Carnegie Mellon and Harvard are both well-known world class universities. They have attracted lots of students all around the world to apply for. But Carnegie Mellon and Harvard are two different types of universities, they have different focus as well. What drives people to choose Carnegie Mellon over Harvard? Yishan Wong, CEO of Reddit gave his opinion on Quora.
Because you can fail out of Carnegie Mellon. It's well-known that once you get into Harvard, it's very difficult to fail out.
The possibility of failure is necessary in order for an accomplishment to be valuable.
Carnegie Mellon is harsh. Built amongst the foreboding gothic towers of a once-great Steel City in the Pittsburgh climate of endless wind and rain, Carnegie Mellon (or CMU, as its grim, studious denizens call it) gives no quarter.
If you arrive as a freshman and find that the courseload or subject matter is too difficult, you will simply begin to fall behind, until you start to fail your courses, and once you fail out of too many, you will be placed on probation and eventually, you will leave. During the first year of every student, if you're not the one who is failing out, you will inevitably know someone who does. It doesn't happen loudly - someone you know will just... disappear. Usually after the first winter break, or some make it through the first year but don't return for the second. Eventually you hear through the grapevine that they transferred to another school, always an easier one (not that there are harder ones). The university has no mercy. You are there to learn and study - the harsh weather and humdrum city life ensure that you do - and if you can't keep up, you will be pitilessly and efficiently removed. Those who survive emerge stronger, hardened, capable.
Carnegie Mellon is Pittsburgh's last steel factory.