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Schools Princeton vs. UChicago Biophysics Undergrad

  1. Apr 30, 2017 #1
    I'm currently a high school junior, and I'm highly interested in studying biophysics in college, my eventual goal being to get a Ph.D. in it. Out of all the colleges I've visited, Princeton and the University of Chicago have been my favorite.

    Which of these schools would allow me the best opportunities (research, close relationship with professors, relevant electives) for eventual acceptance to the biophysics/physics Ph.D. programs of institutions such as Harvard, UC Berkeley, UC San Fransisco, MIT, Caltech, Stanford, Cornell, or Princeton?

    Posted below is some of the information I was looking at:



    One of the main reasons I'm asking this here is that I can only apply to one of these schools early (I know that I have time to decide). At a first glance, with its biophysics certificate program, Princeton seems better... however, UChicago would likely be easier to get into, and I felt that I "fit" there slightly better.

    Is either of these schools "better" and is the difference significant enough to affect graduate school admissions for someone who is motivated and will seek out opportunities regardless of where they attend?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 1, 2017 #2


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    Elite college admissions are largely based on special talents/circumstances/luck. I have become highly skeptical of the entire process. I think the whole idea of "fit" at elite schools is a bit romanticized. For the most part they have similar environments and enough of a range of students there are places for many different types of students. I think location may actually be a bit more important. From what I have heard, there is not much to do in Princeton and you will most likely not go to NYC often, whereas UChicago is around 20 minutes away from the downtown area. So if you want to be near a city, UChicago is more sensible.

    However, going back to fit UChicago was traditionally known for having a very purist, intellectual vibe and for being much less preprofessional than Ivy League schools (that has changed a bit since the acceptance rate went down). From what I have observed, it seems that quite a significant fraction of the students there are interested in doing PhDs. At Princeton and other Ivy League schools the focus among the undergrads is more on finance and consulting. Students from UChicago do very well in grad school admissions. I know several students at top grad programs who were there for undergrad. I can also think of a few professors I know pretty well who went to college there. I personally love the campus and school. I never went there but strongly considered it and know people who went to college there or are attending/attended grad school there.

    It seems like Chicago now has two rounds of early decision (it only had early action when I applied). If you are qualified, that can give you quite an advantage since you will be bound to attend if accepted. Since there are two rounds, what I would do if you are interested in Princeton would be to apply early action to Princeton (which is restricted) and see what happens and if you don't get in, you can apply in the second round of early decision to Chicago (which likely won't be as advantageous as applying in the first round.) If you are most interested in UChicago you should just apply there in the first round of early decision.
  4. May 3, 2017 #3
    Thanks a lot for the input, radium. Single-choice early action for Princeton and second round early decision for UChicago would probably make a lot of sense. Is anyone highly familiar with the research opportunities at these institutions? Is there a significant difference in the number/quality of opportunities? I would want to start research as soon as my freshman year.
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