Part 2B of 2: The Ivy League Schools (Go Brown Bears!)
- Sub-Urban/Smaller Urban Cities:
a. Brown: I’m extremely biased because I go here, but Brown’s amazing for pre-health students given the dual advantages of an undergraduate-focused curriculum (the Open Curriculum gives you the freedom to study pre-med while also whatever else you’re interested in, and many students create their own liberal arts curriculum by sampling different fields) and a smaller graduate student population/a small state where Brown has like 5+ affiliated hospitals and its med school right in the city of Providence (Brown students have a shuttle to the med school and some of the hospitals.) The grading system is w/o +/-, so while this isn’t ideal for students who have a B+ vs. a B-, an A+ or A- is an A no matter how you look at it. Also, students can S/NC (pass/fail) any course, so you have the freedom to take a language elective course, for example, w/o the risk of a bad grade stopping you from taking it.
b. Yale: New Haven’s more like Providence and Princeton in size than Penn/Columbia/Harvard. Amazing academics and world-renowned professors combined with a distribution like general ed curriculum and a shopping period similar to Brown (at Brown, students can sample multiple courses for the first 2 weeks of the semester before deciding on which to take.) Yale’s medical school is AMAZING, and the resources here combined with the smaller-city vibe would make it easier to build bonds with peers and professors alike.
c. Princeton: Like Brown and Yale; Princeton’s home is on the smaller side, but there’s definitely tons of things to do here. Princeton’s unique among the ivies in that it doesn’t have a medical or law school and a smaller (might even be the smallest) graduate school population of all the ivies,) so the school’s very undergraduate focused. Princeton has distribution requirements for general ed, but is also known for very rigorous academics and grade deflation/lack of inflation, so like with Penn, prepare to work hard. I believe Penn Medicine has a hospital in Princeton/close-by, so opportunities exist for students to gain clinical experience, as well as at Rutgers Medical School (idk how far New Brunswick and Newark are from Princeton, but I believe one of two is close by.) I’ve heard Princeton be called the most “Ivy” ivy, given the abundance of these leafy creepers dotting the buildings of campus.
- Small-town/city vibes/more than an hour away from major cities:
a. Cornell: the largest Ivy undergrad-wise in Ithaca, New York, which is renowned for the beautiful gorges here. I’ve visited here and 110% recommend the ice cream (which is made on-campus, and has too high of a fat percentage I believe to be sold outside of campus,) and walking the trails around the campus which include bridges over the gorges. The architecture is gorgeous: you’ll get to see modern architecture interspersed with more traditional college brick and stone. Contrary to my expectations, Ithaca itself has many of the features of a more larger city, given that it’s home to many, many, many college students; such as diverse restaurants (and traditional fast-food including multiple Chipotles and Starbucks,) as well as some small skyscraper-like buildings. Cornell does have a medical school, however, it is located 3 hours away in NYC, but there is a local hospital nearby (Cayuga medical center I believe) and many students at Cornell successfully go on to medical school every year according to their pre-health website. Cornell does have grade deflation/lack of inflation, so expect to work hard. During the summer, you will find many students here as well (idk if they are all Cornell students or other undergraduates visiting/high school students,) exploring Ithaca and the beautiful campus.
b. Dartmouth: like Ithaca, Hanover, New Hampshire is on the smaller site, but is home to a ski resort that is owned by the campus and gorgeous scenery. Dartmouth’s medical school is located here as well, so students have opportunities to gain clinical experience. Dartmouth has the smallest undergrad population of the ivies, and is unique for the D-plan and a quarter-based academic system (where a quarter’s worth of credit is equivalent to a semester credit somehow I think, read the registrar’s website for specifics,) where you’ll find students studying on-campus at all times of the year. Dartmouth’s doesn’t have inflation, but does list on student transcripts the median grade for courses. The D-Plan leaves a lot of freedom up to students to decide when they want to spend their summer (study abroad in the Fall? work in the spring? the possibilities are endless,) and the smaller size would make it easier to build connections w/professors and among your peers.
TL; DR: All of the Ivies are different from each other, but all are connected by amazing academics and world-class professors. At every school, expect to be challenged, but a student interested in a smaller town like Ithaca or Hanover is not likely to enjoy living in NYC or Boston and vice-versa. Make sure to do your own research in addition to what is available on College Confidential and Admissions websites (talk to current students if you know any, and admissions offices can arrange these for you in many cases,) before deciding on the school that’s the best fit for you.
Hope this helps! Good luck with admissions!