Statistics at Northwestern University vs Cornell University

Hello, I was recently admitted into both Northwestern University and Cornell University. I am interested in pursing biostatistics as a career, and thus majoring in statistics for my undergraduate degree. After narrowing down my acceptances to these schools I am stuck between both of them. Any suggestions on which school would be better to pursue my undergraduate college experience at?

Depends upon your needs & preferences.

what would you identify those needs/preferences be? (broadly speaking)

Which stats major at Cornell? The Arts & Sciences stats majors between Cornell and Northwestern are probably pretty similar. The Biometry and Statistics major in CALS is a little different and might be either closer to or farther from what you’re ideally looking for. If you think you might veer toward anything agriculture-adjacent, then Cornell would be the better choice. If you’re particularly interested in things medical-adjacent, Northwestern Med in Chicago is in much closer physical proximity the undergrad campus in Evanston than Cornell Med in NYC is to Ithaca… but there’s an lot of genetic/bioinformatic research outside of the med schools at either university.

Needless to say, Ithaca and Evanston are very different. The breadth and depth of offerings are such that you can probably find everything you want or need at either school, and they’re both stellar reputation-wise, so this might be a situation where you can choose based more on the lifestyle and “vibe” issues… unless, as I said, you might want to take your career in an plant/crop-genetics type direction (which is certainly a vibrant and important field if it interests you), in which case Cornell would probably have the edge.

Purely personal preferences as you have already identified your intended area of study.

Geography, weather, urban versus rural, choice regarding living accommodations, travel distance to and from both school and interviews, etc.

I’m a statistics major at Northwestern. One thing I’ve loved about the major is how flexible it is. The major only requires eight courses (plus some pre-requisites), so you have enough time to fit in other areas of study. You mention that you are interested in biology. You could probably fit in a double major between both in four years. I wouldn’t make your decision purely off of academics, though. You can pursue biostatistics at both (probably) equally well, and so I would go with whatever social setting you will like more (urban vs rural).

Are you a transfer student? If so, there is a much, much larger transfer student population at Cornell vs. Northwestern, which could factor if you’re interested in being part of a large transfer-student community at Cornell.

Both schools are VERY different location-wise. Northwestern’s located in Evanston, which is close enough to Chicago to take advantage of the opportunities there, but far enough to be its own town. Cornell, on the other hand, is not as close to a large city: you would have to travel at least an hour to Syracuse, Rochester, NYC etc.

Both schools are known more for grade deflation/lack of inflation: so expect to work hard no-matter which you choose. However, Northwestern has a quarter-schedule as opposed to Cornell’s semester schedule: allowing you to take more courses (such as electives) over your 2 or 4 years there but in a shorter amount of time per class.

Have you compared your financial aid offers and transfer credit evaluations (if applicable?) Especially if you plan on going to graduate school in Statistics or a related field (not for a PhD, which are typically fully funded,) a lower debt means more money to pay for graduate school. Same goes for your transfer credit evaluations, as you don’t want to have to stay for longer due to having to re-take intro courses or general-educations due to a lack of course equivalency.

This is a bit tangential, but food-wise, Cornell rocks for the AMAZING ice cream made on campus, but Northwestern has the equally amazing Deering library.

Hope that helps!

@PurplePoppies Which school did you end up choosing, if you don’t mind me asking?

@PikachuRocks15 NU committed! I decided that the quarter system and ease of a double major fit best for me.

@PurplePoppies Congrats on Northwestern!! It’s an AMAZING school! :smile:

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