Lehigh vs NEU vs Franklin & Marshall College for business

I am going between 3 schools at the moment. Lehigh University, Franklin and Marshall College, and Northeastern University. Due to COVID, I didn’t get the chance to visit many schools, leading me to apply to many different types of schools. I got waitlisted from a lot of my top choices, so these are the 3 schools I am going between. I know they are all VERY different from one another but was hoping to get some advice on which school to commit to. Financial aid plays a large role in my decision and I will also go into next year studying business. I got the most aid from Franklin and Marshall but am afraid that I will not get the same social scene as Lehigh or Northeastern. I am still waiting to hear back from Northeastern about financial aid but I am nervous about fitting in amongst such a large student body and campus in the middle of the city. Lehigh I will have a lot of loans, probably around 7,000 per year. I would love to hear any opinions about these schools!

Congrats on your great choices. These are very different size schools and locations. Franklin & Marshall seems best due to the aid. Can you talk to current business students about their experiences and the social scene?

My son is a freshman at Northeastern in a combined economics and business major with a concentration in entrepreneurship. He is a quiet kid but found it easy to make friends from Day 1 due to his orientation group and friendly kids in his dorm. He enjoys exploring Boston and just went on a private tour of Fenway. It is an expensive school so if you don’t get good aid, I understand passing on it. They have student Husky Ambassadors you can talk to and student podcasts on different topics on their Admissions website.

Just looked at Lehigh for my younger daughter. Very pretty campus on the side of a mountain. How do you feel about climbing hills?

Franklin & Marshall would be my first choice among these 3 just as a college even without the extra financial aid. But you need to be clear about what you want to get out of a business major. At F&M you are not going to come out with a degree in accounting or marketing, so if that or the like is what you want, you should consider one of the other two. F&M is a liberal arts college, not a business school, so you’ll spend your time with liberal arts courses while developing a background in business. Combining a business major with a minor or 2nd major in economics could provide a very strong profile. Having highlighted the liberal arts nature of F&M, I should note that management training programs recruit a lot of liberal arts graduates, especially from strong LACs like F&M.

Both Lehigh & NEU have business schools, so if you want a traditional business school education, choose one of them. Northeastern offers the co-op program and is located in a big city with many financial and corporate institutions for internships and hiring opportunities. These all seem to be positives, but you have to really want co-op to go there. (By the way, your co-ops don’t have to be done in Boston.) If co-op doesn’t appeal to you, then Lehigh is the other alternative. When you mention the social scene, keep in mind that frats & sororities are a big part of the social scene at Lehigh and that there have been some problems with them.

Thank you for your comment. I just visited Lehigh as well and loved the campus, despite the fact that its on a hill! :slight_smile: It’s great to hear that your son found it easy to make friends at Northeastern.

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Thank you for your help! I am also leaning towards F&M due to the reasons you listed. However, the one aspect I love about NU is the co-ops. Also, I will look more into the greek life at Lehigh to better understand the social scene.

If you love the co-ops, then go to Northeastern. The colleges that offer something like that are few and far between. The co-ops are a great way to get experience in your field, and it’s not unheard of for a student to be offered a job out of a co-op experience. You can still do college in 4 years, or you can extend the co-op experience, spread out the cost of college, and do it in 5 years. Your choice.


F&M is a liberal arts school, as mentioned, so unless that’s what you want, I’d put it to the side.

The immediate difference to me between Lehigh and NE is really to do with where you want to start your career. NYC or NJ/NY/PA tri-state? Go Lehigh. Boston? NE. You’re going to be spending a few of those years making connections with employers, having internships and/or co-ops, and talking to recruiters, so do it where you want to make those connections.

Which means you also need to think about what kind of business, what industries, you’re really drawn to. Yes, it’s hard to know from here, but for tech, esp biotech, Boston’s superior. Finance and intl trade? NYC. Have a look at where the co-ops and interns actually go at each school.

Lehigh’s also still very much an engineering school, so the crossover betwen biz and eng is much heavier there than it’ll be at NE.

Lehigh’s got by far the prettier campus; the Greek life’s not as omnipresent as it once was but is pretty intense. On the other hand, it’s an hour or so to get anywhere from there unless the Lehigh Valley sounds like your idea of fun. Boston’s also got a gazillion college students, so in many ways it’s just a more open and lively collegiate atmosphere. The Red Line has more diversity of interest that way on any afternoon.

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I’m curious, Benny, why would you put F&M to the side?

It’s true that F&M is a LAC, and most LACs don’t offer Business. But F&M is different. It does offer a Business major as well as Economics. In addition, LACs have been sending their graduates to corporations and financial institutions. It’s certainly one viable way to get there.

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It’s a matter of mentality. I actually think it’d be great if everyone got a LA education – it’s the broadest and deepest one going, and it touches on everything else we do. But those kids also stand out immediately as liberal-arts types in other arenas. The way they approach questions and problems, the pace, they retain a little tweed, and it’s not always what’s called for. There’s a depth of “what is business” in the culture at a school that’s really about business that I’ve also never found at a LAC.

So I guess the question is how sure the OP is about what they want. If they’re all “history’s boring, totally not interested, show me how to make bank,” that’s very different from “business sounds interesting, and so do lots of other things.”

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Thanks for clarifying that point. Much appreciated.

You have to determine what makes sense financially but Northeastern is a good choice. We toured 2 years ago. The kids seemed happy and bright. The co-op program is a big seller. You can co-op anywhere. Again, the kids we talked to about the co-op program loved it as it helped them figure out what they liked…and didn’t like.

Boston is probably the best college city going IMHO. People seem to love or hate the NEU campus. It’s urban but not downtown. Some green space but not much. No stadiums. It’s compact and on a trolley line so it’s easy to get to and go places.

No bad choices here. Pick the best fit.

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As a Northeastern grad, there are tons that end up in NYC as well as all over. I don’t think either school dictates location at all given they both have their general regional strength in the same region. Many Northeastern business students also co-op in NYC, as do Lehigh interns. Lehigh interns aren’t at any disadvantage in Boston really. And both will fare similarly in say Chicago or on the west coast.

Northeastern is also quite known for CS/Engineering, I don’t think this is a difference either. Northeastern has a pretty well-known combined CS/Business degree, just as Lehigh does. They are actually quite similar in that way.

As others have said, I’d be focusing mainly on the differences of location (Boston city campus vs traditional college campus + small town) and co-op between those two. I know F&M less so I’ll defer to others there :slight_smile:


Eh, not very. Lehigh’s roots are in heavy industry and that kind of engineering’s still very much alive there-- they’re still big on civil engineering, chemical engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering. The CS lean at NE reflects the tech-heavy industry in Boston and NE’s recent efforts to distinguish itself.

Sorry, I can’t agree. NY’s a short hop from Lehigh, but Boston’s an 8-hour drive (and vice versa for NE), and the connections are much weaker there and overshadowed by local connections. Chicago’s an insular world with extremely strong hometown and midwestern school ties, and a couple steps from the mentality of either Boston or NY – if you’re not from the area it’s not likely to be your first pick anyway.

I’m not saying it’s impossible to leave a school’s area, just that if you actually want to go start your career in a place and an industry, there’s no need to make things more difficult for yourself than necessary - I’d say go where the strength and major connections are.

Congrats on 3 great choices! I’d consider what’s important to you.

  • NEU is a smaller/compact campus integrated into the city proper. 14,000 undergrad. There’s a major roadway that bisects the campus. The building are mainly modern and the campus doesn’t have that traditional built around a green quad look. However you have all of Boston at your fingertips. Coops do break up the timeline at NEU. You might not see friends for months if you’re on coops at different times. The overall feeling is more pre-professional. Coops give you great opportunities to explore different career options before settling on one but they’ll also make your college experience less traditional. You also get paid for your coops which is a nice bonus.

  • Lehigh’s campus is beautiful. 7,000 undergrad. Gorgeous library, stone buildings, many new dorms but it is built into the side of a mountain so quite a few steps all around. If it matters to you getting a single is pretty easy even as a freshman. The Greek life is in flux but it’s definitely a part of the social life. Clubs/sports are the other half of the social scene. The area right around campus is nice with shops, restaurants and the like. Most kids don’t go into Bethlehem for their social life but there is the SteelStacks nearby that has events. The stadium seats 16,000 and there are D1 sports if that’s something you enjoy. Lehigh seems more stem and business oriented. My D17 is a CS/B major. He loves it but the curriculum is challenging and leaves very little room to explore much else. It’s a bit challenging to do study abroad with CSB but they offer summer programs, for example the Czech Republic for 6-7 weeks, includes a class for credit and an internship with time for travel.

  • F&M is a liberal arts college (no grad students) with around 2500 undergrad. The campus is very traditional with lots of red brick and white columns. They have a residential dorm/house system which is similar to maybe Rice or ND. You live in the dorm your freshman year and I believe you’re assigned based on your freshman seminar choices and your class is held in the dorm as well. The houses have mascots, crests, traditions etc…and you belong all 4 years even if you live elsewhere on campus at some point. They have the business, organizations and society major. If you like the idea of integrating liberal arts with business this fits the bill. Like most LACs there are graduation requirements so make sure you’re ok with them. Lancaster is a large town/small city. The city hub is walkable from the campus and has cute restaurants, shops and such but its overall metro population is just under 500,000.

I’d also suggest looking at the course selections at each school to see if any of them are more or less appealing, and there maybe some distinct differences in the offerings. Also the number of classes you can take per semester. At F&M it’s 4 at Lehigh it’s 5, possibly 6. Also investigate after graduation outcomes, particularly if you have an idea what you’re interested in pursuing. Fit is important, would you be happy with a smaller college community or feel smothered after a year or two? Would you miss the community feel with all the coming and going on NEU’s campus?

As much as my son has loved Lehigh and it’s been a fantastic experience for him, I’m not sure it’s worth going into debt if either of your other choices are more affordable.

Good luck!


And do you think Northeastern doesn’t have those roots, with the co-op program started over 100 years ago in the engineering college? Northeastern and Lehigh are literally tied for engineering according to US News (though I hesitate to reference the ranking as I don’t put much stock in it). I think you’ve got some blinders on here.

Northeastern’s engineering program is long-established and CS is an entirely separate and new college. I throw it in here only because it’s just as likely of a path in the context you highlighted, and given how both integrate STEM and business options through combined majors, it’s a strength of both that doesn’t really differentiate between them.

As for today, two of my close friends in NYC are civil engineering majors working at major firms. Another is an EE major in Silicon Valley along with a few others. These are just people I know personally, let alone larger statistics we can go through later. There are quite a few engineers at SpaceX from Northeastern and at the JPL as well. And plenty more in other industries to be found in NYC acquaintances from school.

This is not at all how most companies hire today, or even in the past 10-20 years. Regionality is certainly a factor in where college grads end up, but this is not as black and white as you seem to think and often is more about student choice than the difficulty of getting jobs when it comes to major cities. Northeastern sends hundreds of co-op’s a semester to SF, and a hundred or so more to LA. Hundreds to NYC, and probably on the order of 100 to Chicago. The same goes for Seattle. I know because I personally co-op’d in two of those cities, and have friends who co-op’d in Seattle, SF, and Chicago too.

Companies in major cities don’t hire more locally because “wow local school X just beats everyone else” but because they get more local applicants. That says nothing of the success rate of an applicant being better for the more local school. This is also silly as Lehigh isn’t even local to NYC and is basically in the same distance tier as Northeastern geographically. If you’re not in the city or just on the edge (NYU, Columbia, Fordham, Hunter, Cooper Union, Stevens, etc), then you’re in that “in the northeast” category with schools like UConn, URochester, Syracuse, Penn, Cornell, etc.

Not all connections between these to NYC are equal, but it’s not on some magic scale with distance.

But even beyond that, my point is both fare similarly in comparison to each other, meaning there’s no differentiation on the point. If anything I would argue Northeastern offers better connections outside the northeast, but I think it’s not worthwhile to dig in there.

I’m sorry but this is just laughably off. I’ve done the NYC to Boston drive myself in a Uhaul, twice, in under 4 hours both times. I can’t believe you know what you’re talking about if you don’t remotely know the distance between the two and can’t be bothered to map it to confirm it either.

Apologies for this crazy tangent discussion for a business major. The headline here is simply to first look at affordability compared to F&M and then to focus on fit if you end up looking between Lehigh and Northeastern, as there is far more difference there than splitting hairs on which specific Northeast cities would give you a 0.01% hiring edge in randomly brought up industry X :slight_smile:


Er - I didn’t think it needed to turn into an argument. But yeah, Boston’s a trek from Lehigh, not a thing people do casually. Lehigh-NYC’s a hop. I don’t think the derision’s necessary.

“If you’re not from the area it’s not likely to be your first pick anyway” referred to Chicago for NY/Boston people as a place where you’d want to start your career, not hiring practices or school-program co-op destinations. Co-op programs send people wherever they can. But if you’re from New England/midatlantic, then no, Chicago’s not likely where you’re ambitious to go live. The midwest is another country culturally, Chicago’s a terrific place but strangely insular, nobody moves there for the weather, and in banking, while it’s a significant place, it hasn’t got the octane of either NYC or Boston. If you’re from Chicago suburbs/Great Lakes going to NE or Lehigh, and you like it back home, then yeah, it makes sense. Should you try to do your internship or co-op in the place where you actually want to be after school? Yeah. Even now. Relationships matter.

I didn’t say NE hasn’t got engineers. Obviously it does. And of course it’s got co-ops; everyone’s had co-ops for a long time. It’s normal in engineering. I’m pointing out the different kinds of engineering and their relative weights at the schools, which have historical roots and affect the kind of biz/eng crossover you were talking about earlier. NE’s grown its experiential-learning programs immensely in the last decade, but…anyway, OP, good luck with your choice.


Companies in major cities don’t hire more locally because “wow local school X just beats everyone else” but because they get more local applicants.

And probably because it’s easier for the career management to persuade them to visit campus.

And because there are more alums in the area willing to talk to prospective students or who see value in the school.


According to Google maps, it’s a 3 hr, 38 min drive from NEU (not 8 hrs) to NYC and Lehigh is 1:42.

But if you don’t have a car, as is the case with many college students, there is no direct public transit from Bethlehem to NYC. So, you have to go through Philly and Lehigh loses its advantage. From either Lehigh or NEU, we’re now talking 4.5 hours give or take, depending on schedules, etc. Amtrak runs directly from Boston to Penn Station, and a Northeastern student can walk to the Back Bay Station, but going from Lehigh involves multiple transfers with attendant delays.


There is public bus service from Bethlehem to port authority bus terminal in NYC. I believe the bus line is Trans Bridge.

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Thanks. Not listed on Google maps. Do you know where the bus terminal is and how long it takes to get to NYC?