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Columbia vs Kenyon

ahmedshetaahmedsheta Registered User Posts: 175 Junior Member
So, I'm an international student who got accepted to both Kenyon and Columbia. At first, it may seem obvious that any person should choose Columbia over Kenyon. However, reading some threads about Columbia's community makes me question which one I should go to. Here are the points that I'm taking into consideration while comparing both:

1- Academics. I'm into physics/mathematics. Of course, Columbia's physics department is one of the strongest across the US, while Kenyon's physics department is 321, which makes me not so comfortable in that aspect. In addition, the department is very small (with ~8 students graduating each year and 6 professors), which means more limited resources in that area. There aren't also advanced courses like those offered at other top places (including Columbia). And since Kenyon is a college rather than a university, there are not that many research opportunities.

2-Post-Graduate Studies. In the meantime, I think I will probably go to a graduate school after finishing college. I wanted to ask if Columbia's name will offer an advantage while applying for graduate schools? In addition, Columbia offers more research opportunities, which is, from what I read, a significant component in graduate schools applications.

3-Prestige. People argue that one should not consider prestige, and I do believe that prestige should be an extraneous element, but let's face it: I am an international student, and if I decide to go anywhere in the world, Columbia's name will mean better job prospects.

4-Community. From what I learned from my interviewer and from reading threads on the internet, Kenyon's community seems to fit me well--"quoted from another thread" warmth/enthusiasm/support. These are elements whose absence makes me uncomfortable and very stressed in any place I go, regardless of how great this place is. I've read that Columbia's community seems to be the opposite--individualistic, goal-oriented, and intensely competitive rather than cooperative.


Columbia beats Kenyon in all but the last criterion. The problem is that it is one of the most important criteria that I consider. I don't want to go to a place that will benefit me but will ultimately lead me to spend the 4 years of the college experience unhappy. So, do you have any comments about any of the above points (I may be misunderstanding something, and the internet is not always the best resource), and which do you think would be a better option for me?

Thanks a lot for your input!!

Replies to: Columbia vs Kenyon

  • merc81merc81 Registered User Posts: 8,070 Senior Member
    edited April 2017
    Firstly, I'd recommend significant diligence with respect to undergraduate physics rankings. Though one seems to exist on a peripheral website, I wouldn't regard that source as credible.

    Regarding Kenyon specifically, their obvious strength in comparison to Columbia would be their pure undergraduate focus. Since this probably drew you to look into Kenyon as you began your college search, it might also be a good reason to maintain your interest. In terms of physics, Kenyon recently supported an Apker Award finalist, a significant recognition for undergraduate research in the field. By this standard, your efforts at Kenyon would know no "ceiling." Research opportunities may, in cases, be inversely correlated with the enrollment of a school. In your immediate environment, you would be surrounded by classically collegiate, Gothic architecture that form the backdrop for Middle Path.

    Columbia, of course, would be another terrific option and, as different as it would be for you in comparison to Kenyon, could offer you, beyond its excellent academics, an awesome, urban, New York City experience.

    Good luck with your decision, undoubtedly a tough one for you, @ahmedsheta.
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