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    aaah! this is why I'm a lil confused :confused: but its good to hear what you all think!!!

    what I'm going to try and do is get the best of both go to harvard for undergrad then oxford for postgrad (if they'll accept me!!!)
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    Ste\/o - i can't actually remember what i wrote, but when talking about workloads, i think i was talking both about at school and at university - whereas oxbridge pile on the work at uni, but you don't have the same thing whilst at school (generally speaking). i think there might be an argument to made for saying that continual assessment at HYMPS is tougher than oxbridge, because everything you do matters, and you have to stay on top of everything all the time. at oxford - particularly in humanities - i think it is possible to not do that much work until your final term, because its all assessed by finals. i know a lot of english/history/philosophy students at oxford don't really do that much work...but i'm really just being a pedant.

    basically harvard and oxford are two great universities and you'll come out with a great degree from either. on the point of research/not concentrating on undergrads, this is true for most of the ivy league. princeton is supposed to concentrate on undergrad study the most, though, and so of the ivy league is actually the "best" for undergrad experience. apparently.


    (Original post by J'en ai marre)
    But universities like York, Durham and Edinburgh all have more applicants per place than Oxbridge. Do you think that means that they're better?
    Oxford and Cambridge are just as often people's first choice as Harvard is for its applicants.
    Is it necessarily a good thing to spend all your time working?
    i think you've missed the point with your first argument. yes, york, durham and edinburgh get more applicants - but then so does nottingham trent. its not just volume of applicants - its volume of quality applicants. assuming that all the brightest students in england apply to oxbridge, and all the brightest americans apply to harvard, then, statistically, harvard should receive 6 times the number of quality applicants, as america's population is ~6 times the size of britain's. also bearing in mind that these americans work insanely hard at school, you have a huge pool of excellent students applying for slightly less places at harvard than you do in england. so harvard has to be extremely selective to even whittle down this huge group of outstanding students even a little bit. on top of this, harvard also have all the insanely clever indian students applying, because they can get full-grant scholarships to study there, which i don't think is possible at oxbridge.

    oxbridge is people's first choice in england, harvard is people's first choice in america. to make generalisations. but that's just because the universities are within the country and thus easier to apply to. i don't think it really says anything about how good either school is, comparatively. if you got an offer from cambridge and one from harvard, you'd probably think long and hard, then choose cambridge, as it is an amazing uni, its cheaper, and its closer. not necessarily because it's 'better' than harvard.

    and you ask whether its a good idea to spend all your time working? i'd say no. but then that's what they expect at HYMPS or oxbridge, so not sure what your point is there...

    anyway, as i said, they're both great unis. my only real point in writing my first post was to point out that one shouldn't dismiss harvard because of some weird american admissions criteria. and does anyone think harvard wouldn't still be top - or at least top 3 - if research wasn't a criteria in these tables? this debate is probably getting a bit irritating and pointless by now...but just to say, oxford climbing to 3 in the world is due to peer assessment of research conducted there. if research was omitted, i think oxford would suffer in the tables more than harvard.

    thankyou for your time. just to reiterate: i'd rather go to oxford. i'm just giving my opinion on harvard.
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    (Original post by xedx)
    Ste\/o - i can't actually remember what i wrote, but when talking about workloads, i think i was talking both about at school and at university - whereas oxbridge pile on the work at uni, but you don't have the same thing whilst at school (generally speaking).
    I think if we're looking at schooling then we have to be careful. Most people at Oxbridge actually went to private schools or grammar schools, so in all likelihood they did work pretty hard. As for the people who went to comprehensives, they were probably very self-motivated - if this weren't the case it's unlikely they could have made up for the less-than-perfect teaching. I'm not saying everyone works really hard, as there are clearly some people at Oxbridge who are a bit lazy, but on the whole I think everyone is pretty motivated and lazy is more of a relative term!

    (Original post by xedx)
    i think there might be an argument to made for saying that continual assessment at HYMPS is tougher than oxbridge, because everything you do matters, and you have to stay on top of everything all the time. at oxford - particularly in humanities - i think it is possible to not do that much work until your final term, because its all assessed by finals. i know a lot of english/history/philosophy students at oxford don't really do that much work...but i'm really just being a pedant.
    This is an interesting argument, and one I have seen often. The difference with the American system is that it is not nearly as difficult to get a 4 in a single class as it is to get 1st class honours in a paper (at least, that's my own impression, but obviously I haven't studied at an American university). If you're diligent throughout the year and pick the right classes then maintaining a 4 GPA is quite a realistic possibility, even if you're not ridiculously bright. Getting 1st class honours at Oxbridge is a completely different ball game - you have massive exams at the end of the year, and you have to show you have mastered a lot of material. If you haven't been working hard throughout the year you don't really have any chance of getting a 1st. This is my view, anyway. I personally think I would have found continual assessment better, because I know I work steadily throughout the year and my marks would hopefully reflect that. A 1st is quite an elusive thing, however, and no amount of work can guarantee one (but it can increase the odds ).

    I take your point that there is a lot of variation between the subjects at Oxbridge. I suppose at Harvard everyone works very hard, because they are taking a number of courses, whereas at Oxbridge it just depends on your subject.

    (Original post by xedx)
    i think you've missed the point with your first argument. yes, york, durham and edinburgh get more applicants - but then so does nottingham trent. its not just volume of applicants - its volume of quality applicants.
    I think this is the point she thought you were missing, although clearly, as you've shown, you are aware of it. The point is that the number of students applying to Harvard does not tell you everything. Can you honestly say that everyone applying to Harvard has the grades to get in? You're not allowed to apply to Oxbridge unless you have 3 As at A-level, which already places you in the top 10% of the country. Even then, some of these people will be afraid to apply. Harvard simply doesn't have any self-selection to cut down the number of applicants.

    (Original post by xedx)
    assuming that all the brightest students in england apply to oxbridge, and all the brightest americans apply to harvard, then, statistically, harvard should receive 6 times the number of quality applicants, as america's population is ~6 times the size of britain's. also bearing in mind that these americans work insanely hard at school, you have a huge pool of excellent students applying for slightly less places at harvard than you do in england. so harvard has to be extremely selective to even whittle down this huge group of outstanding students even a little bit. on top of this, harvard also have all the insanely clever indian students applying, because they can get full-grant scholarships to study there, which i don't think is possible at oxbridge.
    This is a much more convincing argument, but there are some notable assumptions. Firstly, is America as a whole as well-educated as the UK? From what I've heard the state education system in the US is pretty dire. I know our own isn't great, but hey, it's all relative! Secondly, you keep saying that Americans work really hard at school, but what is your evidence? I'm just a little skeptical about this, but you may be right. Thirdly, is Harvard everyone's first choice in the US? America has loads of brilliant universities, whereas the UK only has 2 that really stand out from the pack (ok, I suppose we could mention LSE as well). You said yourself that the smart student would consider places like Princeton, which offer a superior educational experience to Harvard and similar if not equal prestige. Some also consider going to Oxbridge, although this is probably a small number. However, if you were a maths genius then you might well apply to Cambridge, as Cambridge has the top undergrad course in the world, and the International Olympiad Champion almost always chooses to study there. Finally, you don't seem to be aware that Oxbridge attracts a lot of insanely intelligent foreign students as well. There is a quota for how many foreign students British universities can accept, however, so it is extremely competitive.
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    hey-

    i've written up a post somewhere round here - look up "all posts by me" or whatever - on the differences between american ivy league and oxbridge, at least from the perspective of a US student.

    if you really want to see what it's like on the other side, you can always do what i've done - i am theoretically a third year student at princeton but am right now studying at st. catherine's oxford! study abroad programs in the states are abound and encouraged so there's always that option (some of my friends have gone to china, france, australia, italy, india...)

    i think, after being here for a little while more, i will post something new on this topic.....
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    Just to clarify what I said about GPAs vs the honours system, as perhaps it came across as a bit biased... I think they're quite different systems that favour different sorts of people. There will be some people with a GPA of 4 who probably wouldn't get 1st class honours in the UK, whilst I have no doubt that some people with 1st class honours wouldn't be able to maintain a 4 GPA either. With the way the examinations are structured, I think the HYPS system tends to reward diligence whereas the Oxbridge system gives you a bit more slack, providing you get the work done in the end. I don't think this means we work any less hard overall, and indeed the downside is that your hard work may not be recognised if you fluff up your final exams (sometimes you may not have many, but it depends on your subject). I think it's this uncertainty that spurs people on to work even harder - it certainly did for me.
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    ah the recurring thread.

    If you aren't entirely sure of what you want to do, then Harvard is better. Transfering to different subjects at Oxford is done, but it's much harder, and you usually need to do something similar.

    Whether Harvard is better than Oxford is an open question, and no amount of discussion will make it come to a conclusion.

    The one thing I will say is this: Ivy League unis (from my limited experience) are not necessarily the mythic areas of learning that the general public thinks they are. The incredibly brilliant students go to lectures and classes, write essays, take exams and so forth just like the rest of American unis. The difference is that, on the whole, they have smarter students, have more "qualified" professors, better facilities and a degree that is worth more compared to American universities in general.

    Oxford, on the other hand, more closely resembles the myth: The tutorial system really does tend to teach (at least in arts subjects) much of what it claims.

    And as clara mentions, if you're successful at Harvard, you should definitely visit for a year. It really is "the best of both worlds."
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    (Original post by sTe\/o)
    Just to clarify what I said about GPAs vs the honours system, as perhaps it came across as a bit biased... I think they're quite different systems that favour different sorts of people. There will be some people with a GPA of 4 who probably wouldn't get 1st class honours in the UK, whilst I have no doubt that some people with 1st class honours wouldn't be able to maintain a 4 GPA either. With the way the examinations are structured, I think the HYPS system tends to reward diligence whereas the Oxbridge system gives you a bit more slack, providing you get the work done in the end. I don't think this means we work any less hard overall, and indeed the downside is that your hard work may not be recognised if you fluff up your final exams (sometimes you may not have many, but it depends on your subject). I think it's this uncertainty that spurs people on to work even harder - it certainly did for me.
    By the way, I found this sort of interesting. LSAC, the general organization that handles law school admissions in the US (law schools are a 3 year graduate degree ONLY in the US) takes every person's transcript and translates it into a common scale. I only know a 1st and a 2.1, but apparently they translate as follows:

    1st is a 4.0
    2.1 is a 3.25

    It seems pretty harsh on the 2.1 and overly friendly for the 1st (I think there have only been 5 4.0s at Harvard in the past century), but that's the way they do it.
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    (Original post by zoraster)
    By the way, I found this sort of interesting. LSAC, the general organization that handles law school admissions in the US (law schools are a 3 year graduate degree ONLY in the US) takes every person's transcript and translates it into a common scale. I only know a 1st and a 2.1, but apparently they translate as follows:

    1st is a 4.0
    2.1 is a 3.25

    It seems pretty harsh on the 2.1 and overly friendly for the 1st (I think there have only been 5 4.0s at Harvard in the past century), but that's the way they do it.
    I actually thought a 1st was seen as a 3.8. It really doesn't seem fair, though, to even try to compare them as if a GPA or honours class is so generic. They say you can compare a 1st at one university to a 1st from any other other, and the same for GPAs, but I don't believe this for a second.
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    (Original post by sTe\/o)
    I actually thought a 1st was seen as a 3.8. It really doesn't seem fair, though, to even try to compare them as if a GPA or honours class is so generic. They say you can compare a 1st at one university to a 1st from any other other, and the same for GPAs, but I don't believe this for a second.
    well, i don't think it's particularly fair either. But law school admissions people (or whatever admissions) will look at a 1st (or the 4.0 that it converts to) as better than a 1st from brookes. Just the same as getting a 3.95 from South Missouri State will probably not be looked at in the same was as a 3.95 from Princeton.

    I think a 1st probably is looked at closer to a 3.8 in general, but this is the way that LSAC translates the grades. The problem is that in order to report statistics, everyone's grades have to be put on the same scale. And law schools care immensely about it because it's that GPA that affects their standing in US News&World Report. And US News' hold over law schools is greater than any other ranking of schools I can think of.

    and it may not be fair to force the highest scoring people at Oxford to take a subpefect GPA.
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    Okay, I have a question on a side note. Since when is "astrophysics at Yale" so intense? Yale sent me some sciences email (for some unknown, strange reason), and I didn't even know they bothered with sciences until I read it.

    I, admittedly, am not a fan of Harvard, Yale or Princeton. It is completely un-personal and streamlined at an undergraduate level. That said, I do like the research side of their graduate programs and the funding available.
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    (Original post by zoraster)
    well, i don't think it's particularly fair either. But law school admissions people (or whatever admissions) will look at a 1st (or the 4.0 that it converts to) as better than a 1st from brookes. Just the same as getting a 3.95 from South Missouri State will probably not be looked at in the same was as a 3.95 from Princeton.

    I think a 1st probably is looked at closer to a 3.8 in general, but this is the way that LSAC translates the grades. The problem is that in order to report statistics, everyone's grades have to be put on the same scale. And law schools care immensely about it because it's that GPA that affects their standing in US News&World Report. And US News' hold over law schools is greater than any other ranking of schools I can think of.
    The world really has gone mad.

    and it may not be fair to force the highest scoring people at Oxford to take a subpefect GPA.
    True, but I think the honours system is so outdated anyway. If you get a 2.1, it is very difficult for people to tell where you ranked in your year group, even though you could have been only marks off getting a 1st. I personally would like to see Britain convert to a GPA system, although not necessarily based on continual assessment.
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    (Original post by Gryffindor)
    Okay, I have a question on a side note. Since when is "astrophysics at Yale" so intense? Yale sent me some sciences email (for some unknown, strange reason), and I didn't even know they bothered with sciences until I read it.
    I don't know. It's just a story. Take it with a pinch of salt, I guess.
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    (Original post by xedx)
    i assuming that all the brightest students in england apply to oxbridge, and all the brightest americans apply to harvard, then, statistically, harvard should receive 6 times the number of quality applicants, as america's population is ~6 times the size of britain's. also bearing in mind that these americans work insanely hard at school, you have a huge pool of excellent students applying for slightly less places at harvard than you do in england.
    Fewer, not less
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    (Original post by J'en ai marre)
    Fewer, not less
    pedantic, not substantive.
 
 
 
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