Are selective colleges more difficult?


Choosing a college can be a real minefield. Knowing where you want to go in the country, as well as which school is best for your major and interests seems almost as complicated as the work you will end up doing there! Should you aim for a selective college? Would the workload be more difficult?

College Selectivity

Selective colleges can be a little pickier with the students they accept into their programmes. With this, comes a level of prestige for students who do make the cut and an added value for any degrees that come from there. A student who manages to get accepted into a selective college is evidently an exceptional student from the start which is a great thing to have on your resume. Generally speaking, selective colleges take less than 10% of the applicants they receive and therefore they have a very high caliber of students.

How are these schools different?

The general average grades of selective schools should, hypothetically speaking, be higher than less selective schools as they should have a higher proportion of overachieving students. Of course, this is not necessarily the case as every student, school and major is different, and college is about what you do while you are there, rather than your high school achievements. If you work hard at any college, you can end up with a fantastic degree.

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Does this affect the teaching?

If you are teaching a class in which the majority of students are very bright and have a good grasp of the subject, you can move at a quicker pace and perhaps touch on more challenging ideas and concepts. The difficulty as a student would be where you are placed in the class. For example, if you get into a selective college, you may find yourself in the lower half of the class and struggle a little, whereas if you took the same class at another school, you could end up at the very top percentage of the course. It’s all about perspective. There is also a chance that a selective school’s prestige attracts a higher caliber of lecturer and professors and so from that point of view, the teaching could potentially be better – of course, that is very subjective.

So is the workload harder?

There is nothing to suggest that the actual work is harder at a more selective college. A degree in English Language from Stanford University should not be much different in level or content to the same degree at the University of Maryland for example. The proportion of higher achieving students may be greater at Stanford, but there is nothing to suggest that the work would be more difficult. That said, grading may be a little harsher in a selective school as your grades may be compared to other students in the class, who should be scoring very highly. Any comments about the difficulty of a state school vs. a selective college are only really anecdotal and is not a requirement of being a selective school.

If you are worried about the difficulty of work in a selective school, it’s important to remember that you would not have been accepted if they did not think you could handle the level of work. Choose the college that’s right for you and things will work out.

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