Smittyballz

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I was wondering if there is a ranking system used to measure how hard a school is in order to weigh out one's grades. Example Harvard 3.0 compared to small state school 3.8. Which one is better or are they equal??? :)
 

Pemulis

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There's no hard methodolgy here. In general better grades and--more importantly since its independet of school--better MCAT scores, are prefereable to having gone to a top tier school. Of course in the case of a borderline applicant, having gone to Harvard or something might break things in your favor.

I have been advised however that it's important not to take your pre-med courses at a "no name" school, i.e. community college, a little known state school, etc, because if the adcom is not familiar with your school, or it has a reputation as not being academically serious, they will look down upon it. So in general, don't worry too much about where you go, just as long as its somewhat reputable (a state u with a decent reputation is fine) and concentrate on kicking butt once you get there.
 

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Pemulis said:
There's no hard methodolgy here. In general better grades and--more importantly since its independet of school--better MCAT scores, are prefereable to having gone to a top tier school. ...
... So in general, don't worry too much about where you go, just as long as its somewhat reputable (a state u with a decent reputation is fine) and concentrate on kicking butt once you get there.
I agee. The more prestigious schools sometimes have bad reputations for grade inflation, so their students are not usually given much leeway for lower GPAs. The MCAT is considered the great equalizer -- if you have a 4.0 and a 35, the 4.0 is going to be considered more "valid" than if you had a 4.0 and a 25, regardless of the school.
 

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I've been told by an ADCOM member that the medical school definately takes into consideration where you're going to school, and realizes that a B at a top school might be an A elsewhere. I've taken classes at both my school (an Ivy) and my state school, and can tell you with 100% confidence that the state school is much easier (there was no standard curve like there is at my school, and there were no A-, B-, etc, only +'s). THAT BEING SAID, If you've taken classes at both your school and a state school, they'll compare how you did at both; the bottom line, though, is that they want to see you do well wherever you are.
 

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nvshelat said:
I've been told by an ADCOM member that the medical school definately takes into consideration where you're going to school, and realizes that a B at a top school might be an A elsewhere. I've taken classes at both my school (an Ivy) and my state school, and can tell you with 100% confidence that the state school is much easier (there was no standard curve like there is at my school, and there were no A-, B-, etc, only +'s). THAT BEING SAID, If you've taken classes at both your school and a state school, they'll compare how you did at both; the bottom line, though, is that they want to see you do well wherever you are.
Well, I don't know what state school you're talking about, but here at Cal Poly we do have minuses (and pluses) and it's hard to get an A. For example, in my hematology class, there were only 2 As out of 19 people and over half the class got a C+ or below. It has been like this for many of the other classes I've had too, and the professors get in trouble with the administration if the class average isn't a C+ or below. I've heard that Berkeley (still a state sponsored school) is like this too. It's very difficult to get a 3.8 or above. I'm so tired of Ivy league people being dismissive about state schools. How is it that much more of an achievement to get an A at an Ivy league school when half the class gets at least a B?
 

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There is some kind of correction factor for the difficulty of the school, but I would rather get a 3.8-4.0 at a community college or something like that than a 3.5 at a more competitive university. This is provided of course, that you're able to score double digits on your mcat sections.
 

wilson04

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Intro:
If you don't want to waste a lot of time, the below puts forth a very rough estimate that a 4.0 from a state school is worth approximately a 3.25 from a top top school. A priori, I think this gap sounds a bit large (I'd pin it around a 4.0 = 3.4 or so), but read through if interested...

Methodology:
I looked at 6 'top' schools chosen at random (ie, I didn't look at their scores and then choose them...these are just six of the schools I perceive to be among the top): Amherst, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Stanford, Yale. This group is large enough to create a good sample size, but small enough for me to complete the project in under an hour (I don't have much of a life, but I'm trying to hold on to the bit I do :laugh: ).

I also took 6 random schools that aren't bad schools; they're just large state schools whose classes might be conceived as easier: Florida State, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Rutgers, Tennessee, Texas A&M. Plus, I have special ties to all these schools, so that's why I chose them ;) .

And, yes, this test is subjective by my personal decision on 'top' schools with tougher academics and schools where classes might be a little easier.

I then went to mdapplicants.com and took the mcat and gpa for each person from the top schools and entered those into a spread sheet. I calculated the MCAT/GPA ratio for each person, and then took the average of that ratio for the entire group, as well as the standard deviation. I repeated the process for the state schools.

Results:
The ratio for the top schools was 9.91 with a standard deviation of 0.93. That means that a normal candidate at a top school will have an MCAT score of 9.91 X GPA. About 75% will score within 3 points of that figure. This means that, _on average_, a top school student with a 3.5 GPA will average just under a 35 MCAT (9.91 X 3.3 = 34.7). About 75% will score between a 32 and 38, with a couple more being on the lower side of that scale.

The ratio for the state schools was 8.238, with a standard deviation of 1.05. Just as it is with the top school figures, this means that a student from a state school will have, on average, an MCAT score of 8.238 X GPA, and that about 64% will score within three points of that score. This means that, on average, a state school student with a 3.5 GPA will score about a 29 (28.8), and that about 64% will score between 26 and 32 (again, with a couple more students on the lower end).

Now, we can also take a gander at what a 4.0 at a state school approximately means at a top school...

Let's start multiplying 4.0 by our state school ratio: 8.238. This gives us: 32.952, which is the rough estimate of the MCAT score for somebody who gets a 4.0 from a state school. Comparatively, by dividing 32.952 by 9.91 (the top school ratio), we find out that a student from a top school who scores a 32.952 would have a GPA of about 3.25.

Caveat:
Yeah, there are a couple points I glossed over for the sake of not spending an entire afternoon on this (I've already spent an hour because I'm really slow at entering numbers). You may say that state schools or top schools get better test-takers in relation to their grades, but I'm making the assumption that tests in school and the MCAT are similar enough, that the grades are actually a good predictor. Or it may be possible that once students get to top colleges, they just decide to slack off. Who knows.

In any case, take it with a grain of salt, but I think it's worthwhile and interesting data/information.







Smittyballz said:
I was wondering if there is a ranking system used to measure how hard a school is in order to weigh out one's grades. Example Harvard 3.0 compared to small state school 3.8. Which one is better or are they equal??? :)
 

notdeadyet

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wilson04 said:
Intro:
If you don't want to waste a lot of time, the below puts forth a very rough estimate that a 4.0 from a state school is worth approximately a 3.25 from a top top school. A priori, I think this gap sounds a bit large (I'd pin it around a 4.0 = 3.4 or so), but read through if interested...
Yikes! No disrespect to the person who did the bit of data crunching, but it's ultimately faulty. This sample of data shows that smart people get into top schools. Less smart people get into local state schools. This does not imply that smart people do not go to local state schools and succeed.

I would listen to Law2Doc. Ivy's and many other top schools have BIG problems with grade inflation. A recent article in Newsweek cited the example that it's gotten so bad that Princeton is trying to crack down and enforce more realistic grades (65% of students graduated with a B+ or better).

AdCom's are undoubtedly aware of the fact that top schools are much harder to get into than graduate out of. The MCAT is a leveler. An A from Harvard is just a plain old A. There are tough professors and easy.

Go to an accredited school and get A's. If your MCATs are strong, no one will turn their nose up at your choice of schools. That said, be careful about taking all science prereqs at a Junior College, as some medical schools do not permit this.
 

Lindyhopper

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notdeadyet said:
. . . This sample of data shows that smart people get into top schools. Less smart people get into local state schools. . .
It's interesting that this reflects the common assumption. But with all that intelligence and Ivy covered prestige, I hope a superior undergrad education reflects itself on verbal reasoning & science performance tests.
 

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I've spent some time at some light-weight state party schools where the reputation of the school was based on how bad the football team beat the crap out of the other school's team. Ivy league teams would leave the field in stretcher's if they ever went there. We also could boast to maintaining the highests per capita of hot well-tanned honnies (is that the plural of honey) of anywhere in the US of A. Need I mention the fraternity I was in was kicked off campus for animal house like behavior

Now what we didn't have....we did not have a polo team...or any nobel laureates....or any skull and bones secret societies with alumni that reside in the most powerful places in the world....or the kind of academic pinache that makes adcom's salivate or feel cozy about or impressed with.

I'm sorry but when someone says Florida State I think of hot girls, when somebody says oklahoma state I think of corn-fed football playing white dudes and wheat fields, when some one says San Francisco State I think of Ceasar Chavez and Malcom X with a raised fist and 10,000 psychology majors smoking m.j. on the lawn. But when somebody says Dartmouth or Yale I think of money and power and prestigious, world-renowned research. Whether that's true or not is entirely beside the point.

Now, perhaps I'm going out on a limb here...but adcoms are composed of invidual human being subject to the same biases and imperfect judgement that all humans experience so to think that where you went to college does not factor into this game is insane from my point of view...but power to the people nonetheless!--Ben.
 

wilson04

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Notdeadyet: I'm a little confused...you say my numbers are ultimately faulty, but then you do not say why or where they are faulty.

You then are entirely incorrect on what my point is with the numbers - perhaps I was a bit unclear in my original post. It is so definitely NOT that smart people do not go to local state schools and succeed. You use as your quote that I say it's a 'very rough estimate that a 4.0 from a state school is worth approximately a 3.25 from a top top school.' Where do I say that smart people do not go to local state schools and succeed? I believe that a good student who goes to a state school will do about the same in life as a good student who goes to a top school.

Rather, my point is simply and non-confrontationally answering the op's question regarding the relationship between grades at a top school and grades at a non-competitive one. I show in my calculations that somebody who gets a 3.25 at a top school will do about as well on the MCAT as somebody who gets a 4.0 at a state school. That-is-it, and you can take it for whatever it's worth; and the way to disprove my humble point is by actually showing me where my numbers are wrong, because I'm not trying to prove anything else but instead letting you decide if that's a big gap or a small one, because the results are pretty objective (though the tabulations were randomly subjective, and are unlikely to influence said results).

I'm actually pretty confused as to how you decided part of my point was that people who go to state schools don't succeed. I WISH I finished up at a local state school instead of transferring to a better/tougher school. I think, in my case, it would have been a little easier to succeed and get into med school, because I would have finished with better grades. And, yes, the best way to go about getting into med school is to succeed and do very well wherever you are.

I don't intend to be confrontational (I'm very sorry, notdeadyet, that I probably appear to be so), but I wanted to make sure that my point is a little bit clearer.

Enjoy!



notdeadyet said:
Yikes! No disrespect to the person who did the bit of data crunching, but it's ultimately faulty. This sample of data shows that smart people get into top schools. Less smart people get into local state schools. This does not imply that smart people do not go to local state schools and succeed.

I would listen to Law2Doc. Ivy's and many other top schools have BIG problems with grade inflation. A recent article in Newsweek cited the example that it's gotten so bad that Princeton is trying to crack down and enforce more realistic grades (65% of students graduated with a B+ or better).

AdCom's are undoubtedly aware of the fact that top schools are much harder to get into than graduate out of. The MCAT is a leveler. An A from Harvard is just a plain old A. There are tough professors and easy.

Go to an accredited school and get A's. If your MCATs are strong, no one will turn their nose up at your choice of schools. That said, be careful about taking all science prereqs at a Junior College, as some medical schools do not permit this.
 

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notdeadyet said:
Yikes! No disrespect to the person who did the bit of data crunching, but it's ultimately faulty. This sample of data shows that smart people get into top schools. Less smart people get into local state schools. This does not imply that smart people do not go to local state schools and succeed.

I would listen to Law2Doc. Ivy's and many other top schools have BIG problems with grade inflation. A recent article in Newsweek cited the example that it's gotten so bad that Princeton is trying to crack down and enforce more realistic grades (65% of students graduated with a B+ or better).

AdCom's are undoubtedly aware of the fact that top schools are much harder to get into than graduate out of. The MCAT is a leveler. An A from Harvard is just a plain old A. There are tough professors and easy.

Go to an accredited school and get A's. If your MCATs are strong, no one will turn their nose up at your choice of schools. That said, be careful about taking all science prereqs at a Junior College, as some medical schools do not permit this.

The real reason why so many ivy students get A's is because they're already really good students to begin with. I mean, you take the best students out of every highschool in the country, the kids who almost always get A's, put them all together, and then complain that they still gets A's. How does that make sense? The "problem" with grade inflation is purely one of perception. People who don't go to ivy schools cannot imagine the quality of the students. I know this because I used to be one of those people. Let me tell you, they really are that good. Really. It's hard to believe this and some people are not comfortable with the notion that there's schools where there are virtually no slackers, where everyone is an A student--but it's completely true. That's just how it is. The real problem is with what ivy schools do to try and counteract this perception--they enforce ridiculous curves that make getting an A more a matter of luck than intelligence or work ethic. They do this to appease USNews and John Q Public, who think that all schools should have the same distribution of grades regardless of the quality of their students. Not to worry though; medschools know how hard these schools really are--look at their matriculants, because you're going to see the same 8 New England schools over and over. . .
 

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Lindyhopper said:
It's interesting that this reflects the common assumption. But with all that intelligence and Ivy covered prestige, I hope a superior undergrad education reflects itself on verbal reasoning & science performance tests.
Exactly my point. Assuming you're not allergic to standardized testing/hung over/have the flu/etc., if your quality of education is so good, it will show up on your MCAT. Grade quality varies from school-to-school, professor-to-professor, year-to-year.
 

notdeadyet

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benelswick said:
I'm sorry but when someone says Florida State I think of hot girls, when somebody says oklahoma state I think of corn-fed football playing white dudes and wheat fields, when some one says San Francisco State I think of Ceasar Chavez and Malcom X with a raised fist and 10,000 psychology majors smoking m.j. on the lawn. But when somebody says Dartmouth or Yale I think of money and power and prestigious, world-renowned research. Whether that's true or not is entirely beside the point.
SFSU also has active college republicans and a strong business program, Oklahoma State has a great creative writing program, and I know (from personal experience) a couple of complete druggy, lazy a$$e$ going to Yale.

benelswick said:
Now, perhaps I'm going out on a limb here...but adcoms are composed of invidual human being subject to the same biases and imperfect judgement that all humans experience so to think that where you went to college does not factor into this game is insane from my point of view...but power to the people nonetheless!--Ben.
We all have stereotypes in our heads about colleges (or races or countries, etc.) but when you're a professional, you leave that at the door. I doubt an AdCom is going to see an applicant from Yale and assume they're top notch or an applicant from Florida State and assume they're a partier. That's sloppy. That thinking would be the equivalent of a doctor hearing a patient is HIV+ and assume gay/iv drug user. Stereotypes don't make the rule.

That said, I'd love for my application (and only my application) to read me graduating from Yale. But would I shave 5 points from my MCAT for it? Not on your life.
 

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wilson04 said:
Notdeadyet: I'm a little confused...you say my numbers are ultimately faulty, but then you do not say why or where they are faulty.
Sorry, Wilson, my wording probably wasn't clear. I wasn't saying that your data or calculations were faulty, only that you can't make any conclusions from it.

wilson04 said:
I believe that a good student who goes to a state school will do about the same in life as a good student who goes to a top school.
Couldn't agree more with you there.
wilson04 said:
I show in my calculations that somebody who gets a 3.25 at a top school will do about as well on the MCAT as somebody who gets a 4.0 at a state school.
Not so. I'm assuming your data is correct. Though let's keep in mind that a) mdapplicants is far from representational of your medschool applicants from a given school and b) the sample sizes are too small to put much weight behind them.

The only thing the data shows is that _on average_ people from top schools have higher grades and MCAT scores. That's it. It's not predictive at all.

If I see an app from ANY grad with high GPA and low MCAT, I think "grade inflation". If I see an app with a low GPA and high MCAT, I think "tough classes" or "high aptitude/poor execution". An Ivy name on your degree will not explain one point on the MCAT.

wilson04 said:
I don't intend to be confrontational (I'm very sorry, notdeadyet, that I probably appear to be so)
Not at all, Wilson. I've been around long enough to know that folks probably aren't confronting, even if it may read that they are. And even if they are, how personally can you take it anonymously? It's all good.
 

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At the risk of opening a can of worms, what about throwing Majors into the mix here. In my personal experience certain majors enjoy a significant advantage from a grade perspective. I was an Economics/Computer Science double major who took some advanced Sociology coursework as well for kicks, and I can say, in my experience, that Sociology was a much much easier 'A' than Economics or Computer Science. Clearly this will vary by school, but there would seem to be a general trend on some majors being more 'GPA friendly' than others. I suspect as a non-trad, my undergrad major will be looked at, but I also suspect my application would be more appealing exchanging for a slightly more 'GPA friendly' major and a slightly better GPA. Again, I can only speak from my personal experience, and some schools might have some of the toughest teachers in sociology, but in my case the difference was significant.

Not casting dispersions on those who enjoyed their coursework and did well in areas someone might consider 'GPA friendly'. If anything, if I had known i would eventually apply for med school, I would have strongly considered doing the same. Just following the theme of the thread to try and juxtapose a quantifiable such as GPA with the more amorphus difficulty incurred in achieving that GPA.
 

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My purpose for posting was not to create a cogent, infallible argument, nor to minimize the accomplishments of hard working students from more blue-collar colleges because I am one.

But I've seen this topic come up and the replies are always along the same lines. Someone from a high-powered school talks about how difficult the grading curve is, some from a CC has a 40 MCAT and gets accepted to their top choice and posts defiantly about how you can overcome obstacles and always in response to some insecure post about how they measure up to other applicants.

My point is simple. If the question is asked does it matter what college you go to? Then the most simple answer is yes. If the question is to what degree, well then that's more difficult to guess. It's going to matter less if your state apllicant in Texas apllying to Texas schools. It's going to matter more if you a cali applicant applying to private schools on the east coast. This is a matter of common sense. I'm here to counter all the blowing of sunshine up struggling applicants behinds because I don't see the utility in that. What they need is a serious strategy rooted in the dynamics of the game.
I also find the idea that profesionals are somehow removed from common biases to be absurd. Get around the block a few times and see if your grandiose ideals about the moral nature of a professional education hold up to your experience. In my experience people who spend alot of time in academia tend to have their biases and their opinions of themselves inflated rather than made more truthful.
--Ben
 

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Crake said:
The real reason why so many ivy students get A's is because they're already really good students to begin with. I mean, you take the best students out of every highschool in the country, the kids who almost always get A's, put them all together, and then complain that they still gets A's. How does that make sense? The "problem" with grade inflation is purely one of perception. People who don't go to ivy schools cannot imagine the quality of the students. I know this because I used to be one of those people. Let me tell you, they really are that good. Really. It's hard to believe this and some people are not comfortable with the notion that there's schools where there are virtually no slackers, where everyone is an A student--but it's completely true. That's just how it is. The real problem is with what ivy schools do to try and counteract this perception--they enforce ridiculous curves that make getting an A more a matter of luck than intelligence or work ethic. They do this to appease USNews and John Q Public, who think that all schools should have the same distribution of grades regardless of the quality of their students. Not to worry though; medschools know how hard these schools really are--look at their matriculants, because you're going to see the same 8 New England schools over and over. . .
I agree with this analysis except that I would qualify "best students in the country" with "the best students in the country whose families have alot of cash to throw at their kid's education + a few scholarship geniuses"