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Mar 8, 2020
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Hi guys! First time posting, would appreciate your input!

I’m interested in surgical specialties (neurosurgery if I’m cut out for it), pediatrics, potentially neonatology. Research interest/experience is in neuroscience. Grew up in Houston but went to undergrad in North Carolina. Partner is from New England so is worried about moving to the South...

Feel v lucky/grateful for both options, but am having a hard time knowing how to make a decision. Thanks for your help!


Baylor pros =
- close to my mom (esp if I’m trying to have kids in the next 8+ years, this feels important)
- already very familiar with the city and the medical center
- would probs have free housing at least for the first year or so before my partner can move out there
- the school seems super supportive of family life/having kids/balance
- I think I connected the best with current students here
- felt like I had more honest/genuine/meaningful conversations with the admins/adcoms/faculty here
- I think Baylor might have a slightly better reputation both for research and medicine (though I actually am not sure, feel like I might be biased because I grew up in Houston)
- TMC is obvs a powerhouse and Texas Children’s is top notch for pediatrics
- feel like I might get better opportunities for surgical specialties here (though again, not sure if that’s true and how to know that?)

Baylor cons =
- The climate. I could probs adapt back eventually, but it would be very miserable for my partner and thick-coated dog. It’s tough to think about making someone I love miserable for that many years..
- there is not a lot of the kind of research that I’ve been doing (more human/behavioral neuro), so even though I do potentially want to get into more genetics/basic research, I worry about not liking it and not having the kind of research that I know I like, to fall back on if needed
- there aren’t a lot of outdoor activities or places to go for weekend trips to get away from school (my partner is more worried about this than I am, since I probs won’t have too much time for it anyways, but I do worry about feeling trapped/suffocated because of it)
- my partner thinks there would be less job opportunities for him in Houston

UNC pros =
- much better climate and outdoor life (lots of green space near campus, hiking is a quick drive, awesome beaches not too far away)
- Really strong human neuro and clinical psychology research, had some great conversations with faculty and am really excited about the work they’re doing (though I’m not sure if it makes sense to pursue that research if I don’t want to do psychiatry eventually)
- somewhat familiar with the area from when I was an undergrad
- seems like a good place to raise kids and have a happy family/balanced life
- my partner feels like there would be more job opportunities for him (he works in food tech, so possibly would get into agriculture tech in NC)

UNC cons =
- not as strong reputation (outside of primary care) and not as national of a match list
- worried that I would miss out on the kinds of clinical/research opportunities (at Baylor) that would better prepare me for the future, which I would then regret for a long time
- didn’t connect as well with the current students here, though I did love the faculty I met and the other applicants at my interview
- far from both my and my partner’s family, so worry that it would be harder to have a baby
- would need to find/pay for a place to live for the first year or two before my partner moves down, long distance would probably be harder alone in a more unfamiliar place

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Do you have more pros and cons for each program? You’re worried about your SO moving to the south but both are in the south. Are there PIs at either school that you’d rather work with potentially? Does one school have better research in the department in which you’re interested? Those are some questions id want to look into were I you as it would help me make a more informed decision. Obviously, both schools are great and you’ll end up in a good position at either place.
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@TheDataKing that’s fair, thank you— just edited the post to add some pros/cons. I guess I wanted to see if leaving the personal details out would help me get more objective feedback from the community, but the personal details obviously do matter!
Baylor sounds like the better fit by far.

There are job opportunities and fun things for your partner to do in Houston.
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Thanks @PapayaJambalaya !

Does anyone have any advice about choosing a school that has stronger research in the areas you think you may want to go into (but haven’t pursued yet) even though it doesn’t have the kind of research you are experienced in and know you like (but may want to move away from because it doesn’t align as well with your potential clinical specialty)? I’m kind of worried about going to a school that doesn’t have the kind of research I’m comfortable with, in case I don’t enjoy a new field and need it to fall back on. I don’t want to make a decision out of fear/just to have a safety net, but wondering if anyone thinks that’s important? I’ve been in my research area for 8 years now, so it’s a little scary to give up!

Thanks all for your input— making these decisions without second looks is tough...