Here’s a post from CollegeConfidential that struck my interest.
What differentiates the most competitive colleges from the other colleges is that the most competitive colleges have such an overabundance of students with high stats that they can choose students who also demonstrate the passion, creativity and independence to pursue their interests. Because the students at the top universities are so smart and highly motivated (graduation rates range from about 80%-97%), the faculty and administration doesn’t have to concentrate on making sure that students graduate. That’s typically not a worry.
Instead, the faculty/administration can focus on creating a campus atmosphere that literally allows students to run with their talents and interests.
An example: In the student newspapers of the second/third tier colleges that I advised, the faculty was telling journalism majors not to work to hard at the student newspapers because their gpas may be hurt. These were students who were putting in perhaps 15 hours max a week to produce thin weekly newspapers. The students also often were getting class credit for the work they did at the papers. Depending on the school, some of the students were getting paid $1,000-$5,000 a semester for their work.
By comparison, Harvard produces a daily newspaper, and students spend up to 30 hours a week in unpaid positions to produce the newspaper. None of the students are journalism majors. Most get no pay. Most do not plan to enter journalism careers. They get no course credit for their work. They have to compete to get unpaid jobs at the student paper, and hundreds of students try out for those jobs. They do this for the pure joy of it.
The same would be true of students involved in music, intramurals, community service, theater, etc. Virtually all would be self motivated and doing it for the pure fun of it.
This isn’t most people’s idea of fun. The Ivies (probably particularly H,Y) are filled with students whose idea of fun is doing activities that others would regard as work or things to do simply to fill one’s resume, fulfill course credit or to be able to get a job.
Most other campuses are more likely to have a preponderance of solitary intellectuals or students who are in college mainly in order to eventually get a good job. “Fun” to them may be heading to a campus football game, frat party or something similar, not doing something like directing a play or producing a musical. That, to them would be work — something to do only for class, and to do up to the level that would get them the grade that they desire.
Read on for a description of what I think is an ideal student.
If the readers here who mention the snobby factor and the desire for a high paying job only knew my D who goes to an Ivy…she is the most opposite from that image as one could get! Anyone who knows her would say so. She never sought prestige. She kept quiet about college admissions in high school. Never would advertise where she was applying or got in, as she would not wish to stand out in any way. Didn’t try to become val, just did the best she could do because she likes to do her best. Did become val but it was never the goal. Never participated on CC but when she perused it once and saw the “what are my chances threads” and posts about wanting an Ivy as a college selection criteria, she could not relate. We do not live n a competitive town or they didn’t go to a competitive HS. It wasn’t a competition with others but merely a drive toward personal goals.
After she got her admissions offers and narrowed down her schools to three, she knocked out her acceptance to Penn, as a Ben Franklin Scholar but went back to visit Tufts and Smith which she liked better than Penn (who cares if Penn is an Ivy, the other schools fit her better in her mind). If she wanted a high paying job, I doubt she’d have picked architecture. This winter at a ski race I went to that she was at with her team from Brown, I noticed that so many racers in the lodge had on sweatshirts from their respective colleges and actually, Brown is the most “elite” or only Ivy in their league, but did she put on a Brown sweatshirt? NOPE…she put on her soccer team sweatshirt from high school and I asked why she didn’t have on her college sweatshirt like many others did and she said, “I went to public high school and proud of it!” (most of her teammates went to private schools) My kid is so not into designers and labels. You’d have to know her. I recall when she used to shop for clothing when younger and she’d get it home and cut off any labels that appeared on the clothing! Well, I could go on but you get what I mean!