Choosing a university

Hi! I was recently admitted to a bunch of schools but it’s hard to choose… Can you guys help please! So my top choices are:

  • USC: Dornsife college, Econ or Econ/Maths major
    → Pros: Great campus, school pride, flexibility, LA, smaller classes…
    → Cons: A bit more expensive than the others though money isn’t a big issue, far from home (I come from Europe), Low rankings compared to UofT
    +How well-regarded is USC? How are Economics there?
  • University of Toronto: Arts and Sciences, Social Sciences path and probably majoring in Econ/Maths
    → Pros: Toronto, great academics, closer to home, a bit less expensive than USC
    → Cons: highly competitive, UofTears?, soo many students (can reach 1,500+ in some classes)
  • McGill University: Arts or Desautels management, major in Economics
    → Pros: Not expensive, Montreal is cool, I’m skipping year 1
    → Cons: competitive mentality, McGill is really low-ranked compared to the others
  • University of Warwick: BSc Economics
    → Pros: great campus, amazing academics…
    → Cons: bad weather, not really flexible, not the same student experience compared to what I could experience in Canada or in the US
  • I was waitlisted at NYU Stern, any thoughts on my chances of getting in? And is it worth it?

At the moment I’d say that my best options are USC and UofT but I want to make sure that I choose wisely.
I plan on working in Business, Economics or Finance.
I’m looking for a school that will give me the best graduate prospects and a cool student experience.

Thank you!!!

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What’s your plan after college?

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To be honest I don’t know yet but probably:

  1. Work 2/3/4 years in the country where I studied (depending on the work permit)
  2. Go to business grad school whenever I can, hopefully in the US but not 100% sure
  3. Possibly come back (or stay) in Europe
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Any of those schools will teach you undergraduate economics no problem.
It’s the intangibles … the fit …
Montreal has a fastest-growing tech startup scene should you care …
I agree with your reservations about UoT even though it’s a really strong school.


Where you are more likely to be able to get a work visa after graduation probably should be a big area of focus but I am not an expert in that.

Though one comment: Where are you getting your idea of rankings? They seem a bit wacky from what I am familiar with.

Yes I know they are all great schools, maybe not up to the Ivys or Oxbridge reputation, but definitely good options.

I think I still need to consider the rankings, although they are not always very reliable. In economics, McGill is ranked lower than the other 3 (around 100th worldwide), UofT and Warwick are Top 25 and USC is kind of an in between.
However I really don’t know if I can actually rely on these rankings, especially for UofT. Apparently they are ranked high because they have huge research but who wants to have crowded classes with 1,500+ students?

So there we go, as you said it’ll probably come to the general experience and they’re all very different from one to another.

  • McGill is in Montreal, a vibrant city and as you said with an evolving start-ups scene, snowy and cold in the winter
  • UofT is in Toronto, probably the one of the best places for finance/econ/business internships, the city is really big and it makes it a little New York in a way (well not that little actually haha), snowy and cold in the winter
  • USC is in LA, aka amazing social scene, close to the beach, congested but that’s also the case of Toronto, warm place
  • Warwick is in Coventry so kinda lost in the Middle of England, rainy, maybe not the best place for internships but it’s a real campus university

All 4 campuses are amazing, maybe USC has the best one with lots of great facilities but UofT’s is huge and has plenty of great areas. McGill and Warwick are a little different in the way that the have more green areas, which is not bad at all!

And when it comes to the social scene, I’d say:

  1. USC
  2. McGill
  3. Warwick
  4. UofTears
    Yeah Toronto is cool but the competitive atmosphere among students isn’t really fun apparently…

It would be awesome if someone else can help me! Thanks guys!!

To be honest I’m not an expert in that either. It seems like Canada had the best options but I’m not a 100% sure…

I’m looking at the QS and the Times HE for international rankings and Niche/US News/Forbes for the US.

According to these, if I had to « merge » the different rankings together I’d say that:

  1. Toronto
  2. McGill
  3. USC
  4. Warwick
  5. Toronto
  6. Warwick
  7. USC
  8. McGill

But I’m not sure whether Toronto is a good option or not considering the high competition and lack of social scene/campus life.

So I’ll say this: Warwick is a top feeder to finance jobs in the City of London. Indistinguishable from Oxbridge, LSE, and UCL.

I expect Desautels to be a feeder to the Canadian banks. At Toronto, you won’t be in Rotman, but you’ll be in Toronto (Canada’s financial capital). But would you know how easy it would be for Internationals to land jobs in Toronto?

USC has a very strong network that is mostly in CA. You’re not in Marshall, though, and the US is probably the hardest of the 3 countries for an International to land a job.

You may have to go back to work in your home country. What are the reputations of the schools there? I would think Warwick leads with Toronto and McGill following but ai could be wrong.

For an MIM afterwards, it may not matter much. European MIM programs will definitely be aware of the strength of Warwick. Probably of the Canadian unis and USC.
The US doesn’t have many MIM programs but they will know of all these schools. For an MBA, your work experience of a few years after graduation will matter more. The US does have a bunch of econ and analytics masters programs (so does Europe, and LSE has masters for almost everything in social science).

The academic experience will be pretty different at Warwick from the North American unis. You probably are most familiar with the way it is done at Warwick (lectures, a lot of self-study, and then your marks determined almost solely by tests at the end). Continuous assessment in North America so tests, papers, maybe class participation, projects, etc. all may factor in and your GPA weighs all classes you take by credit hour. Much more flexibility at USC, then the Canadian unis, than at Warwick as you are aware. You could change majors easily though entering popular programs if you are not already in it (like a b-school) may be competitive. Yes, some gigantic classes at Toronto and McGill. USC would have the most resources for undergrads of the 4.

I’m sure you are aware Warwick is 3 years (I guess McGill too for you) while the other North American unis are 4 (but may grant credits for your work in your country).

Be aware that you could go on exchange to another country so you are not stuck in the same country for 3/4 years. American unis have a ton of study abroad programs. Warwick may have the least now with Erasmus going away.


McGill ranked twice?

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Oh, and rankings aren’t useful, so just ignore that. Concentrate on the factors I listed. Maybe, if you are spending for an experience, how fun it is too (USC would be and has great weather though the surrounding neighborhood wouldn’t be the safest). Toronto and Montreal are great cities and you won’t miss anything as a French speaker in Montreal, though they are both bitterly cold in winter. Warwick does have a campus, though. So does USC.

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I think on the margin McGill is the best choice … but it’s REALLY close.

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So thinking of it more, I’d say, from a cost-benefit/career perspective, Warwick probably makes the most sense. It would be the cheapest for you (or tied with McGill), right?

From a college experience perspective, USC would probably be best. You very likely will have to go back home (and I don’t know how well-known USC is in France) or enter a masters program afterwards, though.

Of McGill vs Toronto, I’d probably choose McGill because of Desautels.

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Huge thanks for your reply!

Warwick seems to be a great option, I’m just not sure I’ll like it there…
McGill and Toronto are both amazing universities, but the first one is constantly ranked lower than the second especially when it comes to business/economics/finance. However, I speak French so maybe Montréal will offer greater graduate prospects.
Now for USC, I love the school and its vibe, the only thing I cannot figure out is its academic reputation and international recognition. In France, many know about UCLA but not USC…

As you mentioned, the academic experience is totally different from one school to another. USC will probably be a better fit for me as I enjoy smaller classes. I don’t mind having a few classes in huge classrooms but for 4 years…
If I want to apply to internships and later masters’, do you think it’ll be better to have more TAs and profs which I can talk to?

My heart wants to go to USC but my brain tells me that it isn’t the best option of the 4… gosh what a hard choice!

Top one is the overall ranking (university in general).
The bottom one is the sybject ranking. That’s why! :slight_smile:

Maybe yes but their economics department is probably the weakest of the 4… when it comes to subject rankings, economics/finance/business seem to be the weakest ones at McGill

McGill is the cheapest, then Warwick and Toronto. USC is definitely more expensive but I don’t want money to be the main factor…

USC seems to have an amazing college experience! I’m a real extrovert so I would love the school spirit and student life there, but are academics as good as the social scene? My question may not be appropriate but from a European perspective I don’t know much about USC.

Is Desautels really better than Rotman? Actually for all these schools except McGill I decided not to apply o the business school. I want to do more maths before getting into business/management.

Again, stop thinking about the rankings. Do not factor them in to your decision-making at all. They literally will not matter among these schools whether you apply to grad school or try to find a job.

For American graduate programs, you would need letters of recommendation. The profs at all the North American unis would be familiar with the process. You probably won’t have much trouble at Warwick either because they have Americans and people who went to the US for grad school on faculty.

I still stand by what I said:
For the best college experience, USC (though the other 3 won’t be bad either and will be far better than what you’d get in France).
For best job prospects/ benefits vs costs given your circumstances: Warwick, then McGill, then Toronto.
And McGill > Toronto

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I’m also going to call our French expert @MYOS1634 for any extra insight.

And another thing to add:
Warwick is respected in the City of London because of its strength in quantitative fields and econ there would be quantitative. My understanding is that the French really value quantitative prowess as well. I believe McGill offers an Honours option which would be equivalent to a good European econ program (3 years of econ in England would be roughly equivalent to a major in econ + a masters in econ in the US). The bare minimum requirements for an econ major at American colleges/unis would be laughably light; definitely not enough to enter an American econ PhD program for instance (American econ PhD programs often take in engineering and other quantitative majors). But the North American system offers a lot of flexibility. At USC, you could double major in econ and something else quantitative like math/applied math/statistics/data science/etc and/or take graduate-level courses. McGill should offer double majors too.

McGill will be highly valued both in North America and in Europe, especially in France.
For a “true” college experience, USC is the best - highly ranked and reputable, real campus life, major US city, probably the closest to what you think of when you think of a US college experience.
…If you want a more quantitative major, you’ll have to double major or simply take the math courses you’re interested in (very doable).
Are you doing spe maths or maths exp? The new bac means colleges will have trouble figuring out credits so keep examples of problem sets, corrected papers, etc.
Warwick is very recognized in Europe but Brexit is changing the landscape, with City firms moving to Paris, Frankfurt, and Amsterdam. You may want to inquire how Warwick is adapting to this changing landscape.