Top 5 Colleges That Will Kick Your Butt

Hardest Colleges

by Ben Shestakofsky

There are dozens of colleges out there with a reputation for academic intensity. But which schools run their students through the most demanding curricula, the most rigorous courses, and the most staggering obstacles to maintaining a social life? Enroll at one of these colleges and you're guaranteed to spend days and nights poring over textbooks and puzzled by problem sets. Even if you're among the most dedicated scholars, overachievers or self-proclaimed dorks, these five colleges will kick your butt and and expect you to ask for more.


5) Carnegie Mellon University

“Our QPA (our version of a GPA) is almost a half point below most other comparable schools. There's no grade inflation, leading to very tough courses.”
- Rob, Senior, Engineering major

"We will challenge you to dig deeper, try harder, work faster, work better—in every possible way."
- Sophomore, Biology major

"The workload is sometimes so overwhelming that it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel."
- Colleen, Freshman


4) University of Chicago

“Let's put it this way: the all-night level of the library is one of the most social places on campus.”
- Amelia, Sophomore, Anthropology major 

"We are delightfully hardcore here. Be prepared to be surrounded in class by a lot of students who did the readings more carefully than you."
- Amy, Junior, English Language & Literature major

"It is the most academically rigorous, intense, and merciless school in the country."
- David, Sophomore, Sociology major


3) Swarthmore College

"Students study like mad, and the professors willingly pile on more work than you can really handle."
- H, Alum, English major

"I barely sleep several days of the week."
- Brendan, Sophomore

"I'm dating a Williams graduate who was Phi Beta Kappa and I must say that her experience does not sound anywhere near as grueling."
- V, Alum


2) Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“MIT keeps whatever ego I might have in severe check. Just as soon as it starts to creep out, here comes a test grade, or here comes an impossible problem set...You'll more than likely fail a test or two (if you're lucky, only a test or two) before you graduate. Guaranteed."
- Carolina, Sophomore, Engineering major

"Sleep. Social life. Schoolwork. Choose two."
- OA, Alum, Electrical Engineering major

"If you're at MIT, you were probably the smartest person at your high school, and you will very likely spend the next 4 years feeling like a complete idiot."
- TG, Sophomore, Engineering major


1) Reed College

"Reed will drive you crazy. If it doesn’t, you didn't do it right."
- Michael, Junior, Religion major

"If you graduate with a 2.0 then you're an A student anywhere else."
- Jeremy, Senior, Biology major

"Academics at Reed are brutally hard and will probably make you cry at least four times each semester."
- J, Senior, English major



(to see the full Top 10 List, click here)

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