This question has caused huge debate in my family. My mother wants yale for it name, and its academics. My dad wants Columbia for its social life and its opportunity in the city. Signing up for the class of 2011, what does each college have to offer. Professor accessible? Food? Dorms? Internships? Social life? Undergrad focus? Curriculum? Safety? Which is best for a poli sci majoring, ivy law school ambitous, pretty social, from a medium sized city guy like me?
lakeside675, what your parents wish for you should have no role in your decision about what school is the best "fit" for you. Do your own research. Go to each school's website and find out if they have what you want. Perhaps there's another college altogether which fits the bill better than either Yale or Columbia. Stretch your wings and seek these out.
Well, yes and no. A great social life is to be had in the city of New York, but Columbia's campus life is severely lacking. Everybody just kind of trickles into New York. In that sense, you really have to find your own fun if you attend Columbia. However, if that doesn't bother you, then New York offers far more opportunities to entertain yourself and have a social life than the city of New Haven ever could. On the other hand, since New Haven is such a small city, Yale's campus social scene thrives. Check out the "Life at Yale" thread in the Yale 2010 forum for a current Yalie's post on parties at Yale. As well, since Yale has arguably the best drama school in the country, there are always theatre productions to see and other events like that to attend. I've also heard that the area surrounding Yale has some spectacular (i.e. award-winning) and extremely affordable dining locations, so there are tons of spots to socialize with other Yalies.
As for opportunities, current Yalies have told me that big companies/firms/etc. come to do a fair bit of recruiting at Yale, so it's not as if they forget about Yale just because it's not in New York. I don't think you have to worry about opportunities.
That's all I can pretty much tell you at the moment in my capacity. I'll let the current Yalies fill you in on the rest.
New Haven is not such a small city. There are hundreds upon hundreds of restaurants, stores, bars, nightclubs, theaters, etc., within just a few blocks of Yale, and obviously much more just beyond that. It's true that Columbia is in NYC, but it's not in the area you would typically hang out with. The area right around Columbia is pretty dead by comparison to the part around Yale, or NYU, which is several miles (and a decent subway ride, especially late at night) away from Columbia. Because of this distance, Columbia's campus itself I've found to be very dead.
Also, New York City is very close to New Haven, so I think Yale has the best deal: a thriving campus social life (you kind of have to experience it to believe it, but since Yale is so compact it is always buzzing with students & activities), great college town in the immediate area, and access to New York City. Columbia only has one of those three things.
Academically, Yale is stronger on all levels, in my opinion. Classes are smaller, professors much more accessible, stronger departments, and the like. Also, the students themselves are great at both Columbia and Yale, but Yale has an edge in getting the very top students (e.g., nearly 1/5th of Yalies are National Merit Scholars, the highest rate in the United States, versus less than 5% of Columbia students). However, obviously both are a good choice for someone who is ambitious and law-school minded.
Check out this post for some additional perspective on that. You'll see that in terms of pre-law, Columbia and Yale both make the top ten. Top Pre-Law Programs
PosterX, I'll say it again - please stop. You make Yale look bad. Neither Yale (nor Columbia) needs over-the-top ridiculousness to tout their schools. I think it's self-evident that they can stand on their own merits.
OP, have you visited both schools yet? Or better yet, stayed over? If so, I'd suggest going with your gut, and not letting your parents push you so. If you do well at either college, you stand a good chance to get into a top law school. If you're a good enough student to get into either, then heck, you should just pick which you like better! You'll have a better time, and maybe you'll do better academically from being in a more enjoyable environment - hence helping your law school dreams!
"Also, the students themselves are great at both Columbia and Yale, but Yale has an edge in getting the very top students (e.g., nearly 1/5th of Yalies are National Merit Scholars, the highest rate in the United States, versus less than 5% of Columbia students). "
posterx said that^
I'm wondering how big of an admission factor is National Merit Scholarship, then? I didn't know a school could have such a edge just by its percentage of NMS. I'm wondering in regards to my application, and how much my NMS will boost my application (especially since my GPA and rank are lacking).
This question has caused huge debate in my family. My mother wants yale for it name, and its academics. My dad wants Columbia for its social life and its opportunity in the city
Man Oh Man ! what a fantastic dilemma . Your mom is correct and so is ur dad. It all comes down to what type of person you are:
city type (columbia) or suburban (yale). If you are a minority, you will tad bit more comfortable @Columbia.
vouloirruse, Yale has a much higher % of National Merit Scholars because it is much more selective (e.g., it has the lowest acceptance rate in the United States and attracts better applicants in general), not because it tries specifically to admit them.
Also, from what I've heard, I'd say minorities are actually more comfortable at Yale. Because Yale's social life on campus is much stronger (e.g., with even the dining halls playing a major role), students interact more with each other and as a result, minorities aren't as segregated. Columbia's social life is much, much more private and therefore minorities can actually feel more excluded. Also, Yale is just as urban as Columbia, although it depends how you define urban. In terms of how dense, vibrant and close-knit the campus is, nobody can top Yale.
Like other people said, you can have an awesome time at both of the schools. You should definitely visit both schools (unless you already have). Also, don't try to compare things like social life or quality of the student body at each of these two schools because that's really really hard to do. Assume that both have social opportunities, great students, great academics, sports teams, etc.
What you need to do is determine if you're someone who likes the big city atmosphere, or instead prefers a smaller city where the college (more than the city) is the life of the area.
As far as undergrad v. grad focus is concerned, from what I've heard Yale has much more of an undergrad focus than Columbia. Especially since Columbia College is so small in comparison to the grad schools there.