Mar 23, 2020
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Hey guys! I could use your opinions on these two opportunities. I'm currently holding onto an acceptance from Baylor, which is an amazing institution, and a pre-match to PLFSOM, which I also like and has offered me the Foster $15,000/yr scholarship. Base tuition at both schools are very nearly the same, but with the scholarship my PLFSOM tuition + fees would cost me ~$4,500 a year (before cost of living), which I know is an amazing deal. Using MSAR data for the CoA at both schools (which I know are typically more than students take out in loans but I figure are still useful for calculating a ballpark CoA difference), it appears that Baylor would cost ~$80,000 more over the 4 years I'd be going there. All this being said, Baylor has a lot of qualities that really make it amazing. I've constructed a (short) Pro/Con list for each school below.

PLFSOM:
Pros:
-Cost
-True Pass/Fail for pre-clinicals
-Strong Spanish curriculum
Cons:
- ~9.5 hours from family (ouch)

Baylor:
Pros:
- Much better "rank"
- The TMC is amazing
- Space Medicine is intriguing, so I might look into the pathway
- ~3 hours away from family
Cons:
- Cost
- Parking (Although I've spent enough time in Austin to know I can deal with this one)

Overall, I got really friendly vibes from both schools. I liked the "feel" of Baylor very slightly more than the "feel" I got from PLFSOM, but overall I felt extremely positive about both. One last consideration is that I am currently very interested in EM, but I definitely want to keep an open mind going into med school and wouldn't be too surprised if I graduate with a different interest.

When I take a step back, I feel extremely fortunate to be in this situation, especially since before the last week of January I had 0 offers to anywhere and was starting to get pretty nervous. Thank y'all in advance for your opinions and perspectives on this one!
 
Mar 22, 2020
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First of all, congrats on two amazing offers! If the schools were in similar tiers, I would recommend going with the school that offered you a scholarship, hands down. But I can't help but be biased in this situation, because Baylor is T20 level and will undoubtedly open more doors for you down the road. Plus, access to the TMC and it is closer to your family. I think Baylor is also true P/F preclinicals. For reference, i also prematched at Foster and am waiting to hear back from Baylor which is why I'm like why would you not take the Baylor offer! If you're open minded specialty wise, Baylor will offer you exposure to every possible specialty. You will be able to pay off your loans, but I understand it's a heavy burden to bear when you won't reach attending status for another good 7-8+ years. I also suggest making a ranked list of your priorities (so give each category a weight based on how important it is to you - location, rank/prestige, grading/curriculum, clinical sites, vibe) and seeing if that helps! I think at the end of the day you would succeed at both schools, and listen to your gut.
 
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Kracin

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Baylor has far more opportunities, connections, and exposure.

I'd look at it as paying $15K more per year for a better guarantee to match into the specialty of your choice in the geographic region you want. Also, Baylor rotates primarily at Ben Taub, which will expose you to everything you could ever want (and more) for EM.
 
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Mar 23, 2020
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First of all, congrats on two amazing offers! If the schools were in similar tiers, I would recommend going with the school that offered you a scholarship, hands down. But I can't help but be biased in this situation, because Baylor is T20 level and will undoubtedly open more doors for you down the road. Plus, access to the TMC and it is closer to your family. I think Baylor is also true P/F preclinicals. For reference, i also prematched at Foster and am waiting to hear back from Baylor which is why I'm like why would you not take the Baylor offer! If you're open minded specialty wise, Baylor will offer you exposure to every possible specialty. You will be able to pay off your loans, but I understand it's a heavy burden to bear when you won't reach attending status for another good 7-8+ years. I also suggest making a ranked list of your priorities (so give each category a weight based on how important it is to you - location, rank/prestige, grading/curriculum, clinical sites, vibe) and seeing if that helps! I think at the end of the day you would succeed at both schools, and listen to your gut.
Thanks! Yeah, I have to admit its definitely difficult to set aside the massive difference in ranking between these schools. According to many people on SDN, it looks like a lot of pre-matriculates such as myself commonly over-value the rankings given to schools, so I've been trying my best to correct for any personal bias I might have in this regard. I'm glad to see I'm not crazy for seriously considering giving up a 60K scholarship.

Btw, according to this link, Baylor holds internal rankings in the pre-clinical years despite the transcript grades being presented as pass/fail (although this is obviously not an official source or anything). This is honestly not that big of a deal to me personally, but I wanted to let you know since you will hopefully have the opportunity to matriculate to Baylor too.

Baylor has far more opportunities, connections, and exposure.

I'd look at it as paying $15K more per year for a better guarantee to match into the specialty of your choice in the geographic region you want. Also, Baylor rotates primarily at Ben Taub, which will expose you to everything you could ever want (and more) for EM.
I was very curious about just how far the connections and exposure from T20 schools help propel students compared to their lower-ranking counterparts, so I'm very glad you chimed in. I tried reading into the match lists of both schools to decipher this a little bit more on my own, but I found it relatively difficult figuring out how to judge them since I'm not well acquainted with the residency programs out there. Thanks a ton for the input.
 
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Drsecondchance

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Thanks! Yeah, I have to admit its definitely difficult to set aside the massive difference in ranking between these schools. According to many people on SDN, it looks like a lot of pre-matriculates such as myself commonly over-value the rankings given to schools, so I've been trying my best to correct for any personal bias I might have in this regard. I'm glad to see I'm not crazy for seriously considering giving up a 60K scholarship.

Btw, according to this link, Baylor holds internal rankings in the pre-clinical years despite the transcript grades being presented as pass/fail (although this is obviously not an official source or anything). This is honestly not that big of a deal to me personally, but I wanted to let you know since you will hopefully have the opportunity to matriculate to Baylor too.


I was very curious about just how far the connections and exposure from T20 schools help propel students compared to their lower-ranking counterparts, so I'm very glad you chimed in. I tried reading into the match lists of both schools to decipher this a little bit more on my own, but I found it relatively difficult figuring out how to judge them since I'm not well acquainted with the residency programs out there. Thanks a ton for the input.
I think you have an excellent problem to solve. Ultimately, I would choose Baylor of the two because of proximity to support system if nothing else. I also wanted to make sure you knew that Foster also maintains internal rankings that are not available to students unless you really have to have them for residency. In both cases, this is done because some of the most competitive residency programs still require class rank as a consideration.
 
Mar 23, 2020
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I think you have an excellent problem to solve. Ultimately, I would choose Baylor of the two because of proximity to support system if nothing else. I also wanted to make sure you knew that Foster also maintains internal rankings that are not available to students unless you really have to have them for residency. In both cases, this is done because some of the most competitive residency programs still require class rank as a consideration.
Thanks for the input! I was under the impression that PLFSOM didn't account for preclinical grades in its ranking. I found a description of class ranking here that seemed to only account for clerkships and clerkship-related items, but now that I'm taking a second look at the source Idk if its talking about your total rank or the contribution to your rank from year 3.

Btw, I believe if I'm not mistaken that I saw one of your post earlier discussing your acceptance to PLFSOM and another school. If I'm not mistaken, then congrats! I'm glad the cycle worked out well for you.
 
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Drsecondchance

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Thanks for the input! I was under the impression that PLFSOM didn't account for preclinical grades in its ranking. I found a description of class ranking here that seemed to only account for clerkships and clerkship-related items, but now that I'm taking a second look at the source Idk if its talking about your total rank or the contribution to your rank from year 3.

Btw, I believe if I'm not mistaken that I saw one of your post earlier discussing your acceptance to PLFSOM and another school. If I'm not mistaken, then congrats! I'm glad the cycle worked out well for you.
Thank you! Still waiting for Match Day and word from Baylor to figure out where I'll actually be going, but I'm thrilled to have Foster in my pocket for now.
 

mcatstudent1

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Hey guys! I could use your opinions on these two opportunities. I'm currently holding onto an acceptance from Baylor, which is an amazing institution, and a pre-match to PLFSOM, which I also like and has offered me the Foster $15,000/yr scholarship. Base tuition at both schools are very nearly the same, but with the scholarship my PLFSOM tuition + fees would cost me ~$4,500 a year (before cost of living), which I know is an amazing deal. Using MSAR data for the CoA at both schools (which I know are typically more than students take out in loans but I figure are still useful for calculating a ballpark CoA difference), it appears that Baylor would cost ~$80,000 more over the 4 years I'd be going there. All this being said, Baylor has a lot of qualities that really make it amazing. I've constructed a (short) Pro/Con list for each school below.

PLFSOM:
Pros:
-Cost
-True Pass/Fail for pre-clinicals
-Strong Spanish curriculum
Cons:
- ~9.5 hours from family (ouch)

Baylor:
Pros:
- Much better "rank"
- The TMC is amazing
- Space Medicine is intriguing, so I might look into the pathway
- ~3 hours away from family
Cons:
- Cost
- Parking (Although I've spent enough time in Austin to know I can deal with this one)

Overall, I got really friendly vibes from both schools. I liked the "feel" of Baylor very slightly more than the "feel" I got from PLFSOM, but overall I felt extremely positive about both. One last consideration is that I am currently very interested in EM, but I definitely want to keep an open mind going into med school and wouldn't be too surprised if I graduate with a different interest.

When I take a step back, I feel extremely fortunate to be in this situation, especially since before the last week of January I had 0 offers to anywhere and was starting to get pretty nervous. Thank y'all in advance for your opinions and perspectives on this one!
I actually would vote for the scholarship here. Med school is so much what you put in and preclinical is largely teaching yourself utilizing the same materials as anywhere. I would say roughly 2-3 years of md school is studying and only 1-1.5 years is clinical. Unless you know you are gunning for derm optho ent ortho neurosurgery rad onc, I would choose the scholarship. The interest accrues now incredibly fast and having less debt can give you more flexibility down the line. For EM, you can match well from anywhere. In our school the EM and anesthesia people had a certain personality as the work hard play hard crew, if that’s you. They liked the shift work and being off when they were off. 60-80,000 is a decent amount and with interest amounts to 200k. You are obviously a great candidate if you got into Baylor and will likely do well on the step exams. I think the potential is in you to do well at both! I personally studied better away from family and for extended study periods you can always go home for a bit. Good luck!
 
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mcatstudent1

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So I re read this and I think you preference right now is Baylor it comes through. If you would always regret not going to Baylor, then go, imo, since 60k difference with interest amounts to less than one year attending salary and you never know if that competitive bug will hit you. One last point-it is easier to be a big fish in a small pond if AOA ranking or class ranking is a thing and even to shine in clinical rotations. There are pluses to lower ranked schools too. Baylor may be one of the schools without AOA but at lesser known schools it can be helpful to differentiate you. At my school of fabulous shelf takers and high step people and everyone was really smart, it is very possible to work incredibly hard to only be average. Baylor seems like a place like that where everyone is a superstar-pros are that you can learn from everyone but clinical are graded against each other.
 
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Kracin

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Casually double-posting on this thread.

go to a school that REALLY wants you
I'd point out that getting an acceptance (especially this early) is an excellent sign that both schools really want you. Also in undergrad, driven students can usually differentiate themselves compared to the pack. It's much more challenging in med school. Even at "lower-ranked" schools, you have many stellar students, and it's by no mean a guarantee to stand out.

Also, baylor does currently have an AOA chapter. We'll see how long that lasts with current trends in top-ranked schools removing it
 
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Mar 23, 2020
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I actually would vote for the scholarship here. Med school is so much what you put in and preclinical is largely teaching yourself utilizing the same materials as anywhere. I would say roughly 2-3 years of md school is studying and only 1-1.5 years is clinical. Unless you know you are gunning for derm optho ent ortho neurosurgery rad onc, I would choose the scholarship. The interest accrues now incredibly fast and having less debt can give you more flexibility down the line. For EM, you can match well from anywhere. In our school the EM and anesthesia people had a certain personality as the work hard play hard crew, if that’s you. They liked the shift work and being off when they were off. 60-80,000 is a decent amount and with interest amounts to 200k. You are obviously a great candidate if you got into Baylor and will likely do well on the step exams. I think the potential is in you to do well at both! I personally studied better away from family and for extended study periods you can always go home for a bit. Good luck!
So I re read this and I think you preference right now is Baylor it comes through. If you would always regret not going to Baylor, then go, imo, since 60k difference with interest amounts to less than one year attending salary and you never know if that competitive bug will hit you. One last point-it is easier to be a big fish in a small pond if AOA ranking or class ranking is a thing and even to shine in clinical rotations. There are pluses to lower ranked schools too. Baylor may be one of the schools without AOA but at lesser known schools it can be helpful to differentiate you. At my school of fabulous shelf takers and high step people and everyone was really smart, it is very possible to work incredibly hard to only be average. Baylor seems like a place like that where everyone is a superstar-pros are that you can learn from everyone but clinical are graded against each other.
Thanks for the perspective! You're right- I'm currently leaning towards Baylor, but I've been back and forth enough on this that I thought it would be wise to post it to see if I could glean wisdom from the SDN crowd :) One thing that's factoring relatively heavily into my decision is opportunity cost, which is what you seemed to mention with the competitive bug. Going through medical school and realizing that I could have gone into what I wanted to do for 80K less would definitely not feel the best, but going through medical school and realizing that I closed a door on myself and can't do what I really want to do anymore would be a terrible nightmare that I'd continue to kick myself for for a very long time. However, I've seen a couple of posts talking about how all specialties are open to students at even lower-tier schools, which is really keeping my interest in PLFSOM relatively high. Because this is such a big part of my decision making process, I guess I'll throw a possibly impossible question into this thread for people to answer:

If a student at a low tier medical school (<= 90, let's say) puts as much effort into all aspects of their med school experience as an average T20 student, what career opportunities will the average T20 student have that the lower tier student won't have?

I'm guessing(?) there's really no way to give any sort of definitive answer to this because there are too many specifics that are not known, but even a super generalized answer to this question would help me better understand the hidden details behind this choice. Basically, I'm wondering if the saying "the med school you attend won't prevent you from doing anything" is more of a technical truth, where it would be possible to do whatever you want after attending a low-tier but few would be capable, or a very practical saying, in which case med school really doesn't matter at all. IK the answer lies somewhere in the middle between these extremes, but I really don't know where on this spectrum reality lies. Big questions, IK. As always, any input is really appreciated!
 
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mcatstudent1

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Actually, not all med schools are created equal unfortunately and the opportunities are not equal. I went to my state school and everyone matched well but there were a lot of students who spent a year or more at top tier institutions like Harvard doing research years in order to match into the top plastic surgery residencies in the country. They already had the AOA, highest step scores, honors, high rank but needed the high powered research and letters to get them the top plastic residencies. Similarly, from my state school, people have done research years and failed to match into competitive specialties and of course people without research years at top institutions who also did not match. My state school lacked research/ high profile letter writers/ name recognition but was long established and had regional recognition-let’s say smack in the middle of the pack med school. For you I would say to pick Baylor then because with Step 1 going pass fail it will be harder to differentiate yourself and letters, research, letter writers, top 20 Med school will be more important not less. As the residencies try to figure this or in the next few years, the safer bet is to pick the med school with more resources. It may be that Step 2 replaces step 1 and a good score and AOA Ian all that you need from any type of school. Right now that is not known.since you do not want regrets and personals do not have certainty 100% that you will pick a less competitive field, I recommend Baylor for you, scholarship aside.
 
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Drsecondchance

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Actually, not all med schools are created equal unfortunately and the opportunities are not equal. I went to my state school and everyone matched well but there were a lot of students who spent a year or more at top tier institutions like Harvard doing research years in order to match into the top plastic surgery residencies in the country. They already had the AOA, highest step scores, honors, high rank but needed the high powered research and letters to get them the top plastic residencies. Similarly, from my state school, people have done research years and failed to match into competitive specialties and of course people without research years at top institutions who also did not match. My state school lacked research/ high profile letter writers/ name recognition but was long established and had regional recognition-let’s say smack in the middle of the pack med school. For you I would say to pick Baylor then because with Step 1 going pass fail it will be harder to differentiate yourself and letters, research, letter writers, top 20 Med school will be more important not less. As the residencies try to figure this or in the next few years, the safer bet is to pick the med school with more resources. It may be that Step 2 replaces step 1 and a good score and AOA Ian all that you need from any type of school. Right now that is not known.since you do not want regrets and personals do not have certainty 100% that you will pick a less competitive field, I recommend Baylor for you, scholarship aside.
Dang, you almost convinced me to pick Tech over Foster! Do you think that choice will make much difference? I know Baylor is in a very different league than either of those schools, but I just keep trying to think through that.
 
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Kracin

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Dang, you almost convinced me to pick Tech over Foster! Do you think that choice will make much difference? I know Baylor is in a very different league than either of those schools, but I just keep trying to think through that.
I don't think it will make much of a difference. Two common thought processes applicants have (including me at the time)

1) Small variations in ranking do not make much of a difference (ie the difference between PLFSOM vs. Foster isn't great and is mostly student-driven)

2) Being at a lower-ranked school doesn't really make the competition easier

And here we are on this thread debating how Baylor is better than PLFSOM, but be sure to remember - all these school's we're discussing are MDs that will keep the doors open for you. If you lean PLFSOM more than Foster, you're not making a bad choice.
 
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Banco

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I would actually go for Baylor here. Prestige does make a difference for residency match, as well as the opportunities you have for research and getting letters, and it's closer to family. Yeah it is a large sum of money but with step 1 gong P/F you want the most leg up, and that cost difference isn't monstrously huge.
 
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mcatstudent1

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There is one thing that decides here and it is applicant specific. It is basically what you want to do and what type of doctor you ultimately become and which specialty you pick. If you ultimately decide to go to a lesser or medium competitive specialty and do not take the scholarship, in the long run, there is a big cost difference here (200k). It may be even more pronounced because those specialties do not pay as much. I would expect regional residency interviews since both schools are in same geographical area. The other side of the coin is the opportunity cost of not going to the top tier school which is less access to research, letter writer, mentors but also more competition for AOA and class rank and possibly harder grading in the clinical years. There is a gray area here in step 1 going pass/fail but we all know the grades step 2 is simply going to be used in place of step 1. Except for specialties such as derm, optho, ENT, neurosurgery, ortho, urology, rad onc, plastics, IR, there is no difference in opportunities between the two schools imo. Top tier students who work hard and are motivated can definitely match into these specialties also from any school. Some do end up taking research years which can be done at any top institution (but that adds an opportunity cost greater than the scholarship). I imagine Baylor students sometimes take research years at Baylor to make them more competitive for those competitive specialties. In the end, you could match EM/anesthesia from any school, so if you passed the scholarship, that would have been not the best financial decision. There are intangibles-Baylor May offer a really great educational experience, mentorship, classmates, clinical education that you perceive in the end to have made a difference in your training and experience, well worth the 80k cost difference and potentially 200k when all is said and done (interest).
 
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