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Berkelely College of Chemistry vs. Northwestern ISP

chem4321chem4321 Registered User Posts: 21 New Member
edited April 2013 in Northwestern University
My son is deciding between these two as a chemistry major. Here is what we have been able to tell and appreciate any additional thoughts:

1. Prestige-wise, while Northwestern rates higher in the US News Ranking, most people in California where we live either view Berkeley as more impressive or view them as equal. The chemistry department itself is ranked higher at Berkeley, although Northwestern is very good. ISP is viewed well within Northwestern, but doesn't seem to be known externally. Overall, leans a bit to Berkeley.

2. Research: ISP students have almost guaranteed research. It takes more effort at Berkeley, but it seems like people who really try can get it. Overall leans a bit to Northwestern.

3. Class size: Very small classes at ISP, vs. Berkeley, although upper division classes at Berkeley should also be pretty small. This one favors Northwestern.

4. Rigor/GPA impact: Both seem to have about a B average in a very competitive group of students. ISP requires a lot more depth in math and physics that might become challenging. Berkeley students might be more competitive. This one seems like a wash.

5. Grad schools admissions: This one is hard to gauge. There weren't a lot of students in chemistry going directly to grad school in the ISP data provided. They seemed to do well, but not everyone was going to a top program. Berkeley data shows almost everyone going to a top program, but the data is less comprehensive and it might be that only the people who did well are reporting their results.

6. Hand-holding: I assume Northwestern makes the student lives easier, although not sure where this will come into play. i understand College of Chemistry has more of a small school flavor within Berkeley but not sure what the examples are here either.

6. Other factors: convenience/closeness to home, weather, cost favor Berkeley.
Post edited by chem4321 on

Replies to: Berkelely College of Chemistry vs. Northwestern ISP

  • zephyr15zephyr15 Registered User Posts: 2,298 Senior Member
    ISP is one of the top programs at NU. It will absolutely provide your son with a top education and top opportunities.

    This being said, UC Berkeley is an excellent university and provides excellent opportunities too. Perhaps ISP will give an edge in grad school admissions, but going to Berkeley will not close any doors.

    End of the day -- I think NU-ISP is the better program.

    However, what is the cost difference? What will it mean to your family? Will you have to sacrifice? Will it impact on the ability to pay for grad school? If your son goes to Berkeley for economic reasons -- well, it's an excellent school, and no one here would fault that decision.

    Intangibles -- where would your son prefer to go. When faced with a choice between two excellent schools, intangibles should play a factor. While I think NU-ISP is an elite program and the better choice, objectively Berkeley is not a bad choice under any circumstance.

    Hope this helps.
  • MomCaresMomCares Registered User Posts: 3,140 Senior Member
    There was some earlier discussion of this here...


    For what it's worth, S is also a Chemistry guy who had the same choice (among several other great options), and after spending time at multiple schools and weighing the tradeoffs he sent in his NU deposits and enrolled in ISP this week. It seemed that much of Berkeley's ranking revolved around its grad programs, while NU has more opportunities and mentoring for undergrads, plus all the ISP kids we met were admitted to top grad schools.

    Good luck to you whatever you decide to do!
This discussion has been closed.