Princeton vs. Vanderbilt: Which University is Right for You?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a female student thinking about how to withdraw a college application.

Princeton vs. Vanderbilt: Which University is Right for You?

Deciding on a university can be tough, especially when comparing prestigious institutions like Princeton vs. Vanderbilt. Both universities offer exceptional academic programs, extracurricular activities, and career opportunities.

But how do you know which one is the best fit for you? In this article, we’ll compare Princeton and Vanderbilt on various factors to help you make an informed decision.


Located in Nashville, Tennessee, Vanderbilt is a private research university known for its strong undergraduate programs in the liberal arts and sciences. Its most popular undergraduate majors include human and organizational development, economics, and political science. Vanderbilt also boasts a highly-ranked graduate school, particularly in law and medicine.

Additionally, Vanderbilt is home to a vibrant student life with over 500 student organizations, including Greek life, club sports, and cultural organizations. The university also has a strong commitment to community service, with many opportunities for students to get involved in volunteer work both on and off campus.

Vanderbilt’s campus is known for its beautiful architecture and green spaces, including the iconic Wyatt Center and the expansive Centennial Park.

The Admission Process: How to Get into Princeton and Vanderbilt

Both Princeton and Vanderbilt are highly selective universities that receive thousands of applications every year. Princeton had an acceptance rate of 5.78% for the class of 2024, while Vanderbilt had an acceptance rate of 9.6% for the same year. To get into either university, you’ll need to have top grades, test scores, and extracurricular activities.

However, both universities also value diversity, so having a unique perspective or background can also be an advantage.

a group of student working together

In addition to academic and extracurricular achievements, both Princeton and Vanderbilt also consider personal qualities such as leadership, creativity, and community involvement. It’s important to showcase these qualities in your application through essays, recommendation letters, and interviews.

Another important factor is demonstrating a genuine interest in the university by attending information sessions, visiting the campus, and connecting with current students or alumni. Remember, the admissions process is highly competitive, so it’s important to put your best foot forward and present yourself as a well-rounded and passionate candidate.

Academic Offerings: Course Selection and Programs at Princeton and Vanderbilt

Princeton is known for its rigorous undergraduate program in the liberal arts, sciences, and engineering. The university has a strong focus on undergraduate research and offers many opportunities to conduct independent research. Princeton also offers a variety of graduate programs, including a highly ranked school of public and international affairs.

Vanderbilt offers a range of undergraduate majors across its four schools: the College of Arts and Science, the Blair School of Music, the School of Engineering, and the Peabody College of Education and Human Development. The university also has a strong graduate program, with schools of law, medicine, nursing, and business.

Princeton’s undergraduate program is known for its small class sizes and personalized attention from faculty members. The university also offers a number of interdisciplinary programs, such as the Program in Neuroscience and the Program in Environmental Studies, which allow students to explore multiple fields of study.

Vanderbilt’s School of Medicine is consistently ranked among the top medical schools in the country, and the university’s law school is also highly regarded. In addition, Vanderbilt offers a number of unique programs, such as the Ingram Scholarship Program, which provides full-tuition scholarships to students who demonstrate a commitment to community service and leadership.

Student Life: Extracurricular Activities, Clubs, and Social Scene at Princeton and Vanderbilt

Both Princeton and Vanderbilt offer a variety of extracurricular activities, clubs, and organizations to get involved in. Princeton has over 300 student organizations, including a well-known a cappella scene. Vanderbilt has over 500 student organizations, with a particularly strong Greek life presence.

Both universities also have a vibrant social scene, with plenty of opportunities for students to socialize and have fun.

Additionally, both universities offer opportunities for students to engage in community service and volunteer work. Princeton has a Center for Civic Engagement that connects students with local organizations and projects, while Vanderbilt has a strong partnership with the Nashville community and offers numerous service opportunities through its Office of Active Citizenship and Service.

Housing Options: Dormitories, Apartments, and Off-Campus Living at Princeton and Vanderbilt

Both universities offer on-campus housing options, including dormitories and apartments. Princeton guarantees housing for all undergraduate students for all four years, while Vanderbilt guarantees housing for all undergraduate students for their first two years. Off-campus housing options are also available near both universities.

2 students moving in to their new dorm

It is important to note that the cost of living off-campus may be higher than on-campus housing options. However, living off-campus can provide more independence and flexibility in terms of living arrangements. Additionally, both universities offer resources and support for students seeking off-campus housing, including listings of available apartments and roommate matching services.

Cost of Attendance: Tuition Fees, Scholarships, Financial Aid, and Other Expenses Compared

Attending either Princeton or Vanderbilt comes with a hefty price tag. For the 2020-2021 academic year, Princeton’s tuition and fees were $53,890, while Vanderbilt’s tuition and fees were $52,070. However, both universities are committed to making their education accessible to all students, and offer generous financial aid and scholarship packages.

In fact, both universities meet 100% of demonstrated financial need for admitted students.

Aside from tuition and fees, there are other expenses that students need to consider when attending these universities. These include room and board, textbooks, transportation, and personal expenses. At Princeton, the estimated cost of attendance for the 2020-2021 academic year was $74,960, while at Vanderbilt it was $73,660.

However, both universities offer various resources and programs to help students manage these costs.

Furthermore, both Princeton and Vanderbilt have a strong commitment to providing their students with a well-rounded education. This includes opportunities for research, internships, study abroad, and extracurricular activities. These experiences not only enhance students’ academic and professional development, but also contribute to their personal growth and overall college experience.

Faculty and Research Opportunities: Professors, Mentors, and Research Centers at Princeton and Vanderbilt

Princeton and Vanderbilt both have highly esteemed faculties, with professors who are leaders in their fields. Both universities also offer numerous research opportunities, with Princeton’s focus on undergraduate research and Vanderbilt’s focus on interdisciplinary research.

Princeton’s faculty includes Nobel laureates, MacArthur fellows, and members of prestigious academic societies. Students have the opportunity to work closely with these renowned scholars as mentors and advisors. The university also has several research centers, such as the Princeton Neuroscience Institute and the Center for Information Technology Policy, which provide students with hands-on research experience.

Vanderbilt’s interdisciplinary research initiatives bring together faculty and students from different fields to tackle complex problems. The university has research centers focused on topics such as neuroscience, energy and environment, and medicine and public health.

Vanderbilt also offers research opportunities for undergraduates, including the Vanderbilt Undergraduate Summer Research Program and the Vanderbilt Undergraduate Research Journal.

Career Prospects: Job Placement Rates, Alumni Network, and Post-Graduate Outcomes at Princeton vs. Vanderbilt

Both Princeton and Vanderbilt have strong career services offices and alumni networks that are dedicated to helping students find meaningful career paths. Princeton graduates go on to successful careers in a variety of fields, including finance, consulting, and academia. Vanderbilt graduates also have a range of career opportunities, particularly in healthcare and music entertainment.

However, there are some differences in the post-graduate outcomes between the two universities. According to recent data, Princeton has a higher job placement rate within six months of graduation, with 95% of graduates securing employment in their desired field.

A woman shaking hands with her interviewer.

On the other hand, Vanderbilt has a strong reputation for producing successful entrepreneurs, with many graduates starting their own businesses in various industries. Additionally, Vanderbilt’s alumni network in the healthcare industry is particularly strong, with many graduates holding leadership positions in hospitals and healthcare organizations.

Sports Culture: Athletics Teams, Facilities, and Fanbase at Princeton vs. Vanderbilt

Princeton is a member of the Ivy League and has a strong athletics program, particularly in men’s and women’s basketball and lacrosse. Vanderbilt, on the other hand, is a member of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) and has a strong football program. Both universities have state-of-the-art athletic facilities and enthusiastic fanbases.

Princeton’s basketball team has a long-standing rivalry with nearby Ivy League school, Harvard. The two teams have faced off in many memorable games, with Princeton often coming out on top. Additionally, Princeton’s lacrosse team has won multiple national championships and is consistently ranked among the top teams in the country.

Vanderbilt’s football team has a passionate fanbase, with the stadium often packed to capacity on game days. The team has produced many successful NFL players, including Jay Cutler and Jordan Matthews. Vanderbilt’s baseball team is also highly regarded, having won multiple SEC championships and making several appearances in the College World Series.

Diversity and Inclusion: Student Body Demographics, Campus Policies, and Support Systems at Princeton vs. Vanderbilt

Both Princeton and Vanderbilt value diversity and inclusion, and strive to create a welcoming environment for students of all backgrounds. Princeton has a diverse student body, with 51% of students identifying as students of color. Vanderbilt also has a diverse student body, with 45% of students identifying as students of color.

Both universities have campus policies and support systems in place to ensure that all students feel supported and included.

Princeton has a number of student organizations and affinity groups that cater to students from diverse backgrounds. These groups provide a space for students to connect with others who share similar experiences and identities. Vanderbilt also has a variety of student organizations that promote diversity and inclusion, including groups for LGBTQ+ students, international students, and students of color.

In addition to campus organizations, both universities have resources available to support students who may face discrimination or bias. Princeton has a Bias Response Team that investigates incidents of bias and provides support to those affected. Vanderbilt has a similar Bias Incident Reporting system, as well as a Diversity and Inclusion Committee that works to promote a more inclusive campus culture.

Sustainability Initiatives: Green Campus Programs, Sustainability Research Projects at Princeton vs. Vanderbilt

Both Princeton and Vanderbilt are committed to sustainability and have numerous green campus initiatives and sustainability research projects underway. Princeton is dedicated to achieving carbon neutrality by 2046, while Vanderbilt publishes an annual sustainability report and has a “Greenest Group on Campus” competition for student organizations.

View of Princeton University

Princeton’s sustainability efforts extend beyond campus, as the university has partnered with local organizations to promote sustainable practices in the surrounding community. Additionally, the university has implemented a composting program and has installed solar panels on several buildings to reduce energy consumption.

At Vanderbilt, sustainability is integrated into the curriculum, with courses such as “Sustainability and Environmental Management” and “Sustainable Energy Systems” offered to students. The university also has a bike-sharing program and encourages alternative transportation methods through its “MoveVU” initiative.

Study Abroad Opportunities: International Exchange Programs, Language Immersion Programs at Princeton vs. Vanderbilt

Both universities offer a variety of study abroad opportunities, including international exchange programs and language immersion programs. Princeton has partnerships with universities around the world, and over 60% of students study abroad during their time at the university. Vanderbilt also has a strong study abroad program, with partnerships with over 50 universities in 30 countries.

Princeton’s study abroad program is known for its emphasis on cultural immersion and language learning. The university offers language immersion programs in over 15 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, French, German, and Spanish. These programs provide students with the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the language and culture of the country they are studying in, through intensive language classes, cultural activities, and homestays with local families.

Vanderbilt’s study abroad program, on the other hand, focuses on providing students with a diverse range of academic opportunities. The university offers programs in a wide range of fields, including business, engineering, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.

Students can choose to study at universities in Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America, and can earn credit towards their degree while gaining valuable international experience.

Conclusion: Which University is the Best Fit for You?

Choosing between Princeton and Vanderbilt is no easy task. Both universities offer exceptional academic programs, extracurricular activities, and career opportunities. Ultimately, the decision comes down to personal preference and fit. Consider factors like location, atmosphere, and academic interests when making your decision.

Both Princeton and Vanderbilt are excellent universities that will prepare you for success in whatever field you choose.

It’s important to note that while both universities have a lot to offer, they also have their own unique strengths. For example, Princeton is known for its strong emphasis on undergraduate research and its prestigious graduate programs. Vanderbilt, on the other hand, is known for its strong connections to the healthcare industry and its top-ranked medical center.

Another factor to consider is the campus culture. Princeton has a more traditional, Ivy League atmosphere, while Vanderbilt has a more laid-back, Southern vibe. It’s important to visit both campuses and get a feel for the student body and campus life before making a decision.



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