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Stanford or MIT?

MyHandIsADolphinMyHandIsADolphin Registered User Posts: 47 Junior Member
I am fortunate enough to have been accepted at both of these phenomenal universities. I want to study Computer Science but I would also like to take a few courses in Psychology, Economics and maybe Business etc.

I aspire to be an entrepreneur or venture-capitalist in the tech space someday, and would like to do an MBA after getting a few years of work experience following my undergrad.

I did not apply for aid at either of the universities, so that isn't a factor I need to consider. I visited both campuses in November and I liked Stanford's campus, weather and student energy more but I also loved MIT, especially the Media Lab.

I want a well-rounded experience, which Stanford is famous for, but MIT seems to have a slightly greater pedigree than Stanford. Another thing I am not sure of is the academic stress at MIT. I have heard that Stanford is a more fun place to be, while MIT can be extremely stressful. So how would you compare the social life at the two schools?

What would you advise me to do? I am an international applicant from India, if that helps. Thank you :)
Post edited by MyHandIsADolphin on

Replies to: Stanford or MIT?

  • superman7129superman7129 Registered User Posts: 89 Junior Member
    Just in my opinion MIT is a great school, but it looks really cutthroat, also i dont know if youve considered the weather as a factor in your decision, which you should i mean come on your gonna be there for at least the next 4 years of your life. MIT would be much better academically but i think that Stanford would be better. If you look at us news week they are both tied for 5th best college in the country. Stanford is in a beautyfull location and the people there should be really chill, but this might be a distraction for you. It all depends on the type of person you are, just try imagining your self in both and see which you fell more comfortable with, it really helps that youve seen both schools for yourself. Im in a similar predicament but with Johns Hopkins University and Cornell University lol. We have about month to decide
  • akiettaakietta Registered User Posts: 114 Junior Member
    ha..ha..ha.. double thread.
  • MyHandIsADolphinMyHandIsADolphin Registered User Posts: 47 Junior Member
    Thanks, superman.


    yeah I posted it on the Stanford and general forums too so I can get different responses. Obviously, different forums will show certain biases.
  • molliebatmitmolliebatmit Registered User Posts: 12,374
    MIT is a great school, but it looks really cutthroat
    It's not. At all.
    MIT seems to have a slightly greater pedigree than Stanford. Another thing I am not sure of is the academic stress at MIT. I have heard that Stanford is a more fun place to be, while MIT can be extremely stressful.
    I don't think either of these factors are actually significantly different between the two schools you're considering -- MIT and Stanford are both world-class schools for computer science, and have excellent business programs and histories of students launching their own businesses. And while MIT is certainly an academically stressful environment, Stanford is going to be just as stressful if you're a computer science major.

    MIT is tough, but there is still time to do the things you want to do. An average courseload, four classes, is equal to 48 units, or 48 hours of class/homework/lab per week. 48 hours is not a trivial number of hours, but there are still plenty more hours in the week for a social life, for hobbies, for student organizations, and for sleep. You will have to learn to prioritize and to manage your time, but if you value something, you can find time for it.

    Will you be able to visit both universities for their student preview weekends, or is that out of the question?
  • MyHandIsADolphinMyHandIsADolphin Registered User Posts: 47 Junior Member
    Thanks for that reply! Unfortunately, I will not be able to visit either school for the student preview weekends.

    What would you say is the primary difference between Life at Stanford and Life at MIT?
  • cellardwellercellardweller Registered User Posts: 1,567 Senior Member
    A big advantage at MIT is that it is fairly easy to double major, especially between engineering and economics or engineering and management. Taking classes at Sloan is easy whether or not you major from the program.

    I would also not say that an MIT education is less well rounded than a Stanford education, especially for engineers. MIT has 8 minimum class requirements in the humanities and many take more. The economics, philosophy, psych (Brain and Cog. Sci), poltical science departments are all among the best and you can always freely cross-register at Harvard.

    It is hard to make broad sweeping statements about the cultures at places such as MIT or Stanford as there is a lot of diversity on each campus. MIT is more tech focused and nearly all freshman share a common curriculum which provides a strong shared experience. Both schools are obviously top notch in CS and it would probably be hard to tell the schools apart based on things like workload as engineers will be very busy at both places. MIT is obviously a more urban campus and Greek life is more present than at Stanford. MIT does not have the semi-pro Div I athletics of Stanford but actual student participipation in varsity sports at MIT (20%) is double that of Stanford (10%) as both schools report around 800 undergraduate students engaged in varsity sports.
  • iceui2iceui2 Registered User Posts: 887 Member
    I've been fortunate enough to have taken classes at both schools, so I have a pretty good idea of life at Stanford and MIT. From your academic interests, I don't think one school is any better than the other - both are the two best engineering schools in the world. Before I came to MIT, I always thought that Stanford was better for entrepreneurship (being at Silicon Valley and all). But I realized that the startup culture at MIT and Boston in general is not inferior to Stanford. So what it ultimately boils down to is:

    Stanford has a HUGE sports environment. There are a lot of athletes and people love to go out to football games or basketball games on a weekly basis. IMO it's a lot more lively. You get a much more wider variety of people since you'll have lots of people studying non-science/engineering majors as well.

    At MIT, almost everyone studies something in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). You get to hang out with more people that are similar to you, so I think the campus is a bit more tight-knit and compacted (also because we have less students). If you're a CS major, it'd seem like almost everyone you meet is also a fellow CS major, so you'd get a lot of pset buddies. We don't have the sort of sports culture that Stanford has, but what we do have is a "hacking" culture. So I think MIT is a lot more quirky, but there are also a wide range of people here so don't feel like you'll not fit in in either place.

    Anyways I hope this helps. BTW you should ask MIT Financial Aid if you can still apply for aid. It's need-blind so it won't hurt to try. There's a chance they can still give you a package.
  • lolToastylolToasty Registered User Posts: 475 Member
    I am in the same predicament but am looking at bio and biomedical engineering. I want to go to medical school at an ivy or a top ranked school. How would premed differ at the two schools? What would be pros and cons regarding my prospects?

    Sent from my SPH-D710 using CC
  • molliebatmitmolliebatmit Registered User Posts: 12,374
    The MIT Careers Office used to have detailed statistics about MIT applicants to medical school, but they have redesigned their website and I cannot find them for the life of me.

    In general, MIT undergrads who apply to medical school are very successful, and MIT is a great place to be interested in biology and medicine -- UROPs in biology with highly-regarded professors are easy to get, and Mass General Hospital is just a T stop away if you want to volunteer. It's also fairly trivial to take the shuttle bus to the Longwood Medical Area if you want to volunteer at other hospitals. If you come to MIT, it's reasonably certain that you will be accepted to medical school (given a good MCAT score, etc), as 90+% percent of MIT applicants are accepted somewhere.

    The wrinkle is that you're aiming for top-ranked medical schools, which makes admission much less predictable. Certainly many MIT alums are admitted to top-ranked medical schools -- I know many people from MIT at HMS, for example, but those are really the cream of the crop. People who are aiming for top medical schools must either be naturally very, very good at acing their classes, or they must engage in GPA protection to a much greater degree than those around them. (Most of the people I know at HMS fall into the former category.) It's tough to know in advance if you're one of those people.
  • collegealum314collegealum314 Registered User Posts: 6,768 Senior Member
    Stanford's dept. of computer science is comparable in quality to MIT's, but that doesn't mean the undergraduate major is necessarily going to be the same. Particularly, I doubt the volume of work wiould be the same.

    U. of Illinois is a top 5 schoo in engineeringl, but I'm sure it is not the same as MIT's in terms of rigor and amt. of work. Similarly, Sloan business school at MIT is often #2 to wharton, but Wharton is much more taxing.
  • datalookdatalook Registered User Posts: 645 Member
    In CS, Stanford is the king. MIT fight for 2nd place with Berkeley and CMU. Rankings by NRC, Shanghai Jiaotong, and business week all confirmed this fact.
  • iceui2iceui2 Registered User Posts: 887 Member
    ^2nd place isn't bad for a school who doesn't even have a CS department. If you want to use rankings, at least use one where MIT has a department in. For EECS, there's no question that MIT is ranked 1st.
  • datalookdatalook Registered User Posts: 645 Member
    MIT's EECS department is a combination of EE and CS, just like Berkeley. Stanford has a CS department and an EE department.

    For CS, US NEWS grdauate school ranking usually lists CMU=MIT=Stanford=UC Berkeley. But based on other rankings, such as the one by national research council (NRC), the one by business week, and the one by Shanghai jiaotong university in China, Stanford is #1.

    For example, here are the results by NRC:

    rank/ program/ R-rank/ S-rank
    1-2 Stanford University Computer Science 1-2 1-2
    1-3 University of California-Berkeley Computer Science 1-2 1-2
    3-8 Carnegie Mellon University Computer Sciences 3-10 3-11
    3-9 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Computer Science 3-5 3-9
    3-9 Princeton University Computer Science 4-14 3-9

    For EE, US NEWS currently have MIT, Stanford, and Berkeley tied as #1. But in the past, usually, MIT was #1, Stanford was #2, and Berkeley was #3. However, NRC has been favoring Stanford in EE ranking for decades. For example, below is the EE PhD program ranking result by NRC most recently:

    program/ R rank / S rank
    Stanford, 1-1, 1-3
    MIT, 5-16, 6-15
    Berkeley, 3-11, 6-17

    I am not trying to use NRC ranking to prove that Stanford is better than MIT and Berkeley in EE. In my opinion, these 3 schools are tied up in quality of EE departments.

    However, for CS, I think Stanford has the edge. It is simply the most exciting and the most apealing school due to its numerous milestone contributions to information technology.
  • underarchieverunderarchiever Registered User Posts: 102 Junior Member
    The NRC ranking is obviously quite flawed. Very few people in academic pay attention to it. Here is some of the reviews: Erroneous NRC Ranking Data for UW CSE. One simply cannot use that as proof that Stanford is superior. If you accept Jiaotong University's ranking, you should also accept that MIT's social science has an edge over Stanford's, and I don't think so. Here is QS world computer science ranking: QS World University Rankings - Topuniversities. Stanford is #2.
  • underarchieverunderarchiever Registered User Posts: 102 Junior Member
    More comments on NRC to digest: http://www.ams.org/profession/data/annual-survey/mucha.pdf.

    You're Not No. 1 | Inside Higher Ed

    I have not seen such widespread dismssive attitude towards the NRC ranking in previous releases.
This discussion has been closed.