Tulane vs GA Tech vs USC for BME

Hello everyone. You may know of my college choices and some of my decisions from previous threads, but for those of you who don’t know the details, I’m an A Level student studying in Bombay and I’m planning to major in Biomedical Engineering. I’ve finally received most of my decisions, so I’m going to list all my options with the pros and cons that I have of each. While I will probably make my final decision outside of College Confidential, I would greatly appreciate any advice and input at all from anyone who would like to help. I’m listing the colleges in the order I received admission

Union College

  1. $25k per year scholarship (Presidential Scholarship)
  2. Will be a Union Scholar - may be extra opportunities
  3. Only liberal arts college on my list
  4. Have family near in NYC
  5. Private - Small classes


  1. Not the strongest engineering program
  2. Not very sure how good a neighbourhood Schenectady is
  3. Not high ranked

Case Western Reserve University

  1. High BME rank
  2. $20k per year scholarship
  3. Private - small classes
  4. Great research opportunities


  1. My counsellors said it was a “safety” to begin with
  2. Not sure how good the sports are
  3. Not the highest ranked school, slightly obscure
  4. Don’t know much about Cleveland

Tulane University
I wasn’t seriously considering Tulane until I recently had a meeting with a representative, and it honestly seems to have a lot of what I’m looking for.

  1. Small class size (avg - 20)
  2. Research heavy and great undergraduate opportunities
  3. New Orleans
  4. Great opportunities after graduation
  5. Very selective this year (overall around 5%) so there is some prestige
  6. $18k scholarship + honours program (first preference in choosing classes, etc.)
  7. Good social life
  8. Nice weather
  9. Good sports program

Purdue University

  1. Great engineering program
  2. Cheapest college on the list
  3. Has prestige


  1. Large student population and classes
  2. Tougher to get opportunities
  3. Not the best undergraduate experience

Georgia Institute of Technology
GaTech is one of my top choices and one of the reasons I changed my ED application to WashU to RD.

  1. No.2 in the country for my major
  2. Very STEM focused college.
  3. Good weather
  4. Excellent resources
  5. A family friend stays near
  6. Stimulating and challenging environment
  7. Good sports program


  1. Accommodation isn’t the best
  2. I’ve heard arguments about crime in Atlanta on this site itself, so I’m not sure what the deal is here.
  3. Apparently social life is hard to maintain - Fiske’s guide says gives it a 2 star on this aspect. Again, not sure how true it is
  4. Varying graduating times
  5. High student to faculty ration - professors may not get to know me well

Aston University

I can safely say I will not be attending Aston one way or the other. British universities make conditional offers, and mine here is a BBC in three of my subjects. I think my counsellors recommended it as a safety of sorts.

Imperial College London

Imperial is what makes the US vs UK decision tough. If I choose the UK, it will definitely be at imperial. My conditions here are A* A* A

  1. Ranked 7th in the world, very prestigious
  2. Excellent BME program
  3. I’ve visited London a few times and am familiar with areas around the college and love the city
  4. Great employability
  5. Most diverse university campus - 60% international
  6. Friend from school attending
  7. Closer to Bombay


  1. 3 year program, not 4
  2. No proper campus
  3. Disadvantages of UK - tougher to stay back, etc
  4. London weather
  5. Small chance my grades don’t hold up

University College London

UCL is extremely high ranked, but I’m not going to be attending since my top choice in the UK is Imperial, which is far better for my major.

University of California, San Diego
UCSD is one of the highest ranked bioengineering institutes out there, but I was admitted for an undeclared major, so my counsellors agree that it isn’t worth the risk of being stuck with another major, so I won’t be committing here.

University of Southern California

  1. High-ranked, prestigious
  2. Good engineering school
  3. Great weather and location
  4. Private


  1. Expensive
  2. Relatively large

These are colleges whose decisions I’m still waiting on:
University of Toronto
King’s College London
University of Warwick

Only UoT is a possibility since it offers the advantages of studying in Canada - very easy to get residency and work, and has a great engineering curriculum but is extremely large. I also have family there

I’ve been working on this list for a while, and they include points my counsellors have pointed out.

My top choices are currently Georgia Tech, Tulane or USC in the US. I have to pick one US school to commit to before the deadline and I can make the final choice between US and UK afterwards. My counsellors’ point is that USC will have similar class sizes to GaTech and GaTech is a better engineering school and will stimulate me. They say none of their students take longer than average to graduate, which was something I was wondering about. I like a lot of things about Tulane but the drawback is it isn’t as good an engineering school.

I know this was a long read, so I appreciate giving it your time. I’m sure I’m missing out on a few points here and there and I’m as sure there are things I haven’t even considered that I hope can be brought to light here. Thanks for any contributions!

That’s a pretty impressive list.

I think many of your fears are unjustified. Case western for example is a great school in a great area of Cleveland. It is well known and not obscure.

Purdue is also great and has a great undergrad experience, but it’s not in a city.

Anyway- between G Tech and Tulane, for your area of study, I would say you should go with GT. Crime in Atlanta is no different than any other city. You will work hard there but I assume you are used to that. Don’t confuse Tulane’s low acceptance rate with prestige. It’s a great place but not at GT’s level for engineering and CS. If you know you love New Orleans and want to be there and do community service there, then it might be a good fit. But really GT sounds like the right place.


Are you still waiting to hear from Toronto? If that comes through for you, I’d give it serious consideration, based upon the fact that Toronto is an amazing city, the cosmopolitan and diverse campus, and ease of getting residency and citizenship eventually in Canada.

When I visited Toronto a few years ago, and walked all over the city, and all through the campus, I was just blown away. I wanted to go back to be a college student all over again, just to be able to go there!


Having a low acceptance rate has nothing to do with prestige. Many colleges over enrolled last year and have reduced class sizes this year, making their acceptance rate drop significantly.

Tulane is a good school but between that and GT, I would definitely recommend picking GT.


From what you have narrowed down, my vote would be GT.


From your list of US schools, I like Georgia Tech (biases: I attended Tech decades ago and my D22 considered it too.)

It’s a very strong program. Coops are what make a lot of students take longer than 4 years to graduate. Otherwise it’s not hard to be done in 4.

It’s in Atlanta with lots of stuff to do around. Crime is higher now than it was a few years ago but nowhere near how unsafe Atlanta used to be when I went to college. I wouldn’t worry much. Weather is definitely a plus for someone coming from Bombay.

Among your other choices, I’d put Purdue & Case above Tulane.


You need to immediately eliminate the six colleges you’re least interested in. Just be ruthless. When you’ve narrowed it down to three, let us know.


Your list of acceptances is very impressive, as is your analysis of the pros and cons. I would second what others say here about Tulane. Tulane games their admissions more than most, including some shady practices to boost yield. Tulane gets a large volume of applications due to marketing and ease of applying as a backup/safety school for many. I don’t know about your field, and do not deny that there might be many strong programs there, but compared to the others on your list, the general reputation of Tulane is more as a party or fun school. Also, crime in New Orleans is quite high, more so than GaTech. I think both places are manageable crime-wise if you are aware of your surroundings.

I am not sure what sport you play, so it is hard to comment on how that factors in, but in the US, if you are not an athletic recruit, it would be unlikely for you to make a team.

Regardless of living conditions, a Purdue or Georgia Tech degree will shine on your resume as a world-class education. I think Case Western is well-respected as well, although that would depend a bit more on the relative strength in your field. I don’t think USC is known enough in engineering to be worth the price differential. Union might be a choice if you decide that you love a small college environment, and Tulane a choice if you love New Orleans more than your education or career (this is the view of most of the longtime residents of New Orleans in any case).

I have no knowledge to comment on the relative merits of the UK/Canada vs. US decision.

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Its difficult to say without knowing how much each option will cost you. You provided an estimate of the scholarship, but not cost of attendance.

If price was no issue, here is the order I would pick:

  1. Imperial
  2. Toronto
  3. Georgia Tech
  4. Case Western
  5. Purdue
  6. USC/Tulane
  7. Union - Schnectady is a suburb of Albany, very safe.

UCSD is an amazing school but Biomedical engineering is a capped major. I wouldn’t attend as an undeclared – to hard to get the classes you want.

While U Toronto is an amazing option, with an engineering degree you still could get visa sponsorship in the US.

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Would you mind listing out the net costs to you (after scholarships)? This would make it easier for us to provide recommendations.


Among the US options, I’d choose Georgia Tech. Aside from the academics, another pro in the GT column would be air transportation – while it’s going to be a long day not matter what US option you choose, you can easily get back and forth between Mumbai/Bombay and Atlanta with only one stop.

Some of your other options (Purdue thru IND, Tulane thru MSY, Union thru ALB, CWRU thru CLE) will require a minimum of three flight segments, which makes for a really, really long trip and will in many cases be more expensive. Ground transportation between the GT campus and Atlanta Hartsfield is also a super-easy MARTA train ride.

I obviously wouldn’t choose a college based on transportation, but if you’re struggling to make a decision, sometimes the little things matter.


Tulane is not a big player in BME — not nearly on the scale of Georgia Tech, which is one of the top 5 in the US. Georgia Tech students experience their fair share of academic stress, which is to be expected for an institution of such high caliber. Most agree that it’s well worth it for everything they get back from the school. Midtown Atlanta, where GT is located, is very nice, with many high-end shops, restaurants and Piedmont Park. GT students are out and about in this neighborhood all the time, day and night, with very few problems. There are ample opportunities for a rich social life at GT - everything from hundreds of clubs to Greek life. This one seems like a slam dunk for Georgia Tech, IMHO.

This is a bad reason to reject Case Western. I am not going to get into if Case is even a safety. Rather I would say the classification of reach/target/safety is meant for difficulty of admission and not how much you like the school. Focus on their academics, environment, sports, and whatever else matters to you.

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You need to know that Tulane really manipulates its numbers.

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That’s a relief to hear honestly

I was actually quoting my counsellors when I mentioned the experience, I’m not too sure myself what’s different. I think they meant it might be better to do a Master’s than Bachelor’s here

Yes, I’m waiting to hear back. I personally think the campus is too spread out and large and there are way too many students (as well as cold temperatures), but I am still considering it. The ease of staying back in Canada is an important factor

That’s great to hear! I know it’s probably changed a lot, but from your time there, what do you think of the social life, and did you manage to get close to many professors?

@Lindagaf In the US: GaTech, USC, Tulane/Case. UK: Imperial


I’m a track athlete and I play football(soccer) as well. I’ve been told I can try out for teams, and even if I don’t make it, I can play at the intramural or club level. I did mention these and my achievements in the Common App and have an LOR from my track coach

Could you elaborate a little on what this means?

@MontyBurns Thank you, that’s very interesting! I didn’t know taking flights back would be so complicated in most of these places so that is indeed helpful.

That again is a relief to hear. Why do people seem to think of it as somewhere with a notoriously poor social scene?

Fair enough, thanks

While cost isn’t the deciding factor, it’s a factor enough for my counsellor to note that USC may not be worth the “premium” due to its location vs a similar GaTech experience.

In order of least to most expensive US colleges,
Case($56k - after scholarship)
Union($59k - after scholarship)
Tulane($62 - after scholarship)

Imperial is £48k which translates to around $63k. Toronto is 89k CAD which is around 70k USD (Both include living expenses)

I agree that the extra cost of USC isn’t justified for your major, but I definitely wouldn’t say the experiences at USC and GT are similar. In fact they are quite different - so you may want to research this further to identify fit.

True, they said class size actually not experience, my bad