Feb 20, 2020
5
10
Status
Pre-Dental
Post: Hey everyone, I have a big decision to make and would love your opinions. I have been accepted to the University of Pennsylvania as well as Columbia. Both of them are outstanding schools. I know NY is a hotspot right now for the virus, but I am removing that as a factor from my decision. I for sure want to specialize (not 100% sure in what, but have loved OMFS and Ortho)

School 1: Columbia

OOS
Pros:
  • Pass/Fail
  • Medical School Curriculum (Super excited about this) helpful if I end up taking CBSE
  • NEW YORK! Loved visiting there and think it would be a blast to spend 4 yrs there
Cons:
  • Clinical exposure more limited
  • Less preparation if I end up going GP
School 2: UPenn
OOS
Pros:
  • Curriculum very focused on fundamental sciences in oral healthcare
  • Pennsylvania is beautiful and similar to home state
  • The application process seemed a lot more personalized to the individual applicants
Cons:
  • Bigger Class Size (130 vs Columbia's 84)
  • Not P/F (students seemed a little more stressed here regarding course work, but no way of really comparing that lol)
Summary: Columbia seems like a pretty clear pick to me. Felt very at ease during my interview and it fits with a lot of what I am looking for. But my exposure to both schools is limited to email correspondences, a few hours during interview day, and the little bit I have gleaned from random SDN threads. I would really like your opinions between the two though, especially if current students! :) Always helpful to hear multiple points of view.
 

future_nostalgia

2+ Year Member
Sep 4, 2017
54
72
Status
Pre-Dental
I can provide some insight on this as well! Feel free to message me -- I was choosing between these two schools last year and ultimately decided to attend Penn
 
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hersh_98

2+ Year Member
Jan 16, 2017
128
175
Status
Pre-Dental
I picked Penn over Columbia, I’m an incoming D1 but you can message me too
 

Life of Pablo

Hola
2+ Year Member
Feb 18, 2016
1,273
2,580
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
What's the cost difference?

I'll try to break it down a little. My s/o goes to Columbia so I'm pretty familiar with the school as well.

Specialties: Penn has the best ortho match numbers in the country, and Columbia has the best OS match numbers. However, you can match to each specialty at both schools. Columbia definitely makes studying for the CBSE easier, but there is a trade off - you don't have a GPA/class ranking so you HAVE to do well on the CBSE. Additionally, you are compared to your classmates, so (in general) you have to do on par with their CBSE scores. I'm a D2 at Penn and 7 of us have already broken 70 on the CBSE so it's definitely doable with our curriculum.

Living: With all due respect, Washington Heights is not a fun place to live. I'm not going to argue that West Philly is a great place either, but it's miles ahead of Washington heights. Miles. Many more restaurants, bars, grocery stores/regular stores, undergrad campus close by, SAFER etc. Center City is a 5 minute uber/septa away. Your perception of living in New York will change when you move to Washington Heights. It's not like what you see on TV. People start trying to move closer to midtown their third and fourth year, but rent becomes insane at that point. You want to go to Midtown with your friends on a friday night? A drink at a bar will be like $15.

Clinic/preclinic: As much as I don't like preclinic sometimes, ours is run really well. At Columbia, you have to share your instruments/supplies with classmates which can definitely be a hassle. Their faculty to student ratio is lacking and using D3s/D4s as TAs does not make up for a lack of faculty. At Penn we have 1 faculty per group of 7 people. They are devoted to just your group. At Columbia you have like 2-3 faculty for 84 people?? That's insane. Moreover, the first year at columbia you have preclinic 1 time a week for 4 hours. Since there are not enough chairs for everyone, you're standing behind your partner twiddling your thumbs while they drill and you watch. After 2 hours you switch with them. Talk about total waste of time.

Curriculum: Penn's curriculum is much more dentistry focused. No surprise here since we don't take classes with medical students. One large advantage with Columbia's curriculum is their P/F/take home exam grading system. With this whole pandemic thing, we're finally seeing what it's like to have take home exams and HOLY SMOKES its so chill. Penn will definitely be more challenging/stressful. I can't tell you how many all nighters I've pulled with my friends (lots of korean fried chicken has been eaten) studying while my girlfriend can go to sleep at 10 pm the night before her exam because all she has to do is pass. You're going to have to work harder at Penn no doubt; however, I strongly believe you'll learn more about dentistry and come out a stronger dentist at Penn.

At the end of the day, it all depends what you're looking for and value in a school. Good luck.


Side note: you said the big class size was a downfall of Penn. I think its just the opposite. You're way more likely to find a solid friend group if there are 50 more people in your class. Also, you're way more likely to get sick of your classmates if its a small class. ALSO, even though Penn has a larger class, we get more individualized attention. When Columbia tells you the size of the dental class is 84, you forget that there are another 140 medical students in your class that you'll be spending the first 1.5 years with, so your class size is really like 220! NYU level ;)
 
Last edited:
Dec 2, 2019
14
14
Current Columbia D1. I've briefly skimmed through these posts, and I want to clarify that Columbia does have an internal ranking, and ranks by thirds.
The specifics of this system are not known, but apparently the there is certain wording in the dean's letter which reflects this.

I'm not completely sure why people who don't attend Columbia are making claims about Columbia's ranking system.

Edit: I'l probably come back later and expand on this post
 
Last edited:

Life of Pablo

Hola
2+ Year Member
Feb 18, 2016
1,273
2,580
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
Current Columbia D1. I've briefly skimmed through these posts, and I want to clarify that Columbia does have an internal ranking, and ranks by thirds.
The specifics of this system are not known, but apparently the there is certain wording in the dean's letter which reflects this.

I'm not completely sure why people who don't attend Columbia are making claims about Columbia's ranking system.

Edit: I'l probably come back later and expand on this post
You don’t need to attend a school to understand their grading system. A grading system isn’t rocket science nor is it some hidden secret that nobody else knows about. Plenty of D2s and D3s have stated they got rid of thirds.
 
Last edited:
Dec 2, 2019
14
14
Our class had a meeting with administration where they clearly told us this was the case.
I never claimed that the grading system is "some hidden secret." The ranking system isn't totally clear, yes, but not the grading. Two different things,

Believe what you want, it doesn't affect me.

@UtahnDentist, feel free to message me.
 
Last edited:
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Life of Pablo

Hola
2+ Year Member
Feb 18, 2016
1,273
2,580
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
Our class had a meeting with administration where they clearly told us this was the case.
I never claimed that the grading system is "some hidden secret." The ranking system isn't totally clear, yes, but not the grading. Two different things,

Believe what you want, it doesn't affect me.

@UtahnDentist, feel free to message me.
1587173895301.gif
 
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Reactions: Pablo Sanchez

wengerout

5+ Year Member
Jun 24, 2015
1,153
1,186
Status
Dental Student
What's the cost difference?

I'll try to break it down a little. My s/o goes to Columbia so I'm pretty familiar with the school as well.

Specialties: Penn has the best ortho match numbers in the country, and Columbia has the best OS match numbers. However, you can match to each specialty at both schools. Columbia definitely makes studying for the CBSE easier, but there is a trade off - you don't have a GPA/class ranking so you HAVE to do well on the CBSE. Additionally, you are compared to your classmates, so (in general) you have to do on par with their CBSE scores. I'm a D2 at Penn and 7 of us have already broken 70 on the CBSE so it's definitely doable with our curriculum.

Living: With all due respect, Washington Heights is not a fun place to live. I'm not going to argue that West Philly is a great place either, but it's miles ahead of Washington heights. Miles. Many more restaurants, bars, grocery stores/regular stores, undergrad campus close by, SAFER etc. Center City is a 5 minute uber/septa away. Your perception of living in New York will change when you move to Washington Heights. It's not like what you see on TV. People start trying to move closer to midtown their third and fourth year, but rent becomes insane at that point. You want to go to Midtown with your friends on a friday night? A drink at a bar will be like $15.

Clinic/preclinic: As much as I don't like preclinic sometimes, ours is run really well. At Columbia, you have to share your instruments/supplies with classmates which can definitely be a hassle. Their faculty to student ratio is lacking and using D3s/D4s as TAs does not make up for a lack of faculty. At Penn we have 1 faculty per group of 7 people. They are devoted to just your group. At Columbia you have like 2-3 faculty for 84 people?? That's insane. Moreover, the first year at columbia you have preclinic 1 time a week for 4 hours. Since there are not enough chairs for everyone, you're standing behind your partner twiddling your thumbs while they drill and you watch. After 2 hours you switch with them. Talk about total waste of time.

Curriculum: Penn's curriculum is much more dentistry focused. No surprise here since we don't take classes with medical students. One large advantage with Columbia's curriculum is their P/F/take home exam grading system. With this whole pandemic thing, we're finally seeing what it's like to have take home exams and HOLY SMOKES its so chill. Penn will definitely be more challenging/stressful. I can't tell you how many all nighters I've pulled with my friends (lots of korean fried chicken has been eaten) studying while my girlfriend can go to sleep at 10 pm the night before her exam because all she has to do is pass. You're going to have to work harder at Penn no doubt; however, I strongly believe you'll learn more about dentistry and come out a stronger dentist at Penn.

At the end of the day, it all depends what you're looking for and value in a school. Good luck.


Side note: you said the big class size was a downfall of Penn. I think its just the opposite. You're way more likely to find a solid friend group if there are 50 more people in your class. Also, you're way more likely to get sick of your classmates if its a small class. ALSO, even though Penn has a larger class, we get more individualized attention. When Columbia tells you the size of the dental class is 84, you forget that there are another 140 medical students in your class that you'll be spending the first 1.5 years with, so your class size is really like 220! NYU level ;)
Some of the stuff you said is definitely false lol.

1. We don't share instruments/materials with classmates, you get your own set of hand pieces when you get to school. Some random stuff that you use left often can be assigned by bench like curing lights or articulators but never had an issue with availability. If anything isn't in the bench can get it from the module as well.

2. The faculty to student ratio is not 2-3 per 80 people lol. could be better I'll admit that,but this is hyperbole. On the average day in clinic we have around 3-5 per wing of 30 chairs? Roughly around there.

3. True on only drilling one day for four hours as a D1, although the clinic is open for practice outside of that (which you will need to) and as someone doing GP out of Columbia I don't feel any less prepared than my friends at Penn.

4. Lol outside of the med school classes which I always watched from home we definitely get to enjoy the small class feel.

To OP: both are wonderful schools, they do have slight differences. Personally, I think you can come out as a good GP out of either. I know CDM alumni who are now very successful GP's.


Sent from my iPhone using SDN
 

wengerout

5+ Year Member
Jun 24, 2015
1,153
1,186
Status
Dental Student
Our class had a meeting with administration where they clearly told us this was the case.
I never claimed that the grading system is "some hidden secret." The ranking system isn't totally clear, yes, but not the grading. Two different things,

Believe what you want, it doesn't affect me.

@UtahnDentist, feel free to message me.
It's true that there is no more ranking/thirds. The only thing that's left is the deans letter and the global assessment.


Sent from my iPhone using SDN
 
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