Brown vs. Cornell

Got off the waitlist at Brown after being committed to Cornell A&S for a few months. I was more than happy with Cornell, but it seems like Brown may be the better decision now due to grade inflation, no core curriculum, and less job competition. On the other hand, Cornell seems to have a broader alumni network and I actually like its campus/location better. I know I'm probably splitting hairs here, but as someone looking to major in econ/math and going into finance (IB, S&T, consulting, quant?), which would be the better choice?

Comments (59)

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Jun 17, 2020 - 4:51pm

Echoing the above. I went to Cornell, and I've seen a lot of people strike out in terms of finance placement. Go to Brown and don't look back.

Jun 17, 2020 - 5:09pm

Besides the finance placement, how was the student experience at Cornell?

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Jun 17, 2020 - 5:31pm

It was enjoyable for the most mart. However, it was extremely stressful, there's an underlying cut throat culture, and you run into a lot of people that you can vividly see are dealing with depression, which is extremely upsetting. You also feel like you're in the shadow of the Ivy League, because it's the "worst" ivy prestige-wise. A lot of my friends at Brown, on the other hand, had a blast, and during all the times I've visited, not one person I saw gave off any intense vibe.

Take it from me, there's truly no point in going to Cornell over Brown here. You'll thank me later when you're partying every week with a 4.0 being handed to you (vs. grinding on a Saturday night for a 3.6 at Cornell).

Jun 17, 2020 - 5:48pm

Thanks, and what makes you say this, besides the better placement of Brown?

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jun 17, 2020 - 5:56pm

More prestigious, better student experience, grade inflation, better campus imo, better location.

Most Helpful
Jun 17, 2020 - 5:00pm

I had the opposite situation. Got admitted to Brown and got off the Cornell waitlist about 5 years ago. I chose Cornell, and I'd choose that again today if I had to.

The Cornell experience is seriously undervalued; you'll get great placement and have a good time. GS/MS/JPM placement is really good, and so is for consulting (McK specially).

Thing is, most of your end result will depend on what you do to get there; both schools are great, so just choose wherever you'll have the best experience.

Feel free to PM me

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Jun 17, 2020 - 5:06pm

You would get the same job out of Brown with less work. Barely any people are competing for finance jobs. I would also argue Brown is more fun. My friends there had the time of their life, whereas Cornell is extremely stressful (as I'm sure you know). Lot of depressed kids there, and a lot more competition for jobs.

Brown is also a bigger target for MBB.

Jun 17, 2020 - 5:12pm

That's fair, I chose Cornell because my original career goal was engineering, but I had no issues transitioning into consulting. Definitely more difficult than Brown, but the scene is totally different. Also, Cornell has a huge alumni network in NYC, don't discount that.

Jun 17, 2020 - 5:50pm

Congrats on both schools! Here's some data which might help you make a decision.
"Out of more than 440 schools that are represented in the WSO data, NYU, Harvard, Cornell University, University of Pennsylvania, and Columbia University have the highest distribution percentages for graduates represented in large Wall Street firms, soaking up more than 15% of the overall distribution of recruitment and hiring from bulge bracket banks. This extends to more than 25% when you widen the scope to the top 10 schools."

Brown made the top 25, but was significantly below Cornell in terms of recruiting. You should base your decision on what you prioritize. If its a less stressful, fun/party heavy atmosphere, go with Brown. If you want a better shot at Wall Street, go with Cornell. Also, if you're worried about "stress," you should probably look into another career path. Finance is pretty stressful, especially IB.

Jun 17, 2020 - 6:00pm

Just because fewer people want to do IB at Brown doesn't automatically guarantee that it is easier to recruit. There are fewer resources for those interested (fewer finance classes, finance clubs, OCR events, alumni to contact, etc.). I went to Brown so I can speak to it.

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Jun 17, 2020 - 6:20pm

Obviously you didn't go to Brown. There are indeed finance clubs here that if you join, sets you up very nicely for recruiting. In each class, I'd say about 100 people recruit in total, and only 50 recruit seriously (only 50 willing to go through all interviews, prep, etc). Every single person I know that wanted IB got it, including myself. How many recruit at Cornell? Probably around 800-1000, of which only half of that will actually place. We do get OCR by all the big name firms, and you can take a look at the UG employment report to see that. You don't need finance classes to learn finance lmao. It's extremely simple if you put in a little effort by yourself via online resources. No Brown student speaks down on the school, especially to Cornell. You're lying to a high schooler, and shaping the future of his life based on your own insecurity (you definitely attended Cornell. Look at your comment history, you only recommend Cornell, even when in comparison to objectively better schools like Dartmouth).

Jun 17, 2020 - 6:39pm

First, according to your numbers, recruiting at Cornell for IB would be 50%, same as Brown.

Secondly, obviously all the BBs recruit at Brown, never said they did not. However, I don't remember there being many boutiques on campus.

Third, yes, studying the M&I & Vault IB guides helps, but students shouldn't be teaching themselves finance if they go to a top school like Brown. I wouldn't trivialize IB recruiting. There are plenty of talented kids who didn't get offers for SA or FT. Thankfully, it worked out for me.

Fourth, yes, there are finance clubs like BFC and the Brown consulting club, but there wasn't tons of business frats that help a lot with recruiting.

Lastly, I specifically mentioned to the OP to base his decision on what he prioritizes. You sound like you didn't attend Brown. It's not insecure to state basic facts and to recommend a peer institution over your own. Neither Dartmouth nor Brown is "objectively" better than Cornell or each other. All three have their own strengths, such as Dartmouth's D plan and Brown's grading scheme.

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Jun 17, 2020 - 6:52pm

Nice job looking up "Brown Finance Club." You 100% did not go there. I am currently going there. Every EB recruits here except PJT and Evercore, so that part of you're assessment is completely false. You don't need business frats when you have supportive business clubs to help you through recruiting, outside of just BFC. I said 50 kids recruit seriously and will get offers without doubt. The other 50, some people choose not to recruit after realizing the amount of work, and aren't even in the running. The less competitive kids (part of this latter 50) still end up at great places regardless because of how little competition there is. I literally said every person I know who wanted IB got it. In Cornell, many people who want IB don't get it, which is just the unfortunate truth. You're not teaching yourself IB if you go to Brown when you have business clubs (how fucking stupid are you?). Finance is extremely simple, if you think thats' trivializing it, that's speaking to your own lack of intelligence.

Bro you went to Cornell, just stop. Brown kids are obsessed with their school and will defend it in all scenarios. Especially against Cornell. Oh and btw, yes Dartmouth is objectively better than Cornell for finance.

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Jun 17, 2020 - 8:36pm

Not the kid you had the argument with, but your first link doesn't even work. And the second one puts UT Austin at number 6 before princeton, yale, etc. It puts Rutgers, BYU, etc over dartmouth. Seems like an extremely inaccurate representation.

I feel like you're a high schooler passing off as an Analyst. No analyst would talk like this, nor go off the sources you've provided for us. This is such horrible data.

  • Prospect in Other
Jun 17, 2020 - 6:29pm

Idk why people are insisting Brown is more prestigious. Both are bottom Ivies along with Dartmouth (nothing wrong with that, but it's true). People don't have a copy of USNew's latest ranking taped to their forehead. For anyone not at one of those schools, the difference in prestige is negligible (it's like how no one cares whether Berkeley or UCLA is more prestigious).

Choose the school you like more. They're pretty even across the board coming from someone who knows a ton of people at both.

Edit: All of these threads turn into autistic prestige ranking threads. Ask your friends and family what they think, not autistic kids online with chips on their shoulder.

  • Prospect in PE - Other
Jun 17, 2020 - 7:21pm

Why do people take time out of their day to debate prestige. I remember the Dartmouth vs Cornell thread that devolved into trying to figure out Stern's median SAT. Drop your opinion/leave SBs for your preference, then leave and be on your merry way.

This isn't that serious, stop typing paragraphs. It's killing the quality of WSO. I've voted through SBs and will be on my merry way now.

Jun 17, 2020 - 7:21pm

At this point it comes down to fit and preference. You really shouldn't be looking at placement numbers into IB, as each school yields strong rates respective to their student body size.

Personally I would choose Brown because the weather is marginally better during the months of the school year and it's in a great college town. Ithaca, while beautiful, can get pretty crummy during the times you'll actually be there as their winters last longer. You may not care about climate but this is something that would deeply affect me so there's my $0.02.

Also agree with the others, difference in "prestige" here is negligible. Pick a school where you'll have more fun, and congrats!

Jun 18, 2020 - 3:56pm

Leaning towards Brown right now, going to visit campus soon to get a better impression. Regardless of finance placement, I think I would enjoy the less stressed, more urban environment at Brown. Also, their course selection for econ/math classes seemed more interesting to me. Open Curriculum is a huge plus too bc I won't have to take BS classes

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Jun 18, 2020 - 4:02pm

Awesome, you're definitely making the right decision. It is beautiful here, and everyone is so cool. Also think, if by some extremely odd reason you don't like it here, you can always transfer to Cornell. But it would be very hard to transfer into Brown from Cornell (transfer acceptance rate for Brown is very low), and there's a higher chance you wouldn't like Cornell.

Jun 18, 2020 - 8:01pm

Full disclaimer, I went to Cornell.

Assuming cost is not an issue, Brown seems to more closely align with what you're looking for. I don't think picking Cornell over Brown would be ridiculous if you really like the campus and location (this isn't quite the same as choosing Rutgers over Princeton) but Brown definitely has less competition and will generally be perceived as slightly more prestigious.

I actually picked Cornell over Dartmouth (unpopular choice on this forum). I was looking at AEM though - I honestly don't know if I would have made the same decision if I was admitted to A&S instead (helps that AEM students from NYS pay $15k to $20k less per year than OOS students due to partial state funding). While I think most people would still end up making the same recommendation (Brown over Cornell), I think this would be a bit of a harder decision if you were choosing between Cornell AEM and Brown econ/math.

I'd recommend you go with your gut. It's definitely way easier to get a 3.8 in math at Brown than it is at Cornell. Brown will likely maximize your chances of landing a MBB / IB job. But at the end of the day, you should go where you think you'll be happiest (given your circumstances).

Good luck! And happy to talk about Cornell or AEM (if you had ever considered transferring internally) if you PM me.


  • 3
Jun 18, 2020 - 8:40pm

Isn't Dyson, in which the AEM major is housed, particularly known for its grade INflation? I know this is not the case at some of the other Cornell colleges (such as A&S), so another reason to consider Cornell if this was of interest. I would imagine it's less competitive to transfer from A&S into Dyson versus the other way around.

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Jun 18, 2020 - 8:50pm

Dyson has grade inflation. But OP is not in Dyson. He/she is in A&S, which is notorious for grade deflation. Actually, it is much harder to transfer into Dyson than the other way around. Would honestly probably be easier to transfer from Brown into Dyson, as opposed to A&S into Dyson. Applicant pool would be much smaller, and you're coming from an overall more selective university.

  • Associate 1 in RE - Comm
Jun 19, 2020 - 12:02am

I'm going to go against the grain here and say Cornell, but will add a caveat. I'm biased as I did go to Cornell.

Brown is a little more prestigious, I have to give them that. The main pro of Brown is how easy it is to get good grades though, everything else is just noise. If you want a finance job, you'll get one at either school. No there are not 15k students gunning for finance jobs at Cornell. The countless cs and engineering majors want to do... well cs and engineering.

Cornell's size is why it's less prestigious, but it can also act as a pro. You mentioned this in the initial post, but Cornell has an expansive alumni base that's pretty receptive. I started off as a STEM major and was extremely behind my peers since I had no idea what I wanted to do. I still landed IB because of an alum's push and then landed REPE because of a different alum's help. I think Brown easily wins for MBB, but there are a lot of Cornell alum in IB and PE who will vouch for you if you put in the work and network.

Another point, if you think there's any chance you'd want to do something in tech or the quant space, Cornell would be the better choice. Their curriculum and placement is ridiculously good. I know a kid who landed a $300k first year offer at DE Shaw and I instantly felt like I might've made some suboptimal life choices.

Sorry for the paragraphs, just had to stand up for my alma mater. I am not looking for an online debate, so plz don't harass me.

PS Cornell was fun as fuck. I'm not sure the anonymous guys saying they went to Cornell actually went there. People often go out Wednesdays through Sunday, with some even going out on Mondays for margarita Mondays and Tuesdays for karaoke night. The whole "everyone is depressed at Cornell" really only applies to engineers.

  • Associate 1 in RE - Comm
Jun 19, 2020 - 8:12am

I haven't agreed with everything you've commented, but I'm like 90% sure the ~4 anonymous accounts you've been debating are the same person on different accounts.

Jun 19, 2020 - 12:30am

Thanks for the response, and yeah I definitely hear you, especially regarding tech/quant jobs. However, the most im really willing to go into STEM would probably be applied math, which Brown seems to excel at while Cornell doesn't seem to have a undergrad applied math program in A&S (at least from what I know)

  • Associate 1 in RE - Comm
Jun 19, 2020 - 8:04am

I'm not super familiar with applied math so I can't offer much help on that. I just wanted to lay out some of Cornell's strengths so you could make an informed decision outside of prestige. I recommend reaching out to some students at both schools to get some firsthand accounts.

@the person who is obviously using multiple accounts to manipulate SB and MS, you're not slick... try staggering your MS, I got hit with three all within two minutes of each other on a pretty reasonable response.

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jun 19, 2020 - 1:10am

Whatever007: supports every piece of advice that suggests Cornell.

Also Whatever007: I went to Brown, I can speak to it.

Jun 19, 2020 - 3:19am

Would choose Brown in this situation.

Jun 20, 2020 - 2:00pm

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