How to pick a college?

Is this advice applicable to college search? “If you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re in the wrong room.”

I think it can be applicable to many high functioning students that want to challenge themselves with and against a student body of their peers. I liken it to a good athlete who will only become great if he/she plays against athletes who are just as good or even better than themselves. If your competition is mediocre, can (will) you really maximize your potential as an athlete (student)?

I see some folks on CC that have not really done a good job of saving properly for college and than are “stuck” chasing lots of merit which by default puts their kids at colleges where their kid is “the smartest in the room”. Honors colleges can help a little bit with this issue but at the end of the day there is a reason that the college has to attract high stat students by throwing tons of $$$ at them to get them to attend.

Lastly, one of our close friends kid is at Harvard and it’s the first time in her school life (K-12) she is around her peers. Kids that are as smart as she is and these type of kids really thrive when surrounded by their peers. Could she have attended our local state university and saved a ton of money, yes, but would she be getting the best undergrad experience that she can, likely no.

For our daughter, it remains to be seen how her transfer from Columbia University to University of Washington will go. That said, some of the brightest and nicest students from her high school will be at UW with her, so perhaps I shouldn’t be concerned. Often the state flagships are full of brilliant students.

Yes, but you would be surprised how infrequently that happens.

I think it’s a fair assessment. College is a time to challenge yourself. That said, you can usually find very smart kids at pretty much any school.

It depends on what you are looking for. Some students are used to being the smartest person in the room and have a really hard time dealing with that no longer being the case. However, that situation might lead to an opportunity with an internship or research that might be more difficult to obtain with more competition. Conversely, some students might be tired of not being challenged and want to be pushed to do better. It reminds me of the old joke: what do they call the person who graduated last in their med school class at Harvard? Doctor!