Harvard, Princeton, Wharton or Columbia

I am lucky enough to say that I've gotten into all four schools listed above. I personally am not set on finance at all and am looking to ideally work in the Startup/ VC space. I plan to study applied math/ econ/ CS at all of the schools--other than Wharton, where I will study finance and double major in CS.

TBH, I really really love Princeton. It's one of my favorite schools and the academics are probably the best in the world. I don't plan to go to grad school, so strong academics are important to me. Harvard is nice, but I've interned there, and tbh, it's not all that. Also, I hate the way the name changes people's perception of you. Like when I say I've gotten into Princeton, people think that I'm decently smart but Harvard is put on such a pedestal that it makes me gag. Harvard people make it basically their whole personality, which to me is so odd.

Wharton and Columbia are out of the picture I think, just because wharton, despite being the best business school, doesn't have as strong academics and non finance alumni connections compared to the other schools. As for Columbia, I don't love the city too much.

Princeton is looking to be my top choice but am I making a mistake not picking Harvard? Thanks!

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Comments (11)

Apr 7, 2021 - 1:04am

i have zero experience with any of the aforementioned schools nor do i (honestly) care about which way you go. but with that being said, new york is the best city in the world. however, seeing as columbia isn't your jam then i would personally probably go the harvard route. i only say that because my grandfather is an alum and i've spent some time at the harvard club in ny over the years (if you're not at columbia, the harvard club is the next best thing, obviously). chill place to have lunch and i fuck with the aesthetic there. making your college decision based on anything other than the post-graduation-club-joining-opportunities is an unforgivable mistake. why would ANYONE go to harvard if not for the opportunity to become a harvard club member (duh). oh and one last thing: FUCK new jersey (this should take care of that senseless princeton inquiry you posed). what a trash state - should have let the english boys keep it. have a good night, don't fuck up, columbia is swag, princeton is in new jersey, harvard is yeah whatever they have the club, you do the math, adios!

edit: i neglected to mention anything about upenn but you never hear anything about the upenn club so ya know, next

Apr 7, 2021 - 1:22am

First off, congrats! That's a very impressive list of acceptances.

I don't think picking Princeton over Harvard would be a mistake by any means. I know someone who did that. I've personally been more impressed with the Princeton grads I've met vs. the Harvard ones but don't think you can go wrong with either. 


Apr 7, 2021 - 1:33am

Agreed. Although I also think that while the H-bomb is REAL and you really do have a golden passport with Harvard / HBS/HLS/HMS on your resume (less so HKS and HDS but I digress), the people I know from princeton are insanely tight knit and arguably up there with Dartmouth in terms of how much they go out of their way to support one another. I also think Princeton is more of the traditional college town experience vs. going to school in Cambridge. 

I think you should go where you will be happy - don't underestimate how much that will effect your outcome. If you are wary of the people before you even get to school, you won't be as successful or have as good experience as if you go in very excited and with a smile on. 


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Apr 7, 2021 - 3:11am

Startup and VC scene is probably more robust at Harvard since it's in Boston and has a larger base of alumni through HBS that are involved in VC and startups

Apr 7, 2021 - 7:22am

Congratulations on the admissions. There is no right answer. All four are terrific schools, and the differences you point out are immaterial at the undergraduate level. Unless you're trying to do deep research in a very, very specific area -- which I doubt, because you aren't interested in an advanced degree -- you are going to have a similar academic experience at all four institutions. That is to say, you'll have both good and bad professors, and there will be no rhyme or reason to which departments or classes have good and bad professors.

I understand why this is a huge decision to you, but the choice between them won't matter once you're a couple years out of undergrad. Plus, these schools are all large enough that you'll be able to find your niche on campus. These schools really don't have a uniform culture, as much as it may seem that way on the outside. So, if you felt most at home at Princeton, go there. You'll have an awesome collegiate experience, get a great job, and make lifelong friends.

Also worth noting: I went to a top university not named Harvard, and I have literally never once cared about the lack of the Harvard brand name on my CV. No one that can impact your career will care about Harvard vs Princeton vs Wharton vs Columbia, and especially not after your first year or so in the workforce. And sure, someone from your home town might be more "impressed" by Harvard. But who cares? They don't matter. Trust me on this one: you'll find it much easier that random people aren't stroking your ego about academic and professional pedigree. It is much, much better to slide under the radar when dealing with random people.

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