I play a sport and have been talking to the coaches at each school, sent them my test scores, etc.
Each coach has told me that I would be able to get into their school if I apply early decision.
These are my top 2 choices for college. I am not totally sure what I want to major in, but it will most likely be something around psychology/cognitive science/neuroscience. Again, I am not totally sure what I will major in.
Which school is overall "better" for undergrads? I will probably go to graduate school, so which school will set me up best for this?
I've seen both campuses and like Columbia a bit better, but I like Upenn's campus as well. I know Columbia is more prestigious, but which is really better?
I don't consider Columbia more prestigious, but if you want to, that's fine. Of all the Ivies, Penn has the most international students, so it certainly gets around. Two of my closest Penn friends are from Australia...
Better? It depends on you. Personally, I think that as an athlete, you would be better off at Penn. Columbia has a rigorous core and seems very cold. Penn, on the other hand, is an incredibly warm environment-- people always want to help and the curriculum is very flexible. Also, Columbia is known for relying on TAs, or teaching assistants, who are generally graduate students. TAs are not known to be as understanding and accommodating as professors, so that might be a factor to consider given how demanding your schedule will be at either institution.
A Penn athlete I went to high school with is amazing on the field, but he didn’t end up in the top 5% of our class by any means. I remember, in fact, that he was initially a little nervous about balancing Penn athletics and academics. He’s found Penn to be super supportive, though, and he’s the happiest I’ve seen him in years.
Penn's residential colleges are also distinct- we have options ranging from the Quad, to Gregory (which is more like communal living), to the high-rises. Each 'house' has a unique flavor to fit different people's personalities.
We also have submatriculation, which allows students to pursue a degree at the graduate school or the law school. While other schools allow students to take courses at the graduate level, Penn lets you potentially walk away with two degrees.
Penn’s also wonderful for research, and should you become interested in your own research, you can be sure that you’ll find funding.
Finally, if you're interested in psychology, Penn's the place to be: Edna Foa - The 2010 TIME 100 - TIME
Psychology professor Paul Rozin is also acclaimed.
Hope this has helped! Best of luck, and feel free to PM me if you have any further questions.
Additionally, one cannot compare Penn and Columbia in terms of parties. That's one of Penn's specialities, in addition to Psychology, of course ; )
Due to the fact that Penn students have so much access to research, we do very well in graduate school placement, especially since that's something that grad schools look for.
Finally, Columbia is known to be a generally depressing, rigid place. That said, I'm sure some people benefit from the intense degree of structure. Penn is the exact opposite, though: nothing's stopping you, and you're free to carve your own path. Penn is incredibly social and welcoming and fun-- it's a rarity for there to be a day when you can't find a fun event on campus to go to. As a student, I've never felt that I was only doing work; there are always tons of other exciting things going on, which has ultimately made studying that much easier and that much more enjoyable.
Both are fantastic schools. You really can't make a wrong choice here. Well, let me rephrase, you can't choose a school here that will not set you up to excell in your academic goals. If you liked Columbia better than Penn, go there.
Sorry I can't add links from my phone, but @Susiebra: if you're basing how much the schools "get around" by international representation, Columbia has a large international group. 16% of the incoming freshman class is from outside of the US, and the 3 other classes have comparable amounts (stats from Columbia's website). I don't know the percentage for Penn, but both universities have around the same amount in their incoming class (318 vs. ~370)
Both are AMAZING schools though so congrats thestevebro. I'd go with the one you like the most. Both schools are in amazing cities, and both schools have amazing academic programs. But one may offer you more happiness than the other. You should try to visit asap
I have friends at both schools and they are extremely pleased with their schools. Columbia's smaller size may be better for undergrads (probably not a substantial difference from penn). I think your decision will come to where you see your self at more. Both schools are equal on all academic fronts. I think that you may have answered your own question with your initial lean towards Columbia. Bottomline: Go to the place you think you will be happier @ (maybe try and do an overnight with a student at both schools)
BTW prepare for tons of Penn persuasion considering the fact that you posted your thread in the upenn forum
I think Penn offers a better undergraduate experience than Columbia, in no small part because NYC's allure detracts from the "wooo-college!" feel and on-campus community. You have your whole life to do the New York City thing, but only 4 precious years to do the college thing...
In all the areas you ask about, the Venn-diagram overlap between Columbia and Penn is huge, and the areas in which they do not overlap are tiny. If you are like 95% of the students at either school, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference, and it's hard in advance to figure out whether you are part of the 5% for whom it might matter (in either direction). But even for that group, the two colleges will be pretty close equivalents.
Why don't you focus on the things that actually distinguish them?:
- Columbia's very strong core curriculum vs. Penn's loosey-goosey requirements. This is a huge difference, and you can't possibly be indifferent between the two educational approaches.
- There's a huge difference between NYC and Philadelphia. You can make strong arguments for either.
The former is the center of the world, and people don't actually care whether there are any college students there or not. Students have to live in university housing, most of which is crammed into a small area on campus, and some of which is at some distance, because it's not affordable to live anywhere else. Despite everyone living on top of one another, there is relatively little campus life because the center of the world is a few blocks away.
The latter is a nice provincial city that is very student-friendly and cheaper in every way than New York. Students sprawl all over a fairly big neighborhood and tend to have a lot of personal space. The university is a really important center of student (and community) life, and the largest employer in the city.