Columbia University vs. Vanderbilt for Engineering

Admitted to many, choice narrowed down to
Columbia University vs. Vanderbilt.
Vanderbilt offered substantial scholarship, Columbia did not.

Ratings aside very interested in people’s opinions on the matter. Any opinions are appreciated.

First of all, congratulations on being able to make the choice between two fine colleges. My kids enjoyed visiting both when they were looking.

Second, what type of engineering is your child interested in?

Third, recognize that interests may change as your child discovers new opportunities that the college exposes them to. Many children at these colleges end up in finance or consulting careers because they are interesting, high-paying, and provide lots of options of where you end up.

Even though there are no bad choices between the two, the vibes are very different:

  • Workload: Vanderbilt is known for happiest students, whereas Columbia is considered a lot of work. For some students the Columbia workload is ideal, as students discover what they are truly capable of, whereas for others it is too much.
  • Politics: While all selective colleges lean left politically, Columbia is very liberal, whereas Vanderbilt is much more moderate. When my D was looking at colleges in 2017, she originally had Columbia as her first choice. But even though she is liberal, she found Columbia too liberal and chose University of Chicago instead.

Back to engineering. If your child is going to remain in a true engineering field, as opposed to CS, then financial outcomes are roughly the same. Engineers are very employable but salaries are pretty much independent of where you went to school.

If your child is looking at something like CS and wants to work at one of the FAANG companies, then again it matters little. Those companies recruit onsite at colleges ranging from MIT to San Jose State, and both Vanderbilt and Columbia make the list.

So what are the differences? Students at Columbia will likely have an easier time getting jobs in NYC finance, or NYC startups. That’s really about the only difference I see.

If your child received a Cornelius Vanderbilt or equivalent scholarship, note that is also very well known, and will itself open a lot of doors.

Thank you! This makes it so much easier as you just confirmed what we were thinking. Great minds think alike :slight_smile: , thank you again for this

As long as fit and feel is there and both schools are equal to your child and you can afford them… Take the money and run. Also… It’s what you do at the school while there not just the name on the diploma. Have your kid get involved. Companies for internships like this a lot.

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