to have the option of family)
-the cold/snow..yes..CT is pretty cold..and that is a factor. But if you can go home more often and visit family more often, that sort of cancels out the cold factor.
As far as competition is concerned, I am sure it will be everywhere. Like someone said, it is almost like flipping a coin..but for an international student, some of the other factors (family/trip home) is important. Just fyi - San francisco has direct flights to europe,asia as well
Let me just clarify what I mean by 'competition'. Of course kids at Stanford are all striving and working for "A's" but they aren't cut throats. We heard horror stories about some schools where students will actually rip out pages from textbooks in the library so that others cant secure the information. Thats not something that happens in Stanford. On the contrary kids really work together. The atmosphere is one of collaboration. Everyone really helps everyone out. Many times throughout this year my S's friends have told him of internship, research and academic club opportunities. There's so many things available to the students that there's no reason not to share. No one hogs things. Homework is always done in groups. Kids always help eachother out with Psets. Its beautiful to see how decent kids are to one another. We were extremely surprised and pleased. So thats what I mean by them not being competitive. Hope that clarifies things.
OP - Trust your gut - it sounds as though you are leaning toward Stanford. If you are laid-back and non-competitive you would probably be more comfortable in a west coast school.
You are going to get a biased opinion here, but I need to echo the other parents - my daughter loves Stanford and is having a great time. She has made wonderful friends (I met them and their parents during parent weekend so I know first hand) and is doing well academically.
She attended a very competive east coast prep school and finds the west coast attitude refreshing. She feels like kids at Stanford are much more authentic and not as concerned with how they come off to others.
Also, my impression is that Stanford seems much more focused on developing the individual where the Ivy's can come off as being more concerned with developing the institution. By this I mean that Ivy grads seem to go through life leading with their school affiliation as in this is "Yale grad Joe Shmoe", where Stanford grads seem like really intesting people. I had a wonderful friend that graduated from Stanford and it was years before I knew this - it wasn't something that defined her.