Wow, THANK YOU! I’m sure your comments will help many others too, since there are no comparisons of physics departments of these universities on the web, let alone HEP-th. You’ve made a significant contribution!
I am an international applicant and when I ask my professors about these two schools, (since they are not familiar with these departments) they simply say both are perfect and I can flip a coin to decide. Your detailed comment was really a blessing to me.
You already told much more than what I was expecting, yet having found a such well-informed person in the field, can I ask some more (minor) questions?
1-) Can you please also share your views on phenomenology work done in both departments? Maybe some of your favourite Professors doing phenomenology?
2-) I was admitted by Yale too, but their particle theory group looks small and less fruitful compared to Uchicago and Cornell. (They have very few professors who hire only 3 grad students. Source: http://www.yale.edu/het/people.htm
) Therefore I am trying to decide between Cornell and Chicago. Do you also think that Yale is not as good as the other two in particle theory?
I would love to meet you during open houses, however, since I am living in another continent, I will not be able to participate in any of the open houses. Hopefully If we end up in the same school I will be delighted to meet and thank you face-to-face (I will be following your post in applicant profiles to see where you choose). Best wishes!