Sophie Smith
May 17, 2024
min read

Princeton vs Harvard vs Brown vs Cornell....The Great Ivy League Debate

Written by
Sophie Smith
University of Virginia

Insights from 4 Ivy League Undergraduates

In an electrifying session of the Conversing College webinar (YAY our new podcast), we put the spotlight on a panel of our college mentors  from Harvard, Cornell, Princeton, and Brown. Each brought their A-game, sharing unfiltered truths about their schools, from the best aspects to the potential drawbacks. If you’re flirting with the idea of joining the Ivy League, this deep dive is your primer to what lies beneath the prestigious veneer.

Princeton vs Harvard or (the others)? Which Ivy League is the "Best"?

The discussion kicked off with a contentious debate over which Ivy League school holds the crown. Nana Yaa from Harvard was quick to point out that while Harvard may lead in prestige, its social life leaves much to be desired. (RIP Harvard social life)

On the other hand, Evan from Brown highlighted the university's open curriculum and supportive environment, making it a haven for those who thrive under less rigid academic structures.

Sonal from Princeton boasted about the school's unique focus on undergraduate research opportunities, which allows students to dive into independent projects early on.

Isabela from Cornell made a case for Cornell's exceptional faculty and the personalized attention students receive, which she believes sets it apart from the other Ivies.

Want to learn more? Chat with an Ivy League Mentor!


Rating the Food Scene Across Ivies (Harvard was the worst)

An unexpected yet lively part of the discussion revolved around dining options at their respective schools.

Evan rated Brown's food scene highly, citing variety and quality, while Isabela gave mixed reviews about Cornell, noting that the experience varies significantly across different dining halls.

Nana Yaa did not hold back on criticizing Harvard’s dining services, rating them poorly, much to the amusement and surprise of the audience.

Who Should NOT Go To These Ivies? 👀

Perhaps the most engaging part of the webinar was when students discussed who might not be the best fit for their schools. Brown’s open curriculum and lack of hand-holding, as Evan described, might deter students who prefer a more structured academic guidance. Sonal suggested that Princeton might not be ideal for someone unwilling to engage with the myriad opportunities and open-ended exploration the school encourages. Isabela thought Cornell might overwhelm someone not ready to explore beyond their academic comfort zone due to its broad curriculum requirements.

For those who hate reading, here's the short-hand take:

  • Don't go to Brown if you like academic hand-holding 🤝
  • Don't go to Harvard if you like to party 🎉🚫
  • Don't go to Cornell if you aren't okay with taking classes in different subject areas (its a requirement!) 📚
  • Don't go to Princeton if you aren't open to exploring opportunities 🌍


The webinar didn't just scratch the surface but delved deep into what makes each Ivy unique, directly from the students who live and breathe the experience. Whether it’s the academic rigor, the social scene, or even the food, each Ivy League school offers a distinct environment that may or may not be right for every prospective student.

Before you decide where to send your application, consider what you value most in your college experience. Sometimes it's not always about which Ivy League is the best... no matter if you are team Princeton vs team Harvard vs team Brown or team Cornell.

And remember, our panelists are just a click away on College Contact, ready to help you navigate your journey to the Ivy League with real, relatable advice.

Click here to book a meeting with one Nana Yaa, Sonal, Isabela, or Evan.

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