Syracuse vs Rutgers vs UW Madison vs UIUC

I’ve been accepted to Syracuse University, Rutgers University-New Brunswick, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. I visited all of the campuses this past summer for all of these schools.
I’m planning to double major in Biology and Economics on the pre med track. Any input would be great.
Note: My parents make too much money so I basically got no financial aid.

Financial Aid: 77k (total cost of attendance)
Pros: It’s in New York and my sister lives near the school and she has always been a great help to me she actually helped me edit my personal statement.
Cons: My parents make six figures so they basically gave me no aid, I would have to pay 77k a year which is depressing.

Financial Aid: 54k (total cost of attendance)
Pros: I’m from DC so Rutgers is actually closer to home than Syracuse is which is convenient because I have to go back to DC once a month for orthodontists appointments (I’m getting braces for the second time because I’m stupid lol)
Cons: I’m just not feeling the school if that makes sense; it probably has something to do with the ranking.

UW Madison:
Financial Aid: 56k (total cost of attendance). I’m out of state
Pros: The campus is totally gorgeous and it’s near a city (Madison). I was also accepted into the CAE (Center of Academic Excellence) program. Seems okay, but I’m on the fence about it.
Cons: Really far away from DC, MD, VA area I would have to fly back once a month which is more money spent. It’s also not a very diverse school.

Financial Aid: 55k (total cost of attendance). Also out of state
Pros: The campus is pretty, and UIUC is way more diverse than Madison. I’m Hispanic btw
Cons: Also super far away. It’s a state school so there’s a huge campus, but it’s basically in the middle of nowhere. I feel like there’s more opportunities at UW Madison because it’s in a city.

I’m leaning towards UW Madison or UIUC, Syracuse isn’t too far behind (I basically don’t know which is why I started a thread) though but let me know what you think!!

The difference in those rankings, especially because of the criteria being used, is pretty meaningless.

No issue with how you are leaning.

+1 for UW (for the same reasons) + Great College Town + Great College Spirit

Madison has more top end in both Bio and Econ. But you will have to work on it. They are both huge majors. It is also a better place to spend 4 years of your life.

Which one would you pick though?

I think UW- Madison and Illinois are roughly academic peers overall, but UW is a hair better in more majors, while the Illini own CS. But you aren’t studying CS.

Madison is a nice city of about 230k people, and UW is in the city. But the campus itself features both urban and park/woodsy areas, and a couple of lakes.

The Badgers have been pretty good in football and basketball the last couple decades, and the hockey program is a sleeping giant (six NCAA championships). The women’s hockey team is consistently among the best in the NCAA. There is a ton of school spirit.

If you go to a football game, you will have a wonderful time. Our band is the best – they use a step that only they do, and the songs are great – On Wisconsin, Varsity, many more. Jump Around is still fun. Buttercup. The 5th Quarter. These are all available on YouTube. It’s the best ticket in town.

Look, I come from a family of Badgers – three grandparents, both parents, myself, and my sister all have our Bachelor’s degrees from UW, and our blood runs cardinal and white. Illinois is a good school too, and if you felt you fit better it is the right choice, but UW is a grand experience.


Assuming $$ was not an issue, I would visit UW and decide whether I liked it better than Syracuse.

You said no issue with how I’m leaning so why Syracuse though? Also money is not an issue.

I think it is socially one of the strongest schools in the nation.

I am sure some may disagree with me, but I speak from experience of having a kid attend Syracuse for a few years and I myself work in academics for a school of similar size and I have been to many campuses around the U.S., including Syracuse over many different times of the year.

It is NOT a college town and is very depressing. Walk about four blocks off campus in any direction and you will be in a dirty gritty town with not much in the way of social outlets for the size of their student body. Winters are incredibly depressing and it forces most students to stay indoors and drink way too much. Again, look around for fun college spots, is there much live music, are there things to do besides join a frat or sorority? Don’t buy into the sales pitch that they put on during the campus tour. Spend some time around the city. See if you can easily walk to interesting places off campus. How many college bars and restaurants do you see? Do this for all of these towns and I cannot see how anyone would choose Syracuse.


uiuc has the highest biology ranking but uw madison is not too far behind. I would pick uw madison for the overall ranking if money is not an issue for you.

1 Like

No disagreement on the city, but that environment can provide solid community service opportunities for students. Syracuse social life seems to revolve around frats and big time sports - with some campus bars (maybe not in COVID) sprinkled in.

UIUC or UWMadison seem to have the best value for money for you: great campus AND environment.
As for your braces, well, ask for a referral closer where you attend college. I can assure you there are excellent orthodontists in Urban Champaign and Madison :wink:

1 Like