Johns Hopkins vs. Harvard vs. Pomona vs. Dartmouth

<p>Hello! I'm interested in studying international relations, with the slight chance that I might switch to neuroscience. As much as I wish I could apply to 12-14 colleges my counselor is limiting us to 10 universities. I have a 9 colleges I'm 100% sure about applying to, but the last spot has been a challenge to decide. The four colleges I'm considering at the moment are Pomona, Johns Hopkins, Harvard and Dartmouth. Here are the most important factors for me:</p>

<ol>
<li>Strength of the program</li>
<li>Overall quality of undergraduate education (class sizes, accessibility of professors)<br></li>
<li>Enough flexibility to explore both areas before deciding what to major on</li>
<li>Location - I prefer to be near a city that will offer me good internship and cultural opportunities</li>
</ol>

<p>I don't think your counselor has the right to actually stop you from applying to more colleges. I mean, this is probably going to be your first and only time applying to colleges and you might as well make the most of it. If you have the time, I would recommend applying to as many that interest you as you feel like. You'll get so much more out of your college apps and acceptance letters.</p>

<p>As far as answering your questions:
1. Program for International Relations (International Studies here at Hopkins I think) is pretty strong. It is a fairly large department that competes with Public Health and BME for the "biggest" majors I think. Neuroscience is a pretty sweet program as well. I remember attending the open house to a related major, Cognitive Science, and being somewhat dumbfounded as the presenter reached into a container and pulled out an adult human brain in quite the matter of fact manner.
2. My class sizes are large because I am taking a lot of intro science and math classes. However, your sectionals will be smaller and, in my experience, some of the intro courses in the humanities are pretty intimate.
3. Definitely a lot of flexibility, especially with covered grades 1st semester freshman year. I mean heck, you can probably double major in the two if it really floated your boat.
4. Baltimore definitely has a lot of opportunity (this is coming from someone who has lived in a really rural place for most of his life though haha)</p>

<p>How is your guidance counselor limiting you to 10 like that? If you use Common App, can't you just add more in after he/she puts up your transcript and letter? Might be worth fighting if you want to apply to all of those colleges.</p>

<p>Each of these places has very different environments so it will depend somewhat on what you want. The International Studies program at Hopkins is very good, and the neuroscience program is one of the best.</p>

<p>Of course, Harvard also has excellent programs.</p>

<p>Pomona and Dartmouth are also both good in international studies (I know more about Pomona's program than Dartmouth's). If you're looking for access to internships and culture, though, you probably don't want to be at Dartmouth, and if you're looking for internships in international studies stuff, you probably want to be on the east coast.</p>

<p>Hopkins has the advantage of being commuting distance from DC (it takes about 50 minutes on the train, which only costs $7 on weekdays.) Baltimore isn't quite Boston as far as cultural stuff, but there is a surprising amount of stuff to do in Baltimore, and you can get really cheap tickets to the orchestra and to different theaters, and the city also has a big bohemian artist contingent if you're into that kind of stuff.</p>