Washu or emory

can someone speak to the differences–they seem kinda similar. im trying to narrow down my college list.
current college list is:

  • “safeties/likely”: UC Riverside, University of San Diego
  • “matches”: UCSD, UC Irvine, UCSB, UC Davis, USC
  • “reaches”: UCLA, UC Berkeley, Emory, Vanderbilt, WashU, Claremont McKenna, UPenn (likely going to early decision)

im someone who likes the chance to have fun/party, wants a more politically diverse atmosphere, am unsure what i want to do post-grad (options so far are become a teacher, work in healthcare, or management) so i would appreciate good career services/connections/alumni network, good food/dorms/quality of life, a more “traditional” college experience (ik both aren’t very rah rah football- type but which one is a lil more), less extreme weather, not too expensive surrounding area/city, chinese food scene/chinatown nearby is very preferred!


What major?

Neither WashU or Emory are known for being “fun”, with a great social scene or rah rah for sports…why have they made your list? Both have good career outcomes and offer a more traditional experience. Vandy and Penn would seem to be more what you are looking for.

Separately…thinking UCSB could be a reach, some of the other UCs might be miscategorized as well, depending on intended major. USC a definite reach for all. CMK seems like an outlier on your list too.

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oops, sorry to say–im from socal so a lot of my schools are in cali as i kinda want to stay close to home. my college cousnelor recommended many of those schools to me. intended major is neuroscience &/or child development

I don’t know your financial situation, but I definitely would not spend a lot on college if you are going into education.


This is a complicated comparison, so I’ll treat it one point at a time.

  1. Athletics - Both schools are in the same Division III athletic conference, so I don’t think you’ll find a significant difference between the two with regard to rah-rah campus life.

  2. Location - Wash U is not in the City of St. Louis; it is in St. Louis County, which does not include the city. There are a small number of nice restaurants nearby, but this is not a downtown urban campus with lots of city things all around it. Emory, on the other hand, has its own unique problems. While the main campus is located in Atlanta, about a quarter of first and second year students live on the old campus 38 miles away in the small town of Covington. So, if you’re asking what campus life is like at Emory, it depends. Applicants choose to apply to the Atlanta campus, the Oxford campus, or both. The main campus is located 3 miles from downtown in a residential neighborhood and borders a neighborhood that is not great.

  3. Campus - Wash U has its dorms in a village like complex. They were the nicest dorms we saw in any of the colleges we visited. They are regarded by the university as “residential colleges” (living & learning communities) with a lot of the social life planned around the residential colleges. Greek life is prominent at both of these colleges. Emory also plans a lot of social life around its dorms, some of which are themed. Their dorms are also very nice. It’s just that the Oxford satellite campus factor which makes it hard to make blanket statements about campus life at Emory. It’s something you should investigate.

  4. Academics - your interest in management can be met by the business school at either university. Both have some interesting health related majors. But while their is a nursing school at Emory, nursing is not an option at Wash U; instead they have a pre-nursing program. OTOH, teacher training is not available at Emory, but it is at Wash U.

So, while there is a lot that’s similar between these 2 universities, there are significant differences. If nursing is not part of your health care interest, then Wash U makes more sense because everything else is there. OTOH, if nursing is an option you want to consider, then Emory is probably the better choice because I think that nurses get to live and go to class on the Atlanta campus. (Double check that if you’re interested.) In either case, either nursing at Wash U or teaching at Emory will require post college course work for certification.


thanks so much. im interested in emory’s atlanta campus not oxford . also curious: what are the “problems” you said that’re associated with emory in atlanta? thanks

I’ve read reports of neighborhood crime, but I don’t have personal knowledge. Hopefully someone closer to Emory will chime in.

With regard to which campus, check to see how choosing only one campus affects your chances of admission. I would assume that applying to both increases your chances

The neighborhood around Emory is highly desirable in my opinion.

Until a few years ago, Emory’s location was part of Decatur. Emory petitioned to become part of Atlanta & the request was granted.

From the Fiske Guide To Colleges:

Emory is “set on 631 acres of woods and rolling hills in the Druid Hills suburb of Atlanta.”

“Often compared to Duke and Vanderbilt,Emory may be most similar to Washington University in St. Louis. Emory’s suburban location is tough to beat.”

Although not recently, I have been on Emory’s campus several hundred times–maybe more–and I never worried about crime in the area other than petty theft of a bike or backpack. Lots of doctors, lawyers, and judges live near Emory’s campus.

FWIW One can still buy a home in the North Druid Hills area of Atlanta for under $600,000, but it will be old although on an attractive piece of real estate. Most homes, however, would be above $600,000.

North Druid Hills area’s main advantages are suburban beauty & convenience to everything in Atlanta. Several decades ago, a movie titled “Driving Miss Daisy” was filmed in the Emory area–at least it appeared to be North Druid Hills.

The homes & lots in the Emory / Druid Hills area are beautiful. The home used in Driving Miss Daisy is near Emory in the Druid Hills neighborhood.

P.S. I just googled: “Is the Druid Hills area of Atlanta safe ?”

Answer: “Druid Hills is one of the safest neighborhoods in Atlanta.”

Druid Hills is full of old Southern mansions which have been very well cared for.

I just googled statistics for Druid Hills area of Atlanta. These might be dated: Average household income is $205,000–but, remember this is Georgia,not California. Average home price = $670,000 but this is probably outdated. Homes are much less expensive in Georgia than in California. Druid Hills is full of young professionals. I cannot stress enough the high number of doctors & lawyers who live in this area filled with highly educated, open-minded people. Really beautiful area.


I’ll only focus on the res life/surrounding areas here. WashU hands down has better dorm/dining. Atlanta hands down is a more diverse/interesting city if you’re focusing on downtown. In terms of immediate surroundings, both are suburban. Someone else already mentioned the beauty and green spaces around Emory. WashU has Forest Park right across the street. The closest comparison would probably be Central Park in NY.

While both are in wealthy suburbs, that is where the comparison stops. Emory has Emory Village—a small collection of shops and eateries adjacent to campus. But the layout of the area is less dense, more bucolic and more car centric. Clayton and U City are true inner ring suburbs laid out pre automobile. So it’s more bikeable to get to different areas. The Loop is the closest large district, but you’re a 15 minute bike or less ride from downtown Clayton, Central West End, Dogtown, and places in between like DeMun/HiPointe.

WashU also has two light rail stops on campus with direct access downtown while getting to Atlanta’s much bigger downtown is a bit trickier from Emory. Personally, I think setting differences can be a bit overblown, but there is more of a city vibe to WashU.

Outside of UCLA and Berkeley, none of your reaches are “rah rah” types of schools. Vandy and maybe Penn are slightly more so than Wash or Emory, both of which are maybe slightly more so than CMC. If I was forced to guess which of WashU and Emory had more school spirit, I’d say WashU for two reasons:

  1. overall, WashU is a bigger D3 sports power than Emory
  2. WashU has a football team.

But in all seriousness, that’s only if I had to make a choice. Football attendance is pretty non-existent. I went to two games in 4 years. And that was because someone handed me a burger outside the entrance to the stadium and asked me to come in as I was walking by both times.

isnt CMC a major party school tho? and washu and emory arent

I wouldn’t say that’s true. My initial reference point is a long time ago. I went to WashU and my wife attended CMC. At that point in time WashU was extremely lax with any sort of rules. So lax that my friends attending Big Ten schools were shocked. It’s not that way anymore. You can’t walk around campus with an open container. You don’t find people sitting in broad daylight in the Brookings Quad passing a joint around. There is no longer an on campus bar where even a little sibling attending high school can order a beer. An entire freshman floor can’t have a party with a dozen rooms serving booze for the floor and a couple hundred guests. And on and on. And that’s probably a good thing because that was a sexual assault waiting to happen. They understandably tightened up quite a bit, but I wouldn’t say the school is any different in that regard than other similarly selective private schools.

We moved to St Louis and have current school ties and get back to Claremont, so I have a decent idea of what goes on at those two today. CMC, Emory and WashU are more or less similar now. Today, partying may be more slightly prevalent at CMC if you were to poll 100 people, but if you’re looking for it at a school the size of WashU or Emory, you’ll find it. WashU is much larger. 2000 kids in this year’s freshman class. More students equals more like minded people. There’s a Greek scene if you want it. That doesn’t exist at CMC. There are also a lot more students living off campus in the surrounding neighborhoods, which means house parties. Almost every CMC student lives on campus. There are also many more student friendly bars around WashU than there are in Claremont. WashU also has a major concert each semester (WILD) with plenty of partying centered around that day.

Off campus, students go to the Soulard Marci Gras. This is supposedly the largest outside of New Orleans in the US, but at the very least it’s as big as Mobile and Galveston. St Patty’s Day in Dogtown is also big. There might be more dorm housed partying at CMC. That might be more immediately accessible to a freshman new to campus. Once people get their bearings, if you want it, there’s probably more stuff at WashU than Claremont.

Which isn’t to say you should pick a school based upon its party scene. None of those schools will be a UCLA or Wisconsin. I get the idea that a lot of people assume a D3 school for “nerds” can’t be a party friendly school. But if you put enough students together at a school that isn’t particularly conservative, there will be plenty of parties.

Edit: one major advantage of CMC is that it will be far more politically diverse than the other schools on your list. The student bodies of nearly all highly selective schools is decidedly liberal. CMC is probably among the most politically moderate overall though.

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While CMC may be moderate, they’re part of a complex that includes student bodies that are known to be very liberal at Pitzer and Scripps. Can you really talk about the political climate at CMC in isolation?

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I think you can look at them as fairly distinct. There are cross-registration opportunities, but 90% of your course work and 90% of your friends (especially if you’re at CMC or Pomona) will be at your respective college. I can’t speak for the other three schools because I don’t know people who attended and they’re a bit smaller, but this is the impression I get from multiple CMC and Pomona people.

There’s a pretty strong rivalry between Pomona (elitist, leftist snobs) and CMC (broish, conservative future McKinsey types). Stereotypes of course, but even my non white, English Lit majoring, liberal wife didn’t hang out with Pomona kids (and vice versa).


CMC students definitely have their own identity among the Claremont consortium schools.