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ED at Northwestern, Duke or Rice?

dogmomof2dogmomof2 40 replies3 threads Junior Member
DS and I just returned from a whirlwind tour this weekend at Rice, Wash U, Northwestern and Michigan and he's now NW, Duke and Rice are his top three choices for ED.

He was able to have an unofficial tour/conversation with former classmates at all but Duke and has a list of pros and cons in his head (which I'm trying to get him to write down).

I was hoping some of you have kids at these schools and could tell me about their experiences. DS isn't artsy, not super jock-y (he's a runner and plays ultimate frisbee), not "quirky" (whatever that means)... thinks the idea of greek life is unappealing due to the stereotypes but I could see him joining a frat if it had the right fit.

DS has many interests and is considering econ, physics, math, classics, and engineering as possible majors. Consulting, law or business school could be future plans for him.

We're from the Boston area where most of his classmates stay in New England/Mid-Atlantic so we only know a couple kids at each of these schools so don't have a full picture of the culture there.

Thanks for any advice on this big decision that needs to be made very soon!
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Replies to: ED at Northwestern, Duke or Rice?

  • LindagafLindagaf 11430 replies607 threads Super Moderator
    I suggest he uses the website niche to get an idea of student vibe at these schools. He should also look at both unofficial and official Instagram accounts, and he can also look at Facebook pages. Academically, they will all be excellent. Does he care about weather? NU will have brutal winters.

    He should ED at the school he is 100% sure he wants to attend.
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  • PublisherPublisher 12082 replies164 threads Senior Member
    edited October 14
    Would be helpful to know your son's preferences.

    Conversely, would be helpful to know your son's dislikes. For example: Why did Michigan get cut ?

    Also, is COA a significant factor ?
    edited October 14
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  • dogmomof2dogmomof2 40 replies3 threads Junior Member
    He (and I) have spent a lot of time on Niche. Do people find their assessments/ratings to be accurate?

    He's also watched many videos on Campus Reel. So many are made by females - hard to get the male perspective.

    Unofficial instagram accounts are a great suggestion.

    Duke definitely wins for the best weather for him. Not too hot, and not too cold.

    He feels like he could be happy at all three of these schools. Based on his school's history with these schools, his only shot of getting accepted to Duke or NW is in ED (and it's still a long shot).

    Michigan felt too big for him although he will still apply EA.

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  • PublisherPublisher 12082 replies164 threads Senior Member
    edited October 14
    Both Northwestern and Duke offer a 10 month (one academic year) graduate program in business for recent graduates since neither school has an undergraduate business school. Northwestern's program--through the Kellogg School of Business-- is only open to recent grads of Northwestern University with less than one year of post undergrad work experience. Duke's program accepts students from any school and any country and allows for 2 years of post undergrad work experience. ( Lots of foreign students in Duke's program.)

    Although the above does not directly address your question, it would be possible for one interested in business to attend both Northwestern for undergrad school & Duke for the Masters Degree in Business Fundamentals.

    Familiar with Northwestern (undergrad & grad--business & law) as well as with Duke (undergrad & law school), but have no experience regarding Rice University.
    edited October 14
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  • dogmomof2dogmomof2 40 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Thanks @Publisher - that's really helpful to know!
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  • PublisherPublisher 12082 replies164 threads Senior Member
    edited October 14
    In my limited experience, students love both Duke & Northwestern.

    Might seem an odd remark with respect to two of the best undergrad schools in the world, but Northwestern students/campus culture seems a bit more serious about the academic side of school. I do acknowledge, however, that this varies by major at each school. For example, econ can be intense at Northwestern while Public Policy can be quite relaxed at Duke. Yet SESP is more like a super elite LAC environment at Northwestern, while engineering is serious business at all three of your son's targeted schools.

    Certainly Duke offers the best weather, but Northwestern offers a truly world class city within a short commute.

    Northwestern's undergrad school is in the upscale suburb of Evanston, but NU also has a campus for the law school & med school in an elegant location in Chicago.

    Not certain regarding the actual numbers, but my impression is that Greek life is more important at Duke than at Northwestern.

    P.S. As an aside: Wealth is flaunted/shown at Duke, but does not seem to be as readily displayed at Northwestern. In other words, wealth is a part of the campus culture at Duke, while not apparent at NU.
    edited October 14
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  • dogmomof2dogmomof2 40 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Thanks again, @Publisher for your insight and perspective. Both Chicago and Houston are more appealing cities to my son even though both have more extreme weather. Greek life seems pretty important at both schools and Northwestern seems a little less community feeling due to kids living off campus. Niche and other sites mention the stress at Northwestern - wondering if this is just for pre-meds or other kids concerned about high GPAs or if this is a prevalent feeling on campus.

    DS is definitely turned off by wealth being flaunted and exclusivity being promoted which is why Rice moved into his top three schools.
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  • warblersrulewarblersrule 10267 replies177 threads Super Moderator
    edited October 14
    Publisher wrote:
    Wealth is flaunted/shown at Duke, but does not seem to be as readily displayed at Northwestern.
    YMMV, but that wasn't my experience at all attending Duke as a first generation kid from a low income family. I remember being stunned my freshman year hearing about what everyone did for spring break; I had no idea until that point that some of my classmates were so wealthy.

    @dogmomof2 I can't comment on your son's other potential majors, but I majored in Classics and absolutely loved it. It's an exceptionally strong program - ranked just behind Harvard and Columbia and tied with Princeton and Berkeley in the last NRC ranking - but has relatively few students, so you get the tiny classes and excellent advising of a liberal arts college while benefiting from the resources of a major research university (e.g. Duke's collection of papyri, the 5th largest in the western hemisphere). It is a radically different experience from being in a much larger and more impersonal department like econ or biology.

    Since Pratt and Trinity have separate admissions, he'll have to decide between engineering and the rest of his areas of interest. I recommend applying to Pratt if he's unsure since it's easier to transfer from Pratt to Trinity than the other way around. Additionally, Pratt students can pick a second major in Trinity, whereas Trinity students can't double major in Pratt.

    edited October 14
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  • PublisherPublisher 12082 replies164 threads Senior Member
    edited October 14
    Northwestern students tend to be serious about academics and careers. South campus, however, is a bit more relaxed. NU has theatre students & SESP (School of Education & Social Policy) which is like an elite, close knit LAC environment. SESP is very highly regarded.

    Pre-med students experience stress everywhere. Econ can be stressful at NU. Engineering varies.

    I just recalled that Helen Ladd is a professor at Duke University in the School of Public Policy & Economics. Prof. Ladd has degrees from LSE (London School of Economics & Harvard) and Harvard. She is the wife of Edwin Fiske who writes the Fiske Guide To Colleges.

    The Fiske Guide To Colleges loves both Northwestern & Duke judging from the write-ups and ratings. Both receive the highest ratings for academics. Duke ranks a notch higher than NU for social life & for quality of life--but Mr. Fiske & Prof. Ladd live in Durham, NC so that may be a bit of a factor.

    Northwestern University is on the quarter system academic calendar which leaves little time for down-time. As an aside, Dartmouth College is also on a type of quarter system (trimesters) but allows for plenty of down-time as only 3 courses per quarter are taken by students.

    Northwestern students create their own pressure by striving for too much. An expected course load is 4 courses per quarter but many take five--which is just too much to handle at such an elite academic school. Northwestern allows students to triple major if they so desire.

    Academically & professionally, students and families get tremendous value at Northwestern. And NU students love Northwestern in my experience. But, for a more relaxed atmosphere in the same category of elite schools, I would consider Dartmouth College or Duke University or Vanderbilt University. In terms of campus culture, Northwestern academics are similar to Penn, Cornell, and Harvard (see overlap schools listed in my post below), in my opinion. Nevertheless, Northwestern is more flexible due to options of different majors in different schools.
    edited October 14
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  • dogmomof2dogmomof2 40 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Thanks so much, @warblersrule. Wow - a Classics major! What path did you take after Duke with this major? Wonderful to know that the program is strong yet small (like it is at his high school).

    Thanks for the insight on Pratt vs. Trinity. I think he wants to apply to Trinity as he wrote his supplemental essay on Classics and Econ.

    And so reassuring to hear that you didn't feel that the wealth is flaunted.
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  • PublisherPublisher 12082 replies164 threads Senior Member
    According to the Fiske Guide To Colleges 2020, the overlap schools for each of your son's targeted schools are:

    Rice University overlaps:

    Stanford, Duke, Chicago, Cornell, Vanderbilt, Harvard, Yale, & MIT.

    Northwestern University overlaps:

    Yale, Stanford, Harvard, Michigan, UPenn, Princeton, WashUStL, and Duke.

    Duke University overlaps:

    Brown, Chicago, Columbia, Dartmouth College, UPenn, Cornell, Harvard, and Stanford.

    I think that the differences are meaningful.

    Rice overlaps with MIT.

    Northwestern overlaps with H,Y, P, Penn, and Stanford plus midwestern WashUStL & Michigan.

    Duke overlaps with 6 Ivies (all except Princeton & Yale) and Stanford & Chicago.

    Although the overlap differences are small in number, they may help distinguish each school a bit.
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  • PublisherPublisher 12082 replies164 threads Senior Member
    edited October 14
    @warblersrule : Interesting comment about your experience at Duke. Where you involved in the Greek system at Duke ?

    A quote from the Fiske Guide To Colleges 2020 about Duke University:

    "Despite the unmistakable air of wealth on campus [of Duke University], two-thirds of students come from public high schools."

    Although Duke is a bit more subdued than SMU in displays of wealth, it is quite evident at both Duke & SMU.
    edited October 14
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  • dogmomof2dogmomof2 40 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Thanks @Publisher - that analysis is helpful. I had looked at the overlap groups in Fiske but hadn't analyzed the distinctions.

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  • PublisherPublisher 12082 replies164 threads Senior Member
    edited October 14
    An interesting, but very unscientific observation:

    Lots of talk about "connections" among Duke undergrads.

    Also, regarding displays of wealth, just check out the student parking lots.

    P.S. Not that having "connections" is a bad thing in the real world, but it might help to explain some of the differences in campus culture between Duke & Northwestern (NU has a mentality of "I have to earn my way in the world" more than one might expect from such an elite school) beyond just regional distinctions.

    About a decade ago, I used to rationalize the work ethic & drive of Northwestern students as a result of not being admitted to Stanford, Princeton, or Harvard. Now, it seems different. Now, it is just part of the campus culture for most students.

    Lots of ambitious, hard-working students at both schools. Again, trying to make distinctions between two of the best schools in the world.
    edited October 14
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  • warblersrulewarblersrule 10267 replies177 threads Super Moderator
    edited October 14
    @dogmomof2 I sent you a PM.

    @Publisher I didn't join a frat, although I did attend a fair number of Greek social events. (Anecdote: I still remember one very drunk and dismayed girl asking a friend of mine if she was at "the gay frat" since there were so many of us at the party hanging out.)

    I lived downstairs from a very chill frat (Chi Psi) who spent more time playing video games and BBQing than partying, whereas some of the other frats are markedly more raucous. Each frat and SLG has a distinctive personality, so it's pretty difficult to generalize.
    edited October 14
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 30787 replies59 threads Senior Member
    IMO, a student should apply ED when that student has a clear favorite school. If that student has 3 favorite schools with absolutely no preference as to which one to pick, then select the one most likely for acceptance.

    Selectivity, name recognition, prestige are all real things that make certain schools preferable to applicants as well as the specifics about a school. Sometimes , oftentimes, to the point that those are the main factors. Also fear of NOT getting into a school of a certain ranking in those features is an issue.

    I’ve seen very unhappy students who got into a school ED , having picked the school because it weighed in as the best bet all around in acceptance chances and selectivity, prestige etc but the student really wanted an even more selective school really, and a classmate, maybe several people the student knows gets into that dream school early or otherwise, bringing home to him that he truly might have gained acceptance had he gone for it. That’s the price of hedging one’s bets.

    So if your son equally likes NW, Duke and Rice, look at the ED stats, and pick the one that has the highest. Unless he has something that makes one of them more likely. If there is a hesitation, then he doesn’t like them all equally. It seems to me, he wants Duke from all the gushing over it in the post
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  • dogmomof2dogmomof2 40 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Thanks again, @Publisher and @warblersrule for you thoughts on this topic. And to @cptofthehouse for your analysis. I know my son is in a very privileged place to be making this decision and that the numbers are such that it's most likely he won't be accepted to either, even with an ED application.

    DS is definitely one to analyze the numbers and the graphs and doesn't want to waste his ED "card". Basically if he applies ED to Duke, he gives up NW and vice versa since getting accepted RD is basically impossible. And part of him wants to apply to Rice which is the more certain option and in some ways fits him best as he's not a kid who just wants to follow the crowd and make his own path.

    Thanks to all of you for your help. He needs to do some more research but I know that there is no wrong decision here.

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  • PublisherPublisher 12082 replies164 threads Senior Member
    edited October 14
    Admission to either Duke or Northwestern is a long shot even for ED applicants.

    Odds are best at Rice. Might be enhanced since your son is applying from Boston and, therefore, offers a bit of regional diversity.

    OP: Look at ISP & MMSS programs for undergraduate students at Northwestern based on your son's interests.
    edited October 14
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  • PikachuRocks15PikachuRocks15 721 replies3 threads Member
    Publisher wrote: »
    According to the Fiske Guide To Colleges 2020, the overlap schools for each of your son's targeted schools are:
    Duke University overlaps:

    Brown, Chicago, Columbia, Dartmouth College, UPenn, Cornell, Harvard, and Stanford.

    Although the overlap differences are small in number, they may help distinguish each school a bit.

    @Publisher The Fiske Guide is sorely mistaken if it believe that Brown and Columbia are similar. :lol:

    @dogmomof2 If your son is considering business, it's a good idea to search on Google how those three schools compare as targets for Wall Street firms. Generally, the Ivies do fine, with HYPS+Wharton being the top-tier targets.

    If he's ever considered being pre-med, Rice > Duke >> Northwestern. Rice is right next door to the Texas Medical Center (my alumni interviewer said she saw it outside her dorm windows,) and has the added advantage of being relatively small (~Dartmouth's size) with an even smaller graduate student population. Duke has the renowned Duke School of Medicine and the Research Triangle, but you'll be competing against far, far more undergraduate and graduate students for opportunities. The Feinberg School of Medicine is located in Chicago, so med schools wouldn't be as easily accessible as Duke or Rice's, though there's likely a student shuttle of some sort.

    All three schools are known for rigorous academics, with Northwestern likely being at the top in difficulty due to the increased speed of the quarter schedule. Rice has the Residential College system similar to Hogwarts Houses, if that's something that interests your son.

    Duke and NU have a stronger sports emphasis than Rice, with NU being part of the Big 10 conference and Duke for Basketball.

    IMO, don't apply ED unless he's 110% sure he'd attend if admitted and more importantly, you can afford it if he's admitted (run the FA calculators to be sure, but keep in mind that they're estimates, not guarantees of aid.)

    Hope that helps!
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  • PublisherPublisher 12082 replies164 threads Senior Member
    edited October 14
    @PikachuRocks15 : You misunderstand the listing of overlap schools in the Fiske Guide To Colleges. The list of overlap schools is provided to the Fiske Guide by the schools themselves. Fiske writers & editors have nothing to do with creating the list of overlap schools.

    I do appreciate that many view Brown as the antithesis of Chicago & Columbia due to open versus core curriculums.
    edited October 14
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