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Brown vs Columbia vs Princeton

tarkov77tarkov77 2 replies1 threads New Member
I was surprised on Ivy Day to learn that I have been admitted to Brown, Columbia, Dartmouth, and Princeton. Of these, I have eliminated only Dartmouth as an option. Other than that, I am mostly clueless. I have visited Brown, Columbia, and Princeton. I am partial to Brown and Columbia because they I've always preferred the vibe and resources of city schools. I don't think there's anything hypocritical about being interested in both open and core curriculum schools--if I go to Brown, I'll create my own sort of "core," as I believe in the importance of reading and studying the classics in ALL areas (literature, philosophy, science, etc.). At the same time, I appreciate the flexibility of the Brown curriculum, and the pass/fail option, as I'll taking more advanced classes outside of my major won't threaten my GPA. I understand that the "prestige" rankings go: Princeton > Columbia > Brown, from highest to lowest. Each school interests me, but something clicks with me at Columbia and Brown. Naturally, everyone in my family and community is pushing me towards Princeton for its brand and stellar reputation. Princeton's campus is very nice, and I've heard good things from former students.I intend to major in English and attend graduate school (law or business) post-grad. In a rankings list I stumbled upon, the English dept. at Brown ranked higher than that of Princeton and Columbia. Any thoughts? Is the difference in reputation (in the eyes of grad schools and employers) really that significant between Princeton and Brown? How about the difference in English dept. at Brown and Columbia? Thanks.

On a last note, my feelings towards Brown are largely influenced by a friend of mine who is a freshman at Brown, and who has, to say the least, fallen head-over-heels in love with Brown. (Note: I understand that what's right for him might not be right for me. But the open curriculum and "happiest students in the country" thing sound like a good deal.)
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Replies to: Brown vs Columbia vs Princeton

  • PennCAS2014PennCAS2014 378 replies8 threads Member
    Hi there- i don't have too much to add here because I chose Penn over all of these schools. But the reason I'm commenting is to say that you should not fear choosing either Columbia or Brown over Princeton if you prefer them. Yes, it's true that Princeton is more "prestigious" than Brown, though I think you would be surprised how similar Columbia and Princeton are in terms of prestige while still acknowledging that Princeton has the edge. Columbia's Nobel list and world renowned graduate and professional schools, however, do quite a bit to nearly equalize Columbia with Princeton in a lot of circles- though, not all. But the only area in which the difference in prestige in these schools will matter is with family and friends. I was getting a lot of pressure when choosing colleges to go to Yale because it was the "most prestigious" school I got into. But at the end of the day I knew it wouldn't have been as good a fit for me as Penn and so I went with my gut and it really paid off. At this level of school, law schools and jobs will not care at all which school you went to as long as you thrive there. And you're most likely to thrive where you feel excited, happy, supported and able to pursue your interests while getting the highest GPA possible. If you'll feel those things most at Princeton then I say go for it! But if you'll feel them more at Brown or Columbia, then going to Princeton just for the marginal improvement in name recognition will probably be ultimately unsatisfying.

    I will also add that I had a preference for city schools too and I cannot express how greatly living in a city affected my college education in the best way possible. If you think you're made to go to college in a city, I wold think long and hard before matriculating to a school in one of the quietest (and most beautiful- but still quiet) suburbs in America.
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  • harvard_and_berkeleyharvard_and_berkeley 1170 replies8 threads Senior Member
    At this level, the differences in prestige are insignificant, especially at the undergraduate level. Visit if you can, and go with your gut.
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  • tarkov77tarkov77 2 replies1 threads New Member
    Immensely helpful--just the sort of validation I need after a day full of reductive comments like "Obviously go to Princeton. It's Princeton!" I'm going to visit each, but I'll focus on Brown and Columbia. Thanks for the insightful feedback
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