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I'm completely torn between Harvard and Stanford. Thoughts?

123fortandbree123fortandbree 0 replies1 threads New Member
Hey guys, so I want to go into computer science and business/economics.

Community: I feel like Harvard's atmosphere and social scene would be a much better fit for me in almost all aspects. I would most likely be happier going to Harvard than Stanford.

Academics: I know that Stanford is top at computer science, while Harvard falls behind. However, I could cross register to MIT. I also know that Harvard is only slightly better than Stanford in econ/business. In general, for what I want, Stanford academically seems to be the better fit.

Prestige: For computer science, Stanford has the edge. In general, however, Harvard would have the edge. For economics, Harvard would have a slight edge.

Location: I like Boston much better than Palo Alto.

I chose Columbia and a few other colleges as backups, but because of Columbia's core curriculum, I wouldn't be able to do both cs and econ.
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Replies to: I'm completely torn between Harvard and Stanford. Thoughts?

  • sushirittosushiritto 4226 replies13 threads Senior Member
    edited October 10
    Weather: Boston sucks. Stanford? Wear shorts and flip flops 24/7/365 (yes, even in the rain :smiley: ).

    A much discussed topic. But, hey, why not again?
    edited October 10
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  • Groundwork2022Groundwork2022 2463 replies47 threads Senior Member
    Are you wondering which one you should apply to for early admission? Frankly I think you should worry about which one to attend AFTER you've been accepted to both.

    For ED, have you run the NPC to see if one is more affordable than the other? That might be a factor too.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 7830 replies66 threads Senior Member
    When you have the two acceptances in hand, then worry about it.
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  • skieuropeskieurope 39799 replies7250 threads Super Moderator
    edited October 10
    Either Harvard or Stanford may make the decision for you; apply to both and see what happens. If you're asking about which to REA, and you have no legacy to either, then flip a coin. I don;t see either accepting an applicant in the REA round that they would not accept RD. The only possible thing to think about is that if Stanford does not accept you REA, they will likely reject you, where Harvard would likely defer (and ultimately reject).
    I could cross register to MIT
    This is one of those things that sounds great when you're an applicant, but it is not something to base your decision on. The reality is that the concept of x-reg looks great on paper. The reality of the logistics makes it an almost non-starter. Harvard and MIT are on different academic calendars; their breaks do not coincide. You get no relief if an MIT final is on the same day as 2 Harvard finals. The transit time between the campus makes course scheduling difficult. etc etc. If you want MIT CS, then apply to MIT.
    edited October 10
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  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls 5708 replies1 threads Senior Member
    I am probably biased since I have degrees from two schools that might be considered two of the four biggest rivals for Harvard, Stanford being one of them.

    I think that the difference for computer science is significant, with Stanford being way stronger with a far better reputation. I don't think that there is any meaningful difference in terms of the overall reputation of the schools, or their reputations for business and economics. These are considered to be two of the top three universities in the US, if not in the world. Whichever one happens to be higher ranked this year might be the other way around next year.

    One issue that matters to me (and might show my bias) is that Stanford became known for business partly due to the great success of Silicon Valley. There has not been the same level of recent success from the east coast / Massachusetts high tech scene. MIT and other schools in Massachusetts produce truly great engineers. IMHO the difference in business success is largely due to a difference between Stanford style management and venture capital (see "Sand Hill Road"), versus east coast Harvard style management and venture capital. As an east cost high tech person I worked for many east coast style companies, and suffered from a lot of frustration and witnessed a lot of failures. In every case the engineers knew what they needed to do, but the east coast style managers would not let us. Dilbert catches this well. I ended up working for a successful west coast company which had a different and far more successful management style. The engineers still knew what we needed to do. However, the managers would let us, and it worked from both a technical and business perspective. This makes me prefer Stanford for management as well.

    The social scene is different. Harvard is right in the middle of a great city, and right in the middle of Harvard square (which is probably largely there due to Harvard). Stanford is approximately in a wealthy suburb of something (San Francisco, San Jose, Sunnyvale, ...). However, I never ran out of things to do at Stanford.
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  • MeddyMeddy 516 replies35 threads Member
    Your entire post screams, "Harvard!" Best of luck to you.
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  • jzducoljzducol 758 replies13 threads Member
    edited October 10
    OP, if you are of the caliber of either school and have an interest in business, chances are you will not be doing computer coding as a career after college anyway. If you want to do CS internships in Silicone V, Harvard will be very useful as its rarity there and the same can be said of Stanford in East Coast banking. In either case, you will not be at a disadvantage one way or the other.

    In terms of SCEA you have an 80% chance of being rejected at S and 80% of being deferred at H. Psychologically, a deferral is better than a rejection before the holiday season, IMO.
    edited October 10
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  • sushirittosushiritto 4226 replies13 threads Senior Member
    edited October 10
    Are you an uptight wound-too-tight type person or are you laid back and care free?
    edited October 10
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 79055 replies702 threads Senior Member
    jzducol wrote: »
    In terms of SCEA you have an 80% chance of being rejected at S and 80% of being deferred at H. Psychologically, a deferral is better than a rejection before the holiday season, IMO.

    However, that suggests that H may defer many who have essentially no hope of admission, while S defers only those who are truly possible but not certain admits while doing early rejection of those with no hope of admission. I.e. H gives many deferred EA applicants false hopes through spring.
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  • skieuropeskieurope 39799 replies7250 threads Super Moderator
    ucbalumnus wrote: »
    jzducol wrote: »
    In terms of SCEA you have an 80% chance of being rejected at S and 80% of being deferred at H. Psychologically, a deferral is better than a rejection before the holiday season, IMO.

    However, that suggests that H may defer many who have essentially no hope of admission, while S defers only those who are truly possible but not certain admits while doing early rejection of those with no hope of admission. I.e. H gives many deferred EA applicants false hopes through spring.

    True, but that's what I basically said earlier. Nobody can know if they will be accepted REA for sure. And almost all the Harvard deferrals will be rejected come March. So as @jzducol implied, which would the OP prefer as worst-case scenario? To be rejected before Christmas or to be rejected in March?
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34828 replies394 threads Senior Member
    This is all about what OP wants, what he thinks, what environment he likes. Nothing about what S or H adcoms want. Nor whether he's got even a modest chance on his own app. Or knows what it takes. Columbia as backup?


    Not how it works. It comes across rather presumptuous. Or fooling with us.
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  • MWolfMWolf 1805 replies13 threads Senior Member
    edited October 10
    This is all about what OP wants, what he thinks, what environment he likes. Nothing about what S or H adcoms want. Nor whether he's got even a modest chance on his own app. Or knows what it takes. Columbia as backup?


    Not how it works. It comes across rather presumptuous. Or fooling with us.

    I vote for "fooling with us".
    edited October 10
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  • ProfessorPlum168ProfessorPlum168 4168 replies89 threads Senior Member
    This is the type of drivel that brings down CC. A self bragging post more than anything. Is there really a question here?
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  • BellaMorganBellaMorgan 108 replies1 threads Junior Member
    I feel like you should think about it the moment you receive an invitation letters from the said universities.
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  • juilletjuillet 12690 replies161 threads Super Moderator
    "Community: I feel like Harvard's atmosphere and social scene would be a much better fit for me in almost all aspects. I would most likely be happier going to Harvard than Stanford."

    There's your answer. Any reputational differences between Stanford and Harvard are so small as to be negligible. I'm on the West Coast in tech at a big household name tech company and yeah, Stanford has a better reputation in tech on the West Coast - but Harvard is still HARVARD. We recruit there, too. (And frankly, I know more Michigan and Washington grads at my very large company than Stanford and Harvard grads. I know more Waterloo grads here than Harvard and Stanford grads!)

    Also consider that you might change your mind about your major and what you want to do. I started off as a political science major in college and changed to sociology and then psychology. My husband wanted to major in aerospace engineering and be an astronaut since he was 3 years old; he decided that wasn't for him three years into college, and ended up graduating with a statistics degree. Of my working professional friends very few of them are doing exactly what they expected to be doing even 5 years ago, let alone when they were high school seniors. Go where you're going to be happy.
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  • jym626jym626 56036 replies2918 threads Senior Member
    These threads crack me up. So where is the “I only have a 1250 SAT but I am retaking and expect to get a 1580” post??
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  • MWolfMWolf 1805 replies13 threads Senior Member
    Can we call it already?
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  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri 9086 replies337 threads Senior Member
    What's wrong with Cornell? New York's nice too. And the people I know who graduated from there seemed to like it.
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