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Harvard vs. MIT

BenefactorDBenefactorD Registered User Posts: 7 New Member
edited August 2013 in College Search & Selection
Hey guys, so I recently was accepted to Harvard and MIT, but haven't decided which school to attend yet. Any advice in choosing from prospective students of either school or from current students would be great!

(PS: I plan on studying computer engineering, and physics/astronomy... and the financial aid from both is almost the same)

My friend helped me compile a little pros/cons list:

MIT (pros): much better in computer engineering, with rigorous work load.
Harvard (pros): much better in physics and astronomy.
MIT (cons): rigorous work load... I think I could handle it, but I also want to enjoy college.
(physics and astronomy programs are not that strong.)
Harvard (cons): non-existent (?) computer engineering program.

Social Scene:
MIT (pros): from what I've heard, good parties and many frats.
Harvard (pros): nice crowd. Socially well rounded.
MIT (cons): I've been to MIT a couple of times... some kids scare me. I'm also afraid the work load alienates a lot of people.
Harvard (cons): snobby people? or down to earth?

Both appeal to me (though MIT does slightly more)

Both are very prestigious obviously. Harvard a bit more so. Also, thinking further down the road: a Harvard degree may look more impressive for an employer... On the other hand, if I get a degree in computer engineering, MIT is ranked #1, so that may look better.

Dorms: (?)
I have only seen the inside of Harvard dorms so far. How are MIT/Harvard dorms?? How is dorm life?

Harvard can introduce me to more people in more diverse subject areas... just in case I need some lawyer friends in the future! :P

ALSO, please realize that I know my list is based largely off of hear-say/stereotypes of both schools... Please correct any statements I may have made that you don't agree with.

Thanks for any help!

(btw, I'm visiting both campuses before I make my final choice, but a preliminary discussion would be great too!)
Post edited by BenefactorD on

Replies to: Harvard vs. MIT

  • bringtheheatbringtheheat Registered User Posts: 18 New Member
    a) Congrats on the acceptances! That's fantastic!
    b) This is a very tough choice because both schools are top top top top in the world. The one problem I have with this is that I personally think that MIT would be better because of your major, but Harvard is...Harvard. Allegedly, Harvard is not THAT great for undergrad (by that great i mean it is still probably amazing but it isn't quite as good as some others). MIT, on the other hand, is a fantastic school with great undergrad, but as you said it is really rigorous. At both schools you will be surrounded by people that are intensely intelligent to the point of weirdness or scariness, as you said. I'm from Massachusetts and it is commonly known the there are some strange folk up in Cambridge lol. Honestly, I would go MIT, but if you go Harvard I totally get it because it is Harvard and an amazing school.
    c) Congrats again!
    d) Would you mind posting your stats just so I/other people can see your amazingness and how you got into such schools?
  • CutAHoleInABoxCutAHoleInABox Registered User Posts: 210 Junior Member
    Just a quick question, how do you know about financial aid from Harvard already? I don't think it's out yet...
  • BenefactorDBenefactorD Registered User Posts: 7 New Member
    @ CutAHole (lol @ your name btw)
    >I live a city over from Cambridge and they mailed it out yesterday... came today via express mail. It probably takes longer for places outside the Boston Area, but you should be getting it soon?

    > a&c) Thanks :]
    b) you read my mind (or post lol) on that one, thanks for the input!
    -SAT Math: 780, CR: 780, Writing: 760.
    -SAT II: Math 780, US History 720, Chem 740 (I think), Lit. 720 (I think)
    -GPA: 4.06
    (GPA scale: AP counting out of 4.5, honors 4.0, College Prep. 3.5... 100-97,97-93,93-90... )
    -4AP's last year, 4 this year (two sciences, chem and physics, this year)
    -President of 3 clubs, NHS member, no sports unfortunately :[
    -Spent the summer at Harvard actually, so that probably helped my chances...
    -Can't think of anything else that could be a contributing factor
  • BenefactorDBenefactorD Registered User Posts: 7 New Member
    I just looked at an official template for this kind of stuff, and just some more stats:

    Gender: M
    Ethnicity: White/Other (Born in Europe, moved here when I was young)
    Income Bracket: parent's income between 50-75k/year (combined)
    Rank: 1st in senior class
    AP Scores: AP Lang. 5, AP Calc BC. 5, AP Comp.Sci. 4, AP US Hist. 4
    Job: Cashier at local Supermarket
    Awards: A couple general ones here and there
    Interview: I got a second interview (on campus with one of the ad. coms.) but my first one with an alum went much much better... I got a bit nervous with my ad com interview, but I guess it wasn't that terrible after all :/
    Community Service Hours: I think, well over 600 total over my hs career

    anyway, more about Harvard/MIT, please post some suggestions :] ty
  • CutAHoleInABoxCutAHoleInABox Registered User Posts: 210 Junior Member
    Wow, nice! Congrats.
    Haha, I'm not the one who got into Harvard, but my sibling did, which is why I'm interested.

    Just wondering, what do you mean by spending the summer at Harvard?
  • kameronsmithkameronsmith Registered User Posts: 1,691 Senior Member
    Just wanted to note that Harvard DOES have Computer Engineering through the School of Applied Sciences.

    Here's an info thing for undergrads: http://www.seas.harvard.edu/admissions/pdf/Undergrad.pdf
  • collegehelpcollegehelp Registered User Posts: 6,523 Senior Member
    You should choose MIT. This shouldn't be such a difficult decision. MIT is actually slightly stronger than Harvard in physics. The big MIT advantage is in engineering. Harvard only had about 30 engineering bachelors degrees last year, all in "engineering science". MIT had almost 500 bachelors grads in engineering, including 89 alone in electrical. I think the MIT department is called "electrical engineering and computer science".
  • jessiehljessiehl Registered User Posts: 3,328 Senior Member
    Really...people can give you advice here, but you'll get a better idea from going to MIT's Campus Preview Weekend and whatever the Harvard equivalent is.

    As far as dorms go, MIT's housing system is pretty unique. You get to pick your dorm (I won't go into the whole process here, you can find threads about it on the MIT board) and the dorms tend to be very close-knit and have real, organic, lasting cultures. Many people voluntarily live in the same place all four years (I did). As you said, there are lots of fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups. Social grouping is based largely on living groups and activities, very little on graduating class. It's a cooperative atmosphere and people tend to become very close, because in such an intense academic environment you have to support each other.

    Also, where did you get the ludicrous idea that MIT physics and astronomy are not that strong? MIT easily has one the top five physics programs in the country, and a lot of the students do astro.
  • DunninLADunninLA Registered User Posts: 4,271 Senior Member
    where did OP get the idea H was stronger in Physics & Astronomy? I cannot answer for OP, but this is a logical starting point:


    1 Cal Tech 4.91
    2 Princeton 4.79
    3 Cal Berkeley 4.65
    4 Harvard 4.49
    5 Chicago 4.36
    6 Cal Santa Cruz 4.31
    7 Arizona 4.10
    8 MIT 4.00
    9 Cornell 3.98
    10 Texas 3.65


    1 Harvard 4.91
    2 Princeton 4.89
    3 MIT 4.87
    4 Cal Berkeley 4.87
    5 Cal Tech 4.81

    That is the current NRC publication. They were supposed to come out with an update about six months ago... I wonder when it is coming out? 15 years old is pretty old data even when evaluating faculty.
  • ScipioScipio Super Moderator Posts: 8,431 Super Moderator
  • jessiehljessiehl Registered User Posts: 3,328 Senior Member
    Even if 15 year-old data was actually meaningful, rankings of 1 vs 3 or 4 vs 8 are not, particularly, and they still render the comment "physics and astronomy programs are not that strong" completely ludicrous.
  • BenefactorDBenefactorD Registered User Posts: 7 New Member
    @ jessiehl: sorry, obviously MIT has an awesome Physics/Astro proram (I mean... it's MIT) but I only meant to say that its not as strong as Harvard.

    @Scipio: thanks! that did help... I don't really think I fall into any of the categories of students that shouldn't go to Harvard. I'm not in it just for the name, I can accept not being among the smartest at the school, etc.

    @DunninLA: yah, I used the same rankings... I looked up Harvard's computer engineering and they weren't ranked, but apparently they have a program... which is good.

    @kameronsmith: THANK YOU!! I haven't seen this yet... I need to do more research -.- This looked really interesting. Robotics and all different kinds of engineering (which admittedly MIT is better at) that I'm interested in.

    @CutAHole: I spent the summer there through a program run out of the Education Grad. School... worked to design a freshman program at my high school. About 20 hours a week there... if not more lol.

    Final question: I know Harvard/MIT have programs that you can go to one school and take some classes at the other school. Is it possible for me to go to School A and take School B's stronger classes? (Example: go to Harvard and take MIT comp. engineering classes? or vice-versa?) Is anyone actually doing something like this that has any advice??

    Thanks for the help so far guys! You've all been really great!
  • kameronsmithkameronsmith Registered User Posts: 1,691 Senior Member
    I do believe there is a program for Harvard students to take classes at MIT and vice versa. However, Harvard has worked hard to develop a strong enough science & engineering department that fewer students are taking advantage of this.

    I'm not sure about how many MIT students end up taking some Harvard classes.
  • Hope2getriceHope2getrice Registered User Posts: 1,153 Senior Member
    Harvard. 10 char
  • physicsnutphysicsnut Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    its cool I was kinda wondering the same thing...
    do you guys know anything about the grad progams too? I mean is there any remarkable difference between graduate and undergrad in those universities?

    besides BenefactorD you may check this link:
    Physics News Update Number 241 - HARVARD HAS THE BEST PHYSICS DEPARTMENT
    but anyway I myself would like MIT better :D
This discussion has been closed.