Should this single mom move away from support for higher-ranked full-scholarship medical school?


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vc7777

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The facts:
rainbowbrite76 said:
I'm in the very fortunate position to have several acceptances to great programs. When I say great I mean in my own opinion. Some are not viewed as "prestigious" in general and others are top 20. I'm currently deciding between a prestigious program with a full tuition scholarship or an unranked school with a small amount of scholarship. I'm a single parent and the unranked school is closest to my family. The prestigious program is in another state but I have a good amount of helpful friends in the area. Going to the prestigious program would be easier on my wallet but harder for the child aspect.
Single mom of a pre-teenage child. Thoughts?
 

silleme

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Any chance of the unranked school being able to match the full tuition of the more prestigious school? Also, you'd still be able to take out loans to cover child care but the time for parent/child interaction will suffer either way. How helpful will your extended friend network be in the new location? Guaranteed pickups after school, availability for sick child days, etc? Would your family be willing to do the same for all 4 years, and how close is close? Also the age of the child matters, because if they're not in school yet, it might be easier on both of you if you have them with the grandparents/extended family while in school and have them full-time during the summers and visit on breaks.

I know there are quite a few parents and single parents on here. I believe the consensus will be do what you feel is best for your family. The money will get repaid eventually either way, it is whatever will make your ability to get through medical school with the least amount of extracurricular stress that you need to decide. Whether that's less loan $ to repay, or having those you know you can rely on for child care, the prioritization of all that is up to you.
 
Apr 23, 2013
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I voted not enough information because it's not clear how much debt she'd be in coming from each school. How much less is the smaller scholarship? Would child care costs be substantially lower at the unranked school because of family proximity?

IMO the two main variables are a)total debt after four years and b)how much aggro (both in cost and time) child care is going to cause in each place. There's not really enough information from the original post to to evaluate those things.
 
Sep 12, 2013
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Any chance of the unranked school being able to match the full tuition of the more prestigious school? Also, you'd still be able to take out loans to cover child care but the time for parent/child interaction will suffer either way. How helpful will your extended friend network be in the new location? Guaranteed pickups after school, availability for sick child days, etc? Would your family be willing to do the same for all 4 years, and how close is close? Also the age of the child matters, because if they're not in school yet, it might be easier on both of you if you have them with the grandparents/extended family while in school and have them full-time during the summers and visit on breaks.

I know there are quite a few parents and single parents on here. I believe the consensus will be do what you feel is best for your family. The money will get repaid eventually either way, it is whatever will make your ability to get through medical school with the least amount of extracurricular stress that you need to decide. Whether that's less loan $ to repay, or having those you know you can rely on for child care, the prioritization of all that is up to you.
Getting a full financial aid picture won't come until March/April at the unranked school after the FAFSA is processed. Luckily I have a pre-teen so she does spend a significant amount of time at school and after-school activities. I would want to have someone for a "just in case". I think that would be do-able. My family is about 45 minutes away (including her father) so having the second parent or my parents available at least once per week would be very nice. This is a good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless. I want to be as prepared for residency as possible.
 
Sep 12, 2013
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The difference in debt after 4 years will be about 100K. The new place would have slightly more childcare costs but not significant.
I voted not enough information because it's not clear how much debt she'd be in coming from each school. How much less is the smaller scholarship? Would child care costs be substantially lower at the unranked school because of family proximity?

IMO the two main variables are a)total debt after four years and b)how much aggro (both in cost and time) child care is going to cause in each place. There's not really enough information from the original post to to evaluate those things.
 
Apr 23, 2013
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The difference in debt after 4 years will be about 100K. The new place would have slightly more childcare costs but not significant.
For that much difference in debt + the prestige of the school I'd be inclined toward the full ride, for sure. Unless you think your kid would be really unhappy in the new city.
 
Jul 13, 2011
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I'm a single parent, but I'm not very emotionally attached to my parents...so take this for what it is.
I voted to take the full ride. Childcare can be covered more cheaply than the cost of education. A full ride? That's so wonderful.
Your child really isn't that young. Like you said, she is at school and busy with other activities. I would also check out the school opportunities for your child in the area around the schools. That should also be a factor in your decision. As far as your kid being unhappy goes (if you think she would be) just try talking to her. It's four years and she may worry about making new friends. Aren't you going to have to move, anyway, even if you pick the school closer to family?
If your savings allows, or if you receive enough money from the full ride school, hire a nanny to check in whenever you need her to check in. If you feel it necessary, hire a live-in nanny. That's just my suggestion. I would jump at the chance to not have a ton of debt after medical school! Congratulations! :)
 
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For that much difference in debt + the prestige of the school I'd be inclined toward the full ride, for sure. Unless you think your kid would be really unhappy in the new city.
I think they would be unhappy anywhere, even in the unranked school because that still means they would change schools and be an hour away from dad. Because of the inevitable move to a new school in both programs, I'm inclined to go with the lesser debt/more headaches :laugh:.
 
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silleme

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Luckily I have a pre-teen so she does spend a significant amount of time at school and after-school activities. I would want to have someone for a "just in case". I think that would be do-able. My family is about 45 minutes away (including her father) so having the second parent or my parents available at least once per week would be very nice. This is a good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless. I want to be as prepared for residency as possible.
And possibly a move again during residency...How would that impact the HS years for her? Or is she fully on the mom's becoming a doctor bandwagon? And if all you're looking for is a 'just in case', that should be do-able with the friends as well as family. I think the hardest part might be guilt over missing out on school activities and the courts letting you move out of state. I have family who's not being allowed to move more than 25 miles away from their deadbeat dad, but hopefully you're in a better situation. I second the au pair or nanny idea. Even if it's just for after school/weekends, having a second adult around to help out on a consistent basis would be ideal.
 
Sep 12, 2013
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I'm a single parent, but I'm not very emotionally attached to my parents...so take this for what it is.
I voted to take the full ride. Childcare can be covered more cheaply than the cost of education. A full ride? That's so wonderful.
Your child really isn't that young. Like you said, she is at school and busy with other activities. I would also check out the school opportunities for your child in the area around the schools. That should also be a factor in your decision. As far as your kid being unhappy goes (if you think she would be) just try talking to her. It's four years and she may worry about making new friends. Aren't you going to have to move, anyway, even if you pick the school closer to family?
If your savings allows, or if you receive enough money from the full ride school, hire a nanny to check in whenever you need her to check in. If you feel it necessary, hire a live-in nanny. That's just my suggestion. I would jump at the chance to not have a ton of debt after medical school! Congratulations! :)
I'm not attached to my parents either so that part makes it easier. If I could afford a live-in nanny then I'd be in heaven! Thanks for your reply.
 
Sep 12, 2013
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And possibly a move again during residency...How would that impact the HS years for her? Or is she fully on the mom's becoming a doctor bandwagon? And if all you're looking for is a 'just in case', that should be do-able with the friends as well as family. I think the hardest part might be guilt over missing out on school activities and the courts letting you move out of state. I have family who's not being allowed to move more than 25 miles away from their deadbeat dad, but hopefully you're in a better situation. I second the au pair or nanny idea. Even if it's just for after school/weekends, having a second adult around to help out on a consistent basis would be ideal.
Au pair? That idea had not crossed my mind. I just looked it up and sounds awesome! This is starting to feel so much more manageable :clap:
 
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Jun 21, 2012
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I forgot to ask on your other thread whether these schools have webcast lectures. If they're entirely webcast, outside of labs, you're going to have no problem being there for her almost all of the time she needs you during didactic years. Webcasts are a savior. If you have those, your life will probably have more flexibility than it has had if you've been working fulltime.

Also, don't discount the role that the classmates who'll be your new friends can have. Obviously, it's not something you can count on at this point, but people babysit . . . for free even (at least where I am people are nice enough to do that even for a high maintenance toddler). We're boring lumps while we're studying, so being a lump at your kitchen table while your kid does her own thing in her room is not much of an extra burden (and I for one like being away from my own home/distractions to study best).
 
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I forgot to ask on your other thread whether these schools have webcast lectures. If they're entirely webcast, outside of labs, you're going to have no problem being there for her almost all of the time she needs you during didactic years. Webcasts are a savior. If you have those, your life will probably have more flexibility than it has had if you've been working fulltime.

Also, don't discount the role that the classmates who'll be your new friends can have. Obviously, it's not something you can count on at this point, but people babysit . . . for free even (at least where I am people are nice enough to do that even for a high maintenance toddler). We're boring lumps while we're studying, so being a lump at your kitchen table while your kid does her own thing in her room is not much of an extra burden (and I for one like being away from my own home/distractions to study best).
Yes that was a big factor also. The "prestigious" school does have webcasts and the other does not. Although I want to attend all lectures, having that flexibility will be glorious. Kids are on their own schedule- especially when it comes to getting sick.
 
Jun 21, 2012
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Yes that was a big factor also. The "prestigious" school does have webcasts and the other does not. Although I want to attend all lectures, having that flexibility will be glorious. Kids are on their own schedule- especially when it comes to getting sick.
That's actually a HUGE consideration. I never thought I'd be a webcaster, but boy did I ever discover that I'd just fall asleep if I tried to go to lectures beginning at 8AM . . . better to webcast when I'm awake than take an extra hour of non-restful sleep in front of a professor! And if I didn't get reading done beforehand, I couldn't follow the lecture sometimes, so it was of no utility -- then I still had to watch it at home. If I didn't have webcasting, I honestly don't think I could have done med school (no hyperbole at all).

Webcasting is a huge, huge, huge plus when it comes time to study for exams IMHO.
 

ejw5075

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How far from family/father of this child is the full ride?

Distance matters- 45min-1hr means emergencies are covered, weekends can be split, etc etc

1,000s of miles is much less doable. Unless the goal is to get away from family.

The first two years are easy peesy, doable as a single parent (tho admittedly I have never been financially or emotionally a single parent), but third and fourth year you need another primary care giver- partner, nanny, grandparent, whatever. It is not possible with just before/after care.
 
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How far from family/father of this child is the full ride?

Distance matters- 45min-1hr means emergencies are covered, weekends can be split, etc etc

1,000s of miles is much less doable. Unless the goal is to get away from family.

The first two years are easy peesy, doable as a single parent (tho admittedly I have never been financially or emotionally a single parent), but third and fourth year you need another primary care giver- partner, nanny, grandparent, whatever. It is not possible with just before/after care.
The full ride is a several hours plane ride away. The emergencies are my concern but having friends nearby seems to ease the anxiety. She would spend breaks and summer vacation with dad and the rest of the time with me. Its tough all around but one of the big advantages of having minimal debt after medical school will be the ability to take on her college debt. Once third and fourth year come my mother is open to joining me for extended periods of time in order to maintain a close eye on her. The goal is not to get away from family. I would like to do residency near family and since spots are competitive for that particular region, then I'm hoping I will be better positioned by attended a well regarded program.
 
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silleme

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Seems like it's all starting to make sense in your head. If you know what specific programs you'd be looking at and in what field, check out their matching information and see if that fits into your plans. Also, I'm glad you've got the option of family coming out for some of the time, as that will also help with the mental strain of worrying. If you're not required to make a decision right now, you can always hold multiple acceptances until I think April 15th, but I'm not 100% on that. That should allow you to solidify options and make the best decision for you and your family.
 

QofQuimica

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The full ride is a several hours plane ride away. The emergencies are my concern but having friends nearby seems to ease the anxiety. She would spend breaks and summer vacation with dad and the rest of the time with me. Its tough all around but one of the big advantages of having minimal debt after medical school will be the ability to take on her college debt. Once third and fourth year come my mother is open to joining me for extended periods of time in order to maintain a close eye on her. The goal is not to get away from family. I would like to do residency near family and since spots are competitive for that particular region, then I'm hoping I will be better positioned by attended a well regarded program.
May make more sense for her to spend the school year with her dad, and school breaks (when you and she are both off) with you. That way you could take the free ride, she could still go to school with her friends, and both of you could concentrate on your respective academics.
 
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vc7777

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QuantumJ

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I grew up in a military family and I went to 10 different schools between 1st grade and graduating HS. I only saw my extended family once a year at most due to distance and it's not really that big of a deal. Kids are resilient and I don't think moving will be that big of a deal. The money saved by getting a full ride could easily pay for the child's college and that alone makes this a no brainer. A bigger name school also makes it easier to get lors, research, etc for more competitive specialties.
 
Sep 12, 2013
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Thought has crossed my mind. Rainbow? Care to answer?
Having friends in similar split home situations, I'm very fortunate to have an extremely supportive ex partner. For the most part we get along very well, and although we sometimes have conflicting parenting styles, we almost always consult each other before making any big decisions. We've had extensive conversations about what school would be best and he is completely on board with anything I decide. The option of having her for breaks only is on the table but one that I'm more reluctant to accept. He's even willing to help defray child care costs in the new location!
 

ejw5075

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The option of having her for breaks only is on the table but one that I'm more reluctant to accept.
Stick with your gut on this one, it is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day idea. One that I have lived through and would not wish on anyone.

During my first two years of medical school we went through every possible living arrangement you can imagine. Me by myself at school, husband & daughter in another state. Me + my daughter at school, husband in another state. Finally, all of us at school.
I would never repeat option #1- sure, for the first time in 6 years I had the freedom to study like a normal student and had less daily responsibilities but I was miserable. It was much easier to actually put in some kind of effort at school when my daughter was with me and I wasn't only seeing her on breaks.
 
Jan 22, 2014
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Definitely really hard to do long distance. Don't underestimate the importance of family being nearby. That's something you can't put a price on. Loans you can pay back. Years spent away from family in a child's life you can't.