Columbia vs UPenn

This forum made possible through the generous support of SDN members, donors, and sponsors. Thank you.


New Member
Oct 26, 2023
Reaction score
Hey everyone,

After attending second look at both schools I am super torn what to do.

Columbia Pros
I love NYC and more to do
Near family (they live about an hour north of nyc)
close to friends
Familiar with it as I went to undergrad in NYC
Easier adjustment as I know the city well and won't have to struggle to hard to adjust to NYC
More LGBTQ friendly and abortion rights protected
Layman prestige
Housing close to campus free gym and utilities included
Online exams
Free time after exams- for like 5 days if you take the exams on the first day or two
Better for specialities I like

Pay less on travel
Have a long distance boyfriend who I can visit during days off

Neg columbia
Will likely cost me about 7 k more a year than PENN
More expensive cost of living
The washington heights area where the school is okay (not my favourite but don't hate it)
Will have to share an apartment with roomates
Maybe could be cool to be in a new place
Neutral Second look
Admin looks less supportive - cracking down on free speech and have heard they are not as supportive if students are struggling due to physical or mental health
Nyc rotations are brutal
Do not want to do a residency in NYC but would be okay with med school and seem to match well to NYC especially, but can def match elsewhere

Penn Pros
Slightest res director score edge
Slightest medicine pres edge
Cheaper housing
Cheaper food
can have a nicer apartment and live alone
Better area than Washington Heights
Philly still a fun city with a lot to do

7 k less a year
Not super far from fam about 2-3 hour drive
Good vibes and made a lot of friends at second look
Rotations seem more chill than NYC
Pass fail shelves during clinicals (unsure about columbia)
admin seems more supportive overall

Further from home
No online exams
more frequent exams
no break after exams to visit partner or fam
Dont know philly as well and may take time for me to adjust
Less to do than NYC
afraid of potential anti lgbtq laws and antiabortion laws passing as a bi cis woman in Pennsylvania (although none rn) PA is a swing state
Have to live further from campus buildings (probably 20-30 min walk), but could likely bike in half the time

I really appreciate your insight and would like some help deciding. I have been overthinking recently and am split 50/50

Members don't see this ad.
Last edited:
At 7k less a year, I'd consider that pretty inconsequential. I think it comes down to the emotional factors of being closet to family and a supportive environment. This is something only you can answer because it's very personal, but you no one would question you if you chose one over the other.

I will say since you mentioned laymen prestige for Columbia, reputation in and out of medicine are pretty much a wash with these two.