Well, that's the difference between universities in the US and around here in Europe. There, you have to be rich to get through. Over here, you have to be smart, because universities can afford dropout rates around 90-95%.
Tuition is cheap (and if you're halfway intelligent, free) around here. So, as one may assume, the auditorium is packed in the first semesters. I mean literally. Get there early or you won't even get to stand on the stairs (to get a seat, you should be in at least an hour before it gets going). If you want to get into a seminar, camping in front of the place where you get to register might be a good idea. It's not exaggerating too much when I say, the best friend of a new student is his sleeping bag.
That in turn means that tests are brutal for the first few semesters. I do not exaggerate, at least 9 out of 10 students will not even get past the first semesters.
But that also means that everyone, literally EVERYONE who holds a degree from my university is one of the top 5% of the people in the field. Else, he would not have that sheet of paper.