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Factors in your decision?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by DJ W.R., Jan 30, 2002.

  1. DJ W.R.

    DJ W.R. Senior Member
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    If you are lucky enough to be able to pick between a couple schools, what are some of the factors that you will be considering when making your decision?

    For example, would you rather go to a school that's closer to your friends and family than go to a top program that's thousands of miles away?
     
  2. Doctora Foxy

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    First of all, I only WISH I had to make a deciusion like that right now, but I plan to..I'm a FL resident and I have interviewed at BU...I would probably go to UF cuz it's cheaper and I would probably rather go to miami cuz it's closer to my family.....but the decision would be based on the best program for me
     
  3. mpp

    mpp SDN Moderator
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    Some of the factors I will consider (mostly based on my impressions during interview time):

    ...in no particular order but obviously some would weight more than others...

    Type of program (PBL, system based, etc.)
    Clerkships in my current area of interest (rural family medicine)
    Availability of international clerkships
    Quality of the program
    Opportunities for research and electives
    Makeup and attitude of the student body
    Class size
    Faculty interest in student learning
    Cost of attending the school
    Cost of living in the area
    Climate in the area
    Distance to family/friends
    Average board scores, match rates and match fields
    Good ties between the community and the school
    Amount of time spent in classes/labs/clinicals

    I'm sure I can think of more...
     
  4. jargon124

    jargon124 Senior Member
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    DJ W.R. - This is the exact dillemma that has been on my mind lately.

    I have acceptances so far to NYU and my state school (Arizona). At this point I am going to Arizona, but the ease of this decision is due to the fact that I didn't really like NYU too much when I was there. Now, if somehow I got into Columbia or Sinai (the two best schools I have interviewed at), I would have a very difficult time deciding what to do. On the one hand, my family, friends, and girlfriend are in AZ. On the other, Columbia, for example, is so great a school I almost think it would be foolish to pass up the opportunity to go there. The same holds for Sinai, perhaps, but to a lesser extent. Bottom line, even if I got into Columbia or Sinai, I don't know that I would go. My girlfriend and family are big considerations for me, and cost is also an issue (tuition at Arizona is about 10K). This is sort of personal, but I just don't know if I could live with the fact that I turned my back on such a great relationship (been together for almost 2 years now) just so I could go to a prestigious school. Thoughts on this would be appreciated.

    Does anyone think I would be crazy to turn down Columbia (or Sinai)? (I know this is probably just an excercise in the hypothetical, since it's highly unlikely I will get into P&S...but Sinai is a better possibility...and I liked the school alot when I was there)

    I think you have to go where you think you will be happiest. That's not so easy to know, of course, so things like location, cost, prestige, curriculum type, match results, etc. must be weighed and balanced according to your personal likes/dislikes.
     
  5. mpp

    mpp SDN Moderator
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  6. mma

    mma Senior Member
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    For me there are several things to consider. In no order:

    a) Climate: I am generally a happier person in a warmer climate. Things like being able to run outside in December and not being nervous about whether my car will be covered in snow when I leave class are very important to my happiness.

    b) Cost: I'm older (26) and married and a woman, so the thought of having a $150,000+ debt burden vs. a $40,000 debt burden at the age of 31 is a big deal.

    c) Vibe at the school: Schools give off vibes, based mainly on the happiness and general personality traits of the students. At some schools, students are happy and enthusiastic; at others, they are not. Of course, I want a school with a better vibe!

    d) Curriculum: I like lecture + PBL. I like early clinical experience. I like flexibility. I prefer condensed basic sciences (a la Baylor and Penn), but it is not a necessity. I like being able to study every organ system twice. I like P/F and modified P/F grading systems.

    e) Opportunities for my husband: He will be writing his disseration during my first two years of med school, so we need libraries for him and we need to be in a city where he may be able to get a job teaching when he's done.

    f) Friends and family: If we can't be close to one, we need to be close to the other.

    g) Opportunities for health services research: It's what I do!

    h) Opportunities to work with underserved populations: This is available at most schools, but I am thinking mostly about the urban poor and Spanish-speaking populations.

    i) Match rates/Reputation of school: Because my husband is going be in academia, I need to go to a school with high match rates--if he gets a tenure track job in St. Louis, for example, I need a shot at a residency at Wash U!

    j) Quality of life: Would I prefer to spend $1000 a month to rent a one bedroom apartment or a three-bedroom house?

    There are many other things to consider. But this is what I have so far!

    Good luck with your choices!

    mma
     
  7. AmateurChef

    AmateurChef Health policy consultant
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    I'm looking to live somewhere new -- for me, that's the east coast. Most of my family lives in Oregon and California, but it's important to me that I learn to live on my own in a new place.

    Other than that, I'm much more concerned about the student community and breath of academic opportunity than rankings. My biggest debate is over location -- I love Yale's program, but I've heard that New Haven is a dump. Then I ask myself how long I really plan to spend outside of the medical school, especially in my third and fourth years.
     
  8. sundevil1

    sundevil1 Senior Member
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    jargon, I can see it will be a tough choice if you get into either of those other two schools. I'm married, so my wife plays a big role in my decision. We are warm weather folks, like to be close to family and I like cheap tuition for a good education. More than that, the happiness of my wife and the support system available to her while I'm busy with school are extremely important.

    This is not an adverstisement for UofA, but just an example. I have met quite a few UofA med graduates and I must say they are some of the most compassionate, selfless and down to earth doctors I have ever met. To me, this is the kind of doctor I want to be (regardless of specialty). I believe the school you attend greatly influences who you are as a doctor so for me UofA is a good match. I got that feel at one other school, but got wailisted there and tuition is cheaper at UofA by about 20K per year, so my decision right now is pretty easy. Good luck to you guys, I know these decisions are like a love/hate relationship.
     
  9. vyc

    vyc Senior Member
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    jargon124, my personal thoughts on that is to NOT pass up the opportunity of a school like Columbia. now if you were MARRIED, it'd be a different story, but you can always try to work out a long distance relationship... (which i don't believe work at all) in any case, if Columbia is a dream for you (as it would have been for me, if only i hadn't already been rejected!), i would not give up my own dreams which have been a part of who i am for as long as i can remember, for a relationship that may or may NOT last.

    that said.

    here is a list of considerations that are important to me:

    1. location- must be near big city

    2. weather- the warmer the better but seeing how i've been in boston for 3 years and lived in england for 1, i think i can handle another 4 years of crappy weather, if i must

    3. ranking of school

    4. curriculum- i want as many afternoons free in the first 2 years as possible to pursue outside interests, maintain some sanity, and be a well-balanced happy person; also want a combination of lecture and small group learning

    5. international clerkships

    6. flexibility- i'd like to do med school in 5 years and possibly pursue another degree (like MPH)

    7. affiliated with a university

    8. my impressions of the school from students on interview day
     
  10. DJ W.R.

    DJ W.R. Senior Member
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  11. jargon124

    jargon124 Senior Member
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  12. mpp

    mpp SDN Moderator
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    Just some alternatives. Your girlfriend could probably transfer to some school in the east to finish her bacherlor's. There are two pharmacy programs in the NYC area: St. John's University and Long Island University. I am certain the St. John's program is ranked high. There are also others nearby in Connecticut, Philadelphia, and New Jersey that would make weekend commutes very possible.

    It is definitely understandable to want to one day be able to say that you graduated from P & S or Sinai. Good luck and be sure to tell us what you decide to do and if you come up with any great ideas to merge your professional dream with your personal relationships.
     
  13. WildChild

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    Jargon,

    I guess my advice would be to choose the school you'll be the happiest at and have the least amount of regrets. It may not be worth it to go to Columbia if you are spending hours on the phone with your girlfriend instead of studying and would rather be in Arizona. On the other hand, if you choose to go to Arizona, you may resent your girlfriend for holding you back. Ultimately, I think you have to be kind of selfish and do what will be best for you in the long run. Good luck with your decision.

    On a slightly different note, how is ranking/prestige of the school affecting how everyone is making their decision? Should I attend the school with the highest ranking and reputation or go to a school that I think I would be really happy at but U.S. News and World Report doesn't even rank (and it costs about 10 grand more than the other school)? <img src="confused.gif" border="0">
     
  14. mma

    mma Senior Member
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    jargon,

    You need to be where you feel is best for you. I understand the significant other dilemma--my boyfriend (now husband) and I went to grad school far away from each other (he in NY and I in TX). I won't tell you that long distance does not suck--it absolutely does--but it can totally work. It is all about attitude. My husband and I went into our long distanceness (after having been together only a year, by the way) with the knowledge that it would only be a temporary situation. We were resolved to being apart for as little time as possible (although, since we were both in PhD programs at that point, we were looking at 6 years) and always knew that in the end we would be together. We saw each other every 2 months (alternating who would visit whom)--even if only for a weekend. (American Express student card made sure that we never paid more than $250 to travel.)

    Anyway, we were long distance for 3 years. In the 4th year we got married. And we are very happy and cannot imagine how we lived without each other for so long. But it can work, as long as you are not afraid of it and as long as you are resolved to being together after all of the temporary situations, i.e., school, end.

    That said, if you really want to go to Sinai or Columbia, you should go, as long as you and your girlfriend feel that through thick or thin you will (not you can, but you will) make it and as long as you really feel it is the right place for you.

    Good luck with your decision!

    mma
     
  15. alice

    alice Senior Member
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    in a word, YES, you would be crazy to turn down P&S for your girlfriend. (Who it seems wouldn't turn down some AZ pharmacy school for you??) I say spend a year without her studying your butt off and having fun with your awesome Columbia class and then drag her out to the Big Apple.

    I wouldn't say this for all choices - I think that some private schools are not worth the trek and expense vs. state schools. But Columbia, yes. For Sinai, I'd probably stay in the Sun.
     
  16. UCLA2000

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    ..she's your GF not your wife. You have no assurances that you'll end up with her, and if you don't then you will feel really dumb for having turned down a prestigious school for a relationsnip that was destined to fail.

    If it's meant to be, then she'll still love you in a year, and she'll find a way to be with you.
     
  17. UCLA2000

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    Factors influencing my decision:

    1. Curriculum: Must be P/F. I want to be friends with my classmates, and I don't want them to view me as a hurdle which must be overcome so that they can get their competitive residency. In addition must be non traditional.

    2. Student Body: I MUST be happy wherever I am. I must like the students, atmosphere, and environment.

    3. Rank.....I'm a shallow mofo ok! LOL
    In all seriousness. Higher rank=easier time getting my dream job.

    4. Price...I so poor I can't even afford da damn R i'm just Poo

    5. Climate

    6. Proximity to family (the farther away the better <img src="graemlins/laughy.gif" border="0" alt="[Laughy]" /> )


    MMA and I usually see things eye to eye..so I gotta mention..proximity to underserved populations isn't as important to me DURING med school. I plan to eventually spend my career working in them, so it's more important to me to make sure that I get into a school that will facilitate my being able to do that later in my career.
     
  18. sundevil1

    sundevil1 Senior Member
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    when did this turn into the "give jargon advice thread" and he didn't even start it.

    well, I think you can see we would all do something different and for different reasons, and surely enough you'll have your own reasons, goals and dreams. Just do whatever will allow you to fulfill and accomplish those things which are most important to you, forget about us.
     

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