lwwalker

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Hello,
I'm a MSTP hopeful, and I'm starting to think about picking out a school. I've got four acceptances so far (Wisconsin, Minnesota, WashU and UNC), two waitlists (Duke and Northwestern), and several more schools I'm waiting to hear from.

I'm wondering if any current students could comment on how they went about choosing a school. I'm thinking that the most important factors for my decision would be finding a school with a lot of strong research options, followed by general quality of life issues/getting a good vibe at a school, followed by the reputation of the medical school. My thinking is that the medical education I'll get won't vary as much from place to place as the research opportunities will, and that finding a place I'm going to be happy is important if I'm going to be there for 8-9 years.

Any thoughts? I'd love to hear what other applicants are thinking, or the experiences of current students. Thanks!
 

Neuronix

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I chose primarily based on location and research strengths. I wanted to be in a city, and I got that, and I'm very happy to be in Philly. I probably would have been happy also in NYC, Chicago, etc. You have to weigh your own location preferences, because you will have free time. From there, overall research strength is a big plus, especially in a department you want to do if you have strong preferences.

It's hard to gauge exactly what a school is going to be like before you get there, so I don't buy much of the "gut feel" factor myself. Instead I tried to weigh some objective factors between schools. Things like average time to graduation, stipend amount, requirements, etc...
 

b&ierstiefel

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Neuronix said:
I chose primarily based on location and research strengths. I wanted to be in a city, and I got that, and I'm very happy to be in Philly. I probably would have been happy also in NYC, Chicago, etc. You have to weigh your own location preferences, because you will have free time. From there, overall research strength is a big plus, especially in a department you want to do if you have strong preferences.

It's hard to gauge exactly what a school is going to be like before you get there, so I don't buy much of the "gut feel" factor myself. Instead I tried to weigh some objective factors between schools. Things like average time to graduation, stipend amount, requirements, etc...
I echo Neuronix. For me, location and strength of signal transduction research was important to me. The medical school curriculum was less important (I could care less about the whole PBL vs. traditional lecture curriculum thing); I figured, everyone studies for the same board exam and we'll all learn the same thing during med school. I did not want to live in the city for med school. I didn't want to be walking home late at night and have the fear of getting shot or mugged. I didn't want to run across a panhandler everyday who said, "you got fiddy cent?" I dealt with this during college and did not want to live in a similar environment during med school. However, location was not the #1 factor for me. Still, research strengths especially in signal transduction was the biggie criterion. At my top 3 schools, I could identify plenty of folks for whom I could see myself happy working.
 

beary

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lwwalker said:
I'm wondering if any current students could comment on how they went about choosing a school. I'm thinking that the most important factors for my decision would be finding a school with a lot of strong research options, followed by general quality of life issues/getting a good vibe at a school, followed by the reputation of the medical school. My thinking is that the medical education I'll get won't vary as much from place to place as the research opportunities will, and that finding a place I'm going to be happy is important if I'm going to be there for 8-9 years.
I pretty much used the same criterion you were using when choosing a school. I didn't really know what specific type of research I was going to do, so it was important for me to go somewhere with lots of opportunities. Unlike Neuronix, "vibe" is really important to me. There are some top-notch places where I went, and couldn't see anything objective wrong with it, but it just didn't feel like the right place to me. Location was important for me as well - I don't like huge cities, and I wanted to be reasonably close to my family (though this wasn't a deal-breaker, it played a role in what I was thinking). I don't think reputation of the med school really matters at all. I think basically everybody learns the same stuff. Andy raised the point of PBL vs. lecture - that actually was an important thing for me. I HATE small groups, so I knew I wanted to go somewhere that was more lecture oriented.
 

b&ierstiefel

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beary said:
I pretty much used the same criterion you were using when choosing a school. I didn't really know what specific type of research I was going to do, so it was important for me to go somewhere with lots of opportunities. Unlike Neuronix, "vibe" is really important to me. There are some top-notch places where I went, and couldn't see anything objective wrong with it, but it just didn't feel like the right place to me. Location was important for me as well - I don't like huge cities, and I wanted to be reasonably close to my family (though this wasn't a deal-breaker, it played a role in what I was thinking). I don't think reputation of the med school really matters at all. I think basically everybody learns the same stuff. Andy raised the point of PBL vs. lecture - that actually was an important thing for me. I HATE small groups, so I knew I wanted to go somewhere that was more lecture oriented.
Our medical curriculum was mainly traditional lecture based as well. We had some PBL small group sessions...and I grew to really dislike them.

I think vibe is important. I had a very good vibe at Michigan and Emory. I didn't get as good of a vibe at the other schools at which I was accepted. It was hard deciding between Michigan and Emory but in retrospect I think I made a good decision to come here.
 

Neuronix

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The reason I wouldn't go on vibe is because the stories from the adcoms and the cheerleaders can be very different from the vibe from friends who actually go to the school. I wouldn't trust them. I wouldn't say not to come here, but the stories you'll get from me vs. what you'll get from the adcoms and the cheerleaders here are entirely different. I have friends who were totally into the "feel" of a particular school, who now feel lied to. In other words, don't choose a school based on how good the admissions department is.

As for med school cirriculum, I would go to the school with the least required crap :laugh:
 

b&ierstiefel

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Neuronix said:
The reason I wouldn't go on vibe is because the stories from the adcoms and the cheerleaders can be very different from the vibe from friends who actually go to the school. I wouldn't trust them. I wouldn't say not to come here, but the stories you'll get from me vs. what you'll get from the adcoms and the cheerleaders here are entirely different. I have friends who were totally into the "feel" of a particular school, who now feel lied to. In other words, don't choose a school based on how good the admissions department is.

As for med school cirriculum, I would go to the school with the least required crap :laugh:
I think you make a great point. I have seen this on the residency interview trail as well. Some people will go out to lunch with applicants many many many times. Because they are the cheerleaders for their programs.

For instance, I have a friend who is a PGY-1 at MGH pathology. He doesn't take part very much in recruitment activities. Why? Well, he ain't the most cheerful person on the planet. Then a few weeks ago, I get a letter from MGH saying, if you would like to contact the residents, please feel free to email them. This was followed by a list. His name was conspicuously absent.

I think vibe is important but isn't the end all be all for me. I chose Michigan simply because there were more opportunities here than Emory. And I thought Michigan was a better place than Emory as well in terms of reputation.
 
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lwwalker

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Great! Thanks for your input, I appreciate it!