Columbia vs. UCSF

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by sundari, Mar 14, 2004.

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  1. sundari

    sundari New Member

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    I am trying to decide between Columbia and UCSF. They are both amazing schools, so its a tough decision...I know that the curriculums are different (UCSF has more of a mixed curriculum with PBL and lectures, while Columbia is more traditional)... but Im not sure whether making a decision based on the curriculum is the best way to go. Does anyone have any helpful comments about these schools? Thanks!
     
  2. jlee9531

    jlee9531 J,A,S
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    if i was in that ideal situation i would pick ucsf.
    i love the bay area and love sf.
    theres so much to do there.

    i like pbl a lot more than a traditional curriculum so i would also go ucsf cause of that as well.

    ucsf would allow me to be competitive in any residency and stay in california at the same time. for me staying in cali is important...you may not think so.
     
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  3. souljah1

    souljah1 Attending
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    I'll add some things.

    1. I think what makes UCSF an amazing place largely has to do with the hospitals that we rotate through during third year and fourth year. Moffit, the VA, SFGH, CPMC and even places like Highland in Oakland and Fresno if you desire. You get to experience a hard core tertiary care center (Moffit), a hospital were insurance isn't an issue (the VA) and the General where you see all sorts of crazy stuff. At Columbia, I think you do most of your rotations at Presby, with maybe some down at St. Lukes. I like the diversity.

    2. We start clerkships in April of our second year. This means that third year ends in the following Aprill, which means that fourth year is our longest year. I think that is awesome b/c I'll have a lot of free time for electives, sub-I's, interviewing, research, teaching, etc. I also got really sick of sitting in class, so the sooner the better as far as the wards are concerned. For me, I like the early entry, as well as the early exposure to interviewing and practicing physical exam skills on real patients as a first year. BY november of my first year, I could examine a person with an audible murmur and tell you that it is a 3/6 crescendo-decrescendo murmur at the upper left sternal border radiating to the carotids with a laterally displaced PMI. I think that getting to experience how much you learn is really important. I don't know much about students' experiences at Columbia, but I think they don't take boards till June and start clerkships in the summer.

    3. We are organ-based here. I like that as well. For 8 weeks all you think about it the heart. You see the field of cardiology in all of its glory and I think that focusing on organ-systems leads to better retention, especially when you have small group cases and problem-based learning (we don't have a lot of PBL sessions, but we have tons of small groups where we go over cases) to reinforce what you are reading on your own in your syllabus or getting from lectures. Then you go onto Pulmonary, Renal, Heme/Onc, Neuro/Psych, Immuno,ID, GI/Endocrine, Ob/Gyn/peds/Geriatrics. Having recently finished all the blocks, I can say that, overall, I have been really happy. Most of the fourth year students that I've spoken with tell me that they think our 'new' curriculum is waay better than the previous one that was more traditional. Our board scores are about the same (a point or two higher on average), but I think that the response from higher up (attendings) is that is has really good as far as preparing us for the wards.

    4. Our faculty are amazingly available for shadowing, research, dinner, etc. Some are lame, like everywhere..but I have been really impressed with so many of them. I am sure that Columbia has amazing faculty as well.

    4. Aura. I went to grad school at Columbia so I have a good idea of how both places feel. At UCSF you walk around and you don't really here "UCSF this, UCSF that" kind of stuff. At Columbia, I felt that I was reminded that I was at Columbia all the time. The loved to talk about themselves all the time - or I'd hear the H-bomb being dropped, "a friend of mine at Harvard" yada yada yada. I feel like UCSF is more humble over all. Yes, great innovations have occurred here, but it doesn't have that vibe where you always have to be reminded of where you are. By the time I left Columbia, I was sick of that.

    I think that, either way, you'll have a great education accompanied by amazing experiences. I in no way think that Columbia is a bad place to be, and I hope that my post did not give anyone that impression. I shared some of the reasons why I think UCSF is a great place to learn medicine. Now, you just have to think about what is best for you.

    Best of luck to you and everyone else in the application cycle.
     
  4. mellantro

    mellantro Senior Member
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    To me, the choice seems obvious. UCSF. I always feel like people view med schools as Hopkins and Harvard at the top, and UCSF. Then all the other schools (duke, Penn, Wash U etc).

    Of course Columbia is prestigious, but to me, UCSF seems to be such an awesome place, and really has that "wow" factor when it comes to medical school.

    Good luck , though. You cant go wrong.
     
  5. CalBeE

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    I feel that when it comes to choosing between two schools of that caliber, curriculum shouldn't be that much of a big factor. Sure it'll be nice to have shorter lecture hours, more small group time, but as far as I know, most lectures are optional anyway. If you learn better by independent reading, so be it.

    Also, PBL has its advantage and disadvantage, and will one be less prepared without too many PBL sessions? Probably not. I realized more and more that a newly designed curriculum is a 'plus', but not a 'must'.

    I like San Francisco and New York the city, but if you're planning to live in California for the rest of your life after med school, you may as well go and explore a different city during the med school years!
     
  6. Habari

    Habari Senior Member
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    ucsf hands down. souljah1 has elaborated nicely.
     
  7. BerkeleyPremed

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    I'd with Columbia on this one. Then again, I have a die-hard desire to get the **** out of CA and experience the east coast...so Columbia would actually allow me to do that. I think the Columbia name is more prestigious...but you can get a GREAT medical education at both UCSF and Columbia-P&S. These two are so close academically...that it would ultimately come down to which location you like better, which style of teaching do you prefer (PBL vs. lecture), and where you would like to practice down the line. UCSF will probably make it MUCH easier to get a residency in California...but if you do well at Columbia...you could probably also match into the CA residency of your choice. Again, this one just comes down to preference...academically, both schools are considered the "best of the best."
     
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  8. OP
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    sundari

    sundari New Member

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    I actually went to college in NY, and I am probably going to end up on the east coast in the long run.... so I guess UCSF would give me better opportunities to get a residency on the east coast as well?
     
  9. mashel

    mashel Junior Member

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    Congrats to the OP on having such a decision to make - it's nice to be in that position.

    As far as where to go - I'm sure you know that's a very individual choice that will vary from person to person.


    I'm an MS-IV at Columbia and am originally from California. I don't know too much about UCSF, but I would suspect that there are more similarities than differences between the two schools. Here are some additional thoughts.


    1. Year 1/2 Curriculum

    Columbia has mostly lecture in 1st year, then a mix of lecture plus discussion groups with clinical cases in 2nd year. What I liked about the lecture based format is that it gave overviews and structure to the material, and that was nicely supplemented by discussion groups. But then, some of the lectures were boring and not as well tied to clinical material. From some of my PBL-school friends, I've heard complaints that it's hard to see where the case goes in the big scheme of things.

    After all is said and done, however, I think all med students learn what they need to. Sure, the 1st/2nd year curriculum will be important for that first 2 years of med school, but I feel that where the larger differences lie is in the clinical 3rd and 4th years.

    2. Clinical Years

    I've learned a lot during my clinical years from the residents I've worked with, and most residents who work in the Columbia hospitals are motivated, smart, hard-working people. I'm sure the same goes for UCSF. The attendings who I've worked with are the type of people who are attracted to academic careers - some teaching-oriented, some research-oriented, most very efficient with excellent clinical acumen, good role models, but of course there are some egos there.

    Clinical sites - probably the biggest differentiator between any two schools. P&S has a mix of sites, though overall, I think the most exposure is to underserved communities, including a large Spanish-speaking community.

    At CPMC (where you do probably 1/2 of third year rotations), there are a good number of Dominicans (knowing Spanish helps a lot here), and Harlem Hospital draws more from the African American neighborhoods. About 15% of students go to Native American reservations in Arizona and New Mexico for their family medicine rotations. Other sites are more demographically middle class (St. Luke's near Columbia undergrad campus and Roosevelt at 59th Street near Midtown) to upper class (Stamford Hospital in Connecticut).

    So I feel like I got exposure to a mixture of places, but less middle to upper middle class than I would have at, for instance, Cornell.

    One more thing about the clinical years, is that P&S is a very surgical subspecialty oriented school, so we spend 8 weeks of third year rotating through ENT, ophtho, anesthesia, ortho, urology, neurosurg. Not sure if all schools do that in the third year. I would also say that there is less encouragement to do primary care type specialties than maybe some Cali schools (not sure about UCSF).

    3. Students

    Again, I think the students who choose P&S or UCSF are largely similar - driven, motivated, hard-working (and I'm sure that we can say that about most med students out there). I think there is definitely an East Coast/Ivy League bias in the type of people who select P&S (or are selected BY P&S, perhaps). So I would agree that there is that "aura" of Ivy Leaguedom at P&S. That said, I've met some of my best friends here. I also really respect my fellow classmates, who are, for the most part, some of the smartest, most motivated, multi-talented people I know. (The P&S club is nice for giving different groups of people a venue for developing/sharing their talents.)

    Overall, I think most med schools have their spread of personalities (just think about who applies and gets accepted to med school - on average, they're not the same personalities as in the general population!). Some you will like and some you won't.

    4. Location

    So this is yet another big differentiator. I wanted to experience something different, and I've really enjoyed living in NY for four years. If you've been in Cali all your life, I think it's definitely an eye-opener to experience the East Coast/New York lifestyle.

    5. Residency Opportunities

    Both schools have great reputations in the residency world, so I don't know how much you want to count this in your decision.

    If you went to UCSF, I think you might have an edge on staying in Cali at one of the UCSF hospitals if that is for sure what you want to do. At the same time, I would assume that residency directors also like to diversify their resident pool somewhat with people from schools outside Cali. Similarly, the East Coast hospitals seem to have a bias for East Coast trained med students. (Just because of the tendency to generalize that "this is a well-trained candidate" based on who you've had exposure to).

    If you look at match lists (over a couple years), you can probably get a sense of where the school encourages and prepares its applicants to go.


    Best of luck with your decision making process.
     
  10. indianboy

    indianboy Call me, Baby.
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    Insofar as they are both highly ranked medical schools by usnews. The pre-clinical years at columbia are certainly more malignant and disorganized than at UCSF. UCSF probably has the edge for both east and west coast residencies [with the exception of NY-P]. Pardon my portugese, but you would be a dirty ponce for turning down cali-tuition for Columbia.

    Hope that Helps

    P 'I'm allowed to make legit posts' ShankOut
     
  11. citygirl

    citygirl Land of Happy Cows
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    It was a quality of life issue for me. I chose UCSF because the new curriculum is so much more flexible. I like to work independently and still have the structure to fall back on. I live near SF during the week and go home (three hour drive each way) on weekends so its important for me to be able to do that. I don't know anything about Columbia but I can tell you that I am very, very happy at UCSF.
     
  12. JohnHolmes

    JohnHolmes Large Member
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    Malignant curriculum? LOL. Alright, put it back in your pants, son. That's a rough charge to be leveling at P&S. I assume you won't be applying here.

    CCW
     
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  13. dEEpEyEs

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    UCSF: Such a high quota of AIDS patients (imho, I don't need that extra risk).....no thank you. I'll take Columbia hands down.

    Facilites...I'll take Columbia. UCSF...just check out SF General. Moffit isn't that special...either

    Tuition: Doesn't matter anymore

    Location: You like hills....SO annoying...neva...


    Go to Columbia!
    DE
     
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  14. TheFlash

    TheFlash Playtime Is Over
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    I actually think indianboy was admitted to Columbia in the 2003 app cycle, along with many other institutions. I want to say he's currently at Cornell Med (?) but am not sure.
     
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  15. MedSkooler

    MedSkooler Junior Member
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    Dude, I envy your position. But I'd go with P&S 101 times out of a 100. I mean Cali is great, but it is COLUMBIA. The name alone carries soooooooo much weight. Also, throw in the better facilities, location, & highest residency board scores in the nation, and this shouldn't even be a question.
     
  16. indianboy

    indianboy Call me, Baby.
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    False, false and false. I'm sure it was fun playing though! Time to go back and finish your pre-algebra homework.

    Hope that Helps

    P 'Endemic Mirocephaly' ShankOut
     
  17. bez2

    bez2 Member
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    I'm clearly biased because I go to Columbia, but I can give you some reasons why I love it at P&S. A lot of the rumors that are sprouted about P&S are false and outdated. The curriculum, although more traditional than some, is integrated, systems based, combines small group with lecture, and is pass/fail. Thus, the atmosphere is not competetive at all, and is rather supportive and probably the best part of the school. As many people have commented on the curriculum, and you will get a great education at boths schools, I will focus on what I find significantly more important, quality of life.

    Quality of life is encompassed by the location, students, and general feeling that you get at a school. It is hard to describe, it is something you have to discover for yourself. Where you will be happy for four years is very important. I think that NYC is the greatest city and that played a large part of my decision. I also liked the students best at P&S and felt that I fit best at Columbia. My best advice would be to attend the revisit weekends if possible and make a more detailed evaluation. Columbia's is April 15th and 16th and I highly recommend coming. It is a great time to see the school, meet the students, and enjoy New York. Hope this helps.

    P&S 2007
     
  18. appomattox

    appomattox Member
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    Sorry dudes, but indianboy is 100% correct. P&S has been the worse academic experience of my life. The only people in my class who like it here are the rah-rah cheerleader/frat boys types who would tell you they loved a cattle probe to the ass if you told them it was prestigious. That's the problem with the revisit: those are the people who run that.

    It is incredibly disorganized, the environment is often unhealthy, and the administration doesn't even effectively PRETEND to care what we think.

    As for prestige, UCSF is clearly a bigger name in medicine.

    As for the person who wanted to avoid AIDS patients: go **** yourself.

    enjoy!
    A
     
  19. lyragrl

    lyragrl Mold-a-rama fan
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    Wow, this is the first extremely negative post I've seen from someone at P&S.
     
  20. LMAO this is EXACTLY what I have heard about P&S. But, I've heard the same things about UCSD too, oh well.

    The comment about the AIDS patients.... I hope this poster dies of a heart attack. That's a pretty ****ing ****ty thing to say, not only ignorant and selfish but completely ridiculous.
     
  21. lyragrl

    lyragrl Mold-a-rama fan
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    It's a little less hilarious if you're planning on attending P&S...

    Apart from Appatomax (and IndianBoy) are there folks on SDN who think P&S is a malignant environment?
     
  22. Take rumors with a grain of salt. The point is, its not like the environment at Harvard, Cornell, Yale, Stanford, etc.
     
  23. lyragrl

    lyragrl Mold-a-rama fan
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    I do take rumors with a grain of salt.

    Not to be obnoxious, Kev, but why are you offering insight into P&S when you haven't visited/interviewed/attended?
     
  24. thewebthsp

    thewebthsp Shoobeedoowap
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    If you're lucky to get into ANY school like Columbia, UCSF, etc. etc..... I mean think about the 18,000 people who didn't get into ANY medical school....

    Frankly, just try and see what personality of school fits you and go there. Stature and name are definitely important, but I think it's healthier if you just try and explore the place as much as you can, maybe even "unofficially" (I wandered a few med campuses without telling anyone I was interviewing there [w/out suit and tie] to try and get a sense of "real life" there) and get a good sense if you're comfortable there. But no matter what, if you have such an enviable choice, I think it's best to be content with what you have and try and help others... You will have a blast at any of these schools unless you don't let yourself.
     
  25. I'm not claiming to offer any insight, just commenting on the insight stated above and pissed about the AIDS comment.

    I have visited Columbia and from what I gather its more traditional like UCSD, that's all I'm sayin' No, I didn't interview. They don't take non-URM people with 30 MCATs as far as I know.
     
  26. TheFlash

    TheFlash Playtime Is Over
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    Ouch!! You and indianboy are in agreement then. Judging from your post history, you were really excited about going to P&S before actually becoming a student there. The change of heart is something for prospectives to think about, I guess.
     
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  27. lyragrl

    lyragrl Mold-a-rama fan
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    I, too, thought the AIDS comment was horrific, but I assumed it was your typical nutbar troll who deserved to be ignored.

    And I don't think Harvard, Cornell, or Yale are taking a lot of non-URMs with lower scores either, so Columbia ain't unique in that regard.
     
  28. SillyRabbit

    SillyRabbit Trix R 4 Kidz
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    Go where the weather is warm!! It'll keep you happier. Based on your acceptances, i'm sure you will do well at either and be able to obtain a residency spot on the east coast. Why not experience something new?...unless of course you love the city like I do and never want to leaveeee!! (and then we'll be classmates:)
     
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  29. yankees26

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    congrats on your options, to be honest, i do not think 60K should be something that should change your decision. In the long run, it will not make a difference. It seems like you are definitely leaning towards UCSF and that you would be much happier at it. Please do yourself a favor and go with your heart to UCSF. I am confident that you would not regret this decision, especially if you say that "UCSF has been my #1 choice since I first started considering a career as a physician. I am obsessed with this school. Beauty, prestige, great residency matching, the best city in the world, superstar students, involved faculty: what more could you ask for?" I am going to be going into 250K+ worth of debt after med school, and I think that the 60K should not be considered something that should be a game changer.

    Also, props on bumping a 10 year old thread
     
  30. Can'tShakeThis

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    Hhahhahah I searched "Columbia vs UCSF" and didn't even think to check the date!
     
  31. mmmcdowe

    mmmcdowe Duke of minimal vowels
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    This thread is super out of date. To prevent confusion I'm going to close it and I suggest that you post your own thread with your own pros/cons (fit, geographic, family etc) to allow for better responses in the school specific forum.
     
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