How good is Emory??

So I was recently accepted into Emory, which was one of my schools that I honestly didn’t do much research on before applying. Now that I’ve been checking it out, I’ve heard some wildly different opinions. Are some of the negatives (e.g. bad press, inconsistency of program strength across majors, livability of Atlanta) true? What are the strengths of Emory? Thank you!!

Also, the other schools that I am considering are the University of Michigan and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

@confused5024734 : You match your username. Do you know many schools with consistent strength across all majors? Also, elite highered (public and private) has been getting lots of bad press in the political sphere, criticisms economically, criticisms for the admissions process (and the prestige arms race), criticism for both a stressful and overly entitled culture (these two can be at odds but reinforce as well, etc). Emory is not the only school in the elite tier that has received “bad press”, however it seems some schools (cough, HYPS, cough) are so prestigious that people are willing to ignore any bad press associated with them. Emory is great, but it darn sure isn’t at a level where folks view it as infallible as the Vatican. So to have this conversation over and over again is ridiculous (as it has been done over the past week, go look through).

Quality across majors: Some majors at the UG level, even at a place like Harvard will vary in strength (with dramatic variations in some cases). Sorry, there is no college that will be a Utopia. What you need to do, to be to make a wise decision(first you should have done research, and by research, I mean hitting up the website and some departments and not only what people like me have to say. You need to see if it fits YOUR programmatic and social needs) is figure out what your interests are and how each of these schools can help you or not in pursuing and developing them. Commenting on a whole school will not help. There is no school that fits everyone. If you want to have a productive conversation, please tell some areas you think you want to major in, your extracurricular interests, what you really want in a college social environment, and we can begin to see if it is a fit. This “Is it good” mess is super unproductive. Good for who and good for what? Compared to where and compared in what? So many open questions come with this. You need to tell us more. Obviously the place is pretty strong for undergraduate, but I can’t say it is a strong choice for you.

And yes, opinions of Emory should vary wildly. It does not have D-1 sports and a “rah rah” type of spirit, Most students who truly engage it, especially the academic side tend to really enjoy it. Those who primarily disengage the academic side except for getting strong grades tend to care less and end up more critical of the academics and the social life (they wanted more of a party school atmosphere, but these folks are weird because some also complain about academics. Oddly enough, one often finds that these students were intentionally choosing easy and even not so great classes and instructors to full optimize their social engagement. And many did not really engaged in co-curricular opportunities. There was simply grades and extracurricular). Emory does not really have a social environment so vibrant that students can more or less lose themselves in that scene and view their academic situation as ideal (it seems schools with bigger party atmospheres are less critical of the academics at the school even when their situation isn’t that good. They simply aren’t there for that and the social experience ends up compensating or replacing). This a real reason I think you can often get polarized opinions of the place. However, in terms of “good”, it performs the same as most schools in its tier currently even though the input stats are lower than those places. It’s alumni network and power also speaks for itself. Again, those who fully engaged Emory and knew what it was seem very loyal and have paid their dues in terms of giving back. It depends on what you want. Emory is not the best for those just “passing through” but better for those who really want to “dive in”. If you are looking for super social vibrancy and “good enough” academics, and high grades, I do not think you will have the best experience at Emory. Again, ones who enjoy Emory are social, but are ultimately more on the academic side of things. Emory is NOT a true work hard play hard school. it is more like a “work harder, but go play sometimes” school. I recommend the other 2 if you aren’t about that life.

A person like this Goldwater Scholar may review their Emory experience as great. Notice how even though they are in a fraternity, they are more engaged in their academic life than perhaps the fraternity and the social life. This is an extreme example of a “dive in” student. Also he is a math major, not our strongest major. But it is about what you do in the department and not its overall strength. Emory is elite, so even in weaker depts, motivated students have access to challenging courses and great researchers if they really want it, but those who join a weaker department at these places and just “go through the motions” and do the bare minimum may end up disappointed.

He was led down a pathway by faculty such that he got the best of the department and truly developed his interest. Even in “weaker” departments, this is easy if you are not the passive type who expects excellence to fall into their lap):

And this swimmer (who values his development in math as much as his development in the sport):
*Another math affiliate- note that less popular majors tend to take care of their students better and in cases like physics, are often more rigorous(versus the talent level of the students in the dept) than more heavily enrolled majors in comparable disciplines.

Now imagine the most satisfied of Emory being more of these monstrosities(lol) and less extreme versions of these folks. That is the type that is typically satisfied with Emory the most. If you really want just a super standard work hard play hard environment with good academics and dominated by standard work hard play hard students, Emory will not deliver as well.

As for Atlanta: As a student, if you come from a wealthy or upper-middle class family and are from another region of the U.S., Atlanta is definitely one of the more affordable and liveable large cities you’ll find. You aren’t an adult working in Atlanta, but an undergraduate or graduate student. In such a case, Atlanta is far from perfect but is quite nice compared to many cities its size and actually has some culture which is not but so common in larger non-Miami southeastern cities. Its primary weakness is just being southern (large cities like Houston, Dallas, and Atlanta, for example are known for sprawl and fragmented metro-area politics that hinder progression. However, Atlanta is a more progressive in some ways than these places and was blessed with a much better transportation system than those 2 and Miami for that matter despite all of MARTA’s weaknesses in comparison to very large metros in other areas).

Perhaps I should have provided more insight. I plan on doing my bachelors in science either as pre med or pre public health, and for either I am considering majoring in public health for undergrad. @bernie12 thank you for the information. Would you say that Emory students are much more focused on academics in general, or are these mostly the exceptional, or “dive in” students?

@confused5024734 : In general, they are more focused on academics (of course you have the chunk that aren’t or are fully balanced, but it isn’t as common as the places known for work hard play hard environments like say: Duke, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Penn, Vanderbilt, and many of the elite publics). This is just a reality (again, Emory has traditionally attracted more academic students. This just makes sense. It does not have D-1 sports and while Greeklife is 30%, it is still more in the background than at other places. If anything, multi-culturalism, arts, and academics compete well with if not overshadow it. Emory just does not give off a: “American Pie/Animal House social atmosphere for smart folks” vibe. Not full of the stereotypical depictions in media beyond its liberalism). It partially explains why so many departments offer co-curricular opportunities (like fellowships) for undergraduates. If the demand was not that present, they would not be there. I have checked departmental offerings at some comparable schools known for more “balanced” students and there isn’t as much effort to provide these. It could be because Emory traditionally had a much bigger undergraduate focus, but I can tell you for a fact that if something is poorly subscribed to at Emory and it costs money to maintain, it gets axed no matter how pretty it looks as a marketing tool. So Emory just has more folks interested in that and it may partially come from the pre-professionalism. Like I notice the same thing at WUSTL. Don’t get me wrong, neither of these places is like a Chicago “life of the mind” sort of thing, but they definitely have many more “I am about my studies and things related to them” than at many other places. Even the extra-curricular of many students will heavily align with the academic interests and appear almost co-curricular in nature. I describe Emory students and culture as cerebral and focused without the super intellectual atmosphere of places like Brown and Chicago. May look more like some of the other Ivies.

And as said, those 2 are extreme cases. But you will notice that many others (except a large chunk of the population in say, the business school, which seems to have a someone traditional work hard play hard, separate academics from social life culture that is disappearing as more students double major in the college, typically in things like math and CS, and as more students express interest in entrepreneurship).

And in those areas you are interested in, Emory is truly excellent. You would actually be served well by several departments. For example, even Environmental Science is connected to the public health school via programmatic options (ENVS is a very strong “hidden” program). Check it and majors like QSS, and Human Health out if serious about considering public health and not merely pre-medical track (and QSS can be coupled with NBB or biology so you can get a strong training in a STEM subject while also getting the quantitative background typically not stressed in those majors).


Emory is a great place for public health oriented premeds. There’s no confusion about that.

The Centers for Disease Control, which is literally across the street from Emory College, is the leading federal agency for public health driven initiatives in basic research and public health related research. Things like Zika, HIV and Ebola fall within its wheelhouse:

You can do research there for credit or for work study as an Emory student.

Neither Michigan and UNC can access anything like the CDC.

There’s also the Rollins School of Public Health - highly ranked and located on the same campus in Atlanta - where you can also do research as an undergrad.

Be aware of these facts as well:

Michigan undergraduates’ acceptance rate into medical schools hovers around 54%:

UNC doesn’t keep track of premed acceptance rates for its undergrads:
“Q: What is the medical school acceptance rate?
We don’t track specifics, but all students can access pre-health advising”

@MyOdyssey : You know, Emory has about that rate. I rarely hear folks complaining about Michigan having that rate (Michigan is known to be quite tough with very large courses whereas Emory just has too many applying for its size. Emory tends to challenge most pre-healths in neuroscience, chemistry, and select biology courses whereas Michigan, it is more like, chemistry, physics, and math. They have done a lot to pump up the level of courses in those areas and unfortunately, these are usually not strong suits for a lot of pre-healths. At Emory, at least the more challenging classes are in areas that many come in with a strong background in and a passion for.)

Funny thing the OP is asking about UM, UNC-CH and Emory. My father got his Master’s from UMich (hated it), a Ph.D in Public Health from UNC-CH (loved it) and did a post-doc year at the CDC, so I grew up in all 3 cities. My younger friends who went to UNC say it’s better for grad school in general. Our D is graduating from Emory this May (not pre-med), has been very happy and never regretted her decision to attend Emory.