I graduated from CS from a university in Canada. Although I did pretty well, I cannot help but wonder what would have happened if I had gone to a different university. For example, I cannot help but suspect that if I had gone to Stanford or MIT, that my GPA would have been lower (but maybe not). And if it had, by how much. This is perhaps just an ego thing, but I want to know how much my achievements actually measure.

Is there at least a qualitative way to estimate how well/bad you would have performed in one institution vs another? I know that it's very volatile since it depends on courses taken and professors. But it should at least be somewhat consistent across the same field.

  • You could imagine doing some kind of regression controlled by some parameters like GRE scores. But I expect the error bars would be huge. Even if there is such a procedure, I'd consider its output to be basically meaningless. – Nate Eldredge Sep 24 '18 at 22:33
  • Do you know of previous students from your program who have gone on to Stanford or MIT? If yes how well did they do compared to the locals and the non-locals? – ZeroTheHero Sep 24 '18 at 22:58
  • One of my professors went to stanford to get his masters and PhD then came back to the university to do research and teach. But I never asked him about his GPA, didn;t seem appropriate. – Makogan Sep 24 '18 at 23:15
  • Why would you want to do this? Like one of the answers mentioned, if you went to a different university, you'd have aligned yourself with the expectations, pressures and the competition at that university. If your university only expected you to study 5 a hours a week, that's what you'd do. On the other hand, if you had to put in 10 hours a week just to get above the passing line, you'd have put in that effort. There's no way to compare. Even if there is some relationship statistically, there are so many other factors at play that any such "study" would be meaningless. – WorldGov Sep 25 '18 at 5:46
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    The answer to the question is "no". That doesn't mean that some won't try... – Flyto Sep 25 '18 at 9:00

This can't be done. Life is too much of a chaotic system to draw this kind of comparison. If you had gone to Stanford or MIT, perhaps you could've found yourself so outmatched by brighter minds that you quit due to depression in your first year. Or maybe you'd have been spurred on to do better, and reached new heights you'd never have dreamed of. Or maybe you'd have, as Jon Custer put it in a comment, met the perfect guy/girl, formed a rock band, and dropped out to tour the world to sold-out venues world-wide. There's just no way to tell.

Don't be mired in the past and wonder about what might have been. Look at the future instead.

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There is no way to do this for an individual. I suspect that if you had gone to MIT instead of wherever, you would have "played the game" at a higher level. The competition would have been more extreme, but so would be the helps. Knowing the stakes you would probably have worked a bit harder, etc.

For masses of people, statistics can tell you something about those masses, but not about individuals. If you did fine, be happy with it.

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    Or they could have met the perfect guy/girl, formed a rock band, and dropped out to tour the world to sold-out venues world-wide. Life is funny that way. (Mostly inspired by Brian May, who finished his PhD in astrophysics in 2007 after a pretty successful career with this small band called Queen). – Jon Custer Sep 25 '18 at 2:08

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