Northwestern or Columbia

I am a transfer student and would enter either of these schools as a second-semester sophomore. Cost is the same. I prefer not being in an urban location slightly. I am a Cinema and Media Studies major at my current school and would major in Communication Studies at NU, while Columbia doesn’t admit by major. I’m interested in writing/digital media but Columbia doesn’t seem to have a specific program for this. However, I’m unsure if going to Columbia is advantageous for grad school if I choose to go that route. I’m very unsure of my interests career wise but hope that either of these institutions could have the resources to help me with that.

It won’t be. They’re peer schools on the same tier. If anything, NU Communications is more renown.
Northwestern is also less urban.


Everything you write says northwestern - so not sure why you are questioning.

You could go to Murray State and you’d still get into a great grad school if you were the right person. So you already know where you need to go. Then you forgot that Northwestern is world class in communications…

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Agree that for OP, Northwestern University is the better option.

As an aside: Even though Northwestern admits by school (or by major), it is easy to switch schools and it is easy to double or triple major (or add minors) as all students have access to Weinberg.


I’m first gen so I don’t know much about prestige. I have the general gist that it’s good for having connections and that Columbia has more of it where I’m from.

If you’re talking about grad school, Columbia won’t give you an edge over NU. Folks in that world know enough to know they are peers. The 2 schools do have more or less alumni in different regions but also in different professions. In marketing as well as media/journalism, NU has one of the most dominant brands/networks. Columbia also has a top j-school, but that is a grad school so don’t know how much that would help undergrads.


Recommend Northwestern. Better undergrad/transfer experience and not in an urban jungle. Both schools have great reputations.


Why are they peer schools ? Columbia is Ivy League, founded in 1754; and more selective.

Using your first criteria, they wouldn’t be peer schools. The Big Ten is a way better conference. Therefore, Northwestern >> Columbia.

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Like any “better than” argument, you have to look in context. Major, what you’re trying to go for.

In general, they are peer schools - the “Ivy League” is a marketing moniker. Yes, it’s a select group - but there are schools more esteemed than the IVYs - such as Chicago, MIT, Cal Tech, etc. One could put Northwestern in the same group as the Ivys - Dartmouth, Cornell, etc. Many who attend Northwestern will have gotten into the Ivys.

And the Ivy’s aren’t necessarily the be all - if you are studying journalism, would you go to Dartmouth over say Syracuse (or Northwestern). Likely not.

Broad statements do not work - but Northwestern could put itself up there with just about anyone in the country.

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What @tsbna44 said.

If you look at per capita alumni achievements, NU is on par with (and in some aspects, exceed) Columbia.

For instance, here is a ranking of feeders to top MBA programs: Top Feeders to Business School

By total number going in to top MBA programs, NU bests all of HYPSM and only trails the large Ivies UPenn and Cornell.

Even at a per capita basis, NU is better than 3/4th of the Ivies (including Columbia) as a feeder to top MBA programs.


But most people would choose to attend Columbia. In the Ivy League it is the second most selective college with 3.66% admissions; and is clearly a college of choice after Harvard, Yale and Princeton within the Ivy League. And, USNWR ranks Columbia as Number 3 in national universities.

This is rather hard to beat, it seems.

With respect, certainly after H, Y, P, S, (M and Cal Tech if dedicated to hard sciences) , I would choose Columbia over the other national universities.

Columbia also has the world famous Journalism School, and I bet undergraduates can somehow receive permission to take some courses there and benefit from internships in journalism.

Hard to pass up an intellectual/cultural powerhouse like Columbia around since 1754.

Columbia is not a fit for everyone. It’s easy to pass up (or just not apply) if one isn’t interested or motivated by the core curriculum (in the college, the core courses comprise 42 credit hours of 124 required to graduate, so 34% of one’s credits).


It’s fair for you to pass up NU for an Ivy if it were a choice you had to make.

There’s a website that tracks this. According to them, 59% of the time people choose Columbia and 41% they choose Northwestern. They show a methodology - is it legit? Who knows - and so much factor into why one chooses a school.

There are many out there who choose a state school over Ivy - maybe it’s money or distance to home. There will be many Ivy kids who work for state school or directional state school kids.

The question here was related to journalism and while columbia has a very good grad journalism program, northwestern is considered elite…they’re also got strong broadcast and sports focus - so a lot depends on what the OP wants.

You would choose Columbia and that’s fine. Others would too. But no one would question one for choosing Nwestern if they so did… I tried twice…they didn’t choose me (rejected) :slight_smile:

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If you don’t want urban- Columbia is going to be tough going!


Well, for an overall undergraduate experuience, I would not turn down a college like Columbia.

NU is excellent but ‘elite’ ? I never heard anyone say that at all.

Columbia is elite for sure.

Also, so many more opportunities for internships and and summer jobs at Columbia with its New York City connections.

Also, the ‘Core’ at Columbia is world class and a training which is useful for the rest of one’s life. A rare opportunity to develop across decades within the first two years in college. Columbia invests a lot of money in the core to provide the best for its students in small classes.

Both are excellent opportunties, but I can’t see many people turning down Columbia for NU.

The intellectual and cultural stimulation at Columbia and New York absorbs the students and one forgets about ‘urban’ versus ‘suburban ’ or rural’ , and with making new friends, after a short time.

If a student is thinking that way after a short time, then the student is clearly bored.

You are substituting a concern with adaptable environments for brilliant intellectual epxerience; and Columbia attracts the students who are very stimulated by how ideas work, about cultural opportunities, and how these two spheres mesh.

IT is not Number 3 in USNWR without good reason.

@Pandaboy1 we get it that that you like your school. But it isn’t everything to everyone. If I wanted a more prestigious school I would pick H,Y, or P. If I wanted a more academic school would pick CalTech, UChicago, or MIT. If I wanted a better overall experience I would pick Michigan, Wisconsin, or Texas.


My school ? You mean USNWR and world-wide listing and descriptions. Academic ? Not sure we are talking about the same places. Hard to top academics at Columbia except for along with H,Y,P. S, M, Cal Tech. The top high school students who can afford it attaned these colleges.

U Chicago is excellent, but would still take Columbia - small classes for most part wealthier and Ivy League.

A bit of reative advertising on NU , it seems.