Some perspective on the admissions process

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Discus: What Are My Chances?: December 2002 Archive: Some perspective on the admissions process
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Archive through November 07, 2002  2   11/07 09:41am

By bumper on Friday, November 08, 2002 - 04:58 pm: Edit


By wiskid on Friday, November 08, 2002 - 05:52 pm: Edit

About the grad school thing: True it is possible to get into big-name grad schools from a no-name university. But you will find yourself less well prepared. At least my dad did when he got his PhD at UC-Berkeley after graduating from U-Wisc; his classmates from the Ivies were much better prepared, it took him a year or two to feel their equal. He has done perfectly well for himself, he makes over 100k as a Professor of History!

By 94grad on Tuesday, November 12, 2002 - 10:23 am: Edit

I'm not advocating going to a no-name university for undergrad...rather, I suggest going to one that is well-thought of but not necessarily "the top"...places like Bates, Grinnell, Colby, Haverford, Swarthmore, Rice et al. And I definitely advocate going to a liberal arts college or at least a small univ like Rice over going to a huge grad-centric research-focused university for undergrad.

By Liz on Tuesday, November 12, 2002 - 05:03 pm: Edit

I know the reason I want to go to an Ivy League or Ivy League equivalent college is definitely _not_ the money. I could care less about money, unless I'm starving. Personally, I've spent high school being envied/made fun of because I made A's on tests, answered questions in class, etc. I want to go to one of these schools because I want to be SURROUNDED by people AT OR ABOVE MY INTELLEGENCE LEVEL. It's really just a preference. Some people might go to the Honors program at their State U so they can "shine" or "stand out" - personally, I don't like standing head and shoulders above my classmates. I've considered going to UNC-CH in state after I graduate (I'm a junior). It's a great school, but I would feel kind of cheated if I had taken all those AP's and worked so hard just to end up in the same place with people who did less than half as much work. I'd like to go to a "reach" college: not because of the prestige, or the money, but because of the people and the challanging enviroment. (PS - I'm not trying to be mean or stuck up - if you want to take it that way, go ahead.)

By yeah on Tuesday, November 12, 2002 - 05:51 pm: Edit

I agree with Liz. Imagine working hard all four years and a SAT of 1500 and ending up at a college where kids in your class with 1350, regular ec's are going to. You want to be challenged and comfortable in college.

By 94grad on Wednesday, November 13, 2002 - 10:25 am: Edit

I hear ya, Liz, but don't assume that a college has to have a low admittance rate in order to be chock full of very bright people. There are colleges that are not extremely selective yet have fantastic academic reputations and plenty of intelligent, motivated students. Haverford comes to mind -- everyone I've ever met who went there was whip smart. Wellesley is another that comes to mind; indeed, all of the "seven sister" schools. And Franklin and Marshall too. All well-respected schools with great reputations in the academic community.

And believe it or not, there are some...ah.... less than brilliant students at Harvard and Yale. According to a magazine report I read recently, there is a student currently at Yale who only scored around 900 on his SATs (a URM). Read Elizabeth Wurtzel's _Prozac Nation_ to get some insight on the "dumb legacy kid" phenomenon. According to Wurtzel, who graduated from Harvard in '89, Harvard routinely lets in a bunch of rich yet dull legatees. These are kids whose parents donate much $$$ to Harvard, of course...and Harvard admits them on the condition that they take a year off before starting school -- so that they can prepare to actually survive college. And George W. Bush was a Yale grad (and a legacy)....need I say more?

By 94grad on Wednesday, November 13, 2002 - 12:03 pm: Edit

As for "yeah"'s post -- do you really think that there's a huge difference between people who have an SAT score of 1350 vs. 1500??? Get real. My best friend went to Yale with an 1100-1150 SAT score, while mine was 1390. My freshman-year boyfriend at Wesleyan had a 1580 SAT score (before the recentering, mind you), yet he flunked out and left after his first year. Raw smarts and good test-taking ability will only get you so far, both in college and in life.

For Liz -- another great lib arts college that isn't hugely selective is Oberlin. Keep in mind, too, that the applicant pool to some of these less well-known but well-respected schools is "high quality"; everyone and his brother may apply to Harvard "just to see if they can get in", while the applicant pool to some of these smaller schools may self-select.

By Liz on Wednesday, November 13, 2002 - 03:39 pm: Edit

Just by the way, I do consider schools like Oberlin and Wellesly to be "Ivy League Equivalients". I'm not fixed on two or three supposedly prestigious schools. I'm just saying I want to go to the best school I can get into. "Best" can be a pretty vague term, so I'll clarify.

Cool, smart, friendly students + Good, accessible faculty + Low student/teacher ratio + undergrad-focused + pretty campus (yeah, I know, a lame basis for picking your school, but that's me) + *Challanging Enviroment* = Best.

My top ten list for colleges includes: Wellesly, Bryn Mawr, Swarthmore, Johns Hopkins, Yale, Duke, Columbia, UChicago, and I don't know about the last two. Basically, I want a college in a fairly urban area or in the close vicinity of one, STRONG academics, not a HUGE frat/sorority scene (Duke is the only exception to the frat scene thing, both my parents went there for Div School and it has a great department in classical languages.) You'll notice Harvard's not on that list. Great school, but grade inflation like nobody's business. Also, in the words of a student (see: Fiske's Guide To Colleges 2003) "This is not a small liberal arts college where people will reach out to you."

Really, I'm just using "ivy league" as a term to describe a good school, however incorrect or correct that may be.

BTW: Oberlin's a good school, but too far to the left for me. I'm liberal, but not that liberal. Plus, I play an instrument, and I wouldn't get the chance to participate there. World-class conservatory full of people better than me :(

This is the last thing, I promise. About SAT scores. I do consider them to be a basic indicator of the general intellegence of the student population, but I wouldn't say they were the end-all-be-all by any means. Smart people can have low SAT scores and vice versa. The rigor-of-curriculum gets me, though.

By Liz on Wednesday, November 13, 2002 - 03:41 pm: Edit

Oh, yeah. Chicago definitely isn't "undergrad focused." but it's so cool that I couldn't really resist it...

By 94grad on Wednesday, November 13, 2002 - 03:59 pm: Edit

Well, Chicago is a big research univ, true, and thus not undergrad-focused. But their undergrad program is pretty stiff. Actually, the admins there are talking about dismantling it, but the students are stridently opposed to tinkering with the core. I don't know that I'd want to go to Chicago. It's so very intense, and it gets so cold and grim in winter. A friend of mine who did some exchange program there (coming from UCal-Berkeley) said that the whole student body ought to be sprayed with Prozac.

Heh heh on Oberlin. I had a friend at Wesleyan who transferred from there because it was too left-liberal for her, actually. She realized that she wanted to leave when a woman in her freshman dorm ran into the shower to chastize the women who were shaving their legs.

Wesleyan is pretty liberal too, but it has its niches for the frat types, the conservatives, the goths, and just about every other subgroup you can think of.

By gribnitz on Monday, December 02, 2002 - 11:11 pm: Edit

How do you figure that Oberlin and Haverford aren't selective? They may not be in the same league as Harvard, Yale and Princeton - but they are still extremely selective.

By Liz (Liz) on Tuesday, December 03, 2002 - 09:38 am: Edit

I think what he meant was that the selectivity rate, percentage-wise. The applicant pool at those colleges is much smaller and much more self-selective, so the college has more qualified applicants to choose from in the pool and can take more students. The percentage accepted is then higher. But that doesn't make it a less "selective" school in the sense you mean. I know that was kind of unclear, but I hope that helps.

By technobanana on Thursday, December 05, 2002 - 10:27 pm: Edit

nicely said

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