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Does undergraduate school really matter?

  1. Apr 27, 2010 #1
    All of my friends are applying for the Ivy leagues and other renowned universities as an undergrad and all of them of course plan to go onto other equally renowned universities for graduate school.

    So here is my question, once you do get your graduate degree (Masters or Ph.Ds), how much do people care about your Bachelor's?

    I mean do grad schools even accept people from the same undergrad? Let's say I finished my bachelor at Berkeley's, and I want to continue my graduate studies at Berkeley, do you think they will even look at your application as oppose to someone from a different undergrad?

    So i guess what I am saying is, is there really an advantage for people who go to renowned undergraduate schools? Any real benefits? I mean is the quality of education that much different? (RateMyProfessors seem to say otherwise...) Do people go there for undergraduate studies just for the name???
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 27, 2010 #2


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    I know here at Cornell we kind of push the undergraduates away to encourage them to go somewhere else for grad school. That sentiment always made sense to me, although I know not how widespread it is.
  4. Apr 27, 2010 #3
    But a nice graduate degree is better than a bachelor from an unknown undergrad institution right?

    So what is the advantage of this strategy?
  5. Apr 27, 2010 #4
    Its far more important what you do while an undergrad than where you go. You should go to whatever university will give you the best chance to participate in research opportunities. Once you finish grad school nobody will care about your undergrad. But you can certainly get into good/ the best grad programs from schools that are not Ivy league. I am not saying it doesn't help to go to a well known undergrad because it definitely can help but it won't kill your chances at a good future if you don't. I think most schools encourage their students to go else where just because its important to get a new experience, but I know plenty of people who have stayed at their undergrad institution.
  6. Apr 27, 2010 #5
    Not very much. I think where you go does matter, but not because of what people think about the degree. The big thing that you need to worry about is getting a good education and finishing the degree.

    It depends on school to school, but the answer is that generally graduate schools strongly discourage undergraduates from the same school. Personally, I think it's a good policy. My undergraduate was a small big name school. My graduate degree came from a big massive public school. Going to two different types of schools was better than going to one type of school.

    Quality is very individual. My undergraduate school was very good for me since it fit the way that I learn. The quality of the classroom instruction isn't that good, but you learn a whole bunch of stuff outside of the classroom. There are other big-name schools that I would have totally hated going to.

    They shouldn't.
  7. Apr 27, 2010 #6
    Not necessarily. What matters is less the degree than what you do with it.
  8. Apr 27, 2010 #7
    Would you elaborate on that some? What do you recommend one should do to put a degree from an unknown institution to use for graduate school (or maybe a job)?
  9. Apr 27, 2010 #8
    What is important is that you go to a school that will let you accomplish all your academic goals as an undergraduate. In fact, it's good to go to a school that is strong enough in your particular area that it would give you more opportunities in your area than you could reasonably pursue--this way you have some freedom to pick and choose and eventually excel in your studies, and if you find that one opportunity doesn't work out you can fall back on another equally good one.

    For really super ambitious people, such schools are often the top ranked ones but not always. But the rank itself doesn't matter much.

    Most people who apply to the top schools do so because of the name recognition. And most people, naturally, are rejected. Those who get in are in general those who make a strong case in their applications that they actually care about the opportunities provided by the school rather than the name and that they will make effective use of these opportunities.
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