Hi! I'm choosing between Cornell University and Caltech for aerospace engineering. They're very different schools with different cultures and because they're so hard to compare, they sit equally in my mind. I have a decision extension for both and assuming the finaid packages come in the same, where would you guys choose?
I believe that CalTech has a bigger reputation for being a more technologically advanced school, but either are fantastic. Congrats on getting in, by the way!
Super congrats! I know the sweat rn too with extensions as a senior and waitlists... I chose Cornell for you just because I get the "explore/try something new" vibe from you and think that would be a fun experience for you. IT WAS SUPER CLOSE THOUGH. I do like CalTech's academics and JPL slightly better though than Cornell's offerings, not going to lie! I think you'll do great anywhere you go so I'd focus on the experience thereby, just since you seem like a super successful driven person already... It just sounds like you want to move somewhere new, which I think is fun. Worse comes to worst, go where it's cheaper (what I'm probably going to do)...
Thank you!! thats great advice :))
Congrats on getting accepted to both great schools! Do you have any personal preferences around location and culture? Other than the aerospace engineering programs, what else are you looking for out of your college experience? Like, what are some of your hobbies? I ask because the options for things to do outside of class probably differ greatly.
I think for me, I like having opportunities to be creative and maybe try new things. I think that both schools offer me that, Cornell moreso, though for 8 months of the year its snowing and this kind of limits it. Caltech has enough cool stuff for me to do i think though. I love nature, caltech is beautiful but cornell is way prettier, but again its only like this for a month or so out of the year. I also live in LA and was hoping to get away, Caltech is about 40 min from my house and Cornell is in NY, but i think both schools sorta get me far out enough. Caltech also has better research opportunities for like labs that I like plus it has JPL. Cornell also gave me the Rawlings Presidential Research Scholarship so i can conduct my own research with a faculty as well. I think that being in a big school is great because i'm very social, but there's also less resources per student ie tutoring and mental health which caltech has an abundance of. The campus culture at caltech is quirky/fun/nerdy but in a good way/inventive/prank culture/ and it s a tight knit community including administration. Cornell I think is less so in that theres more diversity in types of people but harder to identify with a group. Caltech also has a unique house system, sorta like frats but co-ed and not frats hahah. Cornell also has this but housing is randomized. Cornell also has project teams ie. Mars rover teams/rocket teams/robotics teams/racing teams that are developed which is a massive plus. Caltech only has a robotics team, racing team, and pre-mature rocket team that only have a few students per team bc caltech only has 950 undergrads and cornell has 14700. I really enjoy being able to do things outside of academics like project teams and other stuff. but honestly, both caltech and cornell have a hiking class, caltech has silk painting and pottery, and cornell has those plus more. At caltech I would also be spending more time on hw. Caltech does have pass/fail for the first 2/3 terms and take home exams which cornell doesnt for the most part. heres my pro con list https://docs.google.com/document/d/1uYdPmGmzwcY7YDZ6r-vmJ3NEOTV5kFwy1-Qivy7vQP4/edit?usp=sharing feel free to add comments
Cool pros/cons list! Two things that come to mind. First, check out these student panel videos if you haven't already. They might help you get some more insider info on the campus vibes: (Caltech - https://www.collegevine.com/livestreams/296/caltech-student-panel )(Cornell: https://www.collegevine.com/livestreams/303/cornell-university-student-panel ). Second, the difference between being 40min from home (Caltech) and a 6+ hour plane trip (Cornell) is pretty significant. Rather than thinking about "far out enough" you might want to think about "too far away?" It all depends on how important being close to home is to you. 40min makes it possible to get home in an emergency situation or if you'd like to go home for pleasure. A 6+ hour plane trip takes planning, coordination, and can cost significant money depending on how often you fly. At the same time, exploring a brand new place across the country, with a very different climate, could be really exciting for you. It's all a personal preference! I don't think you can make a bad decision either way, really! Seems like you'll make the best of your time either school.
Thanks! I'll watch them right now
So may I ask what are the top 5 thins you value in a school/camps (assume cost as a non factor) therefore I could break them down.
Lifestyle, research opportunity (spece engineering/mechanical engineering/sustainability engineering), ability to have new experiences/learn new skills in random topics I wouldn't have explored otherwise, have a good enough reputation to get competitive jobs easily, have nature/outdoor experiences
So research is roughly a wash but for professional opportunities (internships etc) CalTech has an advantage. Lifestyle is so subjective I couldn't say but CIT is in Pasadena and Cornell is in NYC so big cities either way. New experiences would probably be cornell as its more broad as CIT is stem dominated. CIT and Cornell have the same prestige but in engineering Id argue CIT is slightly better but its like prestige being 9/10 and 9.05/10. Outdoor and nature Id argue CIT would have more opportunities as California has ranging from Yomesite to the beaches to Joshua Tree while NYC doesn't have those opportunities. This is my opinion but when I talked to the Claremont colleges (Ontario CA) they did say hat hikin was available near by but beyond that, I have limited information. Hope this helps!
Also a huge congrats!
Jumping in with an important detail: Cornell is NOT in NYC. It's in Ithaca NY which is a 4+ hour drive to NYC. Ithaca is very different from NYC. Ithaca is surrounded by lakes, rivers, mountains, etc... It's also close to the city of Syracuse. It's really beautiful but, as @Sascha mentioned previously, it is cold and snowy for a large portion of the year.
My bad. I was thinking of columbia. But I will amend my comment that while beautiful there's not a whole lot of notable nature activities while SoCal has a lot
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