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Harvard, Yale, Princeton, or Columbia?

waterisgudwaterisgud Registered User Posts: 2 New Member

I'm trying to choose between Harvard, Princeton, and Yale. I'm really into film, creative writing, philosophy, English, and theater. I just had a few questions, especially for those who have knowledge of each school's arts culture. You don't need to answer these questions directly if you don't know the answers to them--any info/advice is appreciated!

-I know Yale is known as the 'artsy ivy.' I see this as a pro and a con. It's great that there'll be a larger community of artists, but does this make the arts culture a bit more competitive than the others? (e.g. Are creative workshops harder to get into? Is it harder to establish relationships with professors or gain access to resources?)

-I'm currently leaning towards Princeton, but I worry that the workload won't allow me to pursue my artistic passions. Is the rigor of {Princeton really that much more significant than Yale or Harvard? That's the impression I got from Princeton Preview.

-Which school is the most generous with money? Like, does each school have an office where I could request funding for say, a short film or a play?

-Is it true that Harvard has many more TA's than Princeton and Yale? Is Princeton's undergraduate focus overemphasized?

-Does Princeton really have the best Creative Writing department? This is what seems to be the verdict online.

-I've reserved a seat in both Princeton's Humanities Sequence and Yales Directed Studies course. IS one known to be any better than the other?

-I'm interested in doing Princeton's Bridge Year Program. Are there any similar Gap year opportunities at Yale or Harvard?

Sorry for so many questions! Thank you!

Replies to: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, or Columbia?

  • LoveTheBardLoveTheBard Registered User Posts: 2,075 Senior Member
    First of all, congratulations -- what a wonderful problem to have!

    I presume that cost is not factoring into your decision–– Or is it?? Have you visited any or all of the campuses?

    If you are interested in doing an intensive humanities core, Yale's DS is about as good as it gets. That said, Princeton's Hume Sequence is also quite good. Harvard doesn't have the same type of program. You can, of course, always cobble together your own program, but it's not the same as having a well-defined and well-structured program and a cohort with which to do it.

    Princeton's Bridge program is quite unique, but there is, of course, no guaranty that you'll get in, so that should not be the deciding factor. All of the schools will allow you to defer enrollment for a year and take a gap year, but it would not be funded and it would not be organized by the school.

    I would take Harvard off the table (no humanities core, less undergrad focused, not as "artsy"), leaving Princeton and Yale as the two contenders. Assume that you will find financial and faculty support at both, and make your choice based on fit considering such things as location (urban vs. suburban), curricula, unique programs (eating clubs vs. residential colleges), DS vs. Hume Seq, Bridge program, etc.

    Let us know what you choose!
  • merc81merc81 Registered User Posts: 9,574 Senior Member
    Princeton seems to receive the most consistent online mentions from your group with respect to creative writing, but Yale, Harvard and Columbia receive recognition as well:


  • boudersbouders Registered User Posts: 2,494 Senior Member
    It's unethical to deposit at more than one college.
    -I've reserved a seat in both Princeton's Humanities Sequence and Yales Directed Studies course. IS one known to be any better than the other?
  • waterisgudwaterisgud Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    @bouders We were encouraged to reserve a seat before matriculating (the person reading my application automatically put me into directed studies because I expressed interest in my app)
  • PtonAlumnusPtonAlumnus Registered User Posts: 297 Junior Member
    Since students generally attend only one of HYP it is difficult for us to make accurate comparisons. Each person can tell you aspects of each university so that you have more information so that you can make an informed decision.

    Princeton’s Creative Writing Department is outstanding. Small seminars of perhaps 8 to 10 students meet with published authors who will review your writing with you. Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and current U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith is the Director of Princeton’s Program in Creative Writing. Graduates of the program include best-selling novelists Jonathan Safran Foer ’99, author of Everything is Illuminated, and Jodi Picoult ’87, who has written two novels that debuted as number one on The New York Times’ bestseller list. Jodi has has published 26 novels in 22 years that have been translated in 34 languages in 35 countries. Eight of her books have been number one on the New York Times bestseller list, including “My Sister’s Keeper,” “Second Glass” and “The Story Teller.” Picoult credited former creative writing Professor Mary Morris with shaping who she is today. Foer credits Professor Oates as “the first person ever to make me think that I should try to write in any serious way.” Professor Oates advised him on his senior thesis which won the Princeton Senior Creative Writing Thesis Prize. He later expanded it into his first novel, Everything is Illuminated, published in 2002 which garnered wide acclaim and great success.

    In recent years Princeton has made a major effort to enhance the support for the performing arts. The Lewis Center is an example of this increased emphasis. You should become familiar with the Program in Theater certificate. https://ua.princeton.edu/academic-units/program-theater Film study is conducted in the Program in Visual Arts Certificate. https://ua.princeton.edu/academic-units/program-visual-arts English majors with your interests can take tracks in Arts and Media, Theater and Performance Studies, and Creative Writing. https://english.princeton.edu/undergraduate/program Funding requests for producing a short play or film would be through a professor in the related programs. I know students have received funding to complete their independent work but do not know the percentage of successful funding requests. I can think of 11 theater groups at Princeton. All universities utilize some TA but my impression is that Princeton uses fewer TA than other universities. The emphasis at Princeton is on undergraduate education.

    Good Luck in your decision. You can obtain a great education at all three universities. I hope that you choose to be a Tiger!
  • jzducoljzducol Registered User Posts: 669 Member
    I don't know much about film programs at these schools. All I know is that Harvard College has produced arguably the most stars (many of them at a young age) in film industry, from actors Matt Damon, Natalie Portman, etc, to directors like Damien Chazelle etc. I imagine in a business where getting an early break is important, Harvard College's deep and long connection to film/media industry can be a great resource.
  • PublisherPublisher Registered User Posts: 6,817 Senior Member
    For film, script writing, theatre, I would suggest a school not on your list = USC (University of Southern California). Has a very, selective program in writing for television & movies.

    Among your current options, there is no wrong choice.

  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri Registered User Posts: 8,305 Senior Member
    @bouders, It's only unethical to have 2 deposits in after May 1st. As long as OP declines the others by May 1st he's fine.
  • CU123CU123 Registered User Posts: 3,073 Senior Member
    ...which begs the question why would you ever put two deposits down? The spots are already reserved for the applicant once admitted.

    It’s always interesting to me for someone who has the resume/background to get into these schools with multiple admits, yet seems to know next to nothing about them.
  • tdy123tdy123 Registered User Posts: 590 Member
    @jzducol "All I know is that Harvard College has produced arguably the most stars (many of them at a young age) in film industry, from actors Matt Damon, Natalie Portman," Matt Damon's first movie role was at 18, a few months after starting Harvard. Natalie Portman's first movie role was at 13, well before she graduated High School, let alone enrolled in Harvard. Using those two as examples of Harvard's excellence in training actors is about as accurate as crediting Yale for Jodie Foster's acting debut at age six....
  • Penn95Penn95 Registered User Posts: 2,352 Senior Member
    edited April 13
    @waterisgud I think it is a bit of an overkill to try to parse differences amongst the three schools (HYP), especially for a field where there dont seem to be a lot of differences. ( its not like you will be studying engineering for example where princeton is clearly superior to Yale and Harvard, or econ where Harvard, Princeton are clearly superior to Yale).

    I honestly think you should go with where you felt most at home given that there are no differences in quality. your chances of doing well are much higher at the place you fit in best. All that said, if you are a more artistically inclined person i would lean towards Harvard or Yale. Yale is probably the artiest but Harvard has a very long tradition in the performing arts. Princeton is more rigorous less so inclined towards the arts.
  • jzducoljzducol Registered User Posts: 669 Member
    @tdy123 There are a lot kids who had acting careers at places like HYP. Like most of these kids, neither Damon nor Portman were stars when they entered Harvard; they only became household names years after they left college. Of course, Jodie Foster already achieved teenage stardom way before college.
  • privatebankerprivatebanker Registered User Posts: 3,778 Senior Member
    Brooke Shields at Princeton as well.
  • boudersbouders Registered User Posts: 2,494 Senior Member
    Portman filmed The Phantom Menace when she was in high school. Her acceptance to Harvard was a result of that role, rather than the other way around.
  • skieuropeskieurope Super Moderator Posts: 42,005 Super Moderator
    .which begs the question why would you ever put two deposits down? The spots are already reserved for the applicant once admitted.
    To be clear, the OP did not say that s/he put 2 deposits down.S/he said she reserved a seat in the Princeton Humanities sequence and whatever the Yale terminology is for applying to DS. I believe, and correct me if I'm wrong, an accepted student can do that with having yet deposited.
    All I know is that Harvard College has produced arguably the most stars (many of them at a young age) in film industry, from actors Matt Damon, Natalie Portman, etc, to directors like Damien Chazelle etc.
    As one who is very supportive of Harvard, I have to point out that today there are a slew of colleges stronger in film than Harvard (or YP for that matter), and that the department was considerably weaker when Damon, Portman, et.al. attended. Damon has said that it was a class taught by Anthony Kubiak, who has since left, that inspired Good Will Hunting. But whatever success these had in later life, it was not solely from studying film at Harvard.
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