Northwestern vs Georgetown vs JHU vs Tufts

Hi everyone! I have just received all of my college decisions, and although I am very happy with my options, I am having trouble deciding where I should go (with less than a month left until the deadline!). Some background: I intend to study International Relations/International Studies, possibly with a minor in Econ or Business. I would like to be near/in a city as I am not a very outdoorsy person and would like the social perks that come with being in a city. I also would like to go to a school that prioritizes academic exploration/intellectual discovery as I am not completely sure what I would like to do. I also think access to internships and good academic/career advising departments at the school are very important.

I am not sure if I am a huge fan of Greek life and if I would really want to join a sorority, so I wouldn’t really want to go to a school where that’s a huge part of the social scene. I also like a slight sports scene/culture (some games and good school spirit), but not one that takes over the entire student life.

I have narrowed down the 10 schools I was accepted to to these final four options (I have withdrawn most of the other applications already). For some more background, I go to a private, all girls, Catholic high school in New England with about 80 students a grade. Seven of the girls in my grade have already committed to Georgetown, and I don’t think anyone will be committing to any of the other three schools (this is a big factor for me). My mom also went to Georgetown and would very much like me to attend. I have quite an international background and I am looking for a school with a very diverse student body, and one that is also quite dissimilar to my current high school.

Overall, I think for what I want to study, all of the schools are great options. I also think they’re all very similar in terms of prestige/ranking, so it is hard to distinguish them in that way. I think I would fit in well at all of them, although I do have some concerns about the social life at Johns Hopkins. I have visited all of them except Hopkins, but I plan on visiting all of them over the next couple of weeks, so that may impact my decision.

I would very much appreciate if anyone has any insight about any of these schools through personal experiences that could aid in my decision-making process. I honestly really like all of these schools and think I would be happy wherever I end up, but still it is going to be hard to just pick one and feel as if I’m making the right choice.

Just to add: I also got waitlisted at Brown (which was my top choice at one point). I will accept the spot and write a LOCI, but I’m not going to think too much about it after that unless something comes of it. Although Brown might still be somewhat of a possibility, I still need to pick one of these schools to commit to and I don’t want to be constantly thinking about the small chance I get off a highly selective WL. Just thought I would mention that!

SFS at Georgetown? If yes, that is the obvious choice. Who cares if you know 7 of 7,000 students.

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I originally applied as a Biology major on the pre-med track, so I am in the College. I now wish that I had applied to SFS, but my interests have changed a lot since submitting my application in October. I would likely try to transfer to SFS at the end of my first year (which I believe is pretty easy to do), but that does add another layer.

An internal transfer in to College is easy. I have never heard of a transfer into one of the 3 schools described as easy.

I will do some research and maybe talk to current students to learn more about that. If I cannot rely on transferring to SFS, do you think it would be better to consider another option where I know I could definitely major in IS/IR without having to switch schools?

So your downside risk if you go to G’Town and don’t get into SFS is that you get a degree in something like Government, Economics or History. You could always double major/minor in a FL. The question is how would you feel about that? Are you still considering med school? I think for the motivated student, G’Town brings some outside the classroom experiences that are hard to duplicate at non DC schools.

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For Northwestern, you can get a lot of info from the “Northwestern Admissions” channel on YouTube. According to “Live From Northwestern: It’s Undergraduate Research!” within that channel, Northwestern has over 3.5 million dollars dedicated just for undergraduate research each year, which is great for academic exploration/intellectual discovery.

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My two top picks would be:
IR at Tufts is among the best in the country and will require fluency (advanced+ to superior) in a foreign language so its major may best approximate SFS; also, good environment.
Georgetown, if you can find a major that matches your strengths and interests:
What would you major in at Georgetown? You could always add a certificate from SFS but you’d need a solid major for your interests first.
JHU has prestige and requires advanced proficiency in a foreign language (one level less than Tufts as per my estimate which may be a + or a - for you).

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They also have a Political Economy major, which does sound interesting. However, I do think that the majority of my interests lie in the programs at SFS. I have been in contact with admissions and it is possible to change to SFS before June 1, but I would have to fill out forms and write explanations/a new essay and then get approved. Considering SFS is the best and only of its kind, I think it might be worth it to pursue this. My school college counselor seems confident that if I go through my regional admissions officer, I could get approved to change into SFS without too much difficulty. If this is true, then that will definitely make my decision easier. And no, I am not still considering med school, and yes, I agree that the career/internship opportunities that DC offers are unparalleled.


I am already near fluent in French (I am half French) and am decently advanced in Spanish, so I don’t mind extra language requirements (I would consider even minoring in a language). I do feel like at Tufts I would have more room to explore my interests. Yes, I could major in IR, but in my opinion (not sure if this is true, just what I gathered from my interview), I would also be able to explore a wide variety of subjects, without being restricted by too many requirements.

As I am currently in the College at Georgetown, the Political Economy major probably sounds the most interesting to me currently. However, as I mentioned in a previous post, I have found out that it would be possible to change to SFS before I even commit to a school. If I am able to do that, then the majors in SFS (Global Business, International Politics, International Economics) would align well with my interests.

Sounds like you have an answer then:
1° do the extra work to switch to SFS
2° learn more about Tufts


I would apply for transfer to SFS now, my daughter did the same thing 2 years ago and got admitted to SFS prior to committing, although she had a compelling reason for the shift and also was choosing between GU and ivies. You need to prepare a new essay for SFS and a short explanation for the transfer. It was the best decision she has made, plenty of internship opportunity.

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I think you would like Georgetown a lot, regardless of whether you’re in the SFS or not. Combination of academics, social life, and city environment you’re looking for matches up well. The difference between, say, a Political Economy major in the College and an International Political Economy are smaller than many people think, so definitely try to move to the SFS if that’s what you want, but don’t let that be the make-or-break factor.


That’s very helpful to know, thank you! I will apply for the transfer, and then that might make it easier for me to make a decision.

Vote for Georgetown. A little on me to help put things in perspective and see if they resonate with you. I grew up overseas (Holland and England) and Georgetown was always my dream school because of the international aspect. I am a SFS, class of 1991 grad. From there I worked some but then got an MBA from Wharton in 1996.

BTW, the top three undergrads represented at Wharton were #1 Penn (no surprise there) #2 Cornell, and #3 Georgetown. Always thought that was impressive.

I still keep up with lots of friends from Georgetown - here are a few examples of where they ended up: consulting, banking, United Nations, Foreign Service, US Fed Govt, Law firms, non-profits, Fortune 500 companies. Nearly all have gotten masters degrees - either Law, Business, or Master in International Affairs.

Hope this helps some. Reach out directly if I can answer any questions.

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Thank you, your insight is very helpful! Hopefully my switch to SFS works out, and then I think that would be hard to turn down.

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