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Choose school with greatest academic challenge OR more comfortable option?

cbugcbug Registered User Posts: 614 Member
edited April 2012 in Parents Forum
I've been thinking about how to phrase this question for sometime so I think it's time to take a stab at it.

Let's say a kid is accepted to two schools -- one quite rigorous, one less so.

Do you encourage this kid to choose the school that is known for its rigor, even though you feel it could be pushing the boundaries of kid's intellectual and stress capacity?


Do you encourage kid to select the one that is considered a good school but more relaxed than first school academically? At this school, kid would probably be able to participate and socialize quite a bit more than 1st school, and you know the kid could handle it academically.
Post edited by cbug on

Replies to: Choose school with greatest academic challenge OR more comfortable option?

  • MarianMarian Registered User Posts: 12,532 Senior Member
    It depends on the kid's personality. And, as long as the kid understands the difference between the two schools and the environments they offer, maybe the kid is the one best qualified to make the decision.

    If one of my kids had asked me (which they didn't), I would have suggested choosing the second school and making an effort to excel. Opportunities come to those who stand out from the rest of the pack.
  • my3gr8boyzmy3gr8boyz Registered User Posts: 531 Member
    I wish I had the answer for you, but I actually have the exact same question!! I'm guessing that a student could still find ways to challenge themselves at the more relaxed school, but they have to really WANT to. I know for myself and my college experience, when easier opportunities presented themselves, I would take them. I actually went to Brown with its infamous policy of no requirements and taking any classes C/NC. I greatly took advantage of that and I regret it to this day. Looking back, it was a time to get educated.

    Making the most of college is all about choices, and I think at either type of school, your s/d could make it what s/he wants. What a lame answer, huh? :)
  • MarsianMarsian Registered User Posts: 939 Member
    It totally depends on the student. Personally, I'd opt for a more relaxed approach with my children if they were wavering. Some students do so much better when they are at a school where they excel, because it gives them that extra boost.

    What does the student want?
  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 Registered User Posts: 35,861 Senior Member
    It really depends on personality.
    Oldest benefitted from the extra push from the über challenging school, while her sister who pushes herself pretty hard on her own, I hope is benefitting from a school that isn't ALL about academics. Still challenging, but it is easier to find a balance by carefully selecting courses, so as to still have time for other activities.
  • HaystackHaystack Registered User Posts: 1,576 Senior Member
    Read through these very recent threads...


    And this...


    As soomeone who graduated from Northwestern, took quite a few undergrad classes at Arizona State University, and teaches at a state flagship...I don't think the difference in rigor at many schools is as great as many people on CC think it is. This is especially true in science , tech, and business type majors. I do think that there is a difference in rigor in some humanities and social science majors though.
  • cbugcbug Registered User Posts: 614 Member
    I guess another way to phrase my question is how do you know when a school is an academic and intellectual match for you? Is it all based off of the test scores and GPAs of other admitted students? Or are there other ways to gauge?
  • reeinazreeinaz Registered User Posts: 1,531 Senior Member
    I was talking with my son about this last night. He says he'd rather go to a school tht was academically challenging. He's not an A student. I asked how he would feel if most of his peers were smarter than he is and he said that he wouldn't mind at all as long as they didn't flaunt their intelligence. But my son is one of those kids that doesn't want to be at either extreme so I think he would just push himself enough to be at the middle of the pack. He'll benefit from the push/pull to keep up.
  • SteveMASteveMA Registered User Posts: 6,079 Senior Member
    I am a FIRM believer that college is what you make of it. At every single school there will be at least on professor that the student connects with and can be given the chance to soar if the student so chooses. Honestly, is calculus at Harvard any more difficult than Calculus at State U? It's still calculus.

    From your numerous posts in this topic, I think the real issue you are having is what sticker you get to put on your car and what the reaction of your friends is going to be to that sticker.

    Let your child go where he/she wants to go. It IS their life.
  • Forester17Forester17 Registered User Posts: 40 Junior Member
    From your numerous posts in this topic, I think the real issue you are having is what sticker you get to put on your car and what the reaction of your friends is going to be to that sticker.

    Goodness, that's kind of mean. I think the OP asks a legitimate question. I think we all want our kids to be stretched without being broken. There are, in fact, huge differences in rigor among institutions. Really.
  • Sop14's MomSop14's Mom Registered User Posts: 792 Member
    Education at a residential college is as much learning from one's peers as from one's professors. Ergo the question.
  • SteveMASteveMA Registered User Posts: 6,079 Senior Member
    Forester17--cbug has probably 5 threads running on this same subject, just worded differently. Mean or not, just trying to get to the root of the problem here. She has gotten great advice on every other thread on this topic.

    No matter where you go, there will always be kids smarter than you are there.
  • college_querycollege_query Registered User Posts: 3,993 Senior Member
    My D is a junior at an academically rigorous school. She works really, really hard. She had to make an adjustment from HS where she was one of the smartest kids who always got an A, to being in a place where everyone is smart, and the school's grading policy is the average grade in a class can't be higher than a B+.

    I used to think there wasn't much difference, but she had friends taking the same class she was in (beginning Arabic) at our state public university when she was taking it at her school. The state school started a few weeks earlier. They had the same textbook. State school gave 5 credits for the class; her school does 4 classes in a term so it was more like 4 credits.

    Halfway into the term her school started a second textbook. The public university spent the entire term on the same textbook, which her school covered in half the time.

    She's someone who would have probably pushed herself regardless, but she's acknowledged her academic experience would have been quite different at a less academically rigorous school.

    It's a question that can only be answered by the student, but it's good the student is aware of it going in.
  • HPuck35HPuck35 Registered User Posts: 1,629 Senior Member
    Don't know what field of study your child intends to follow but, many companies have a minimum GPA of 3.0 to hire a new grad. If he can go to the more challenging school and maintain a 3.0 (or hopefully higher) GPA, then go for it if he can handle the challenge.
  • SteveMASteveMA Registered User Posts: 6,079 Senior Member
    college_query--moving faster doesn't always mean more knowledge though, especially retained knowledge. If your DD has progressed that quickly in a college course, she probably would have been recommended to skip to the 3rd level for next semester too. Even at your State U, there would have been options and challenges for her.
  • jym626jym626 Registered User Posts: 52,143 Senior Member
    Agree that its what he wants. My older s mugh preferred the academic rigor and intellectual stimulation. Younger s went to visit him and said "I dont want to go here, you have to work too hard!" He chose a school with comparatively less "rigor", with a work hard/play hard reputation. Both are engineers so they are not academic slouches, but I agree each of my s's made the right choice for their personality. Which type is your son?
This discussion has been closed.