Advice desperately needed: UW or Harvard?

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by tg78, Apr 6, 2002.

  1. tg78

    tg78 Member
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    I posted this on the pre-allopathic site but thought that those of you who are actually in med school might have some good advice for me. Please help if you can:

    I desperately need advice. This application cycle has gone better for me than I ever could have expected. I have been accepted to both my state school (and a very good state school at that-Univ of Washington) and to Harvard (never, ever would have guessed this with my 30 MCAT and 3.47 GPA). Now I have to choose. I have family in both Seattle and Boston so that is not a big factor. I would rather live in Seattle but like the Harvard curriculum and medical community much better. I know the big H name would open a lot of opportunities but the cost and potential debt is a little overwhelming. I want to go into Primary Care so would it be hard to pay off the big debt (I should say that I have some resources to pay for school so the big debt for me would not equal $200k)? And since UW is actually ranked #1 in primary care, would I get as good (or even beter) prep there as at Harvard?

    I know I am incredibly fortunate to be in the position to choose from 2 fantastic schools but it is a hard decision. I would greatly, greatly appreciate some advice...
     
  2. Bandit

    Bandit Senior Member
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    I have no advice for you. I just wanted to say good for you.
     
  3. THE instiGATOR

    THE instiGATOR Cow Tipper
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    How can you be certain you want to go into primary care. If you think Harvard may open more doors, why not just go with it (in case you change your mind).
     
  4. tg78

    tg78 Member
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    Primary care is what attracted me to medicine. Am I positive it will still be what I want to do 4 years from now? I am pretty sure but can't say 100 percent. Do you guys think Harvard would open many more doors for me? I guess I really am intimidated by the $$$...
     
  5. THE instiGATOR

    THE instiGATOR Cow Tipper
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    I wouldn't go to Harvard if I knew I wanted to be a primary care physician and I had the opportunity to go to my state school.

    $0.02
     
  6. coop

    coop Senior Member
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    just wanted to say that this isn't just ANY state school. UW is a great school, I've heard wonderful things about it. I would say you should definately go there, it's not worth the debt, plus you can match just as well from UW. Certainly the primary care education will be better at UW, that is a focus, whereas Harvard tends to be quite research focused, save the money and get a better education, just with a slightly less nice name :)
     
  7. Vader

    Vader Dark Lord of the Sith
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    I think Harvard would open many more doors for you, even if you decide on primary care. Coming from Harvard, you will have a one-up on other applicants when applying for residency, especially if you are looking to go on to a top academic residency. One of the things I didn't realize until the interview stage and really not fully until I started medical school is that a big part of your experience is who your classmates are. At Harvard, you will have an incredibly diverse group of people who are incredibly bright and have a wonderful array of life experiences. I think it would be one thing if there were family or financial circumstances that made UW a better deal. However, it sounds like you have family at both places and isn't an issue. You have to assess whether the extra debt is worth going to a place like Harvard for you.

    I wouldn't put too much faith in the primary care (or any) rankings, by the way. You should find the factors most important to you and see which place you fit best. Ultimately, the decision is yours. Hope this helps. :D
     
  8. alina_s

    alina_s Senior Member
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    Congratulations on facing this decision. If you're interested in primary care, I'd vote for UW. There are some great options there in rural and urban primary care and native american outreach programs. I'd also like to respectfully disagree with Vader; although I'm sure he's right about the bright and interesting classmates, I don't think that a research-heavy school like Harvard is going to offer the best preparation in the unglamorous area of primary care. It might even work against you; I went to Stanford as an undergrad and worked in research for a few years and when I interviewed for summer jobs this year, a few people thought it was odd that I was interested in the IHS.
     
  9. snaggletooth

    snaggletooth Member
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    Go to Harvard. If you don't you'll kick yourself down the road. Why did you apply there? Did you look at it as a backup in case you didn't get into your long shots? I mean come on..........now go get the big H, plant it on your wall and smile. Congrats.
     
  10. squeek

    squeek Senior Member
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    Congratulations! That's great...

    I don't go to Harvard (I'm at Cornell, a bit lower on the infamous rankings list), but I went to undergrad in Seattle and worked at UW, and one of my best friends is a 3rd year there. So here's my two cents:

    1) You need to decide for yourself how important "prestige" is. Do you plan to practice on the WestCoast? If so, then prestige won't be as big of a deal as if you want to be on the East Coast (where it is a much bigger deal than it should be). And if you're in primary care, a degree from UW CERTAINLY won't hurt you. In fact, you'll probably end up with a residency at UW, too, as they like to take their own. If you're looking at the East Coast, though, you might want to go to Harvard. (speaking from personal experience, coming from a non-Ivy undergrad, and going to an "ivy" med school. People are shallow enough to be not interested in me until they here the magic word "cornell.")

    2) How certain are you that primary care is your goal? I know a lot of people who change their minds during med school. However, if you are CERTAIN you want to do primary care, I would go to UW. My friend there says that her most challenging clerkships at UW have been the primary care and internal medicine (whereas at Cornell, for example, primary care is an 'easy' clerkship).

    3) Finances do play a huge role in decision-making, especially if you want to go into primary care.

    I, personally, would have gone to UW, except for the fact that my husband was applying to grad schools, and there weren't any with programs for him in Seattle.

    Good luck!
     
  11. Kashmar

    Kashmar Junior Member
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    Where would you be happier? Since you have family in both areas it wouldn't be too difficult to spend time on each campus before reaching your decision. Try to get a feel for the quality and attitudes of the student body and faculty. Visit the financial aid offices and explain your concerns about financing and how they will likely impact your decision. Don't underestimate how important your classmates will be in shaping your career. Above all chose the school that you in your heart want to attend.

    Congrats.
     
  12. tg78

    tg78 Member
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    Thank you all for your advice...

    At the moment I am leaning towards harvard mostly because I am afraid if I went to UW I would alway wonder "what if". I am not even close to sure though. I do plan on spending some time on each campus and trying to get some financial aid info in the next few weeks.

    Thanks again...
     
  13. DNALadder2002

    DNALadder2002 Senior Member
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    tg78,

    without a doubt, I would choose UW over Harvard! If you have no interest in research, there is no need to go to Harvard. UW prepares students well for the boards, you receive an excellent education, and seattle is far better place to live than Boston. Boston is an expensive city and the tuition is high. Harvard has tradition and money. Good luck with your decision.
     
  14. Vader

    Vader Dark Lord of the Sith
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    I think some of you are making the mistake of labeling Harvard as a research school. Yes, research is a major focus and they receive gazillions in NIH funding, but Harvard also has a plethora of opportunities available in primary care, public health, community involvement, etc. A large percentage of Harvard grads do, in fact, go into primary care (anyone have access to the data on US News?). The bottom line is that Harvard has the resources to be (and in fact IS) much more than a "research" school.
     
  15. Soupbone

    Soupbone Member
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    There is a book titled..

    "Harvard - America's Medical School"

    Whether or not you agree with that title you must at least admit it is debatable. U. Wash is a great school ...but so are a lot of other med schools. Harvard is universal.


    Call me a sucker for admiring such a brand name that more times than not produces great product.

    S0upb0ne
     
  16. Detroit Mick

    Detroit Mick The Supinator
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    Harvard.... no doubt about it!
     
  17. doughboy

    doughboy Senior Member
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    Like one of the previous posters said, its all about the prestige. Everyone has that ego lurking around that needs to be fed. Can you live with the fact that you passed up Harvard? I don't think you can pick the wrong school between the two. Its just a matter of living with your decision. The grass is greener on the other side all the time for anything in life. Almost everyone dreams of going to Harvard growing up and you have the chance to fulfill it.
     

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