The Ivy Coach Daily

May 31, 2020

Deciding Between Harvard and Stanford

Harvard Admission, Stanford and Harvard, Stanford Admission
It’s a high class problem to have a choice between Harvard and Stanford.

Over the years, many of our students at Ivy Coach have earned admission to both Stanford University and Harvard University. These students are then faced with a decision: Harvard or Stanford? And while these are two of the most elite universities in all of the world, would it surprise our readers to know that the vast majority of our students choose to attend Harvard over Stanford…and that it’s not even really close? If we had to guess, over the past 25 years, about 85% of our students who have earned admission to both Harvard and Stanford have chosen Harvard. But, of course, not everyone chooses Harvard over Stanford.

National Security Advisor Rice Chose Stanford Over Harvard

In her 2019 memoir, former National Security Advisor and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice tells a story of the decision she faced at the end of her high school years. As she writes in Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For, “In our highly competitive small school, college admissions were substantially a zero sum game.” Rice details how she earned admission to Harvard, Yale, and Stanford — and how her mother very much wanted her to choose Harvard. In fact, her mother called Stanford “Leland Stanford Junior University” to press her point. But it was a Harvard alumni interviewer who ultimately convinced Rice to choose Stanford. As she details, “I kept receiving increasing harassing calls from the local alumni interviewer of prospective applicants. He had recruited me for Harvard and, apparently, it was his responsibility to land this fish. In our last call, after hearing me explain that I was seriously considering Stanford, he reiterated how superior Harvard was. Finding me unmoved, he shouted into the phone, ’How can you not go to Harvard??!!’ Amazed, my response was brief and sharp: ’Watch me.’”

There Is No Wrong Decision in Harvard vs. Stanford

So, yes, there are some students — like the future National Security Advisor Susan Rice — who choose Stanford over Harvard. But, in our experience, Ambassador Rice is an exception to the rule and not the rule. The vast majority of students who earn admission to both Stanford and Harvard tend to choose Harvard. And certainly the vast majority of students who work with Ivy Coach tend to choose Harvard over Stanford — although they certainly can’t go wrong with either school. After all, these are two of the four or five most selective universities in all the world. There is no right or wrong decision when it comes to Harvard vs. Stanford.

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