It seems SE users that are not particularly involved in AC.SE are often confused that while questions pertaining to undergraduate students, classes and degrees are relevant to academia, we generally consider them off topic at AC.SE. I was hoping that we could develop a nice summary statement that explains why our help center says:

please do not ask questions about undergraduate-specific issues that could not apply to graduate or post-graduate academicians

Potentially, this could be added to Welcome to Academia.SE!, but at this time, I am not sure what to say.

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    What exactly is the reasoning behind no-UG-specific content, and what is the alternative place to ask undergraduate-related questions?
    – Compass
    Commented Nov 11, 2014 at 15:51
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    Do we have data showing the number of questions that are actually closed because they are undergrad-specific? I stopped voting to close on this ground because it attracted lengthy protests every time (apparently grad school is kindergarten in some places on the globe).
    – Cape Code
    Commented Nov 11, 2014 at 19:50

3 Answers 3


My take, from what I've seen so far, is that most things to do with classes and general struggles with learning seem to apply equally well to graduate and undergraduate. I suppose that 'undergraduate-only' is a good filter for not having to deal with questions about undergraduate admissions, or about all of the folderol that is often very important for undergraduate life and has virtually nothing to do with academics (sports, underage drinking, living in dorms, being able to make your own choices for the first time, etc.).

My feeling, then, is that it's a good policy to maintain, but that it's reasonable to be pretty inclusive about what might still be pertinent to graduate and post-graduate life.

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    I agree with this sentiment. I would love to see a statement(s) that could be added to the FAQ and make our help center text clearer.
    – StrongBad
    Commented Nov 16, 2014 at 20:20
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    These items are "college life" rather than academics of college: sports, underage drinking, living in dorms. Making your own choices is something that happens at every age, including being in a grad program for the first time.
    – MikeP
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 14:47
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    Where do we put these questions instead of Academia.SE?
    – laptou
    Commented Sep 17, 2018 at 16:50
  • @laptou At present, there is no dedicated undergraduate site, though many undergrad-focused questions would fit well into sites like Interpersonal Skills or Personal Finance & Money
    – jakebeal
    Commented Sep 17, 2018 at 17:43
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    @jakebeal But neither of those seems to be a good fit for questions about undergraduate applications...
    – laptou
    Commented Sep 18, 2018 at 17:30

I actually like that there's a no undergraduate-only rule, despite often protesting it's (imo) misapplication. My reasoning, such as it is:

  1. There are some thing that, while generally applying to undergraduates, are very specific to undergraduates, and don't so much apply to the rest of the academic landscape. Because of the nature of most academic systems, one would suspect there are many more of these questions than there are questions about graduate programs and professorships. I think there's some value in keeping the scope of the site somewhat limited, as you can see in some other SE sites that "expert" questions are quickly overrun by non-expert questions. The Biology site comes to mind immediately. I think there are ample resources for undergraduates elsewhere.
  2. Allowing "undergraduate questions" is something of an "Is this on-topic" hydra, because more than other parts of academia, undergraduate education is this odd fusion of academic and social issues. Are roommate issues on topic? The sundry issues of administration? Student loans? "Only some bits of undergrad" is likely as hard and ambiguous to enforce.
  3. That being said, I do often vote against "You have typed the word undergraduate, and now you shall be closed!" for questions where there's a pretty clear answer to the question if you pretended for a moment that the questioner was a new graduate student - most often it seems authorship questions.

My impression nowadays is that we don't really need the undergraduate closing reason as such. Most questions that are closed for being "undergraduate-only" could also fall under the "too specific" label.

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    See this question for previous discussion; this is exactly what we said back then. The undergraduate questions are almost always answerable bu just looking at college admission websites.
    – eykanal
    Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 1:53
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    While I agree that most of the undergraduate-only questions we see can be closed for other reasons, potentially this is because the help center steers those types of users away.
    – StrongBad
    Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 13:37

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