Which school should I use my ED Bullet for?

HS Senior looking to eventually work in IB/PE/Quant. Want to know which school I should use my Early Decision (binding application) option for.

Top choices for Early Decision are Cornell, Dartmouth, Brown, Northwestern, Penn (Wharton or CAS), or Columbia. Right now, I am heavily considering Cornell CAS since I would be able to double major in Econ+CS (or something like it). Gives me solid Finance OCR opps, plus the technical skills from a great CS school that I can use if I ever go to SV or transition to Quant.

I can envision myself as happy in any one of the above schools, but ofc am still open to people's opinions on social life, etc. While people may criticize my decision to somewhat "erratically" apply to a school ED, I have witnessed this past year of applications at my own school, and applying during the "regular" round was a complete shitfest for many people who would have arguably gone to HYPS in a typical year, whereas ED was a cakewalk. Don't want that to happen to me, so I'm very intent on applying Early Decision binding to a school.

For context I have a good mix of academics (36 ACT, 4.0, etc) and ECs (research, internships, club work).

Comments (13)

Aug 10, 2021 - 12:57pm

Bird in the hand is better than two in the bush. I am more risk averse and would have valued getting into any of those, even the least competitive school out of that pile early on. But if you want to maximize odds for Wharton Dartmouth etc then obviously use ED on them. 

  • Business School in IB - Cov
Aug 10, 2021 - 2:21pm

They're all great so try to see where you'd want to spend four years. Being truly happy at the school you go to is such an undervalued important factor that some people don't realize when deciding between schools, especially when they're all great options like you have

For example, Dartmouth is in the middle of nowhere. But, if you want a true northeastern experience in a college town, you're probably going to love it. All of my friends that went there say that it is a blast.

An experience at UPenn may be a little different, as it's more a city vibe than Dartmouth. Will say that the only real edge I see over the rest of your schools is Wharton, so take that as you may. I don't see going to Cornell giving you an advantage over Columbia and Dartmouth- you'll have plenty of opportunity at any of those places

I would throw in Duke if you want a southern school that places very well into NYC that also offers a great experience + slightly better weather year round. If you're going to apply Northwestern i'd take a shot at U Chicago as well.

Good luck with your decision!

Aug 10, 2021 - 3:02pm

I actually wish I had done this. I had similar stats as you, EDed at Wharton and ended up getting into Stern but didn't want $200k of student loans so went to a lower tier semi-target. I wish I had locked in Cornell instead of nurturing my prestige fantasies. You are correct that your chances at ED are much better than RD, especially at schools that care about admissions yield (most of the ones you mentioned).

The marginal differences in opportunity you'll have at the schools you mention are essentially non-existent (with the exception of Wharton with all their buyside OCR).

Some things you're probably already considering, but may be helpful:

You may feel some amount of regret that you did not shoot your ED shot at Harvard or Wharton, but remember the grass is always greener. In finance, your undergraduate degree holds more weight than in maybe any other industry, so I would take a 50% chance at Cornell vs a 15% chance at Harvard any day. The expected career value is much higher.

That being said, if you have a particular connection to a school (for example, you really like the quirky, hyper-intellectual argumentative culture of UChicago), you should apply there early. Not only will your expected value be higher because the ad coms will see you as a better fit, but you will enjoy college more.

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Aug 10, 2021 - 4:04pm

Would echo everyone above, can't go wrong EDing any of the schools mentioned. However, I'd ED Cornell and don't look back.

Most Helpful
  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Aug 11, 2021 - 5:06am

Beyond feckless? Relax. I had similar stats, very solid extracurriculars, and a great essay, applied RD to every school, and only got into 2/7 Ivies I applied to plus one of Duke / UChicago and waitlisted at another 2 Ivies. This was back when test optional policies weren't a thing (hurts OP on a relative basis). Competition among Asian / White middle class males is fiercely intense (not sure about OP's demographics).

OP could roll the dice on HYPSW (and get in) but is more likely to get burned. I went to Cornell and would support applying there (they have a better CS program than the other schools he listed) BUT would suggest looking into Dartmouth and Columbia. Cornell and Dartmouth are safer bets but Columbia would position you well and may be marginally easier to land than HYPSW. Unless you really like Chicago or think there's some chance you would want to go into consulting, I wouldn't really consider Northwestern here.

If you're feeling a bit more risky, I'd also look into MIT, especially if you're serious about CS. The admit rate there is terribly low as you would expect but they appear to be a bit more meritocratic when it comes to admissions (lower median household income, greater proportion of kids from public school, greater proportion of Asians, etc.) so guessing they may be weight test scores a bit more heavily but that's just pure speculation.

  • Incoming Analyst in IB - Gen
Aug 11, 2021 - 8:52pm

I'd apply to whatever school you like the most and don't ever look back. Your stats make it a coin flip for all of those schools. Admissions are going to be super competitive this year with schools being test optional or putting less emphasis on test scores. On top of that, you don't have a solid hook. You're "competing" against recruiting athletes, kids who have last names like Kennedy and weyerhauser, people who have sent a million books to Africa or discovered a way to save a snail in the Amazon. On top of that, you are competing against every other senior who went to a school of a similar caliber as yours. (Harvard will accept an orphan with a 1300 who grew up on a reservation 9/10 times over you. A kid with a 1400 from rural North Dakota will get in over a 1600 from Boston)

If you are set on being a quant, school doesn't matter much. They care far more about how you do on the math test then how much you network. 

Aug 11, 2021 - 9:23pm

Econ + CS is a popular major at Cornell and what I did myself. CS is tough but as you said recognized as one of the top programs and the countries and is at top of the ivies. From recruiting perspective with the right stats and ECs you can land any job coming out of Cornell so if you're interested in CS think it's a great choice as long as you're okay with the geography. As you said CS gives more optionality and people are more and more looking for people with those skills even for business positions.

Aug 19, 2021 - 5:50pm

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