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Bottom of the class

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Replies to: Bottom of the class

  • minimini Registered User Posts: 26,431 Senior Member
    By test scores, my younger d. should be in the bottom 15% of her class at college. She is currently in the top 10%. Frankly, we aren't particularly surprised (and, honestly, I don't think the school, having interviewed and then selected her, is particularly surprised either.)
  • madbeanmadbean Registered User Posts: 3,235 Senior Member
    If you complete college and earn your degree, you are to be complimented. As we can see from college listings, a certain percentage do not finish at all--they are the bottom 3%-45% of their class.

    Some students are late bloomers, doing much better in college than predictors might indicate. Some are so burnt out from hard-slogging through high school, or are finally breaking free of family pushing, or are unable to handle managing their own work after years of "help" from well-meaning family, their college grades are less than expected. My point--it is hard to predict which path a certain student might take. I would never predict--ahead of any evidence of college performance--that one kid will be in the top or bottom of their class.

    Sometimes it takes a little faith and confidence.
  • calmomcalmom Registered User Posts: 19,451 Senior Member
    A student who is admitted to college with statistics in the bottom 25% may not turn out to be in the bottom 25% of the college class because many students with better qualifications won't do their best, for one reason or another, and therefore won't have grades as high as one might expect on the basis of their statistics.

    Actually, I doubt very seriously that there are many entrants whose overall "statistics" are in the bottom 25%. Mathematically, by any measure you choose, there is always going to be a bottom 25% -- but my guess is that for the most part, the kids with the lower SATs probably have very high high school GPA's or class rank. A college might overlook weak test scores for a student who has excelled academically; and a college might overlook an uneven GPA for a student who has extremely strong test scores -- but they aren't likely to admit the student with both weak test scores and a weak GPA.

    So in one sense it's not a surprise at all that some these high GPA/low test score kids often end up doing well in college. A kid who performs better than test scores would indicate is likely to continue that pattern.

    I doubt very seriously that the top schools admit many students who are incapable of doing the work if they put in effort. They may very rarely make an error in judgment, but the kids with the lower test scores are getting accepted because the ad com sees something else in their records that indicates they are an appropriate candidate for admission.
  • calmomcalmom Registered User Posts: 19,451 Senior Member
    These are the stories that make me wonder: Is a student really better off to attend a high-ranked college and end up with a GPA well below 3.5? below 3.0

    Lgreen -- I think you are making a mistaken assumption -- that the high-ranked colleges are HARDER academically than the mid-ranked colleges. The fact is that many of the elite private schools offer a lot more in the way of support to their students than public U's.

    I mean, for the pre-med crowd, organic chem is a tough course. At an elite school, the class size may be small, the student may have an opportunity to work directly with their prof during labs or find it easy to arrange to meet with the prof to answer questions. If the class has TA's, they are likely to be very capable and knowledgeable-- after all, they are themselves grad students at an elite college.

    If the choice is a mid-ranked college, the student may find the competition just as tough -- after all, the material that must be covered is the same -- and also find that the class is taught in a huge lecture hall, with hundreds of students. TA's may be far less helpful -- my own experience was that my Chem TA did not speak English, which really limited the usefulness of dialog with him. And of course grading was done on a strict curve based strictly on exams.

    I think that the academic expectations at my d's elite school are very high, but I don't think its all that hard to pull a strong GPA if the effort is put in. My d. had math & science classes that she seemed to struggle with, but ended up with A's.

    So I think the breakdown is something more like this:

    High-ranked college: hard to get in, high academic expectations, high degree of support for students

    Mid-ranked college: easier to get in, moderately high academic expectations, little support for student, possible large & highly competitive classes in certain field.

    Low-ranked college: easiest to get in, lower academic expectations, easy to excel - but poor college reputation negatively impacts chances for grad school; student has poor preparation for GRE or MCAT
  • siserunesiserune Registered User Posts: 1,625 Senior Member
    calmom wrote:
    My daughter is a junior at Barnard. Her test scores put her below the 25th percentile for her school. Since she attends Barnard, she also takes classes at Columbia (usually 1-2 classes per semester) - where she probably is way below that 25th percent mark. She has earned A's in all the classes she has taken at Columbia, including one class with an A+. She will probably graduate summa cum laude (However, an A- will bring her GPA down, so its possible that she is only looking at magna cum laude)

    The real question is what this young man's study habits are.

    HYPSM are quite a bit more demanding, competitive and IQ-saturated than Barnard, which makes for a less elastic stratification of students. Someone who at entry is consistently pegged at the bottom 25 percent by a variety of measures will not find it easy to jump 70 or even 20 percentiles in class rank through diligence alone. There will be a bottom 20-30 percent (if that) of students at those colleges who underachieve for whatever reason, and one can surpass them through hard work. Beyond that, the competition gets a lot steeper, as many smart(er) people will actually be trying to maintain high grades.
  • lgreenlgreen Registered User Posts: 247 Junior Member
    I know a young man whose test scores place him below the 25th percentile of one of the nation's top schools (think HYPSM) but who was admitted there, presumably on the basis of his other accomplishments. When we last spoke, he had not yet decided between that school and a public school where his stats would be far above the norm.

    Update: The young man chose the in-state public school. I don't know whether academic rigor was a factor in his decision, though. There were other issues, such as finances and distance from home.
  • ShrinkrapShrinkrap Registered User Posts: 11,788 Senior Member
    Duke tells you what number out of how many you are, right below your grades . Don't know if students notice this, but I did.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 68,534 Senior Member
    DD will get her diploma regardless of where she stands %age wise in her class.
  • lololulololu Registered User Posts: 1,429 Senior Member
    Ha! My younger son's ambition for college is "to be the stupidest student at the best school I can get into" because he hates having to deal with kids who just don't get it. He would rather work really hard to keep up then to wait around for others in the class to catch on. The same way socially, he would rather feel pushed then dragged down.
  • toblintoblin Registered User Posts: 1,862 Senior Member
    It's been observed:

    "The A students will end up working for the C students."

    (I forget the part about what becomes of the B students.)
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