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Cornell v. Vanderbilt v. Johns Hopkins

HelveticaHelvetica Registered User Posts: 336 Member
Hello everyone! I am about to finish my junior year, and I am really wanting to apply Early Decision to a school. I feel that these three would all be fantastic fits, even though they are all unique. I ultimately would like to go to medical school; however, I might not major in a science. For Cornell and Vandy I debated between Molecular Bio and Anthropology. Johns Hopkins I would most likely go with Evolutionary Biology or even International Relations. There are obviously pros and cons to every school. There are many aspects I would like to know about for each school: quality of academics, social life (will I ever have time to have fun?), course intensity, manageable for a solid gpa, professor accessibility, surrounding area, type of student body. Which school would be the overall best?? (in your opinion) I would realllly appreciate your input!!! Thanks.
Post edited by Helvetica on

Replies to: Cornell v. Vanderbilt v. Johns Hopkins

  • Phead128Phead128 Registered User Posts: 2,091 Senior Member
    Most of the ppl who post here do not attend each of those universities. There are strengths and weaknesses from each of these schools... So take most of what ppl here say very lightly... I honestly cannot speak for Cornell or Vandy since I'm a Hopkins student... I'll be honest about that. None of us are even remotely qualified (yes, we are more knowledgable about each school than the average American joe, that doesn't make us experts)... to even comment on how these three programs compare... Anyone can reiterate rankings, what they've read from College Prow ler, or regurgitate what they've heard from hearsay.

    If you have any questions, you can PM a Cornell, Vandy, or JHU student with any questions you have... Beware you will probably experience very biased views... but these views are far more valueable than what most posters here that have never attended the school can tell you.
  • Hope2getriceHope2getrice Registered User Posts: 1,153 Senior Member
    quality of academics, social life (will I ever have time to have fun?), course intensity, manageable for a solid gpa, professor accessibility, surrounding area, type of student body.

    I will speak specifically to the school I know the most from personal experience about: Johns Hopkins University.
    In terms of quality of Academics, I would place Hopkins at or maybe even above Cornell, with both stronger than Vanderbilt, especially in pre-med and International Relations. Academics at Hopkins is truly great and for classes in the humanities and social sciences, class sizes are very small and typically less than 20 students with some classes as small (that I know of) as 5! It's like an LAC within a pioneering research University. Hopkins has top 10 programs in more than 40 different programs stretching throughout the humanities, social sciences, hard sciences, math, etc. They are recognized internationally and nationally primarily for: Medicine/Pre-Med, Biomedical Engineering, Neuroscience, International Studies, Writing Seminars, French, German, Spanish, Assyrian, Italian, English, History, Public Health, Cell Biology, Genetics, and a whole list of other top programs (including classics, egyptology, gender studies, etc) that, if you major in it at Hopkins, will get you some raised eyebrows and compliments from people in those respective fields. Along with these programs, Hopkins also has a fantastic music program, as it is the owner of the world-renowned Peabody Conservatory of Music that regularly rivals Julliard and Curtiss in prestige and quality.
    In terms of social life, Hopkins is truly what you make of it. The Greek Life is small, meaning that you aren't peer-pressured as forced to take part in it, but it is always there and welcoming to just about anyone who wants to be a part of the parties and brother/sisterhood. Lacrosse is the big sport at Hopkins, and it is truly amazing to see the stadium fill up for Hopkins v. Princeton or v. Duke or v. Navy, etc. School spirit is at an all time peak during this time and it is added to with Spring fair (beer garden, fried oreos, live music, dancing, rides, and fireworks), and Homecoming.
    Course intensity is generally challenging across all majors, though it is common knowledge that engineers have the hardest time here (as they do at just about every school). however, there is still plenty plenty of time for fun. My amazing friend is a Neuroscience pre-med and manages to do research, intern once a week in DC (which is only 45 min or a $7 train ride away!), do extracurriculars, and STILL party at least once a week on the weekends whilst maintaining a 3.8 GPA. Are courses hard? yes. But for students who take on the challenge, Hopkins can be very very rewarding and there is no busy-work (i.e. useless homework assignments). On this front, i would say Hopkins and Cornell are equally rigorous.
    ^As stated above, a solid GPA is definitely manageable, so long as you are willing to put in effort. If you are going to procrastinate and skip any studying or work, as some students at Hopkins do, then yeah...you're not going to go too far...
    Professor accessibility is generally very good. Science professors are always very willing to help, especially during office hours. Humanities professors are the best, however, and go out of their way to introduce you to opportunities for internship, research, etc.
    The surrounding area is pretty good, despite popular myth. Charles Village, where Hopkins is located in baltimore, was rated as a top 10 community in the Nation just last year. Of course, Baltimore will have crime, but most of the crime is in areas farther away from campus where students never need to be. The security has been ranked #1 in the nation for quite a while now, so that shouldn't be too big of an issue. If you are smart enough to consider JHU, then street smarts shouldn' tbee too big of an issue here. Baltimore is actually a very nice place to be. There are very very quirky neighborhoods like Mt. Vernon, Charles Village, Hampden, Tuscany-Canterbury, etc. along with more touristy areas like Inner Harbor, the museums (and there IS a huge museum located right on campus!), etc. It is also very easy to access Washington DC, Philly, and NYC, which is definitely not the case for either Cornell or Vanderbilt.
    The student body is, overall, very smart with your fair share of intellectuals, jocks, pre-professionals, etc. The great thing is, however, that just about any major and type of student can be found at Hopkins and they are almost all, unlike myth again, very willing to help and share and work together despite the cutthroat rumors. In fact, I think most Hopkins students come into Hopkins knowing the cutthroat rumors and working their hardest to NOT be cutthroat, making for a very cohesive and team-oriented environment. Just check out the library if you don't believe me, where the most occupied level is the group-study level.

    With that said, I cannot say that Hopkins is the best here, as Hopkins is indeed not for everyone. However, I can wholeheartedly recommend Hopkins to anyone who is willing and wanting to take advantage of its immense resources and offerings.
  • Phead128Phead128 Registered User Posts: 2,091 Senior Member
    ^^ Nice post :D
  • HelveticaHelvetica Registered User Posts: 336 Member
    Thank y'all so much for the advice. Just reading that post made my sights for JHU a little more intensified. haha I am so glad you dispelled the "cut throat" rumor. That was something that worried me. The one aspect of JHU that frightens me is that they screen their pre med students. Yikes! If my gpa suffers then I will have to fall back on a dazzling personality. haha My over arching fear is getting accepted to one of these schools and then failing miserably! lol I am a hard worker, but the number of brilliant people is profuse. I will definitely need to get my scores higher to make it a little less competitive for these fine institutions. :) The thing bothersome about Vandy is the conservative Southern vibe. Granted, I am a pure bred Arkansan....but I do NOT fit the typical Arkansan by any means. tehe Then, I've heard Cornell can be pretty brutal. I am blessed to be in a country with such a plethora of fabulous universities. Decisions...decisions..... Once again, I will always be gracious for more input! :D
  • Hope2getriceHope2getrice Registered User Posts: 1,153 Senior Member
    haha, thanks phead. I come onto CC when I am procrastinating/taking a break from studying/hw to help dispel some of the rumors about my school :) along with facebooking and looking at random youtube stuff.

    pre-screening pre-meds is definitely not an issue at Hopkins. Students applying to medical school with pre-med advisory are indeed interviewed, evaluated, etc, but are, in no way, forbidden from applying. The purpose of the interview and evaluation is to get to know the student better for when the Hopkins pre-med committee writes the VERY useful 9-15 page letter of recommendation representing the entire JHU backing you as a candidate for medical schools. This letter comes in handy ;) and not every single elite school is as thorough or as successful as Hopkins in this front.
    Don't worry. Pre-med classes are certainly manageable. Pre-med classes tend to be large, but are small in comparison to pre-med classes at Cornell and, I would imagine, Vanderbilt based on school size/undergraduate pop. alone.
    A suffering GPA is usually not too big of a problem, provided it isn't simply awful. The average successful applicant at Hopkins to medical schools has a significantly lower GPA than the average nationwide and at other institutions of comparable or lower prestige. Thus, even if your GPA is not too great, it still might be good enough given the Hopkins name and reputation for rigor.

    edit: in terms of the types of students, I think Johns Hopkins would be a good fit for you again. It definitely isn't a conservative school, but it certainly isn't heavily liberal either. It is fairly moderate to left-leaning, which is pretty unique for a school of this caliber (as I know most top schools are very very left). The student body comes from many ethnicities, states, countries, and regions of the world and it won't be hard to find people that share your views and interests. The location, right in between the north and south of our country, is also very good for students who might not want to be too far in the northeast, or in the south, etc.
    The weather in Baltimore isn't perfect. However, there is much less snow than in Ithaca, NY. I'm not too sure about Vanderbilt in Tennessee, though from what you say about Vanderbilt, I assume you aren't too keen on that school either.
  • midmomidmo Registered User Posts: 3,720 Senior Member
    Since you are in Arkansas, it should not be too difficult to get to Nashville for a visit to Vanderbilt. I highly recommend it.

    I am willing to bet very large amounts of money that the vast majority of CC posters who dump on Vanderbilt have never set foot on the campus. Do yourself a favor and make a visit. Perhaps you will not like what you see, perhaps you will love it. At least you will know for sure you have not been misled by people who don't like anything about the south (not that most of them have ever been there).

    Good luck doing your research. Take a close look at the web sites of the various schools. Read the details about various majors, what the core or equivalent systems require, read the web pages of the profs in the fields that interest you, etc. But don't rely too much on what people on CC have to say if your questions are extremely general. Ask for specific information that you can corroborate, but you will not get a valid answer if you just ask "which is better?"
  • HelveticaHelvetica Registered User Posts: 336 Member
    I really am hoping to visit all three. It might not be feasible for me. :/ I just need to find the absolute perfect fit, even though it is harder than it sounds. haha If I apply ED with an intended major, do I HAVE to stick to that major if I am accepted?? I am interested in various fields and I would not want to be stuck with the wrong choice.
  • midmomidmo Registered User Posts: 3,720 Senior Member
    I don't think there is any requirement to stick with an intended major if you are accepted ED. The only stipulation I can think of is if you are awarded one of the major (named) merit scholarships at Vanderbilt, you can not move that scholarship between schools, that is, you can not be awarded the scholarship by the School of Engineering and then take it to the College of Arts and Science, or vice versa.

    It is a good idea to visit all of the schools, ESPECIALLY if you are applying ED. I can not recommend applying binding ED to a school you have not visited.

    Also, I don't think there is any such thing as 'perfect fit', nor is there any need for it. All of these campuses and schools are large enough and diverse enough to fit a variety of students with a variety of interests.
  • ctyankeectyankee Registered User Posts: 1,410 Senior Member
    Agreed. Forget about perfect fit or anything like it. Find a place where you can see yourself thriving there.
    I ultimately would like to go to medical school; however, I might not major in a science. For Cornell and Vandy I debated between Molecular Bio and Anthropology. Johns Hopkins I would most likely go with Evolutionary Biology or even International Relations.

    First, the reality is that most kids go to college as 'undecided.' Those that think they know what they want to do often change their minds, some multiple times. And that's to be expected. Bottom line, be open to opportunities and biased toward a school that has a variety of great options. But college is not a boutique where you pick out what they do well. You pick what you have a passion for and see where it leads you, big difference. And when I see you write about biology, anthropology and international relations ... dude, you are all over the board. Point being that if you 'might' study anthropology at one school but not at another, it sounds like you're deciding to eat fish because it's not a good steak house.

    Only go early decision if you have stayed overnight at a school AND attended a few classes there in subjects that you are interested in. The Internet is littered with people that felt they never would have gone to a school if they had sat in a class or had a better sense of the place besides seeing the school on a big campus admissions event.
  • MomofWildChildMomofWildChild Registered User Posts: 22,433 Senior Member
    If you are looking at these schools and you are in Arkansas, I would take a look at Rice, too.
  • midmomidmo Registered User Posts: 3,720 Senior Member
    ^^^That is a good suggestion. Rice should be on the list.
  • vociferousvociferous Registered User Posts: 1,410 Senior Member
    Applying ED I would play the percentages and go with the school that has the highest percentage of admits.
  • ctyankeectyankee Registered User Posts: 1,410 Senior Member
    Applying ED I would play the percentages and go with the school that has the highest percentage of admits.

    There really can only be two (broad) outcomes during a college search. One (1) the student finds a school he/she confidently believes is THEIR school of choice or two (2) they don't.

    Assuming the student is being fairly realistic about their chances, why would they then apply early decision to any school other than the one they want? Conversely, if they are truly undecided between multiple schools, why would they go ED at all?

    The answer appears to be to get into the best school that might have you. I say might because this logic could end up with you NOT being selected at the school you didn't really want (yet still applied because you decided to 'game' it) and therefore still trying to get into the school that you really wanted to go to. Oh and the odds may have just gotten harder to get into that school.


    This board is littered with people that will tell you that it is FAR more important of what you do at a school once you get there than anything else. Hopefully, it seems reasonable to you that if you go to a school that you are happy with will give you a better chance of making that a reality. The board is also littered with threads like 'would I be crazy to pass on school X for school Y, I really thought school Y was a better fit for me but people tell me that I would be crazy to pass up on school X.' I also see kids going to really good schools and already talking about transferring out as they aren't satisfied they didn't get into the school that didn't want them. It's the old 'I'll never belong to a club that will have me as a member' problem with the possibility that they will never be happy anywhere.

    If you want to game the system, realized it really may be you that gets played.
  • HelveticaHelvetica Registered User Posts: 336 Member
    It is just really irksome for me because I am the type of person that loves to have a definitive goal and plan in mind. I realize that it is unrealistic. My interests are all over the board!! haha I like to think of myself as multi-faceted, but really it is most likely just indecisive. lol Those majors I listed for the schools were just some that stood out for each school. Who knows? I might fall head over heels for Near Eastern Studies. :) Rice is an option. I have heard it is a stellar school. It just isn't my favorite due to small size and Houston. I don't like humidity. Please, don't take this as Rice bashing, it is Rice for Pete's sake! ha I know perfect fits are unattainable, at least for most people. I am just seeking something that is as close to it as possible. Some of my friend scoff when I retort my reasoning for applying to a school is because it "feels right." Maybe my faith in intuition makes me closer to a transcendentalist than anything! lol Is it very difficult to double major at these schools? Due to my varied interests, I want to have a broad curriculum with a mix of science and social science.
  • IBclass06IBclass06 Registered User Posts: 2,846 Senior Member
    Helvetica wrote:
    I am really wanting to apply Early Decision to a school.
    I'll ask the obvious question: why?

    I only recommend ED for people who really, really fall in love with a school and couldn't see themselves anywhere else (preferably FA should not be an issue). You obviously don't fall into this category. There's no harm in applying EA or rolling to a couple places and not ED.
This discussion has been closed.