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Boston College vs Northeastern vs UMASS Boston

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Hello all,

I have been accepted and am strongly considering Boston College and Northeastern University. At this point Northeastern is ludicrously expensive compared to BC and I would have to talk to financial aid to have them even begin to accommodate me.

UMASS Boston Honors College offers a full-ride for four years but I am not considering it strongly (should I?).

Anyways, what can be said about the pre-med program at both these schools? Sciences? Research? On the one hand, Northeastern has the Co-op program and is strong in the sciences. On the other hand, Boston College has the prestige to back up its excellence. Besides the monetary issue, I really cannot see which would be better for me.

Boston College has a traditional 4-year college program with a core curriculum which I definitely value as an advocate of the renaissance man and woman. Northeastern seems less about learning and enlightenment and more about skills and experiential learning and jump starting your career. Tell me if this is wrong.

I am also a Catholic myself so I would fit in quite well in BC, but I hear the students are of the preppy and snobby variety. How diverse is BC, and how good are its sciences?

Which would you choose for majoring in a science or doing pre-med?
 

jaxon

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What are the price tags on NE and BC? I wouldn't consider UMass Boston.

EDIT: I'm a senior at BC. I'll just tell you right now. Biology at BC is a huge mess. I've seen all the figures on the department since my advisor is a department head. Putting Bio and Biochem majors together, we have just over 1000 majors across all four classes. We have about 20 research labs on campus headed by BC faculty, which means there are only about 80-100 spots for undergraduate research on campus (that's being generous, some labs don't take undergrads at all, some take up to 5 or 6)... meaning less than 10 percent of biology majors have access to biology research. And it isn't really even about qualifications; getting into a lab has a lot to do with nepotism, timing, luck, and who you end up with as an advisor. TLDR: If you want to do research at BC, you're going to have a really tough time because there isn't much to go around.

Physics guarantees research opportunities to all their students because the major is small enough and faculty large enough. Chemistry is kind of in the middle, although it seems as though a lot of chem kids will eventually get into a lab by junior/senior year if they keep badgering professors or if they get on a PI's good side by doing well in a class.

Also, the premed office at BC is a mess. They couldn't be less helpful, but honestly that isn't unique to BC. Most schools are completely incompetent in this area; I just think that BC has less of an excuse considering we are in the same city as three medical schools and hospitals like BI, MGH, B&W, etc.

THAT BEING SAID. BC is better than Northeastern (hockey and academics)... and lightyears better than UMass Boston.
 
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jaxon

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I am also a Catholic myself so I would fit in quite well in BC, but I hear the students are of the preppy and snobby variety. How diverse is BC, and how good are its sciences?

Which would you choose for majoring in a science or doing pre-med?

We aren't diverse at all. My freshman year floor was legitimately 80% (40/51) upper middle class white dudes from Connecticut, Mass, or NY, and all of them either rowed or played lacrosse in high school. Not kidding.

And if I could do it all over again (I'm a biochem major, philosophy/music minors), I would major in philosophy or something, and pick up a minor in bio to get the premed requirements done. Save your GPA. Every science class I've had at BC (with the exception of two classes I'm now taking) has been curved to a C+. Take as few as possible. Also, AVOID MUSIC DEPARTMENT LIKE THE PLAGUE.
 

Ochemphd

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Went to BC and loved every second. Except for the price tag. But it sounds like you have some kind of aid if you are saying it's cheaper than northeastern.

The Chem department has significantly better research opportunities than the bio department. The honors Chem class is a good feeder into labs and has superior instructors.

Loved most of my humanities courses. I recommend trying to get into the honors program classes if you like that stuff. I wasn't accepted straight into the honors program but just asked during my freshman year. Very interesting small class discussions and great 6 credit/semester gpa boosters :).

The premed classes were standard from what I could tell by comparing to friends at other colleges. The curves are no worse than any other academically focused school and a lot more forgiving than the notorious grade deflating schools.

BC is not a very diverse school. However, I think because of this, the students who care most about social justice form very strong groups and communities. A lot of my friends spent most of their time talking about issues of race and equity among the like-minded. However, a typical walk across campus will give you that jcrew-feel.

All this being said, don't write off UMass. Looking back, I think I could have found similar success and happiness at my state school for half the price. When I look at how much I've paid to my student loans, I think a private school was the wrong choice.

As they say: you'll just have to make your choice the right one. Feel free to message with any questions. I have friends who went to northeastern too and could put you in touch.
 

mellie0

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I go to Northeastern. I think the co-op program is priceless as a premed. You get to do pretty hands-on stuff (and get paid for it!). Feel free to PM me with any questions.

What I like about NEU is the non-competitive atmosphere. People here are super cooperative, and I haven't met any gunners really. The pre-med committee has its **** together, and they're super timely sending the LoR's to the schools when you apply.

Also, for the record, BC is not in Boston-- not sure if you're from the area, but a lot of people who aren't don't realize this :) it's about 30 minutes away.
 
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BC_20XX

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Recent alum of BC, current MS1 here.

I was struggling to choose between Northeastern and BC for college. Looking back, I would have chosen neither and gone to my state school for much cheaper, but if I had to choose between the two I would have picked Northeastern for pre-med.

I loved my time at BC and being in a community of bright students was an enriching experience. I was certainly pushed to work hard. However, from a premed standpoint, BC only served to put place barriers in my way to medical school. It wouldn't be a bad choice, if you think you might change your career path.

In the premed game, however, BC is a difficult school to do well in but lacks the prestige bump that other schools get. An average of about 20 seniors end up applying to medical school each year, despite about 800 students starting off as pre-med. I got in after 2 gap years (and 2 application cycles), despite a good MCAT. As far as most adcoms care, a GPA from BC is worth the same as a GPA from UMass Boston.

I summarized most of my opinions on an older thread: http://forums.studentdoctor.net/threads/boston-college-vs-texas-christian-university.1131995/

I did enjoy my time at BC, but it was in no way worth the cost of admission plus 2 years of lost income.

As a senior in high school I fell for the idea that going to the best university I was accepted to, working hard, and learning as much as I could would be the best path to medical school. In reality, as long as unstandardized measures like GPA are viewed as standard, the best path to medical school is go where you get the best grades, regardless of what you learn or how much you grow as a person.
 
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ChrisMack390

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NU alum here. I just want to point out that NU has its version of the core classes and requires courses in humanities, social sciences, and comparative culture. I was a biology major but took plenty of classes in English lit, sociology, international affairs, etc.

If you pick NU, would suggest taking a minor in a humanity if you want to ensure that you get enough of those classes.
 
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UMass Boston. You will be an academic rockstar. You are near Tufts Medical Center - it will be easy to do shadowing, volunteering, clinical experiences. And, you will graduate debt-free.

As a high school student, my main priority was going to the best ranked school. I regretted that. Now I would choose the free school.

Another point, call up the BC/Northeastern/UMass pre-med offices. Ask about their advising services and applicant demographics (applied, accepted vs GPA and MCAT).
 

jaxon

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I did enjoy my time at BC, but it was in no way worth the cost of admission plus 2 years of lost income.
As a senior with plenty of repairing to do, I am totally with you here. We went from something like 850 premeds freshman year to about 40 senior year. And of those 40, only about 10-15 are ready to go in now, and the rest of us are going into post-baccs, research jobs, or SMPs. It is REALLY difficult to do everything (research, service, high GPA, clinical experience) in four years at BC. The distance from the city, the competitiveness in science classes, and the complete lack of research opportunities all mean that the vast majority of people are not ready to apply during senior year.
 

mellie0

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You are near Tufts Medical Center

This is misleading. Northeastern is 1.5 miles away from Tufts Medical Center (you could easily walk there if you wanted), while UMB is 4 miles away. Taking the train is imperative if you're going from UMB, not to mention you'd need to switch lines. Not that it matters that much, but trust me, when you're swamped with a million things to do, a short commute makes everything easier. Northeastern is an even shorter walk from Longwood, aka Hospital Land, where BIDMC and BWH are.
 
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This is misleading. Northeastern is 1.5 miles away from Tufts Medical Center (you could easily walk there if you wanted), while UMB is 4.5 miles away. Taking the train is imperative if you're going from UMB, not to mention you'd need to switch lines. Not that it matters that much, but trust me, when you're swamped with a million things to do, a short commute makes everything easier. Northeastern is an even shorter walk from Longwood, aka Hospital Land, where BIDMC and BWH are.
Whoops - I meant BUMC. You're right about Northeastern, the location is prime for hospital access. But don't sell me on walking down Huntington Ave in the middle of a snowy Boston winter. :p
 

mellie0

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Whoops - I meant BUMC. You're right about Northeastern, the location is prime for hospital access. But don't sell me on walking down Huntington Ave in the middle of a snowy Boston winter. :p

We're still closer to BMC than UMass!! Basically, we win when it comes to proximity. :) And don't even get me started on BC.
 
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From what I am hearing BC Pre-med seems unhelpful, and Northeastern Co-op is always a plus. Then UMASS Boston if all I care about is going to Med School. But this is not the case. I don't want the next four years to be about getting into Medical School. Then again, I am will be working for that GPA and ECs and everything that makes a successful pre-med.

The price tag as of now is $12000 a year for BC and $25000 for NEU, but I might be able to 'negotiate'. My family cannot afford either, truth be told.

I will be majoring in Chemistry or Physics, so maybe research may be easier at BC since I am not following the conventional Biology route. I actually want to study Chemistry regardless (or Physics and Math double). Also, there are hospitals near BC like St. Elizabeth's where I was born. I know a few doctors there already so I could check that out.

So far BC looks more attractive mainly because of the Jesuit education (philosophy theology reading writing all that stuff) and far cheaper.
 
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Also forgot to mention I have Emmanuel College in Boston as option as well, with $5000 price tag...
 

mellie0

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It seems like you know what's right for you. Go to BC and kick some butt!

Edit: Don't go to Emmanuel. Among Boston schools, its reputation/prestige is not up there with the rest. Do you know anything about its academics, quality, etc? I say this because I'm almost next door to them and really, I'm not impressed at all.
 
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Mansamusa

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I'm not from Boston, but how hard is it to use the resources of other Boston schools? Like why can't you go to UMass, email PIs at other Boston schools asking if you can do research with them, and then go do research?

With new med school requirements, you are going to need to take psych, sociology, humanities, and stats anyways, so you'll get your variety of core courses wherever you go (plus it's overrated. I went to a top school that is known for its core classes. I was excited for it, but once you start you get to the point where if you have to take one more art history course, you will slap someone). With no core requirements, you can choose which diverse courses you want.
 

jaxon

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I will be majoring in Chemistry or Physics, so maybe research may be easier at BC since I am not following the conventional Biology route. I actually want to study Chemistry regardless (or Physics and Math double). Also, there are hospitals near BC like St. Elizabeth's where I was born. I know a few doctors there already so I could check that out.

So far BC looks more attractive mainly because of the Jesuit education (philosophy theology reading writing all that stuff) and far cheaper.

First of all, our philosophy and theology departments are top notch.

And if you are doing chem or physics, then BC is an awesome place. We have incredible organic chem labs, great gen chem professors, and physics is reallllly good. It's a lowkey tight community with only like 20-30 majors per class (they run the table in intramural ultimate frisbee also), and you are guaranteed research in a lab on campus. A few of my physics friends graduating this year are going onto PhD programs like Oxford, Princeton, and MIT, just to name a few. I also know some of them are going to be applying to med school this summer as they finish up their biology prereqs.

My only reservations for premed kids going to BC is if they plan on majoring in Biology. That department is frankly a stain on the university's reputation when put next to our other sciences, the business school, the humanities departments, etc.

Also St. E's volunteering is really competitive because everyone wants to go there (it's only a 10 minute walk from campus), so most of us have to go to brigham or BI. If you have some doctor connections, use them for sure.
 

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EaglesontheWarpath

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I go to Northeastern. I think the co-op program is priceless as a premed. You get to do pretty hands-on stuff (and get paid for it!). Feel free to PM me with any questions.
 
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How useful is a useful pre-med office? Can I do fine without one given an above average intelligence and common sense? I care less about the pre-med advising than the actual major and courses I will be taking. Also, it looks more and more that majoring in something other than Bio looks reasonable (I am thinking Chemistry or Physics, but I am put down as Chem).
 

piii

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Forget about Northleastern and BC (really Newton College) and go to BU if you can. Better biology, engineering and science departments, like 100x more research, and way better hockey ;)
 

ChrisMack390

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Are you very committed to the Boston area btw? I am surprised you got into BC and NU but not UMass Amherst, unless you just weren't interested.
 

Ochemphd

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Forget about Northleastern and BC (really Newton College) and go to BU if you can. Better biology, engineering and science departments, like 100x more research, and way better hockey ;)

Sucks to BU.
 
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kab6492

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Just throwing in my two cents... I went to Northeastern and I absolutely LOVED it. The student body is big enough that it doesn't feel like high school part 2 and is very diverse, but small enough that you see people you know everywhere. I also love that NU is right smack dab in the middle of Boston but has a true, residential campus - BC has a lovely campus, but as some folks mentioned, many people don't realize how far away it is from downtown. Boston is an incredible place to go to college and there are so many fun things to do in the area - it's worth being right in the middle of it all. Also, the science faculty at NU is pretty good (for the most part) and it is not, by any means, a super-competitive environment for premeds. It is easy enough to do well if you put the work in, and the premed advisers are decent and very on top of everything. I found them really helpful throughout the process. There are also tons of ECs and opportunities to get involved on campus - I had a great time in my 4 years here.

But the most important and amazing thing about NU is the co-op system: you have 1-3 built-in opportunities to get experience that will help you get into medical school. Both of my co-ops (1 research, 1 clinical) were major talking points at all my interviews.

The one caveat I would say is the cost factor - no one can deny that NU is extremely expensive and from my experience, not very generous with financial aid. I do have undergrad debt, but for me, the experience was worth it. Depending on how important this factor is for you, you may need to consider UMASS as an option. Good luck!
 
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