Brown, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, & Rice: Information Session Summary

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By Rajkamal Rao

On May 2 2019, five elite colleges - Brown, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell and Rice - organized an information session in Ft. Worth. Over 300 people were in attendance. Please check out our post covering a similar session when Harvard, Stanford, Duke, Georgetown and Penn presented on May 21, 2019.

With marketing costs on the up, it is common these days for elite institutions with key similarities to team up for such roadshows. Each is an outstanding research university founded a long time ago, some, before the American Revolution. Each is known for distinguished academics, all with Nobel laureates on staff, many teaching undergrad classes. Class sizes are small. Each school offers 100+ clubs. All proudly host Division 1/NCAA sports teams. Nearly all have residence halls which bring a distinct student experience. All are need-blind in admissions, which means that the admissions office does not look at a family's financial ability to make an offer of admission. If a student is lucky enough to win admission, his/her future is virtually assured given the brand.

But there are also subtle differences. Rice is the smallest of them all with only 4,000 undergrads in total, that is, a Freshman class size of just 1,000. Read our detailed Rice on-campus tour report from October 2018 here.

Cornell is the most rural, 4 hours from New York City. It's the only major institution which has a college dedicated to Labor Relations. 

Columbia's major appeal is that it is in New York City. This is so much a part of what the school is that New York is inscribed into its very name. Naturally, internship and job opportunities abound for students who do well.

Brown has a beautiful campus in the Ocean State of Rhode Island, close to New York City and even closer to Boston. It's the only school with an open curriculum which means that students can literally take whatever courses they want. Like most other schools, students don't have to declare their concentrations until the end of their sophomore year.

Chicago offers over 50 majors and is known to fund internships. Its Economics degree is the most sought after. It's the only major that is fully test-optional, so no ACT/SAT scores are required.

Getting in

Each school is highly selective, accepting fewer than 10% of applicants. Some are even more selective. You must have a near perfect student profile - grades, test scores, evidence of taking on difficult courses in high school, recommendations, essays, strong extracurriculars, leadership in community service and a personality which stands out. And all these are just to get past the gate. After that, getting in requires a nod from God.

Each school prides itself on trying to know more about you through its supplemental essays. An excellent essay still doesn't get you in, but an average essay surely gets you out of contention.

There are so many administrative things to keep tabs on that one needs to be tremendously organized to complete all tasks within stated deadlines. As a rule, financial aid deadlines don't coincide with deadlines from the office of admissions. All schools will require both the FAFSA and the CSS applications to be completed.

Our takeaway

Hire a professional counselor - it's worth the investment. We are glad to help and offer you peace of mind during the admissions process. Individual counseling is part of the Premium Offering of Rao Advisors and involves a fee.  Please contact us for more information.

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