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Question About Undergrad

hannah2018hannah2018 Registered User Posts: 41 Junior Member
If a student is planning on continuing her education at one of the nation's top ranked graduate schools, is it better for the student to attend a very challenging undergraduate school with a high possibility that she would be in the bottom third of the class OR attend a good undergraduate school where she would most likely be top of her class? Is it better to excel at a school that may not have the best academic reputation or to struggle at a challenging school? Thank you!

Replies to: Question About Undergrad

  • happymomof1happymomof1 Registered User Posts: 28,590 Senior Member
    What do you think you want to go to grad school for?

    Med school is almost entirely numbers driven and is very expensive. Choose the best combo of cheap, good grades, and good MCAT prep.
    Law school is similarly very numbers driven and very expensive. Again, look for cheap, good grades, and good LSAT pass rates.

    Classical languages? Well then you probably want a very good undergrad program and may have to shell out a bit more money. Grades might not be as big a barrier because your classes will be small and your relationship with your faculty will be intense, so they will be able to write the good LOR to their pals at top-ranked-grad-schools. But you might have to pay for part of your grad program.

    Sciences? People get into those good grad programs every year from places you have never heard of. Grades are important. So is research. So are the LORs from your faculty and research supervisors. Good news: if you are good enough to get into a PhD program, you probably won't have to pay a cent for your studies. Bad news: if you have to pull your grades/experience up a bit with a Master's first, you will probably have to pay for that.

    MAT? Look for a school district that will help pay for it.

    MBA? You need to work 3-5 years before the "top ranked" programs will even consider you. Grades will matter, GMAT will matter, but your work experience and LORs will matter more. Also, you will probably have to pay for this one unless your employer will.
  • happy1happy1 Forum Champion Parents, Forum Champion Admissions Posts: 23,184 Forum Champion
    IMO these types of hypothetical questions are just silly, especially when we don't have an understanding of the colleges in question. I think if you can get into a college you should expect that with hard work you can do very well.

    Typically grad programs look at the undergraduate institution as well as the GPA among many other factors such as standardized tests, LOR, essay, experience etc. in the decision process.

    This is similar to asking a college admissions officer if an applicant should take a regular class and get an A or an AP class and get a B+. Every admissions officer I've heard (and I've heard many) from a top tier school will say that they want to see students excel in the most difficult classes he/she can manage. This question would have the same type of non-answer.
  • BasicOhioParentBasicOhioParent Registered User Posts: 242 Junior Member
    "Top-ranked graduate schools" are looking for students who excelled in undergrad. That should answer your question.
  • MandalorianMandalorian Registered User Posts: 1,754 Senior Member
    edited January 2018
    The name of an undergraduate school does not carry as much weight as you'd think in terms of graduate admissions in many fields. A minimum 3.0 GPA is necessary for the majority of programs, and a 3.5+ is a good position. If this is not possible at a certain school, it's not a good option.
  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 12,618 Super Moderator
    Yes, and the students in these questions are always assuming that their performance is going to perfectly correlate with the ranking of the undergraduate institution in question. There are many reasons why an excellent student might excel at an elite/top college - or why they might not do well at a safety school. You can't assume what your academic performance is going to be like before you even get there. So select the school that's the best fit for you (on a variety of axes, not just prestige) and then do your best to do well there.
  • a20171a20171 Registered User Posts: 1,177 Senior Member
    "Struggling" and being challenged are two different things. If you feel that a school will be too intense for you, it's not a good option regardless of grad school prospects. Mental health comes first. And being at the bottom third of a class is not great at ANY school considering most average GPAs in college are around 3.2, if you want to go to a top ranked graduate school.
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