Deciding between UCSF and Stanford

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by MDPassion, Apr 19, 2002.

  1. MDPassion

    MDPassion Junior Member

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    Hi everyone, I'm very lucky to have these two great choices. I'm from the bay area and very grateful and excited to be going to medical school here. I have always thought I would go to UCSF if accepted. It seems to offer slightly stronger clinical training than Stanford, especially since I'm interested in primary care and community medicine. I also like how the curriculum has recently been modernized. I'm a big fan of integrated learning, less class time, and more early patient contact which the UCSF new curriculum has. The tuition of course can't be beat. So it seems academically, UCSF has it all, not to mention the most beautiful medical school library on earth, and top notch, cutting edge learning facilities. I've been looking very hard at Stanford though because I really like how it's part of a large university with lots of other graduate programs and students. I'm also interested in taking graduate classes outside of medicine -I really like their flexible curriculum. I also think I might be a bit happier in the environment at Stanford. I'm not a big city person and I love the suburban environment in Palo Alto. I liked UCSF when I visited but somehow I felt I fit in better at Stanford. I felt very at peace there. Stanford medical students also seem extremely happy and relaxed while I have heard of a number of UCSF students being unhappy. Even considering all this though, I don't think those are good enough reasons to justify the huge cost difference ($60,000 to $80,000) of attending Stanford. It also does seem UCSF is academically stronger. I'm not a big fan of rankings, but SF is ranked consistenly higher than Stanford and many of UCSF's departments seem to be top 3 or top 5 in the nation which is not the case with Stanford. My focus is to be a great clinician. I don't love research, so I wouldn't take advantage of Stanford's great research programs. UCSF is constructing the new Mission Bay Campus which will double its size and they will rebuild UCSF medical center by 2010. Many of the facilities at Stanford are surpringly low quality for a school of that caliber. My high school had higher quality library than the Stanford Medical Library. The hospital though impressive didn't seem as big or busy as UCSF's hospitals. But then again, maybe I've been brainwashed a bit by those U.S. news rankings. I mean, what are they really based on? I know Stanford professors are excellent and dedicated teachers. Stanford also has a lower ranking because it's a smaller medical school and gets less research money. I know a smaller medical school also has advantages. I just find something alluring about Stanford. Maybe it's just the Stanford name (I hope not), and the seductingly beautiful campus.....I can't put my finger on it. If there is something about Stanford that truly draws me to it, then maybe I should just follow my heart and go there and ignore all that facts on paper that seem to say UCSF is better. I mean, no one can say Stanford med grads aren't excellent too. We're starting to really split hairs if we say Stanford isn't great. What I'm asking is beyond the obvious, is there truly that much of a difference in quality of education and academic reputation between these two schools? Does UCSF truly have a slightly stronger reputation in medicine than Stanford? Is Stanford med truly overrated because of it's undergrad school as many people seem to say. Is it true clinical training at Stanford is not as strong as UCSF? What could possibly justify spending $80,000 more to attend Stanford? And finally, are there a significant number of unhappy students at UCSF which most people really don't talk about? I know I'm bringing up lots of issues and I greatly appreciate any insights. Thanks!
     
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  3. MDPassion

    MDPassion Junior Member

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    I'd also like to add that based on all the info I've seen most people choose UCSF over Stanford.
     
  4. Scooby Doo

    Scooby Doo IEatShavedPussyCats

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    Stanford you might not be spending another 80K overall. If you qualify for 1 penny of financial aid, you will automatically get a 20K grant from them making tuition the same for both UCSF and Stanford. Since you are lucky and live in the Bay Area, what I suggest you do is call up UCSF and Stanford admission office and tell them that they MUST accept Scooby immediately since neither even had the decency to offer him an interview. Then tell them if they won't, you will protest until they let scooby in.

    but seriously, i think it comes down to The farm versus the city. Where do you want to live?
    If you want to do more community based stuff, UCSF man..all the way....Stanford is much more interested in pumping out academic physicians....
     
  5. Forensic Chick

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    Wow -- I wish I had to make that choice! I'd say that I'd go against the flow and choose Stanford. My orthopedic surgeon went there and told me about how wonderful it was with the flexible curriculum. However, UCSF is one of the best schools in the nation and a hell of a lot cheaper. Also, as Scooby said, you have to choose between spending $2800 for a closet studio apartment in SF or $2500 for a one bedroom apt in Palo Alto... Wow, I'm so jealous. I'm applying for entrance in 2003 -- how were your stats (near perfect seemingly)?
     
  6. ValleyGal

    ValleyGal Senior Member

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    Seems from what you are saying that you are wanting to go to UCSF, which is cheaper and arguably a better med school! Go with your gut on this one
     
  7. vyc

    vyc Senior Member

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    so if you choose UCSF, will you give your stanford spot to me???

    i promise to love you forever if you did. :)

    good luck with the decision. (i obviously can't offer an objective opinion)
    and congrats!
     
  8. lilycat

    Moderator Emeritus

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    Don't let finances be a consideration -- with Stanford's generous financial aid packages, students actually end up having less average debt than UCSF students. So, cost is negligible.

    That being said, UCSF probably has the edge on clinical training, but your training won't suffer at Stanford in the least. At a certain point, you are splitting hairs here, and you seem to know that. Go with where you think you will be happiest -- that has far more influence on your peformance than on which school is perceived to have the better clinical training or which is ranked higher. Students from both schools match well.

    Concentrate on location, curriculum, and how you felt at both campuses, the types of students you met, etc. Stanford does have a strong academic physician bent, but for me, I would love the opportunities that come with being associated with a large university (other grad students, other academic programs, etc.), the option of the 5-year plan, and the opportunity to take other classes.
     
  9. Diogenes

    Diogenes Succat

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    Go to Stanford.
     
  10. souljah1

    souljah1 Attending

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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by bjc:
    <strong>Go to Stanford.</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">yeah.
     
  11. sndvrtn

    sndvrtn Junior Member

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    I faced a similar choice as far as rankings go, Hopkins vs Stanford. I'm going with Stanford. I loved the place when I visited.
     
  12. matthew0126

    matthew0126 Anaheim Angels

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    i'm obviously very biased since i cannot stand one of the schools. anyways, my advice would be to go with your gut -- it's usually right
     
  13. lady in red

    lady in red Senior Member

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    i am biased too, since I don't like Stanford at all (not for admissions-related issues, though), and UCSF accepted me, but here is what I think:
    if you don't like the city, do NOT go to UCSF--it is ALL city around it, and you'll hate, and it will make you tired, and will make you resent the school. Some people (like me) thrive on city environment. I would feel like I am buried alive if I went to Stanford--WAYYYYYY too slow, ritzy, woody, snobby, and isolated for me. I like stress too, so the noise and buzz of the city gives me energy.
    Yes, Stanford hospital is not as busy, but you will get a variety of patients, since they are the only level III or whatever trauma center for San Mateo County (the one for San Francisco is SF General, not UCSF). So, don't worry about the clinical exposure, you will get it all at both schools. Also, it seems to me that overall, Stanford, as a private school will give you better guidance/couseling, and will present you with opportunities (say, intl. missions), which you will have to fish out on your own at UCSF. I think that they (Stanford) take better care and pumper their students and staff, which is understandable b/c they have $$$$$.
    The overall difference between schools is minimal--we are not comparing Harvard with Grenada state university (no offense to the school, but you get the idea), so don't worry about reputation, its all there. Go where you will be most happy, and it seems to me, from what you said, that it is Stanford--so go with your gut feeling, you won't regret it. good luck.
     
  14. MDPassion

    MDPassion Junior Member

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    Thanks for all the great advice everyone! You're raising some really good, down to earth, points. matthew0126, can you tell me which school you absolutely cannot stand and why you feel that way?
     
  15. AJM

    AJM SDN Moderator
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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by lady in red:
    <strong>Yes, Stanford hospital is not as busy, but you will get a variety of patients, since they are the only level III or whatever trauma center for San Mateo County (the one for San Francisco is SF General, not UCSF). So, don't worry about the clinical exposure, you will get it all at both schools.</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">I just have a couple comments as a soon-to-be alum of Stanford med school trying to be as unbiased as possible --

    1. Stanford Hospital is VERY busy, and has become busier over the last 1-2 years. The hospital has been at or very near capacity pretty much continuously, even during the summer months. You will certainly not face a shortage of patients there.

    2. While it's true that Moffit (the UCSF hospital) is not the major trauma center in SF, UCSF does have a partnership with SF General, so all the med students and residents rotate there to get trauma experience and other county hospital offerings. (Stanford has a similar partnership with Santa Clara Valley hospital -- the county hospital for San Jose).

    3. As far as your concerns about the rankings, I suggest reading what the Stanford med school Dean wrote about the US News and World Report rankings: <a href="http://deansnewsletter.stanford.edu/" target="_blank">http://deansnewsletter.stanford.edu/</a>

    4. I think much of what you are debating is splitting hairs, as lilycat mentioned. If you really aren't sure about the finances, wait until your financial aid gets processed at both places. Also, I would recommend going with your gut and where you think you would be happiest. The options you have from both places are so similar -- you will have wonderful residency opportunities whether you go to UCSF or Stanford, so it's more of a question of which school you will enjoy being at more.

    5. Last but certainly not least, if you're in the Bay Area, why aren't you at Stanford's 2nd look weekend?!? The 2nd-look is starting tonight, will be all day tomorrow and tomorrow night, and Sunday as well (I think). You should definitely go! If you don't know the schedule and where to meet, I should be able to find out for you. A lot of your questions may get answered, and you can meet potential future classmates, and see what the school is really all about. I don't know if UCSF has a 2nd-look weekend as well, but if they do you should go to that one too.

    Good luck!
     
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  17. Vader

    Vader Dark Lord of the Sith
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    Well, it sounds to me from the tone of your message that you are learning towards Stanford. I would go with where I would be happiest and most productive. Stanford is a very research-oriented place, but you can also find plenty of family medicine and community service opportunities.

    That being said, UCSF has a relatively much greater emphasis on primary care and family and community medicine (though it is obviously also extremely strong research-wise). There is a whole clinical rotation during 3rd year devoted to FCM. Additionally, there are a plethora of opportunities available, ranging from the homeless health clinic to clinical preceptorships throughout medical school. The new UCSF curriculum has a much more clinically-oriented focus during the first two years and you will get quite a bit of exposure to clinical medicine as you are learning the basic and clinical sciences. I am very happy with having only 2 hours of lecture and 2 hours of small group or lab per day, and most afternoons completely free. This offers quite a bit of built-in flexibility. I doubt you will find many UCSF students who are unhappy. Stressed at times perhaps (i.e. during Prologue), but overall my classmates seem very satisfied with the new curriculum, the quality of teaching, and the excellent responsiveness and concern of the administrators.

    If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Congratulations on having great choices and hope to see you at UCSF this fall! :D
     
  18. Vader

    Vader Dark Lord of the Sith
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    Yes, UCSF has an admitted students weekend coming up on April 27-28th. I agree with AJM and suggest you go to both to help you decide. Good luck! :D
     
  19. BeckyG

    BeckyG Senior Member

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    I'll echo Vader's comments re: UCSF and students being happy. I really think it all comes down to where you will be happiest - decide what factors are most important to you (with the caveat that you'll get an awesome education at both) and go from there. Maybe we'll see you at the 2nd look weekend here. Good luck with the decision!!
     
  20. Mr. H

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    Stanford, its IVY, need I say more?
     
  21. souljah1

    souljah1 Attending

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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by mrhdream81:
    <strong>Stanford, its IVY, need I say more?</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Sorry to inform you of this, but Stanford is not Ivy at all. All of the Ivy League schools are on the East Coast. Some people refer to Stanford as the Ivy of the West, but it isn't technically an Ivy. The whole Ivy thing is stupid and originated from some sports schedule or something. There are plenty of public and private non-Ivy schools that are excellent.

    posing this question...UCSF or Brown? I'm not saying Brown is a bad school, but UCSF is light years ahead of Brown in many respects. Would you choose Brown b/c it is Ivy? Need I say more?
     
  22. matthew0126

    matthew0126 Anaheim Angels

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    mdpassion -- lilycat says i bash on stanford too much so i stopped, and i'm not about to start here

    but suffice it to say, i don't like the arrogance/ snobbyness and the fact that stanford is in the middle of a barren wasteland of suburban blight (i'm actually not a real fan of the city either, but i prefer someplace where there is actually something to do besides hang out at the bookstore)
     

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