Early Decision - only one college to choose - Cornell or Princeton?

I am going for it - early decision for either Cornell or Princeton (or maybe even another east coast college). I visited both universities. Both are beautiful. I hear that Cornell doesn’t offer merit scholarships. That could be a much more expensive route! But my chances are probably better for admittance at Cornell. I hope to study applied math or economics. What do I do? I can only choose one early decision college.

Princeton does not offer merit aid either: “Do you give scholarships for academic merit, special talents or athletic ability? Princeton grant funds are allocated solely on an evaluation of a student’s need. We do not offer merit aid.” http://www.princeton.edu/pr/aid/08/qa/

None of the Ivies does.

What is your profile?

Profile is female, 2100 SAT, 4.3 weighted GPA, 7 AP classes, interested in Liberal Arts college, possibly Applied Math or Economics. I love math and am in Calculus BC. About 200 hours in different volunteer activities. Four years on the track team.

Do you have a hook?

What do you mean by a “hook”

Legacy? Underrepresented minority? First generation college? etc.

Oh, yes, one hispanic parent and one caucasian. No legacy. Live in California and parents attended college in California.

You have a bit of a hook. I have no idea how half-Hispanic with college-educated parents plays. Your SAT is in range. Your GPA is fine. Female + math would be a plus (I think). I’d say go for Princeton, but Cornell might be more realistic.

Although the ivies do not give merit aid, they are generous in need aid. Run the NPC (net price calculator) to get an idea.

The NPC was nowhere near accurate for us. Explaining California housing prices in the request for review after a disappointing FA offer seemed to help. If you are California middle/upper middle class, an Ivy may (repeat, may) offer FA that will make the cost effectively the same as paying full in-state UC tuition & fees. That was our experience. I’m not complaining.

Thank you for all the responses. At the Princeton info session the admissions person said that they will consider any other supplements to help a student to stand out. We missed the Cornell info session. I am also on the high school dance team. Cornell said that sending in a link to my solo could benefit me. From the Cornell site it doesn’t seem to be the same. Any thoughts on this?

If you send a supplemental link to an Ivy League caliber school it had better be to showcase extraordinarily high talent. Otherwise, you are just wasting their time.

@INeed2Know, you mention applying “ED” to Princeton, Cornell or possibly another East coast school. That sounds like you are very undecided what school you prefer. Cornell has ED, which is binding if accepted (assuming an appropriate financial aid offer). You shouldn’t apply ED unless you are clearly committed to a school as your top choice. Princeton has SCEA, which is non-binding, but which restricts you from applying ED anywhere, or EA to other selective private US schools (private schools, foreign schools, and schools with rolling admissions are allowed).

As a URM (you should qualify as Hispanic) with a 4.3 W GPA, rigorous curriculum, and 2100 SAT you will be competitive. But you will still need to stand out. You list dance, track and some volunteer service, but a complete profile would be helpful in assessing your chances. In general, SCEA to Princeton is only a good idea for those who are highly qualified. And, as @Falcon1 notes, the standards for things like supplements are very high.

Thanks again!