Cornell full-pay vs. UC Berkeley in-state

bruhbruhbruv's picture
Rank: Chimp | 14

Hi WSO,

I recently got into Cornell CAS and UC Berkeley L&S and am deciding between the two. For Cornell I do not qualify for any financial aid and will thus be paying $55k/year in tuition, in addition to room & board. For Berkeley, the school doesn't require financial information from my non-custodial parent and since my custodial parent is retired I'm getting a full-ride to UC Berkeley.

I definitely want to pursue a career in finance in NYC and I know that Cornell will have better opportunities than Berkeley and the alumni network to support this endeavour. While Cornell is rather large at 15k students, Berkeley is a behemoth with 30k students and I don't think that it is the optimal environment in which to pursue the WS roles that I am looking for. However, I am unsure if Cornell's opportunities warrant about a $1/4 million investment over Berkeley's opportunities.

Additionally, I have a friend who got into Cornell CAS and UC Berkeley L&S as well and is deciding between the two; in-state tuition for Berkeley ($14k/year) vs. Cornell full-pay ($55k/year). I am wondering what WSOers thoughts are on this choice as well. Of course, I am only considering opportunities such as OCR and strength of the alumni network when making this decision, but I'm also curious about WSOers thoughts of overall College experience and locations of the schools (rural Ithaca vs. East Bay/San Francisco, CA).

Thank you for reading.

Comments (8)

Apr 18, 2019

Both are great schools, congrats.

Would the 1/4 million investment in Cornell provide a significant drain on your family?

Berkeley alums are mostly in SF but they do have a significant presence in NYC. College life-wise, it depends on what kind of college life you want. Would you feel more comfortable in a large liberal institution or a smaller, more isolate preppy Ivy League institution.

Apr 18, 2019

Just my opinion, but I would say Berkeley all the way dude. Not an Ivy League yeah, but still a top 5 undergraduate business school AND you get a full ride. No doubt that Cornell would give you a better shot of landing on Wall Street, but as long as you network well you could easily do the same at UCB without spending $250k. Still a really prestigious school.

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Apr 18, 2019

Take the Berkeley offer and run with it. As others have said, they still have a decent presence in NYC and it is a top 5 undergrad business school. It is also extremely well respected so you will have that to back you even if you go to NYC

"If you ain't first, you're last!" - GOAT

Apr 18, 2019

Berkeley -> NYC is definitely doable, though you'll have to work a little harder to get to east coast. You'll initially get interviewers assuming Berkeley = you want to be a tech banker in SF, but Berkeley has a decent alumni presence in NYC that can help get you there. I'm graduating Berkeley (in state) this year and going to NYC IB, and I'm very happy to have minimal student loans to pay off.

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Apr 18, 2019

If finances matter, I think Berekely is the clear answer here. Hard to pass up a full ride from a top public university w/ a really good UG business program.

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Most Helpful
Apr 18, 2019

Would you consider a double-major in Engineering? (Is that even possible at Berkeley?)

The schools are neck-and-neck, maybe with Cornell having a slight advantage. They're both great schools, and you should be very happy.

Cornell has an advantage for liberal arts; Berkeley has an advantage for Engineering.

If the prices were the same and you were 100% certain at age 18 that you wanted Wall Street, I'd say Cornell. If you were 100% certain at age 18 that you wanted Tech, I'd say Berkeley.

If it were me, I'd choose Berkeley and try to double-major in Finance and CS. It will be a difficult four years, but I think you'll be in the running for an undergraduate-level QR job. At the very high end, you'd probably get some serious interviews from the 2.5 Sharpe statarb funds of the world. Two Sigma and RennTech are going to pass if you don't have an IMO medal, but if you do well in school, you'll get a long hard look from Citadel, WorldQuant, and Bridgewater. You may not be able to beat out a PhD for the job, but you can certainly land on a data team or in tech (and the line between technology and front-office QR gets extremely fuzzy at these firms.) These are jobs that a lot of people on the sell-side would kill for, and if you play your cards right, you can skip the whole sell-side detour to get to the buyside.

On the sell-side, you'd be in the running for portfolio research, all kinds of different middle-office and sometimes front-office QR roles, and certainly the Strats teams.

Cornell is the clear winner if you know at age 18 that you want IBD. If you want tech, and you want California, Berkeley is the clear winner. If you want to be a Quant Research guy like me, Cornell and Berkeley are neck-and-neck, but I'd choose Berkeley on cost and weather.

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Apr 18, 2019

Thank you everyone for the responses, I really appreciate it.

Another consideration is that IBD recruiting at Cornell is school-wide whereas at Berkeley it's only Haas-wide; if I'm rejected from Haas, it'll be significantly harder for me to land IBD than if I went to Cornell. I wanted to put this information in the discussion. But all else considered thank you for the advice everyone, it looks like I'll be picking Berkeley.

Apr 18, 2019
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