HELP! Vanderbilt vs. Duke vs UPenn

<p>hi there, i'm desperate for some outside opinions! i have been fortunate enough to be accepted to these 3 schools and i have no idea which one to choose so any input would be helpful! here's some information about me:</p>

<p>-at vanderbilt, i was accepted into the school of engineering so i would get to major in biomedical engineering, something i'm VERY interested in while at duke, i was accepted for molecular/cellular biology and at upenn i was accepted for biophysics, majors that i like but that aren't exactly biomedical engineering, ya know?
-i want to have FUN in college, i want to be involved and i want to enjoy my college experience.
-i've never lived in a big city so i'm not sure how i would fare in philadelphia. although, i sort of do want a city-atmosphere, just not sure if i want a big or small
*i live in south florida
-sports are pretty important to me, but it seems as if all schools have a pretty good sports scene.
-vanderbilt, in all honesty, has been my dream school for 3 years. i wasn't expecting to get into duke and upenn even though i liked both schools very much as well, so being accepted was a big (but exciting!) surprise. </p>

<p>i appreciate any input! thanks :)</p>

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-at vanderbilt, i was accepted into the school of engineering so i would get to major in biomedical engineering, something i'm VERY interested in while at duke, i was accepted for molecular/cellular biology and at upenn i was accepted for biophysics, majors that i like but that aren't exactly biomedical engineering, ya know?

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<p>You aren't accepted under a program when you come to Duke. You can switch into Pratt and EASILY decide to major in BME. And Duke is the best for BME of your three.</p>

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-i want to have FUN in college, i want to be involved and i want to enjoy my college experience.

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<p>Here's my take about Duke's social scene:</p>

<p>"The social scene at Duke can be described in four words: diverse, balanced, eclectic, and most importantly, INCLUSIVE. </p>

<p>1) Diverse, eclectic</p>

<p>While the Greek system is existent, it is by no means dominating or self-segregating. Statistically speaking, only about 23% of students are associated with a Greek organization, so it is available to those who wish to participate. But while I am not Greek, I have friends who are both Greek and non-Greek, so by making one decision, you're not excluding yourself from a huge chunk of friends/the social life here. The other thing girls in particular love about Greek life here is that sororities here do not haze (and for guys its just drinking..). Pretty much every other school's sororities hazel at Duke, they give each other chocolates, gifts, etc. Haha as you can tell, it's a pretty loving environment.</p>

<p>If you don't want to be always stuck in Greek life, there is always something else going on. There are parties EVERYWHERE, there are free movies in the movie theater on campus, shopping trips, hanging out in Durham, eating in Durham (Durham has an incredible restaurant scene), performances at Duke and in Durham (the Duke student body is particularly dance and singing crazed. There's always some group performing...), attending lectures/speakers, going to basketball games (or any athetlic event), or just chilling with your friends. There's also three to four clubs within walking distance of campus that everyone likes to go to and have a great time dancing/hanging out. Very few of Duke's peer schools have these unique outlets..</p>

<p>There's obviously a lot more, but I just wanted to give the picture that Duke's social scene is definitely not dominated by Greek organizations and is in fact, very diverse. Frat/sorority parties, though, are very, very fun.</p>

<p>2) Balanced</p>

<p>A lot of schools say that they have a "work hard, play hard" environment. But to be honest, I don't think that the phrase gives Duke's unique environment justice. What elite school other than Duke can boast incredible academics alongside a basketball team that is going to the Final Four (a team that is coached by a gold medal winning USA basketball???)? Yeah, none. Duke has an incredible sense of balance - everyone's really happy to be here, and you can get that feeling while on campus.</p>

<p>3) Inclusive</p>

<p>This is honestly something I love the most about Duke. Duke is a much more inclusive environment than many universities. For example, I hated how parties and socials at other schools are closed. You can only get it in you know people or if you are a hot girl or if you are a guy who brings tons of girls. At Duke, no one really gives a crap. You can go pretty much wherever you want with whomever you want.. you can build your network in whichever way you desire. This is actually something unique about Duke though, and I love it. There is an incredible sense of community on campus, and everyone's pretty willing to meet others and build a stronger Duke relationship.</p>

<p>Also, since there are no houses, this really aids in integrating everyone together.. brothers live together within areas of the quads, but as I said earlier, sororities don't have housing. This makes the Greek system pretty chill relative to other universities. Tons of girls I know here always comment about how they would have never joined a sorority at another school, but since Duke's sorority life is so low-key and welcoming, they didn't feel pressured and chose to do it to meet other girls."</p>

<p>Also, in terms of overall Greek scene, Vandy >> Duke = Penn. But as far as I've seen, Duke seems to be the most inclusive.</p>

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-sports are pretty important to me, but it seems as if all schools have a pretty good sports scene.

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<p>Only Duke can boast having the academics with a final four basketball team.. :)</p>

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-vanderbilt, in all honesty, has been my dream school for 3 years. i wasn't expecting to get into duke and upenn even though i liked both schools very much as well, so being accepted was a big (but exciting!) surprise.

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<p>Visit to see which ones you like. That'll be the best litmus test. :)</p>

<p>GL and congratulations!</p>

<p>Go to Duke! Duke is like Stanford's twin brother.
They're not in the ivy league and yet they're more well known internationally than half of the ivies.</p>

<p>yeah i'd pick duke</p>

<p>Penn is the best school of the three.. the bioengineering program is top-notch (and they just got their new building, skirkanich hall). Few people go to Penn without having fun.</p>

<p>Go to Penn!</p>

<p>i agree with ilovebagels, its a no brainer..go to Penn! I am unbiased, my girls are at Trinity and BC..Penn is the way to go..</p>

<p>I really don't understand the dilemma. You were admitted to your dream school. Vanderbilt is a mile and a half from Nashville's downtown and surrounded by urban amenities like coffee shops, restaurants, music venues--an urban campus without some of the negative aspects of certain large cities.</p>

<p>The BME program takes advantage of the Vanderbilt Med. Center, which is on campus. The engineering school is not as highly ranked as some others, but the BME program is well-regarded, and the undergraduate focus at VUSE is excellent.</p>

<p>Everything in your original post says Vanderbilt. I suggest that you think about what YOU want, not what the east-coast centric CC crowd thinks you should want. Obviously, you are fortunate to have three wonderful choices. </p>

<p>Is the cost to you/your family the same at all three?</p>

<p>thanks for your input, everyone! i'm hoping to be able to visit all 3 this month but it's so expensive so we'll see...</p>

<p>to midmo, duke and vandy are about the same and i haven't heard about penn's financial aid but i'm guessing it'll be about the same as well</p>

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Penn is the best school of the three.. the bioengineering program is top-notch (and they just got their new building, skirkanich hall).

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<p>Well, actually Duke is number 2. And Penn isn't number one. :p</p>

<p>I believe Vanderbilt would be the best fit for you. Nashville is a good intro to "city living". Philadelphia would be pretty extreme. Penn does not have anything like the athletic culture of Duke or Vanderbilt. I think SEC sports are the greatest, and since Vandy has been your dream school, I would choose it. Congrats on three great options, though.</p>

<p>Penn is the best of the three. But I agree, if Vandy is your dream school it really shouldnt be a hard decision.</p>

<p>well, the thing is, while vanderbilt has been my dream school for a few years now, i can't help but wonder if duke and upenn would provide me with more opportunities. i mean, i always liked them too, granted i never thought i would get in ha. idk, this is extremely tough...</p>

<p>eatsalot, i didn't know that, for duke, you're not actually accepted into any specific program. so you're saying that i could probably switch to pratt BME fairly easily?</p>

<p>I totally understand your dilemma :).</p>

<p>Rice University was always my dream school, but I applied to MIT, not thinking that I'd get in, and got in!</p>

<p>Now I have a tough choice to make :p.</p>

<p>I think you should visit the schools and go wherever feels best for you. (I am visiting MIT soon, then I'll make my decision)</p>

<p>it's the worst isn't it?! haha you feel so lucky to be accepted to these great schools but then you have to pick between them...</p>

<p>yeah i'm really hoping i'm able to visit the 3 of them this month, choosing is going to be that much more difficult if i have to decide without visiting</p>

<p>Duke or Vanderbilt.</p>

<p>Penn makes no sense for the OP. Duke has an as well or better reputed BME program and the OP wasn't even accepted into the Penn BME program but rather Biophysics. Duke has a vastly superior sports scene, warmer weather, and is not inner city.
Vanderbilt will be a modest compromise in academic quality but I'd suggest you follow your heart if it pulls you there.</p>

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Duke has a vastly superior sports scene, warmer weather, and is not inner city.

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<p>It's not city, period. You don't get the bad, but you also don't get the great opportunities a major city like Philadelphia offers.</p>

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eatsalot, i didn't know that, for duke, you're not actually accepted into any specific program. so you're saying that i could probably switch to pratt BME fairly easily?

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<p>yes, very easy in fact. Everyone comes to Duke undeclared. If you want to do BME, all you do is check a box when you meet with your advisor. :)</p>

<p>wowww I didn't know that. thanks!</p>

<p>and yeah, that's one issue I have with duke. I like NC but Durham...not so much. Could anyone comment on durham who goes/went to duke? of the 3 schools, it has the least appealing location, besides being in the research triangle, which is great for what I want to do.</p>

<p>Biophysics focuses on the science i.e. trying to understand biological systems using the idea of Physics. Biomedical engineering focuses on building devices that could be used in biological systems probably for a medical purpose such as scaffolds for nerve endings to grow over.</p>

<p>If you dont like the idea of biophysics at ALL, then you can eliminate UPenn though there are minor similarities between the two majors. For sports, Duke seems to be the best as they are constantly in the Men's Final Four and they play in one of the major conferences (ACC). Vanderbilt sports is also quite large since they reside within the SEC. UPENN is of course in the ivy league so they probably wont be winning any major football/basketball championships but they do have respectable and fun athletic departments within the ivy league itself. </p>

<p>As for the cities, South Florida doesnt really have the big cities, excluding Miami. If you enjoy the nightlife scene or even exploring, philly is by far the best since there is just so much to do-there is a strong nightlife and just the historical aspects of the cities. I dont think Nashville is quite as large but there is of course lots of things to do there. Living in a big city isnt that bad, most of the time in college you will reside pretty close to campus. I am pretty sure, that in the end, you can always find something fun to do in college no matter where you go. </p>

<p>If you are thinking about future networking, then UPenn and Duke has a slight edge over Vanderbilt partly due to the prestige that is associated with their name. Upenn does have a bioengineering program but I have no idea how hard it is to transfer there from biophysics. Duke's research triangle is a big plus so in the end, I would say Duke might be a better fit for you based on the information you have given (though you could always reconsider penn if they give you much better fin. aid than Duke/Vandy.</p>

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Only Duke can boast having the academics with a final four basketball team..

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<p>This year, sure. Of course, Duke doesn't go to the final four every year, and there are plenty of other great schools that make the final four year in and year out (UNC and UCLA, for starters). Georgetown, Michigan and Berkeley also have made multiple final four appearances. </p>

<p>Also, Vanderbilt has a moderately successful football program. Vanderbilt has won more games in the past 5 years than Duke has won in the past 12 (23 to 22, respectively). For more of a football person like myself, that is a big deal. That said, neither team is too terribly successful in football.</p>

<p>I posted this on a thread in the Parents Forum regarding Duke vs Vanderbilt:</p>

<p>Duke has ACC basketball, which is great. Vanderbilt has SEC football, which is also very exciting. Vandy is in a better location and has more of a southern charm, while Duke is more diverse and doesn't feel all that "southern." Personally, I'd pick Vandy because football>basketball for me and Nashville>>>>>>Durham, but to each his own. Both are great schools.</p>