Schools Similar to Cornell

Continuing our “Schools Like” series, where we break down those Ivy League and similar schools, give you the facts, what makes the school unique, and other schools that offer similar environments of qualities, we’re on to Cornell.

Cornell is an incredible school located in Ithaca, NY. It’s not close to NYC (or any city), it’s picturesque, pretty cold, and a true intellectual haven. It’s a relatively large school as well, with seven specialized colleges offering undergraduate degrees located on campus, each operating as its own little independent institution. Each college has its own requirements and application. The colleges are: College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; College of Architecture, Art and Planning; College of Arts and Sciences; Cornell SC Johnson College of Business; College of Engineering; College of Human Ecology; School of Industrial and Labor Relations (in our opinion, the school’s most unique degree offering). It’s also one of the few schools to offer an undergraduate business degree. Graduate schools on campus are also competitive—Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration (its hospitality school) is maybe the best of its kind. Each school has its own unique culture, size, and focus, but they all come together in a wonderfully cohesive way and the undergraduate experience is top notch.

Cornell’s Stats

Location: Ithaca, NY

Size: ~14.5K

Faculty to student ratio: 9:1


Schools like Cornell:

University of Michigan

Location: Ann Arbor, MI

Size: ~29K undergraduates

The University of Michigan is a large school in Ann Arbor that shares a number of qualities with Cornell—it’s often quite cold, it’s on the larger end of things in terms of undergraduate population, its students have incredible school pride, and its undergraduate education is world-renowned. Michigan also is home to one of the best undergraduate business programs in the U.S. And we think it's probably the most fun school. Go blue. 


Lehigh University

Location: Bethlehem, PA

Size: ~7K undergraduates

Though it’s on the smaller side compared to Cornell, Lehigh holds its own in terms of diversity and strength of academics and research. Lehigh has four colleges: College of Arts and Sciences; College of Business and Economics; P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science and College of Education. Over 1,000 undergraduates participate in research each year, which is very significant. You can major in a wide range of topics hard to find elsewhere, like Health, Medicine, and Society; Pharmaceutical Chemistry; Science & Environmental Writing; Africana Studies, and a slew of others.


College of William & Mary

Location: Williamsburg, VA

Size: ~6.2K undergraduates

College of W&M is one of eight universities and colleges that have achieved the “Public Ivy” status—namely, that its tuition is much lower because it’s a public research university, but the quality of its education is comparable to the Ivy League. Williamsburg, VA is definitely a bit more populous than Ithaca, and warmer at that—but we see those things as positives. Ithaca has gorges but Williamsburg has rivers. An incredibly high number of students pursue independent research projects that are overseen by faculty, and because it’s a research university W&M has the resources and then some to help you pursue whatever you are interested in investigating.


Carleton College

Location: Northfield, MN

Size: ~2K undergraduates

The setting of Carleton is certainly rural, and absolutely gorgeous, but in Minnesota instead of upstate New York. the sheer diversity of academic focuses that it offers. Many students have overlooked Carleton College in the past but it is quickly rising in popularity due to its academics and focus on bringing diversity of thought and culture to the forefront of its classrooms. The average class size is 18, which is incredibly small and means that you get a significant amount of individualized attention. There’s also a certain idealism about the campus—a sort of Carleton “bubble” that you also feel when you set foot on Cornell’s campus in Ithaca. The school has a crazy amount of traditions to top it all off.


Bucknell University

Location: Lewisburg, PA

Size: ~3.5K

Bucknell is an incredible place—not only is it considered to be one of the most beautiful college campuses in the U.S., but it’s one of the few schools where their liberal arts offerings are just as strong as their technical and engineering offerings. It’s continually ranked in the top 10 lists of engineering programs while also emphasizing the importance of the liberal arts and studying across focuses. The school has three colleges: College of Arts & Sciences; College of Management; and College of Engineering. Another distinguishing factor is its undergraduate business school, similar to Cornell. You can focus on Accounting & Financial Management; Global Management; Managing for Sustainability; or Markets, Innovation, & Design and offer unique courses like Student Managed Investment Fund (SMIF) where a group of students (juniors and seniors) manage over $1.5 million of the school’s endowment.


Northwestern University

Location: Evanston, IL

Size: ~8.4K undergraduates

Northwestern is very much the slightly more urban Cornell of the Midwest due to its location, size, and intellectual heft of its students and academic offerings. Evanston is about an hour from Chicago, making it a great place to go to school if you want a “sort of” secluded college experience (read: easy and quick access to city-quality culture, activities, and entertainment). The school’s simultaneous focus on the liberal arts and technical fields like engineering and its easy access to the school’s renowned business school makes it an incredibly motivating and exciting place to spend four years.


University of North Carolina--Chapel Hill

Location: Chapel Hill, NC

Size: ~18K undergraduate

We sort of think of this as the warm-weather, sportier version of Cornell. It is a gorgeous campus with some of the best undergraduate and graduate programs in the country. Its students have a ton of school pride while also being incredibly hardworking, and it’s also pretty secluded. Not by North Carolina standards, because Chapel Hill and nearby Durham are pretty ~happening places~, but if you grew up any place other than North Carolina, it feels secluded without being isolated. It’s an unusual balance to strike, but the combination of sheer spirit and top notch academics is hard to bear.


Cornell is a great school, don’t get us wrong, but you need options. Let us know if you need a bit more guidance and some more specialized or personalized advice in this category. That’s why we’re here.