Is it actually easier to get into a prestigous school as an undergradute or graduate?

  • Thread starter flyingpig
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  • #1
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closed, thank you
 
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  • #2
marcusl
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It's easier if you are bright, hardworking, rounded and highly accomplished.
 
  • #3
Vanadium 50
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It's easier in graduate school, because by that point the smart students have figured out that a prestigious name is worth less than a quality education, and many of the "less prestigious" schools have better programs than the Ivies. Astronomy? Arizona. Nuclear? Michigan State. Cosmic Rays? Utah.
 
  • #4
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I kinda expected the flame (or the subjective criticism) that "it's not about the name etc...work hard, be smart etc...and you will get in"

I am just doing a stat as from how many people that get into graduate school did their work in a not-so prestigious undergrad.
 
  • #5
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Here's how I think about it:

There are a lot of dimwitted, selfish, and ignorant kids at Ivy League schools at the undergraduate level.

At the graduate level, there aren't.

It's really all about who is better prepared. The prestigious universities' undergraduate programs take in a big chunk of the students who are actually worth something intellectually, so they are more represented in graduate school acceptances.

This means that coming from a not-so prestigious undergraduate institution (within reason) affects you only so much as do its course offerings, teaching quality, environment, etc. Basically, the prestige (or lack thereof) associated with your undergraduate institution isn't double counted (even though it might seem like that if you were to look at acceptance rates by undergraduate institution - which no one can get their hands on).

The real trick is to just be really awesome at what you plan to study. As long as you are really awesome, you will be accepted somewhere good. Just remember, part of being awesome is: studying feverishly, knowing your material well, taking graduate courses as an undergraduate, using your summers, etc.
 
  • #6


I am just doing a stat as from how many people that get into graduate school did their work in a not-so prestigious undergrad.
This isn't what you asked. Graduate programmes are different from undergraduate, the same rules don't apply. Vanadium50 is making this point - 'prestige' and 'great school' don't mean the same thing.
 
  • #7
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I kinda expected the flame (or the subjective criticism) that "it's not about the name etc...work hard, be smart etc...and you will get in"

I am just doing a stat as from how many people that get into graduate school did their work in a not-so prestigious undergrad.
I know one friend of mine from the ee department in my school who got into mit for graduate school, ever heard of florida international university?

see what I did there?
 
  • #8
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This is just a bad question because almost every factor varies too much.

Also, like Vanadium remarked, schools that may hold a lot of prestige in a particular subfield may not hold much prestige in general. Likewise very prestigious institutions may not hold much of a reputation for some subfield of some large discipline.

Sometimes you can get into one of the top graduate programs for your field just by generally getting a high GPA, a high GRE score, and doing some research. In other fields you might have to literally be one of the greatest and most brilliant students in your field in the entire country (and maybe world) to get into the top program. This is generally the case for pure mathematics, for instance.

The final answer: everything varies.
 
  • #9
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Everyone always treats me like a jerk whenever I express my view when this discussion comes up. What's the big deal with the prestegious stuff anyway??? People go to community colleges and are still able to get jobs. After you get out of school get a job, start a family where you went to school wont really mean crap don't you think??
The Ivy league stuff is nonsense to me. Call me jealous and what not and tell me I'm just hating 'cause I can't get in but I don't really see the big deal. "Not all that glitters is gold".
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(on-topic):
Alot of kids really fool around in h.s. They don't give a crap about anything. Then they get to college and start PAYING for school and so the fun and games stop. They get serious and really improve their grades. I think it's easier to get into a top flight school for the grad level than undergrad. For undergrad you'll be going to school for one specific subject ex, medical school, law school and etc so while you're in college you can focus on those subjects you need to look good for that specific subject you're going to grad school for. But in h.s. you're going to college that offers many things and so you can't really prepare for that. You only have your gpa and classes you are FORCED to take and some standardized test. In college you get to pick your classes.
 
  • #10
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What's the big deal with the prestegious stuff anyway???
It's called sales and marketing. Coca-Cola costs more than store brand cola. Tylenol costs more than generics. Same thing.
 
  • #11
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Ive a simple question. say i got into stanford, ucb, or mit for engineering bc of legit academic merit. assuming i continue working hard, how hard is it to get into them for grad school compared to undergrad? thanks.
 
  • #12
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I'm going to start by saying that a prestigious undergrad school is not achieved by GPA and good SAT's alone; those are the given. Usually one needs more than that: a personality, research, significant contributions to EC's, etc. There are some idiots at ivy league schools, it's like that everywhere. However, there are less idiots and more smart kids at top schools. Not to mention the teaching is usually better, and the classes have more substance and rigor to them.
I'm not trying to put down schools which aren't highly-ranked, but there is a definite discrepancy not only in the student population but also the difficulty and substance of the class. This is not always true, either. Though one would be a fool to say that the rigor at MIT is equal to that of University of Texas or some similar school. In my experience with high school friends with whom i keep in touch with, their corresponding problem sets for similar classes are much easier than what we have had to do. Moreover, in the chem dept alone, grad students take the honors gen chem sequence because the class goes in depth to teach molecular orbital theory--something rarely taught in other gen chem courses. I do think it's more impressive to go to a prestigious school for grad than undergrad, depending on the program. Again, it's too variable to give one answer which encompasses all possible situations.
 
  • #13
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Though one would be a fool to say that the rigor at MIT is equal to that of University of Texas or some similar school. In my experience with high school friends with whom i keep in touch with, their corresponding problem sets for similar classes are much easier than what we have had to do.
It really depends on the department, since I thought that the physics program at UTexas was more brutal than the one at MIT. What happens at UTexas is that the problem sets may be easier, but the pass rates are much lower than at MIT. Something about the MIT philosophy is that they give you problem sets from hell, but the pass rate for most classes is quite high. I'm not sure if that makes it more or less rigorous.

Also graduate school and undergraduate are very different. Personally, I don't think that the graduate curriculum at UTexas is any worse than at MIT and in some areas it's better. UTexas has an optical observatory of its own. MIT doesn't.
 
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  • #14
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Ive a simple question. say i got into stanford, ucb, or mit for engineering bc of legit academic merit. assuming i continue working hard, how hard is it to get into them for grad school compared to undergrad? thanks.
MIT physics has a policy (and I think a very good one) of strongly discouraging MIT undergraduate students from taking graduate physics at MIT. Also if you go to a "prestige name" university as an undergraduate, it's a good idea if you don't go to a "prestige name" school as a graduate student. You end up learning more.
 
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  • #15
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Yeah, i was talking about the undergrad difficulty, not grad. UT grad school is pretty good, so i won't be making many comparisons there. However, i feel that those schools by making you face "problem sets from hell" ensure that you really understand the material and are faced with problems which evoke creativity. The same cannot be said at all schools. However when comparing schools within the top 15 or so, the difference is negligible.
I don't see why going to a prestigious school for grad in addition to undergrad is a bad thing. Each school has its own unique character so why does it matter?
 
  • #16
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Yeah, i was talking about the undergrad difficulty, not grad. UT grad school is pretty good, so i won't be making many comparisons there. However, i feel that those schools by making you face "problem sets from hell" ensure that you really understand the material and are faced with problems which evoke creativity. The same cannot be said at all schools. However when comparing schools within the top 15 or so, the difference is negligible.
I don't see why going to a prestigious school for grad in addition to undergrad is a bad thing. Each school has its own unique character so why does it matter?
I think the OP's real intention was that a Ph.D of a subject like Chemistry won't get you a job unless it is from a renown institution.
 

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