Help me decide (ED schools)? INTL

hey! this is NOT a chanceme post but I’ll just give yall my basic profile

SAT 1500 (710, 790)

Pansexual East Asian Female, overrepresented.

Not applying for aid.

My other academics are considered pretty great as an international student going to a domestic public high school which doesn’t offer any AP/Honors/IB courses.

Major choices: Near Eastern Studies (or Middle Eastern Studies)/Econ/Data Science/Religious Studies

[those are just choices, most schools that I apply to don’t ask us to declare one when applying]
[I want to do interdisciplinary programs btw…]

My ECs include econ competitions (with pretty good awards + leadership), 2 school clubs (leadership position in one of them with good outcomes), an editor of a literary magazine, a podcast about Near Eastern Studies (especially religions) (have great stats), founder of a mental health project set specifically for teens in my country, research opportunity with a college professor (have a paper but this really doesn’t have any impact), varsity sports team (also a coach at a local middle school).

[I’m content with my ECs lol, ik they are not impressive but I tried all of them without costing much financial burden to my family since most of them are self-based][plus I only started planning to study abroad the summer after my sophomore year…but still I started some projects in middle school]

I’m choosing between Cornell / Duke / Vanderbilt as my ED school.

Any advice?

All those schools don’t ask me to declare a major when applying. They only ask me to choose a specific college. Concerning academics, the basic difference is that Vandy could double major between colleges but the other two cannot.

One of these things is not like the other.

I can see the same student thriving at Duke & Vandy, but Cornell? that’s a stretch.

What do you know about the campus culture at each place?

Re: at double majoring in Econ + CS (wrt your other post), you can do that at all three places

yes, i know the campus culture at each place! but I’m okay with all of their campus vibes…maybe I like vandy’s vibes the most tho

what’s so different about Cornell? I understand the cons list for Cornell is pretty long (personally for me), but it’s not THAT different from the others? (well except for the student body size/their stem programs)

What do you think of when you think of the campus culture at Cornell? Vandy?

What are the cons you see for Cornell?

Have you been to all three campuses?

Both of them are super competitive schools, which means they both have a “toxic” comparison culture (maybe it’s worse at Cornell). Neither of them has strong school spirits (no offense to anyone just pure comparison) or sports. These are the things that I don’t like. As for environment, I don’t need to be specific but I’m pretty sure I like Nashville more.

No, I’m an international student so I don’t have the chance to visit any campus this year.

(the list is long. to be 100% honest, I kinda feel like I’m chasing for the name recognition)
location and those hills on the campus
weather (no sunlight for over one month?)
a big student body size for a private school…15000 people
an isolated vibe…I’m not the biggest fan

Fun video on the Vandy football team. :smiley:

Sports are big at Vandy, although perhaps not when compared to other teams in the SEC conference without the academic chops that Vandy has. I may have misunderstood your statement above, but I consider sports to be important to Vandy. They currently have a campaign to fund $300M for expanding the athletic programs.

I disagree on both the premise (that “super competitive” = “toxic”) and the specifics of the two schools. IMO, Vandy is not at all “toxic”. I don’t think that Cornell is either, but it definitely has an intensity that is different than either Duke or Vandy.

Depends what you mean by strong school spirit, but I think that @DramaMama2021 has given you a fun look. On a continuum, where support for the sports teams is a proxy for school spirit, I would put Cornell as low, Vandy as medium and Duke as high.

Having spent a decent amount of time at Cornell / in Ithaca, I:

  • agree about the hills (although they are mostly not on campus, but between town and campus)

  • agree that the weather is tough going, but no “sunlight for over one month” is a bit of an overstatement

  • agree that 15K is a big number, and that isn’t for everyone, but note that it is across 8 colleges, and it doesn’t generally feel like a huge school.

The “isolated vibe” is interesting: when I drove one of the collegekids from NYC to Ithaca for a campus visit, Ithaca did indeed seem remote and isolated. But once we were on campus, and in and out of Collegetown, and saw all the things going on, both on campus and around the area, the vibe was not ‘isolated’ at all.

I think you might be a little overconfident in your understanding of the vibes or cultures of these three universities. Before you sign up to commit yourself to an ED app, maybe find a copy of the Fiske guide, or spend some time on YouTube? But also trust your hunches- if you are responding most to Vanderbilt, apply there.


Vandy is doormat of SEC sports. They got no respect in SEC. Ok, maybe baseball a little.

Cornell is gorges!


it is indeed!

You may want to dig into language offerings if you plan to pursue a higher degree or a career pertaining to Near/Middle Eastern studies. Vanderbilt is limited to Arabic and Hebrew, whereas Cornell and Duke offer Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, and Turkish. Cornell also offers ancient languages like Akkadian and Sumerian.

They’re all pretty solid choices for what you want to study, so there’s no bad decisions here. Michigan is worth a look as well, especially if you get deferred from your ED school.

Yes, it’s a pretty popular combination at Duke. You can double major between schools as well, and CS and econ are the most popular second majors for engineering students in Pratt.

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hey! thanks for the info! i didn’t know that, so I have to look it up now!

what do you mean by saying “cornell has an intensity different than either vandy or duke”?

thank u so much for your insights! i’ll check out the resources

i am applying to trinity school of arts and sciences! so double majoring across school is unavailable for me

oops i thought Cornell doesn’t have Turkish…I misunderstood…Cornell doesn’t have Turkish as a language minor but it offers Turkish learning. Thanks for the info!

hey i’m thinking of applying to usc + unc-chapel hill as my EA schools. my counsellor doesn’t recommend applying to UMichigan because Michigan only enrolls students from my country who have been studying in American high schools.

one last question, i’m not trying to sound petty or something but what do you mean by saying “Cornell is a stretch”? I thought Cornell is not as rigorous as Duke (i can understand the comparison between Cornell and Vandy tho) Do you mean as for academics on campus or admission? Cornell enrolls a solid number of students from my country and my domestic high school also sent a lot of kids to Cornell before, so people always told me that I have a shot applying there ED, but not Duke for Vandy.

ahem … Cornell is most certainly NOT less rigorous than Duke …