Response to Theodore: why Princeton over Yale?

January 16, 2007 at 5:34 pm 1 comment

Posted by DeeTheodore commented on two of AdmitSpit’s blog posts yesterday regarding how to respond to a question about why he prefers one school over another, especially when two schools of similar status offer the same major and equally great social and learning environments. Here’s what he said on the posts titled, “Response to Edie” and “Ivy Leagues are not created equal.”

“I am nervous as usual about the encounter I will have in two days with the interviewer. My most feared question is why princeton over all the other schools; why princeton over for example Yale? Both offer majors i am interested in and lovely learning environments. I mean Yale and Princeton both offer economics and exciting environments. How can you simply decide which is “better” or what makes Princeton tick more than another?!!”

Well, Theodore, I’m really glad you came to AdmitSpit to ask this question because I think you’ll get a response you’ll be quite satisfied with!

When I had my Princeton interview last year, my interviewer was this really sweet young lady now studying at Stanford for grad school and I was the first person she had ever interviewed for Princeton. She told me that Princeton gave her and all their interviewers a few loose guidelines on what kinds of things they should and shouldn’t do during interviews. In particular she was telling me that there are pretty much only two or three questions that are “off limits,” and you’ll be glad to know that one of them was that they are not supposed to ask what other schools you are applying to!

Of course, you could always offer up the information if you really wanted to, as I did later in the interview when we ended up discussing other places I was applying, but overall Princeton’s interviewers, as with all other Ivies probably, wouldn’t, or at least shouldn’t, be asking you where else you’re applying and putting you in such an uncomfortable position as to grill you about why you want their school over any others.

The reason I bring this up Theodore is that you seem to presuppose that this interviewer knows or is going to ask you why Princeton over Yale, when your interviewer doesn’t even need to know you applied to Yale, thus avoiding the whole awkward situation you are so afraid of!

But, let’s say you have a renegade interviewer who goes against the guidelines or are asked a more general question about why Princeton over all other schools, then this is where I suggest you do your research! Yes, maybe plenty of other schools have an economics major like at Princeton but find aspects of the program that are unique to Princeton that you can bring up during the interview.

Maybe for example Princeton has some particular notable faculty members you’d like to work with or study under, or maybe there are particular classes that Princeton offers that Yale does not. Look at both the Yale and Princeton economics department websites to get this kind of information. Although your interview is in two days, be prepared with maybe two or three points that you can elaborate on regarding what makes Princeton unique for you in your mind. Also, and I’m not sure two days is enough for this for you, but you could also try getting in touch with econ students at Princeton and asking them what they like about the program or what makes it unique from what they know of other schools.

Good luck, and don’t stress too much over the “why Princeton over Yale” question because I have large doubt that they’ll put you on the spot like that; remember these interviews are not to grill you, but rather to find out more about who you are. Just go to the interview with one to three points about what makes Princeton unique in your mind so that you can show your interviewer just how interested you are in their school and how excited you would be to attend!


Entry filed under: Academics, Admissions, AdmitSpit, Brainstorm, Classes, College trends, Colleges/Universities, Economics, Environment, Faculty, Interview questions, Interviews, Princeton, Stress, Tips/Tricks, Yale.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Barbara  |  February 7, 2007 at 1:21 am

    Hi! Wow, I just found this today– thank you for not pulling the same shit counselors pull about “doing what YOU want” or “choosing classes you LIKE” or “sleeping” (what is that, anyway? Just kidding.).

    Not that there isn’t some truth to that advice, but I’m glad to find something that offers advice that will actually be listened to by someone trying to be competitive for a spot at University of Pennsylvania.

    Just wondering: what exactly are the consequences of not going to the Early Decision school that accepted you? I’m not so vain as to think it’s going to happen for me next year, but everything I’ve checked basically just refers to the consequence as “serious”. Do you know what it even entails?


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