Which to ED- Cornell or Dartmouth?


  • US domestic (US citizen or permanent resident) or international student US
  • State/Location of residency: (state is important if you apply to any state universities) Southeast
  • Type of high school (current college for transfers): public magnet competitive
  • Gender/Race/Ethnicity (optional): white male
  • Other special factors (first generation to college, legacy, athlete, etc.):no

Intended Major(s)
Dartmouth maybe Environmental Studies,climate science or Neuroscience
Cornell CALS environmental science or eng, or Global Public Health or maybe HumEc Global Public Health (this is tricky bc of CALS being test blind)

GPA, Rank, and Test Scores

  • Unweighted HS GPA: 4.0
  • Weighted HS GPA (incl. weighting system): 5.0
  • College GPA (for transfers):
  • Class Rank: no rankings
  • ACT/SAT Scores: 1520

(AP/IB/Dual Enrollment classes, AP/IB scores for high school; also include level of math and foreign language reached and any unusual academic electives; for transfers, describe your college courses and preparation for your intended major(s)) 10-11 APs

Not sure here

(Include leadership, summer activities, competitions, volunteering, and work experience)
Sports fall and spring each year, classical guitarist, significant camp/paddling/hiking experience and passion, medium level of volunteering (cool project that ties well to environmental), NHS, other small things

(Optionally, guess how strong these are and include any other relevant information or circumstances.) will work hard on essays but I’m quiet and just do my work so don’t expect anything stellar on LORs

Cost Constraints / Budget none
(High school students: please get a budget from your parents and use the Net Price Calculators on the web sites of colleges of interest.)

(List of colleges by your initial chance estimate; designate if applying ED/EA/RD; if a scholarship is necessary for affordability, indicate that you are aiming for a scholarship and use the scholarship chance to estimate it into the appropriate group below)

  • Safety (certain admission and affordability)
  • Likely (would be possible, but very unlikely or surprising, for it not to admit or be affordable)
  • Match
  • Reach

I have a good list that spans from safety to reach but having trouble with ED choice of these 2 schools

Whichever you prefer. Both are excellent schools.

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If you got accepted to both, which would you choose to attend?

They are both excellent. They are both academically challenging. They are both in the Ivy League. They are both going to have real winters. Cornell is of course 4 times larger (which has always made me wonder how Dartmouth could ever field a competitive football team, but apparently they do).

I think that this comes down to which school you would prefer to attend.


Since they’re quite different, visit for yourself to see which you prefer.


Dartmouth is fratty and jocky. My son who got in RA found it way too much so for him, and being stuck in Hanover for 4 years is a lot! He went elsewhere… Cornell is larger and more diverse and I would vote for that if you are inviting views of strangers - which is a bit silly. Ithaca is not amazing either but with the bigger university there would be more going on.


Maybe your best bet is to spend more time at both campuses and talking to current students about your areas of interest. I think the responses you get here are likely to be anecdotal, i.e. I know a Dartmouth transfer student who is happy there and a Cornell graduate who didn’t enjoy the experience but got a good job with Google.


Visit if you can. The campus cultures are very very different.


They are night and day, and almost certainly one will be a meaningfully better experience for you. It doesn’t matter what anybody here says - you are the one who is going to live there for four years. Even if this is a straight up prestige play (that is, you think they are your best chance of getting to brag that you got into an Ivy to all your friends and family, and you think you need the ED boost), put a little more work into learning about the campus cultures and the specifics of the programs.

Been wondering this for a while when I read people’s chance-me stats and your stats are a good example to use for my question. In order to get a 5.0 WGPA, that means 100% of your classes were weighted. Does that mean: a) that you aren’t counting any of the non-academic classes in your GPA, b) that your school weights even non-academic classes; or c) that your school simply doesn’t have any of those non-academic subjects or doesn’t assign a grade to them? For example, is there no physical education? Did you not take any performance or artistic subject like music, drama, dance, art, etc? Thanks.

In my county public schools honors get a bump and AP get another bump. And then my school has nothing below honors, except for the required PE class and I think a required arts class for which I took guitar. So yes it’s easy for those GPAs to be very high. Some of my As are high and some low, which doesn’t matter for that unweighted gpa but for the weighted GPA I guess someone with all high As and many AP classes could have a much higher gpa.

I haven’t visited Cornell but will before I apply. They are very different in size for sure, but what draws me to them is the natural surroundings and opportunity for outdoorsy activities. I am a little worried about cold/ dark.

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Thanks. So do they give weighted grades for p.e. and guitar or are they excluded from your GPA? Otherwise even one semester of an unweighted course would prevent a 5.0.

I’m actually not sure… but I think it’s because essentially a 100 in an AP class would be weighted as a 6.0. So an average of a 5.0- mine is actually 5.008 or something- is due to that fact. Pretty sure that PE and guitar were not weighted. Oh and possibly also a health class that everyone has to take online. Everything else is weighted as at least honors level. The grading scheme is county-wide. All the different GPA schemes are crazy, I’m sure college admissions do their own thing when looking at them.

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Size isn’t even the biggest difference- it’s their personalities!

Also, your school may not rank, and WGPAs can be messy but you almost certainly know whether you are in top cohort of your class- are you?


I really don’t know but I’d guess I’m towards the top 10-20 percent. Very helpful to hear about the different personalities of the schools. These things are hard to gauge in a tour and day or 2 on campus.

Do not apply ED to any college you haven’t visited in person. My opinion.


Of course, I didn’t plan to. I’ve visited one and have reservations for the other. Just trying to gather ideas in addition. I was also just curious if anyone had thoughts on success of one over the other.

100% will be down to you - both have everything you need to be as successful as you want to be. The impact of your choices will affect your outcome more than any objective differences between the two.

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It means that weighted GPAs are not to be trusted unless the weighting system is described (which most posters do not). Even if described, it may not be obvious how a given weighted GPA compares to an unweighted GPA or a differently weighted GPA.


Dartmouth could almost be considered a LAC, and if they ever ditched most of their grad and pre-professional programs and the Ivy League kicked them out, they would fit into the NESCAC naturally with Williams, Amherst, Midd, etc. Small school, beautiful campus, beautiful surroundings.

Cornell is much bigger and you can study just about anything there. In fact, that was the wish of its founders – to teach everything.

Here is a photo of them duking it out on the gridiron recently. Dartmouth won the Ivy League football title in 2021 – quite a rare achievement for them.

Visit both – they’re adequately different that one will vibe with you better than the other.

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