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Columbia v. Cornell (no, I haven't gotten in)

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by vkrn, Feb 2, 2002.

  1. vkrn

    vkrn Senior Member

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    Hi, everyone. Just for some mental masturbation, was wondering what the outcome of a match-up would be: Columbia v. Cornell?

    And, no, I haven't been accepted to either. :p
     
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  3. Scooby Doo

    Scooby Doo IEatShavedPussyCats

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    This would be very intersting :)

    I think Columbia is mainly traditional and Cornell is completely PBL. So it's up to your style :)
     
  4. vkrn

    vkrn Senior Member

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    Okay--just to even the playing field a bit, let's just say that the PBL v. traditional curric. is not in the calculation. (Before everyone jumps on me, I KNOW that it is a critical distinction, but I want to set it aside to focus on other issues.) <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" />

    How about comparing

    1. Facilities
    2. Administration's treatment of students
    3. Students being supportive of/competitive with each other
    4. Money available to lavish students with perks
    5. Residency placements
    6. USMLE performance (on all parts)
    7. Lifelong skills earned (ie., presenting patients, diagnosis)
    8. International opportunities & school money available to pay for you
    9. Financial aid
    10. Prestige factor (I know this is an unfortunate but very real element that we grapple with when we make our school decisions, so I'm including it despite my idealistic side.)
     
  5. choker

    choker Senior Member

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    everyone i spoke to at columbia (especially the faculty) was incredibly anti-cornell and anti-PBL. and this wasn't just during my interview day, but during casual conversation. supposedly columbia put together an investigative committee a few years back to do research on PBL and see if it was worth it to change the somewhat traditional columbia curriculum. they concluded that PBL was the absolute worst idea for a medical education ever. their idea is that people should just be EXPOSED to everything at least once, so that if the situation arises (as they argue it definitely will) while you wont know what to do, you will know where to look.

    they argue that this type of exposure is essential for success in a PBL setting and it's why PBL should not be introduced until after the basic science years. so columbia DOES have PBL now, but only at the very end. as for patient exposure, columbia does have a few preclinical classes that give some clinical experience.

    at cornell they argue that you can never remember what they show you in a traditional curriculum, so why not just try and learn the minimum that you have to, and learn HOW to learn. the half life of a medical education is around 5 years, and you will be constantly relearning and disproving almost everything you've been taught in medical school. PBL curriculums emphasize the type of lifelong learning that you have to do throughout your life_ figuring it out on your own by doing your own research and working with your colleagues. while it makes you a little more flexible as a student, you dont learn as much.

    my old boss who is head of a dept. at columbia argues every day that cornell has the worst curriculum of any medical school in the country. (funny cause he WENT to cornell med) and that the only school that can get away with pulling off PBL is harvard because they have the student and faculty resources to pull it off without it hurting them too much.

    PBL students tend to be much happier and why not? they're doing a fraction of the work and learning a fraction of the material. but it doesn't seem to matter in terms of residency placement.

    in terms of location, this is easy: cornell is in arguably the best area of manhattan_ very very very posh and yuppie-filled upper east side. columbia is in arguably one of the worst areas of manhattan_ washington heights. i know you guys that saw it for one day are thinking it's not bad, but let me tell you guys, after working there for over a year: it may be "culturally rich_ as the bulletin says," but there is absolutely nothing up there. my medical student friends that go there say that while they love their school, they are the first ones to admit that the location is very very very miserable. there's a difference between seeing a place for a day and thinking it's not that bad, and living there for four years. for any real dining options, movies, things to do, you have to take a 30 minute subway ride.

    but the tradeoff is that columbia students get much better clinical exposure and get to do much more in their rotations. ny presb hospital at columbia is crazy and wild_ maybe not as much as bellevue, but it's pretty damn close.

    plus columbia has an undergrad campus and courses you can take advantage of 50 blocks away. cornell has one 400 miles away.

    -you can't go wrong with either_ the students at both seemed thrilled to be there, but they both seem to hate each other and they have a lot to say against each other. i suggest if you are blessed with the option of choosing, stay over for a few days at each and see what fits better.
     
  6. choker

    choker Senior Member

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    oh yeah, as an undergrad at columbia, i can tell you that columbia has more red tape than the government. while that's a pain in the ass, it really teaches all its students to be really really assertive. the school has regulations and rules on everything, but if you put up any fight and bark back, the school backs down immediately. they may have rules up the butt, but everytime you put in any effort, you can have them make exceptions. and this goes for everything_ class requirements, etc. this really makes for a very assertive, independent, and tough class.

    cornell seems to be much nicer to its students, and not nearly as much red tape. since it's so much smaller, they tend to really have a more intimate relationship with their students.

    as for reputation, i think columbia has a very very very tiny edge over cornell. this edge, though, is quite insignificant and should be overlooked when making your distinction.
     
  7. Dr. Kermit

    Dr. Kermit Senior Member

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    choker-

    just out of curiosity, why did you choose to apply ED to cornell?
     
  8. choker

    choker Senior Member

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    it was a mistake. i really wanted to stay in NYC and it was the best school that had an EDP program. i was attracted to PBL, and still really like the school, but i would pick columbia over it. i've just been so tired of this process and worrying over getting into med school for so long that the idea of it being over in sept. was too tempting. in the end, of course, it blew up in my face and i totally regret it.

    also, back then i didn't know what i do now.
     
  9. Dr. Kermit

    Dr. Kermit Senior Member

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    Ahh, I see. I applied to all the NYC schools except Columbia. My stats are average and as I haven't heard from NYU, I'm pretty much expecting the thin letter.

    I wasn't too interested in Columbia b/c I had looked at the area previously and felt that I would be unhappy if I were so close to the city, but not quite there. (Does that make any sense?) I didn't mind Einstein in the Bronx so much b/c my boyfriend's parents are from Westchester and there is a lot of food and stuff around Einstein's campus. Plus, like you said, delivery is always an option. Also, they are in class an average of 25-30 hours a week with their traditional curriculum. However, they do have an awesome clinical training program and their students match very well in the NYC area and obviously at NY Presby.

    But, when I was looking at Cornell's website to write them an update letter, I realized how much I wouldn't want a PBL program for two years and a friend of mine said that if he could do it over again, he would have chosen Pitt over Cornell. Maybe it's just his class, but he said everyone is super competitive even though they are P/F. Also, the students at Cornell do not experience as good of a clinical training period as students at Columbia, NYU, and Einstein. Their hospital system attracts the wealthier population in NYC and unfortunately, aristrocrats don't want a med student poking at them :(

    Oh well, on retrospect, I probably should have put in the effort to do another application for Columbia, but after the whole AMCAS debacle, I just got sick of applications. Plus, NYUs was a pain in the butt!

    Anyway, I think both schools have their pros and cons and as choker stated, I think Columbia does have a slight edge on Cornell, but in NYC both are highly respected as they do share a hospital system.
     
  10. choker

    choker Senior Member

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    for a detailed description of my EDP experience, look at the thread entitled:

    EARLY DECISION FOR UCSF, OR OTHERS
     
  11. squeek

    squeek Senior Member

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    I'm a Cornell med student, so here's my input:

    1. Facilities--Very nice. We have plenty of space in the Education Center, with enough computers for everyone to use (although they're Macs, which is a pain). Printing is free, as are transcripts for lecture notes. Also, all lecture slides are posted on the web.

    2. Administration's treatment of students--Not bad, although there isn't a formal mentoring program which can be frustrating. You can figure out what you need to know, but you need to be assertive in making appointments with deans, finding people to be mentors, and get used to pumping students ahead of you for critical info. Generally, however, people are receptive to students and I've had very rewarding interactions with faculty members.

    3. Students being supportive of/competitive with each other--For the past two years, my class has been very non-competetive and pretty supportive. It's changed a tad lately, because people are getting worked up about Step 1 of the boards, but it's still a relatively laid back environment. (A note about P/F--Cornell is P/F/H, and you are ranked at the end of your first two years.)

    4. Money available to lavish students with perks
    --The school has tons of money (another $150 million from Weill and Greenberg this year), but the students see NONE of it. (With the exception of the Education Center, which resulted from Weill's first large grant).

    5. Residency placements--Very good. Almost all students place within top 3 choices, and they typically choose very competetive programs. Cornell students also have a good reputation for their clinical knowledge (I talked to MDs in the residency program at University of Washington, the top primary care school in the nation, and they said that Cornell residents were well-trained coming out of medical school).

    6. USMLE performance (on all parts)--Don't know, although nobody's failed in past years.

    7. Lifelong skills earned (ie., presenting patients, diagnosis)--can't really tell you, although we are learning physicial diagnosis in our second year, prior to starting clinical rotations. And we've already spent a lot of time doing neurological exams and psychiatric interviews with patients at various hospitals throughout NYC.

    8. International opportunities & school money available to pay for you--THIS is where Cornell gets BIG praise. In your fourth year, you can go overseas and the school pays for almost all of it.

    9. Financial aid--Good if your family income is under $85K. Lousy if you're paying for school on your own, but your parents make more than the cutoff. Even if you get aid, you're required to take out $18K in loans per year.

    10. Prestige factor (I know this is an unfortunate but very real element that we grapple with when we make our school decisions, so I'm including it despite my idealistic side.)--Yes, the prestige factor exists, although I don't really like it. I came from a non-Ivy League undergrad, and prestige wasn't my focus in choosing Cornell (believe it or not, I didn't even know it was Ivy League until I interviewed. That tells you I'm a West-Coaster!). HOWEVER, having said that, my applications stats were better than the means at Harvard and Yale, and nary an interview letter found its way to me. Thus, institution name DOES have an impact, although this should never be the sole reason for choosing a school.

    A few more comments in reply to other posts:

    1) Cornell isn't all PBL. It's a mixture (1/3 PBL, 2/3 lecture and small group sessions). And to be a successful student, you can't rely solely on what you cover in PBL. PBL serves as a foundation for learning, and it is really helpful in learning to understand clinical scenarios, but you still need to read as much as you can. (Cornell students say PBL was a very helpful format for learning, thoough, as it mirrors the boards).

    2) It is true that the Upper East Side clientele can limit exposure at New York Hospital. However, I am currently working at Coler/Goldwater Hospital on Roosevelt Island once a week (physicial diagnosis), and the population is generally lower socioeconomic class and very low health literacy. Students don't spend all of their time at the Cornell hospital--you do rotations at many hospitals, including Columbia if you want to (the Cornell and Columbia hospitals merged).

    3) Medical school in general requires you to be a self-learner. No program is going to be perfect--you have to work hard anywhere you go. At Cornell, it is admittedly easy to pass without learning tons. HOWEVER, if you are a self-learner and use the curriculum as a spring-board for your own reading and interest, you get a lot out of it.

    Sorry for the length of this post, but I wanted to answer your questions in depth.

    good luck!
     
  12. Scooby Doo

    Scooby Doo IEatShavedPussyCats

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    Bump...anyone else have any opinions? :)
     
  13. matthew0126

    matthew0126 Anaheim Angels

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    i was about to go through this long spiel... but really, this topic has been beaten to death so much. i'd suggest doing a search, you'll find a lot of opinions
     
  14. Scooby Doo

    Scooby Doo IEatShavedPussyCats

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    I tried searching but I couldn't find it :(
    Scooby is pathetic
     
  15. vkrn

    vkrn Senior Member

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    Hey--I thought I would add some observations I had about Cornell when I was there.

    During my lunch, there was a big group of fourth-year students that talked to us. At one point, a student who had just matched for orthopedics started talking about how he had managed to do significant research during all of his three years at Cornell (he's a fourth-year student now, so I don't know if he's continued his research).

    While he was talking, the other students started rolling their eyes and looking at each other.

    I thought that was not a very good sign. I'm looking for a supportive school, especially because med school is going to be TOUGH, and the last thing I need is people being consumed by jealousy.

    Also, a friend of mine met a PhD candidate at Cornell, who is doing her research on the med school campus. She said that all the med students she meets are TOTALLY unhappy.

    Another thing I didn't like about Cornell: The professors and students actually came out and said that during their PBL sessions, the professors take a back seat and only comment when students are veering WAY off course.

    That does not reassure me that I'm going to get a good education. I know that Cornell spends a lot of $ to train its professors to handle PBL, but I really don't think that being passive is the way to teach PBL. I think a more active Q & A approach is better.

    Final observation: One of my interviewers, who is a physiology researcher, actually came out and said that Cornell's adoption of PBL has reduced the emphasis on research for its faculty, and therefore the opportunities and support for students interested in research have diminished.

    I am not interested in heavy duty research: Maybe just to get my feet wet, I'd consider doing a stint in a lab. Because I'm a nonscience jock :cool: , I haven't done any of that, but Cornell doesn't seem like the place where I can find that support.

    The one thing that is kick-ass is the school pays ALL your expenses for international work. But I think I can finagle that elsewhere (like WashU, which is swimming in cash) if I'm persistent enough.

    Anyway, I didn't have a chance to join the tour at Columbia, so my original intention for this thread was to get Columbia feedback so I could compare it to Cornell, where I was able to hang out.

    But now that I've been waitlisted at Columbia, and accepted at WashU, it may be a moot point! :rolleyes:
     
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  17. synite

    synite Senior Member

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    whats this about columbia switching from H/P/F to straight P/F starting this upcoming year? anyone got info about that?
     
  18. Scooby Doo

    Scooby Doo IEatShavedPussyCats

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    Synite,

    I was told by a freshman right now at Columbia that they are switching over to P/F.
     

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