Jump to content
  • 0

Should I explain why I went to a lesser-ranked undergraduate program?


flowingdata

Question

So after finishing high school in China, I immigrated to the U.S., and first matriculated at a "lesser-ranked" public university (~27th among all public schools), before I transferred to a top public university where I got my bachelor degree. And now I am applying to a CS master at Stanford (mainly a industry oriented program). I know that admission committee puts some weight on the prestige of undergraduate programs (source: how elite schools admit Ph.D., assuming some of the processes apply to masters also). What I'm wondering about is, in the "additional information" section on my application, should I explain why I went to a less prestigious school at first place? I chose to go there because of proximity and affordability (that was the only in-state university I got into back then, although I spent only a few months on applying to U.S. universities after I came here). I'm afraid not explaining it would leave committee an impression that I wasn't as academically strong as the other applicants who have good scores from elite schools.

The other parts of my application are relatively strong, stellar GPAs, good GRE & LORs, industry experience (not at the big companies, but a unicorn startup in Silicon Valley), some research experience, etc.

Any suggestions? Thanks in advance.

Edited by jennywang
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 answers to this question

Recommended Posts

  • 2

Others may disagree, but I would say definitely don't mention it. Your stats and research/industry experience speak to your ability to succeed in grad school far more than the prestige of your undergrad institution, and plenty of people who kicked ass at no-name schools get accepted to top programs. If anything, the fact that you worked hard and transferred to a better school should reflect positively on you. Is Stanford the only program you're applying to?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 0
25 minutes ago, dagnabbit said:

Others may disagree, but I would say definitely don't mention it. Your stats and research/industry experience speak to your ability to succeed in grad school far more than the prestige of your undergrad institution, and plenty of people who kicked ass at no-name schools get accepted to top programs. If anything, the fact that you worked hard and transferred to a better school should reflect positively on you. Is Stanford the only program you're applying to?

Hi dagnabbit, thanks for your advice. Do you think mentioning it would risk reflecting something negatively about me, or simply because it's not worth wasting readers' time since it wouldn't help with my qualifications anyway? Stanford is not the only program - but I'm applying to a total of only 3 or 4 graduate programs this year, which are the ones I see a clear fit and I really want to go to).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 0

It's just not worth including. Your application file should highlight your strengths, and a statement about why one facet of your application isn't as strong as it could have been seems unnecessary. If you attended the first school because you were in a dire financial situation or something, maybe you could include a bit about that in a personal history statement if any of the programs you're applying to require one. Otherwise, don't worry - it sounds like you have a strong profile. Good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. See our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use