Stanford or Princeton?


Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg didn’t graduate from Harvard. Using your logic, does that mean that one has to actually drop out from Harvard in order to be a successful tech magnate? It’s also ironic that Mark Zuckerberg chose to relocate his company to Silicon Valley (four miles from Stanford) in order to scale it up.

Your comment about Jeff Bezos being wealthier than successful Stanford alumni therefore Princeton trumps Stanford in tech is equally misguided.

I’d think that Stanford being located in Stanford, CA and almost literally on the SF Bay, close to the Marine Science Institute, Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Pacific Ocean would give Stanford a “leg up” in the OP’s college choice.

As for the other argument, Stanford is inextricably threaded into the fabric of Silicon Valley and venture capital companies on Sand Hill Road.

@JamesVanc what about Sergei Brin and Larry Page? Are they meaningfully less successful than someone like Mark Zuckerberg or Bezos?

Btw Stanford has produced more startups as you say, but also more successful companies that have survived the start-up phase and thrived.

Larry Page came from University of Michigan. Sergey Brin came from University of Maryland.
Credits should be given to those two colleges.

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla came from University of Pennsylvania.
Steve Jobs, founder of Apple came from Reed College.
Jerry Sanders, founder of AMD came from UIUC.

No colleges own Silicon Valley.

@helpme84 When you look around the campuses, which one do you see your current friends fitting in? We’re talking about Princeton and Stanford…so ignore the alumni sabre rattling and go to the one where you feel you fit in. You could go to the “better” choice and hate it, and in the end you’ll probably have fewer options than being engaged with the people around you…regardless of location.

I’m comfortable saying that the Environmental folks on the west coast will know about Princeton when you go looking for opportunities…and vice versa. Ignore the programs (unless you absolutely know one is better FOR YOU), and follow your gut. Odds are, you won’t regret being at either school in 6 months.

Stanford, Stanford Industrial Park

read up on Silicon Valley:)

Academically they are even outside of Eng and CS majors (Stanford adv) and some hum majors (Princeton adv). And we shouldn’t use grad school rankings to assign perceived differences in undergrad program quality.

Something nobody else has mentioned that I think is an advantage for Princeton in this case:

More focus on undergraduates.

Stanford is a great school but fewer than 50% of the students are undergrads. Meanwhile, about two-thirds of Princeton students are undergrads.

What does this mean, you ask?

  1. Princeton is more likely to care about what undergrads want and will work harder to satisfy them.
  2. Undergrads at Princeton are more likely to have a chance at research opportunities since there are fewer grad students to compete with.
  3. Top professors at Princeton are more likely to spend time with undergrads, since there are fewer grad students (and grad classes...) competing for their time.
  4. The overall feel of the school is shaped mostly by undergrads, since they comprise the vast majority of the students.

If the other school were Harvard, or MIT, or Columbia – schools with markedly lower proportions of undergrad students than Princeton – I’d be saying the same thing. (or, say, Brown vs. Duke…)

In terms of the Wall Street pipeline: Stanford is good, but Princeton is better – Princeton grads have been among the most sought on Wall Street for over 100 years, right up there with Harvard, Wharton and Yale.

In terms of fit, cost and academic fit are of the utmost importance. There are also location/environment and social vibe/scene to think about, if they’re important to you.

I don’t know anything about marine biology other than the most basic things (life forms in water. lol) – if it turns out that Stanford’s program is miles better than Princeton’s, obviously that makes academic fit at Stanford better. But if you aren’t sure about major, or if you were to change your mind, the schools are even in overall academic quality. In terms of undergrad focus, Princeton has the edge. For Silicon Valley, Stanford has it. And for Wall Street, both are good, but Princeton has it.

I can see why certain students would chose Princeton over HYS. I can also see why certain students would choose Williams over SHYP. I did notice that many accepted students intend to major in Bioengineering or similar fields at Stanford. That must be the next sexy area.

@EyeVeee thank you very much, that is great advice :slight_smile:

Not many choose Williams over HPYS.

These schools are very different. I would say pick the school where you yearn to be now. There is likely a reason for it though you can’t put your finger on it now. Live for today.

Please refer to the Stanford vs. HYP thread for more opinions comparing Stanford and Princeton. Here’s what I posted on that thread. Congrats on being admitted to both Stanford and Princeton!

Chiming in now. I am very grateful to have DC at both Princeton and Stanford. Both schools are amazing with some of the brightest and most humble students and professors that my DC have encountered. I won’t repeat what others have written, but some things to considered about Princeton vs. Stanford are: semester system vs. quarter system (depth of study vs. taking 1/3 more classes w/the quarter system - lends itself to more interdisciplinary studies); undergraduate focus with 2/3 undergrad & 1/3 grad students vs. 1/3 undergrad & 2/3 grad students which provides more grad courses available for undergrads; 4 seasons climate vs. basically 2 season climate; smaller suburban campus w/gentle hills and walkable vs. expansive campus (bikes everywhere); traditional, studious, and quiet campus vs. contemporary, active, and busy campus (Stanford has LOTS of events and conferences happening every day); grades focus in a post-grade deflation class environment vs. less grades focus (though still important) - leans more towards grade inflation; quite scholarly & theoretical (adding to knowledge) with more traditional opportunities for application vs. scholarly & theoretical with lots of opportunities to apply knowledge in Silicon Valley, industry, NGO’s (it is not uncommon for Stanford students to take a quarter or more off to travel or work/intern,); required Junior Paper and Senior thesis vs. optional Senior thesis. IMO, Princeton seems to be more serious and purposeful in tone (east coast culture?) versus Stanford has a fun and even wacky tone at times (notice Stanford’s band) that has fueled the entrepreneurial and innovation school spirit. The campus vibes and culture are different at each school but the caliber of the people are similar. Both schools have an extensive and active alumni network but Princeton is famous for its annual reunions where alumni can return every year instead of every five years. Besides these comparisons and your area of academic interest, do check out the extracurricular activities that each school offers. I hope you plan on attending Princeton’s Preview Days and Stanford’s Admit Weekend. My DC chose the schools most suitable for them and never looked back. Many congrats on your acceptance to both Princeton and Stanford!

^ Great points, though I would say don’t bother with the Stanford vs HYP thread unless you like to read sweeping generalizations about both schools.

@helpme84 It sounds like your heart is at Princeton, so that is where I would go. I would suggest however speaking to Princeton and see what they could offer you regarding the program; it is quite possible for them to arrange a quarter or a year at Stanford’s Monterrey facility or some other off campus education.

Further, it’s graduate school that will make the biggest difference in specialization. At that point you can attend Stanford.


And specifically to your question, the reputation of the program isn’t that important for graduate school, as is your demonstrated interest and track record in your undergrad. What could be quite important is to find a mentor, a professor that will advocate for you in your chosen field.

A Bowdoin grad (Stanford Business School) founded Netflix.

Because Stanford grads tend to be supercompetent but not necessarily original grinds compared to Ivy kids.

In Tech industry Princeton Undergrads are way more successful then Stanford undergrads. Princeton undergrad alumni include Jeff Bezos (2nd Richest Man) Eric Schmidt (Google’s highest ranking employee) & Carl Icahn (financial tech). The most successful Stanford undergrad alumni is Evan Spiegel.

@JamesVanc please stop spreading your misinformation in all Of the Stanford threads. it is getting tedious. What you fail to mention is that many of these people went to Stanford for grad school and that is where they built their business and met their partners and also based their companies in Sillicon valley and took advantage of Stanford resources. Stanford had more to do with their success than their undergraduate school. Also most of these people are rather old, meaning they went to college decades and decades ago (60s, 70s, 80s) when HYP was the place to go for undergrad over Stanford.