6 answers

Is it better to go to a lower-ranked school and get a 4.0 or a hard school?

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6 answers

Cheryl’s Answer

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This is a personal choice. We call this picking a "best fit" college. Some students would rather be "rock stars" on campus, building confidence, and being recognized for their work. (smaller campus or less of a brand name) Others want the prestige of a brand name school, but note that it is YOU who will determine your success. These schools typically tend to be more competitive. Only you can answer best fit. Here are some things to consider:
1.) Size: Do you need to speak with professors, or are you ok with classes of 200? Do you know how to advocate for yourself, seek academic support if you need it? Bigger schools require more patience and self-advocacy.
2.) Location: How far away from home are you willing to be?
3.) What can you afford? Look for schools with generous scholarships, whether financial need-based or merit (grade) based.
4.) Major: Do they have 2-3 majors, or areas of interest for you. You might change your mind over time. Look closely at what classes you will take for the given major/specialty.

There are many other factors, but this gives you a start.
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Phillip’s Answer

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Cheryl offers several good points about picking the right college for you. I would offer another consideration: how much do you really want to learn while at school? I'm not just talking about learning skills but to learn critical AND independent thinking. Getting a 4.0 in college doesn't guarantee that you'll learn anything. Barely passing doesn't mean you'll learn anything either. The same holds for a school with high or low name recognition. I would argue it's more important to go to a school where you can learn to think critically and independently as opposed to getting an easy 4.0 or high name recognition.

I've met individuals who graduated from elite schools who are highly competent and critical thinkers, and I've met other individuals from the same schools whose ability to think for themselves was embarrassingly lacking. Vice versa, I've met individuals from "easy" schools who are highly competent and critical thinkers. Likewise, I've met individuals from these same schools who lacked independent and critical thought.

Of course, the choice is yours, but looking for "easy" vs. "hard" or "high name recognition" vs. "low name recognition" would be low on my criteria list.
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Shenelle’s Answer

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This is all dependent on what you want to pursue as a career. If it's really important to maintain a high GPA for post-graduate studies, you should look into the averages of classes you will have to take for your major. Another thing to take into account is the amount of support you will get from your school. Some school, though prestigious, won't have the same level of resources that smaller/private schools might have.
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Richard’s Answer

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The point of a college education is to gain skills - both tangible and soft - that will help you excel in the job market after graduation. As such, you should attend a school where the classes challenge you and teach you skills that will help you after graduation. You can attain a good GPA if you work diligently, which you should so you can become proficient in the course content. Your focus should therefore be on the course content, not the grade, because focusing on the former will improve the latter.
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Estelle’s Answer

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Henry, that is a very good question. Your GPA is very important in your medical school application, and it serves to show medical school application committees how hard you are willing to work in your education. Pick a college where you will excel academically and broaden your world view. A 4.0 makes the application stand out easily, so I think that should be one of your main priorities.
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Blake’s Answer

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Hey Henry,

The goal for college is to best equip you for a career. A 4.0 is really just a number, but what you learn is what matters.

Thanks,
Blake
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