Urgent: Is Davidson too hard??

I am currently deciding between two schools and Davidson is one of them. The main concern I have about Davidson is the stress culture and academic workload/grade deflation. I have heard from numerous Davidson students that there is barely a social life Sunday-Wednesday, all people do is study all night in the library only to get a low grade. The average GPA is not as high as I thought which is not good for grad school. I come from an intense prep school with a similar academic culture and I am wondering if anyone can provide clarity on this. Thanks!

Huh? Never heard that one about D. What’s the other school? Yes, there are schools that have tough and rigorous academic environments and atmospheres. But never have I seen D included in that group. Where are you getting this info?

I have heard of grade deflation at D. OP, what were you told wrt average GPA and what is it? Was that info from the school or students?

What have you heard about D academics @homerdog?

These data certainly do NOT indicate that grade deflation is an issue: https://www.davidson.edu/offices-and-services/registrar/graduating-class-profiles

Median grade is a 3.5.

Thank you for this link. I am more concerned with workload in general. Of course I know that college is supposed to be rigorous and I am ready for that, but there is a point where it can be too much and I hoping for some insight on that aspect of Davidson.

It also is a bit surprising that the mean GPA is a 3.4, which is a b+. Not a bad grade, but is that competitive for post grad, nursing school etc.?

That sure won’t get you to med school. If there are certain grad programs you are interested in, contact the Davidson career center and ask what the average GPA is of students going on to X grad program.

That’s a 3.4 or 3.5 at Davidson, not some giant State school.

You’ll have letters of recommendation from professors who know you really well, instead of letters from professors at a giant State school that say “Student X received a grade of Y in my giant lecture course.”

To help you out, it would be helpful to know the alternative school.

All I can say at this point is that Davidson has blown me away with their commitment to providing a kinds, supportive community, the motivation of their students, and the incredible leadership shown by their President (Quillen) during this chaos.

I’ve been on college campuses since 1988 (at all kinds of schools – top 10 schools, small private schools, giant State schools, etc.) and, trust me, Davidson is special.

@Mwfan1921 yes I have heard that Davidson has a heavy workload and grade deflation but I do not think that grade deflation affects med school or law school admissions.

@WMassgirl our kids go to a large competitive public high school outside of Chicago. Lots of APs, lots of stress for top kids. Students do end up at T20 schools. I know two students at Davidson and they both love it but even though most students at our high school would say they were very prepared for college work, these students did say getting As at Davidson was pretty rough and the work load was a lot. I know these kids’ ACT scores and weighted GPAs from our Naviance so I can see they did very well in high school. Like I said, though, they love it at Davidson and feel supported.

Many students feel like college work is more than high school work even if their high school prepared them well. Our S19 is at Bowdoin and he feels that expectations are higher in college too but also feels supported and happy to be working hard.

Do you know any students at your high school you can ask about Davidson? Or can Davidson set you up with some of their students to talk through your concerns?

Last minute add- s19 was down to Davidson versus Bowdoin after being accepted also to Carleton, Grinnell, Kenyon, Hamilton, and William and Mary OOS. He never considered Davidson’s workload as a deal breaker and we think he would have loved it there. He just felt the vibe at Bowdoin was more his thing. Our D21 is considering EDing to Davidson. I think it’s an amazing place!

One more thing! I think it’s normal for an LAC to not have much social life from Sunday through Wed. S19 doesn’t do any socializing until the weekend at Bowdoin. He’s slammed with work the whole week and works for hours on the weekends as well.

Is the other school Furman? If so, yes, I think Davidson would be more work.

Another wrote:

“but I do not think that grade deflation affects med school or law school admissions”

Needs to be examined in context.

Grade deflation does impact med school admissions; also impacts law school admissions but to a lesser extent.

Re: Post #3 above. The chart shows a rising median GPA over the five years.

Davidson College has for many, many decades had a reputation for heavy workloads & grade deflation. But, according to the charts referenced above in post #3, grade deflation is becoming much less of an issue.

OP shared:

“I come from an intense prep school with a similar academic culture” = high stress, heavy workload, & academic grade deflation

OP: Not sure which prep school you attended, but if it is one of the elite prep boarding schools such as Groton, Exeter, Andover, or St. Paul’s, then you should not worry.

P.S. I think that elite colleges with demanding academics may be a more difficult adjustment for top students coming from schools with heavy AP curriculums.

Thank you all for your responses! I go to Deerfield Academy and yes, Furman is the other university I am looking at. I am a B+ student and that is with a lot of effort/work. My concern is that since Deerfield was extremely stressful, I am not looking to repeat that experience.

@WMassgirl: What do you want to study in college ? Any career in mind ?

P.S. What I am really trying to focus on is whether your stress was derived from trying to memorize lots of information or from the process of analyzing & synthesizing issues & information.

I am planning on studying Nursing post grad, so I would have to be on the pre-health track at Davidson and probably would minor in the health and human values. I would consider majoring in studio art or psych

As for the stress in highschool, it was mainly the workload. I was at school from 8-7 at night and then would have up to 4 hours of work. Not necessarily the material itself but the quantity…which contributed to why I had a low-ish GPA.

I am familiar with Deerfield Academy & other elite prep boarding schools–including daily life.

I encourage you to view your school related stress as derived from the way in which you approach your assignments.

@WMassgirl You have more time to decide? Yesterday was May 1!

As for college workload, I think kids at top LACs do a lot of work. S19 had a similar high school work load. Class all day, XC or track every day until 6:00, homework until 11:30 or midnight. He would say his college work is spread out more and each day is different because, of course, he’s not in class from 8-3. Most days, though, he’s either in class or doing work from 9-4 then he has xc/track practice/dinner until 7:30 and then he’s back at the work until midnight. He works a lot on the weekends too, to the point where he doesn’t feel like he can ever afford to take a whole day off.

I will say this though. He’s pretty intense and really wants good grades. We’ve told him that it’s ok to breathe a little more. We are not expecting straight As nor does he need them to be gainfully employed after college. He would say that it’s pretty easy to get a B and lots of his friends spend way less time studying than he does and get Bs. BUT, in order to get an A or A-, it’s a LOT more work for most classes.

My point is that heavy workloads can create energy if approached as a puzzle / problem solving exercise. This means that you are looking to understand rather than to memorize.

(This discrepency is most pronounced & most visable among first year law students.)

@homerdog davidson generously gave me until Tuesday to decide if I am accepting an offer off their waitlist. I am looking to have great professors and receive a good education, but I also want a well rounded college experience where I won’t feel bad if I took a day off on the weekends. That is true about the way I viewed work in highschool, more of a checklist of assignments I had to do rather than the understanding behind it. Thank you all for your insight!