Emory vs. Elite Colleges


This page’s mission is to explore the data presented in the Equality of Opportunity Project on elite institutions. Here we compare the appeal of Emory versus these elite institutions by investigating Emory’s success and failures within the context of the Equality of Opportunity Project through data and personal narratives on why students chose to attend Emory over other elite institutions.


Samantha S., Sophomore, Early Decision 1

I chose to attend Emory University over other elite institutions because of the students who attend the university and the major that I could complete. I decided to apply to Emory University because it was the school for me and my family was financially comfortable with paying the tuition. Fortunately, I did not have to consider financial aid or merit-based scholarship when applying to colleges and I therefore was able to choose where I wanted to attend based on what school would be the best fit for me. I knew I wanted to attend Emory over other elite institutions because of the students who are not competitive and the academic and social balance that the students had. Moreover, the ability to decide later on if I wanted to attend the business school was something that I really wanted.  

Abbey K., Junior, Regular Decision

Abbey K. decided to attend Emory after being accepted in the regular decision process. She was not deterred from applying to Emory during early decision for financial reasons; instead, she was afraid that she only liked Emory from her vast knowledge of the school because her two older brothers had attended the university. Abbey when applying to different elite institutions considered communications and business programs, but ultimately decided that the business school, community and extra curricular activities at Emory meant it was the place for her.

Alex C., Sophomore, Early Decision 2

Alex C. chose to apply early decision to Emory, but applied in the second round of early decision. Alex chose Emory because it is a Southern elite institution with an established pre-med track. For him, the finances of Emory were not as big of an impact on his family, but he did wait for the second round of early decision to figure that out.

Brian C., Senior, Early Decision 2

Brian C. decided to apply early decision two to Emory because he was waiting to hear from other institutions during the early action period. Brian was initially unable to commit to the binding early decision contract due to finances. Brian was also accepted and offered a significant merit scholarship to this other institution during the early action period, but chose to still apply to Emory and commit to attending the university because it had a better reputation and resources, especially with the pre-health program.

Colin S., Sophomore, Early Decision

There were a variety of reasons why I chose to come to Emory. I knew that I wanted to go to a school with great science programs because I was really interested in Biology and Chemistry. Emory was a great fit because of this and it helped that the acceptance rate into medical school was much higher here than other schools I was looking at. One of the main obstacles of the school was the price. 60,000 dollars per year tuition is a lot of money and it didn’t help that I did not receive any scholarship offers. Ultimately my family and I decided that it was worth the price for the great opportunity that Emory offered. We will see how it all plays out over the next couple of years.

John T., Junior, Early Decision

I chose to come to Emory because of the great business program. I really want to be an investment banker and knew that going to Emory would give me a great advantage over people at most other schools. As for the cost, I have an academic scholarship to come here which really helps. I still have to take out student loans to pay for the rest of tuition but I would not have ended up coming here without the scholarship because of the price of tuition.

Anna H., Sophomore, Regular Decision

I came to Emory because I was sure I wanted to be a neurosurgeon and I knew that Emory had a great Pre-Med program. I knew that this was what I wanted to do since I was a child however, after arriving at college the coursework was a lot more difficult than I expected. I have started to doubt wanting to become a neurosurgeon and have student loans piling up!

Jen G., Sophomore, Regular Decision

I am a sophomore at Emory University. I come from a very poor background and get a lot of financial aid and have a work study lab job during the year. I am a biology major and I want to go into Biomedical research after I graduate. Emory has been a very positive experience for me and I hope to someday make enough money to donate to the university to give more kids like me the opportunity to succeed.

Olivia K., Sophomore, Early Decision

When I visited different colleges during high school, Emory was the place that I felt most at home and the place I saw myself being happiest. I was also very interested in the different majors and opportunities offered including the IDS major which I currently plan on pursuing. I wanted a place that I would have a balance of both school and a social life. I felt that if I were to go to a more elite school I might be overwhelmed and not be able to have that balance. Upon arriving to Emory I immediately fell in love with the school; the people, the campus, the courses offered, and being so close to the city of Atlanta. The school had a warmth and aura that I didn’t feel at other schools. I felt that at Emory I would have the opportunity to grow and learn as an individual. Luckily, there was no financial consideration in my decision.

Isabel R., Sophomore, Early Decision

When I had my list of schools, I did have a couple of the elite schools since I believed I could have had the potential to get there and they were schools I definitely liked. But when i was narrowing down my choices I realized I wanted to go somewhere that would challenge me and make me work hard but at the same time not be overwhelmed. I thought that if I went to a more elite school, it would have been more hardcore and possibly more stressful for me. It made me realize that Emory had that perfect balance between challenge and peace of mind. Also, it is a place where collaborative working is very appreciated and encouraged. Coming from a very competitive high school, and not being a very competitive person, I knew I wanted a place where I would not feel stressed by the people around me. The financial factor was not really an issue, since most of the schools I was looking at basically had the same range, my parents simple were going to see if we would get anything from whichever.

Grace S., Sophomore, Regular Decision

Going to Emory wasn’t actually my first choice of colleges. I had dreamt of going to Northwestern all my life and pursuing a medical career afterward. I applied early decision and was subsequently deferred, then rejected. As you can imagine, this was quite devastating, and I truly did not believe I would find a college that would be comparable to Northwestern. Aside from Emory and a small liberal arts college in PA called Franklin & Marshall (which I had only applied to as it was my brother and father’s alma mater), I had applied to mostly larger schools. After visiting them, I realized that I didn’t want to go to a school with 40,000 plus students, such as the University of Michigan. Thus, when I visited Emory, I fell in love with it. The campus was beautiful, and it is conveniently located close to downtown Atlanta. Additionally, it was great to be able to get from one side of campus to the next in less than fifteen minutes (maximum). My visit solidified my love for Emory, and fortunately, I did not have to consider finances in my choice to attend.

Emily Rubin, Sophomore, Regular Decision

Emory’s location is what first sparked my interest in the school. I always knew I wanted to be in a big city and Atlanta was already one of my favorite cities that I had travelled to. I chose Emory because it was the best school I got into that awarded me financial aid. The money granted to me each year is the reason why I am able to attend this prestigious university.

Clara C., Sophomore, Regular Decision

I chose Emory because I immediately fell in love with the campus and the warm-spirited student body that welcomed me during my first visit, and because the university offered me a scholarship that I could not ignore. Out of the top 4 institutions that I was considering, Emory, although not the most “prestigious,” was the one that I liked best and the one where I knew I would be happiest in.

Cindy F., Sophomore, Applied ED2

The reason I chose Emory is very pragmatic, but represents many of my friends at Emory who shared the same experience with me. After I got rejected from my early decision 1 school, which was an elite school, I was left with few schools that offered early decision 2. Among these schools, Emory appealed to me because of its outstanding educational quality, campus size and easily accessible faculty body, and more importantly, the diversity and mutual respect exhibited on campus. Therefore, I applied early decision 2 to Emory and was fortunately admitted.

Anushka P., Junior, Applied ED1

I chose to come to Emory for a variety of reasons. First, the weather in Atlanta is warm and nice. Also, I am more major centered than school centered. I do not have a special admiration towards elite schools, but I heard from my friends who studied at Emory that the political science department is very good. This especially attracted me since I always wanted to major in political science. Apart from that, I spoke to a professor at Emory prior to my application, which furthered my interest in the school. Last but not the least, I think Dooley is cool!

Wenxin L., Junior, Applied Regular

As someone who previously decided to major in Business, I chose Emory for its reputational business school. Although I shifted my major to political science, I still favor Emory’s campus/class size and its accessible faculty body. Many top universities have a gigantic student population, with hundreds of people all enrolled in one class. As a result, instructors cannot always guarantee the learning outcome of the course. I wanted to study in a university that has a reasonable faculty-student ratio where I can always ask questions to professors and ensure I understand the materials well. So Emory was the best choice for that.