Urgent: Is Davidson too hard??

Also, @WMassgirl remember that you’ll get to choose the classes you want and there will likely only be four classes instead of seven or eight. You’re somewhat in control of your schedule. You can choose to take one more entry-level class each semester that will likely be less work than the others. I think you should go for Davidson. I think it’s a special place with friendly students and very supportive faculty. D1 sports so likely more energy around campus than Furman. Less southern than Furman and coming from NE prep school, Furman might be a bit of a shocker in that light.

I don’t understand why you would save nursing for graduate school if that is your career interest. You would save time & money and would be better served professionally by using your graduate school years to pursue a nurse practitioner degree, a master’s degree, or a PhD. You would also have the option of going directly into nursing upon graduation if life circumstances at that point precluded grad school.

There are top colleges which have 2-year nursing programs designed for transfer students who have the right prerequisite courses in their first 2 years. Emory, for example, has such a 2+2 program with the first 2 years at another college and junior/senior years at Emory. UPenn is another similarly prestigious program with a 2+2 program. University of Virginia has a program which students enter in sophomore year and spend 3 years at UVA. Proper planning for the right prerequisites would be essential to enter after freshman year. They are specific about what courses are required. The other option is to do it as a 2+3 program. These are programs specifically designed for transfer students. There are a number of other nursing schools with similar options.

Hey there, could you tell me how you created a new thread. I’m also interested in applying ED to Davidson.

This is absolutely true about Davidson. Folks saying they’ve never heard it does others a disservice- feigns knowledge when it’s just ignorance. If they’ve had 100 conversations with alums and it never came up, that’s one thing. I graduated in 2019 and cannot tell you how frustrating it is to be in this position. I think lots of us going to LACs did not necessarily give much if any thought to our lives after college and were (understandably) so focused on getting to school fitting in, making an impact, and all of that. It becomes clear very early on at Davidson that you will not be able to graze the stratosphere of the realm of the echelon of grades you’re accustomed to getting and would get elsewhere for the same level of work. It is a massive recalibration of grading and frankly self-worth. Despite all of this I had a great experience and it was an almost perfect fit, but from a practical perspective, it’s hard to justify. Lots of kids have a tougher time socially and work-wise. But be honest with yourself about what you’re getting into. I wish I had known about or given more thought to this.

But isn’t college about learning and stretching yourself and not necessarily about the grades? I get it that kids need a strong GPA for grad school, law school, med school but those programs recognize Davidson for sure and Davidson does very well with placement. As for jobs, I’ve seen the alumni network at work and they do seem to really help the students once they get out into the world. I’m not dying to send our kids to a college that gives easy As.

It’s difficult to answer that in an unbiased way. Obviously yes. I’ve lived that, so don’t want to come as condescending. In other words, you don’t really need to be offering that opinion to me directly, but understand if you’re playing devil’s advocate. It is to some extent, and I’m glad I chose LACs for that reason and in the long run it will probably all be well in good. And that is the standard rebuttal and a just one. But in the 2020 economy, which I’ll assume you might not be too familiar with from the perspective of a recent grad, let alone one interested in finance or other hypercompetitive spaces, the disadvantage we incur from grading like that outweighs the benefit. You need to consider the size and location of Davidson, amongst other things, in asking yourself if grads will have an easy time justifying poor grades. I think we do get placed well in the long run and you will see plenty of alums get great jobs across the board, with some HBS acceptances being a potential crown jewel, depending on your worldview. But every year more grads place poorly. We have really subpar initial rankings. And I’m jaded right now as one of those folks, so maybe ask me in two or so months, and the school had nothing to do with COVID. But every year grads petition the school (even those with excellent jobs immediately) to adjust the de facto (and largely un-communicated policy to those inside or outside the school) to fix deflation for deflation’s sake, which is what it comes down to. Yes, I worked much, much harder for poorer grades than those at peer schools, but did that enrich my experience or did I learn enough from having to work that much harder to make up for what the kid at Haverford picked up alongside his/her shiny GPA badge? Probably not. I don’t look at resumes as a recruiter, but if the Davidson montra of an A is a B, which myself and others think is too generous, then it’s a major problem, as with the typical resume, you’d start to wonder if something is wrong at about 3.3, while at Davidson this is an impressive outcome in lots of majors. Think about the message you’re sending as a school if you systematically lower the GPA. Do Davidson students have some internal error that causes them to underperform across the board relative to their peers at similar schools? No. We likely would have continued our positive growth trajectory that we had earned our entire lives up until that point. And this is what recruiters expect, rightfully so. This is what high schools expect when accepting kids from middle school and so forth. So unless the recruiter truly, truly knows the school, and even then, you’re up against it. If the school’s point is to teach some kind of lesson to us, that part is working.

I’m hoping over time the extra work there pays off, which it well could, and I’m proud of being able to do it and definitely got some sense of fulfillment- though the grades didn’t help. The principle is important. And the network is great to your point. But if you’re thinking about college more unsentimentally and frankly, smartly, who knows. If you yourself are paying for a large portion of it, this is a must-consider issue. You don’t want to have to rely on others goodwill to get a job that you deserve and are qualified for.

That being said, I don’t think colleges should be nor do I like the thought of them being professional factories. LACs are a great respite from that madness. But moderation is key here, as those of us graduating would like to find proper jobs and not be relegated.

So how much of a problem really is this? Is it only for students wanting to go into certain competitive industries like consulting or finance? What do you mean by a “proper” job?

I’m wondering if it’s more the location that is the issue since maybe more Davidson alumni who could help don’t live as often in places like NYC. It is likely true that there are a lot of LACs in the Northeast that graduate students competing for jobs in that area of the country and that those companies might not be quite as familiar with Davidson. Did you investigate this before you chose Davidson?

It’s legitimate. Do any amount of research and my stance will be corroborated- don’t take it from me, in other words.

No, like I said, it is widespread and does not discriminate by major, although some are certainly harder than others. And not every economics major, for instance, wants to get into finance. Law school is an excellent, additional example where graduates struggle immensely. 3.22 average GPA for those applying is the number I’ve seen cited. As you might expect, almost no amount of “admissions counselor understanding” is enough to compensate for this disparity. Amongst other things, they do not want to lower their average scores put on their websites.

You’re spot on about location. Our options are thus confined much more to the South. I’m from outside of Boston, so living that reality as I apply all over the map. And that’s the big catch, I did not think about it, which is why I’m trying to be helpful to this prospective student (while your comments have had the opposite effect.) I thought along the lines you initially mentioned here. And I appreciate that, because life is more than work and the LACs are a unique and worthy experience. But it’s important to think of all the contingencies.

You’re asking a lot of a high school senior to, on their own, give extensive thought to how their education will affect their job prospects in a more granular sense. Obviously, better school, better prospects. But beyond that, I really didn’t understand some of the nuances, as almost none us did. Almost no one knows economics or business before college. I also did not know what I would want to do (as many do not, and LACs are designed specifically to cultivate.) Had I known beforehand attending an LAC would largely defeat the purpose (though not entirely.)

I also (understandably) did not have a full appreciation for how competitive things are today. The school approaches these types of issues like it is operating a few decades ago. I listened to folks like my parents, who echoed much of what you’re saying, but am now left holding the bag in a sense. Things will turn out all right, but there was not enough communication on this front beforehand (or during.) Any amount of research will indicate that the job market approach sufficient in 1970 does not work today, and that becomes exponentially more true since then (a bigger difference between 2015 and 2020 than between 1970 and 1980.)

HESmith- start your own thread. There are a lot of parents on here with a wealth of experience hiring in a wide range of fields. You will get a lot of suggestions on how to pivot. There is no such thing as the “job market”. There are hundreds of job markets. How you approach getting hired as an anesthesiologist has no bearing on how to get hired as a market research analyst at a pharmaceutical company, even though both people may have majored in bio at Davidson…

Thanks for the thought in principle, but yikes work on that delivery. I think I have a strong take on the situation I’m in and don’t really appreciate the other sentiment there. And what I’m saying is extremely relevant to the initial post, once again, unlike your suggestion. I’m not looking for help getting a job, but am looking to help a prospective student understand what this situation is like. Just because you are somewhat older does not mean you have a stronger understanding of what my scenario is. That type of conceited attitude creates a lot of problems, suppresses other (real and lived) perspectives, and guides people into making bad decisions.

Obviously there are multiple, segmented markets. There is a job market broadly, though (clearly you were not an economics major) that encompasses those and forms their aggregate. Grade deflation across the board, as I mentioned before, hurts the prospects of each of the theoretical students you described. And I think in my previous post I mentioned that people with the same major often pursue different paths, so not sure what that point was. However you want to describe the prospects students face after graduation (stick to your distinction above if you like) artificially lowering grades does not help students.


Good thing Davidson publishes mean and median GPA graduating class data. Not sure I am seeing current grade deflation in these numbers.

Class of 2020: 3.484 Mean GPA/3.553 Median GPA
2019: 3.443/3.516
2018: 3.431/3.515
2017: 3.377/3.444
2016: 3.356/3.403
2015: 3.348/3.408
2014: 3.315/3.350


Yes I’m familiar with that. Thankfully they do not break it out by major. Lots of kids shift towards cushier ones because of how brutal the more technicals are. I’m not interested in trying any more than I have to convince to folks who have made up their minds in advance and have no information on the school, although that’s an understandable stat to reference and won’t fault you for it.

It’s also in the school’s interests to dispel any notion of deflation and make those of us who mention it seem disgruntled. Just do a little online homework and you will see lots of testimony. Feel free to compare that to other schools. Or just read this post!

You did say there was grade inflation ‘across the board’, which does not seem to be the case based on the data. I don’t need any more than the data to inform my decision.

With a current 3.5 mean and median GPA, how low could one of the ‘technical’ major mean/median GPAs be, assuming a ‘cushier one’ is closer to 4.0?


Sorry about that error. To answer your point, lots of folks end up in easier majors because they recognize early on how infeasible the tougher ones are. And like I said, the school doesn’t break out the numbers. So the weighting is towards the easier majors with better GPAs. Maybe my major is especially tough, but this problem affects lots of kids. Poli Sci in particular has a similar go of it. I’m not writing all of this to see myself type.

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Like I said before, I loved and continue to love the school, but not a fan of the deflation and think prospectives should know. Believe the positives about the school because those are true too. But especially someone from a Deerfield Academy who has explicitly mentioned stressful environment as a turnoff is worth informing. I was actually on campus for 4 years and know those stats, which have already been mentioned, so little presumptuous to keep throwing them forward- major false equivalency.