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Bottom of the class


Replies to: Bottom of the class

  • Lost in translatLost in translat Registered User Posts: 394 Member
    Isn't this exactly the same question as "Should I go for the easy As to boost my college GPA or should I push myself by taking tough classes and maybe learn something"?
  • ellemenopeellemenope Registered User Posts: 11,380 Senior Member
    she went to talk to the prof & really worked on figuring out what was expected of her -- that was when she learned that in college, just having the right answers on an exam isn't enough.

    Just curious...what is there beside having the right answer on an exam that could increase your grades?

    I don't believe that being in the bottom half of your class at HYP is going to forever kill your chances of going to grad school. Perhaps with grade inflation, the GPA isn't really that bad...at least above the 3.0 that grad schools seem to like.
  • calmomcalmom Registered User Posts: 20,103 Senior Member
    Just curious...what is there beside having the right answer on an exam that could increase your grades?
    It was an exam that required an essay-type response. I remember that it was a psychology class, the question was about Freud, and the "right" answer was something like, "the id, the ego, and the super-ego". There were a certain number of points that could possibly be earned with the essay -- maybe 20, and maybe the prof had given my daughter 10 or 12 points. My daughter had written one paragraph with a brief definition. The prof wanted in-depth analysis of the concepts, at least as in-depth as possible in the time alloted on the midterm.

    Part of the problem is that my daughter had AP credit, so she had signed up for an advanced psych course. It was a large class and she was the only freshman -- so there wasn't the sort of hand-holding or clear explanation of exam expectations that profs were giving in some classes geared to first year students. My daughter started her first semester by leaping into the deep end of the pool.... so she had to swim quite furiously at first to keep her head above water.

    But as noted, she ended up doing quite well. She told me later that year that she felt that she was one of the more capable students -- that she would put herself in the top third or top quarter of the students. (Her GPA clearly puts her in the top 10% -- and my daughter is not the type to boast -- I'm mentioning this only in the context of the OP's remarks).

    One problem with SAT scores is that they do NOT test deep, analytical skills. SAT's are perfect for students with a good memory, strong vocabulary, and quick reasoning skills. Question, answer, question, answer, question, answer.... and so on. My d. like to take a little more time to think things through -- but she writes and expresses herself very well.

    So I think when she learned that the goal in college was not merely to feed back the expected answer... but instead to apply thoughtful analysis to concepts and problems -- then she realized she was in her element. And that might be where a lot of top SAT-scorers fall off -- maybe they have the ability that she didn't to supply the right choice to a lot of multiple-choice questions, quickly, without being thrown off by trick questions or distractors -- but some of them aren't so good about reading several hundred pages of material from different sources and then writing a cogent analysis.

    Bottom line: college is nothing like the SAT (or ACT). I think AP exams are a lot closer to college work - and my daughter had all 4's & 5's on the APs, including at least 2 exams where she hadn't taken the underlying AP course. Of course that wasn't a factor in admissions -- but it is a question I might suggest that the OP ask to the student in question -- if he did well on AP exams, he probably has the capacity well on college exams.
  • sorghumsorghum Registered User Posts: 3,471 Senior Member
    None of us can forever be "above average"!

    Some of 'us' can indeed be forever above average. But most cannot.
  • nngmmnngmm Registered User Posts: 5,708 Senior Member
    If he goes to the top school, he gets a top-notch undergraduate education
    isn't that the point?

    College is not just a stepping stone to grad school, and should be chosen for the education you get there. (That is not to say that he could not get great education at the state school.)
  • hudsonvalley51hudsonvalley51 Registered User Posts: 2,474 Senior Member
    "Gentlemen's Cs" have never stopped graduates of the nation's top colleges from contending for or occupying the most powerful job in the land.
  • mam1959mam1959 Registered User Posts: 1,011 Senior Member
    None of this makes sense.

    If a student is at the bottom of a college class because he goofs around and gets little out of the experience, well, at some level he may be better off going to Harvard but he's not going to be prepared to embrace any number of opportunities. Goofing off and wasting your time is goofing off and wasting your time, whether at Harvard or at State U.

    Go to a place that provides the right kind of opportunity and environment and get the most out of it.
  • lgreenlgreen Registered User Posts: 247 Junior Member
    she learned that in college, just having the right answers on an exam isn't enough.

    Calmom, I remember when my dd learned this lesson. On exam day, she breathed a sigh of relief when she realized she knew the answers to all the questions. So she jotted down her answers, and a few days later she was stunned at the grade she received. I believe it was a low C.

    Since then, she has made sure to provide plenty of detail and elaboration when answering exam questions.
  • ucsd_ucla_daducsd_ucla_dad Registered User Posts: 8,573 Senior Member
    I don't understand why you think this student will "forfeit" chances at grad school by going to a top college -- sometimes the top college have more grade inflation than various public schools.
    Another poster posted an interesting link in the Parents Forum (entitled UCB vs UCLA but not specific to them) that has some interesting stats on grade inflation over the years and inflation at privates vs publics (generalized).

  • tokenadulttokenadult Registered User Posts: 17,471 Senior Member
    mathmom wrote:
    The first welcome at Carnegie Mellon's School of Computer Science the dean asked everyone who had graduated in the top 10% of their class to raise their hands. Just about everyone did. Then he asked who thought they'd graduate in the top 10% at SCS. The same kids raised their hands. Then he pointed out it just wasn't going to happen

    Good point. What I've done about this, in consultation with my son, is set up a "high school" program that looks like a college program from some points of view. Lots of AP-level and post-calculus-level courses since ninth grade. I have no idea what an admission committee will make of this, but my son will be able to avoid
    nngmm wrote:
    Some kids can have a complete mental meltdown if they are not at the top despite their best efforts

    because he has already spent a lot of time as one fish among many fish in a big pond.

    I agree that if the college admits the student, the college admission committee is making a judgment that the student can rise to the occasion of being at that college.
  • fauvefauve Registered User Posts: 3,515 Senior Member
    The theory of "The Happy Bottom Quarter", an idea originated by a Harvard admissions officer decades ago, is explored very thoughtfully in a New Yorker article by Malcolm Gladwell (Oct.10,2005).

    Wilbur Bender, a past HU Admissions Dean describes how Harvard did not want a class full of only the academically talented, lest the college should become like University Of Chicago. Rather they were looking for students who would make an impact on society.

    "Above a reasonably good level of mental ability, above that indicated by a 550-600 level of S.A.T. score, the only thing that matters in terms of future impact on, or contribution to society is the degree of personal inner force an individual has."

    Bender recognized the bottom quarter of Harvard's class could indeed contibute as much, if not more, to the world than the studious top quarter. Today there are throngs of Harvard students whose huge time commitments to ECs are laying the foundation for lives in government, environmental, charitable groups, the arts, etc. Their GPAs may not be tops, but their future promise is huge.
  • JamiecakesJamiecakes Registered User Posts: 551 Member
    Except I think that is probably a load of BS (in regard to Harvard). I bet the VAST majority of Harvard undergrads have BOTH top grads/test scores and tons of ECs. The idea that they are admitting 25%ish of their students with 550-600 SATs? I doubt it.
  • ellemenopeellemenope Registered User Posts: 11,380 Senior Member
    thanks for explanation, calmom, re making a right answer righter.
  • fauvefauve Registered User Posts: 3,515 Senior Member
    Jamiecakes- The quote, if you refer to The New Yorker article, is clearly from the 1950-60s, NOT the present. The point of my entry was to explore the theory of finding candidates for "The Happy Bottom Quarter".

    Obviously, no one is trying to claim the CURRENT bottom quarter possesses those statistics. As indicated, Wilbur Bender is a PAST Dean of Admissions.

    I should have stated that his reign was 1952-1960, to head off such virulent presumptions as "a load of BS". Gracious Jcakes! Perhaps it's time to spend an extra minute to absorb the meaning of posts?
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