10+ Year Member
Sep 26, 2008
Hey guys,

As applications are going in and admissions decisions are being made, what factors will be your deciding in choosing a school. I'm just wondering because I've been told just choose the cheapest school, since the main goal is to pass the NPTE. Is that something I should go strictly by?

I'm just wondering because I'm applying to USC and the cost to attend their program is extremely expensive, however they are ranked as being the number 1 PT program by US News. Does rankings generally matter? I also heard that their alumni status and "trojan legacy" are a quite solid foundation for their students. This is opposed to a Cal State school which may be cheaper but would still have an awesome quality of education without the strong alumni backing. What factors are you guys going to use when decision time goes along.


Senior Member
15+ Year Member
Sep 2, 2004
scroll back and look at some other threads. This horse has been beaten to death.


10+ Year Member
Nov 17, 2008
Atlanta, GA
Rehab Sci Student
Well I'll just continue to beat this horse to death. It depends on a person's motive. Some go to a school that is cheap to save money, some go to a school for its prestige, some go to school for the location, or both. For me, its LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!!! (a little bit of credibility/reputation is nice too)

Quality of the program holds weight as well but I got to get the hell out of Texas. I do love the state of Texas but I have lived here (Dallas-Forth Worth) for too long and maxed out my stay. I know UT Southwestern is an excellent school for PT training, but one needs an outlet outside of academics. Since I know Dallas, I know that such an outlet doesn't exist FOR ME. I need scenery: mountains, beach, ocean, etc... or an environment that is at least driving distance from such places.

If UT Austin had a PT school, I "might" have considered Austin since I do love that city for its uniqueness, great parks, close to hill country (BEAUTIFUL hill/river-loaded countryside), laid back crowd, and pro-active recreational lifestyle (along with a night life) but they don't and that is disappointing.

I think the environment strongly influences the individual and adventures are created within the journey of where one goes. Athough 75-95% of the time will be consumed to academics, that 5-25% outside of academics will be much more meaningful if one can have an escape within an adventurous environment to learn more about the culture within that new setting and reel in that exposure to find and learn more about oneself simultaneously.

I know people will disagree with me on this view but I think money should NOT dictate where one would like to go to school UNLESS one has priorities of children, marriage, family illness, bills, etc... but for single individuals with minimal responsiblities outside of academics... why not? For my situation, I'm taking loans out regardless so I rather maximize my experience and get the most out of not just my education, but my years that I'll never get back again, the potential of meeting great colleagues along the way, and giving myself a chance to develop outside of my normal habitat. PT school is 3+ years, I rather be studying with the breeze coming off the ocean, smelling the mountain air before going to class, or having dinner outside on a patio where I can rejoice to a great sunset disappearing into a valley before pulling an all-nighter. I wouldn't even mind enjoying a cup of hot tea within the confines of a great big exciting city that is surrouned by history, culture, and diversity. As long as I am in an environment that will allow me to experience life outside of Texas. Passing the time is one thing, but where one passes the time is another. Only if Hawaii had a PT school...

If USC is where you want to go, yes you're taking a risk of heavy debt but at the same time it can also be seen as an investment. Credibility... check, strong alumni base... check, pride to go with it... check. It all depends on your motive on what you want to get out of what you are getting yourself into. If prestige means a lot to you personally, then by all means do the deeds. You'll ALWAYS be apart of the "TROJAN LEGACY", you can ALWAYS say you went to the number one PT school in America at that specific time (others may debate the rating scale), and you can never go wrong if those inner qualities within a program satisifies your personal academic accomplishments in life.


10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Jul 17, 2008
Physical Therapist
There were a lot of factors that came into play while choosing a school for me. The first and foremost, by far, was location. I'm married, and my spouse's job is what is enabling me to go back to school. Therefore, we "can't" move. That left me with 4 very different schools within a short distance. One was immediately knocked out because of the $110k+ tuition. I could do it, but the school isn't worth that IMO. The second, which happened to be by far the cheapest, was eliminated after visiting; I just don't believe I would get a good education there.

This has left me applying to two very different schools. One is ranked #2 in the country, is 9 semsters, and is the more expensive of the two. They have a structured curriculum and are attached to a teaching hospital system here. All clinicals are conducted within "the system and its affiliates." The other school is unranked, is 7 semesters, and is cheaper than the former. The curriculum is problem-based, and the clinicals can send you all over the country (and in some cases out of the country) if you choose. Acceptances/rejections may make the decision for me, but I think that I would receive a great education at either school, regardless of their level of "prestige." At the moment I'm leaning toward the unranked school mainly for their curriculum and the overall impression I've gotten from the faculty on repeat visits.

As an alternate point of view, I'm currently shadowing/volunteering with a DPT that graduated from one of the "top" schools, and this is the advice she gave me. PTs are in high demand right now, and within the next 5 years you aren't going to have problems finding a position. The only difference you will see in terms of finding a job is that if you've graduated from a pretigious school, employeers will be seeking you out. If you go to a school that is not widely known, you'll be doing the seeking, but you'll still have no problem landing the same positions. Go to the school that has a curriculum that you think is going to be most effective for you. If you don't like group work, and you learn best from lectures, obviously you're going to face issues with a PBL curriculum, etc. As long as you are starting school soon, there will be no shortage of jobs upon graduation. Choose the school where you are going to be able to excel because that is what is going to make you an effective, confident pt.

Good luck!
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