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EBLoneStar

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For the past ~2 years, and since interviewing in Sept., I've had my heart set on going to Penn for med school. But as the realities of taking out so much money in loans starts to set in, compounded with the whole healthcare system changing and nobody knowing what's going to happen to reimbursement rates, I'm really starting to doubt whether or not that's a smart idea.

I've been accepted to UT Southwestern (in state) with a nice scholarship so that my tuition would be less than $8,000 per year (and I might even get more scholarship $$), and I'm currently on the lovely "tier 1" waitlist at Penn. I've had letters of interest/intent ready to send to Penn in the event that this happened, but now I'm struggling with whether I should just accept my fate (not being accepted to Penn outright), withdraw from Penn and go to UTSW. Then hopefully I can do an away rotation in Philadelphia 4th year and consider going to Philly for residency (eventual location is more important to me than program rank, and I'd eventually like to move to Philadelphia).

UTSW:
Pros: Cheap tuition (<$8,000 per year), cheap cost of living (huge 2 BR apartment w/ all the amenities for $1200), I already have a car, family is close, fiance should definitely be able to find a post-doc at UTSW, lots of friends at UTSW already, I felt like I clicked better with the students (more "normal" people, girlfriends for me to go out on the weekends with, etc.), Parkland + Children's Hospital for training
Cons: Not Philadelphia, 2 year preclinical + grading

Penn:
Pros: "dream school", Philadelphia, 1.5 year preclinical, better for Philadelphia residency?, pass/fail/honors (does it matter?)
(loved everything about the school, the curriculum, and the clinical training)
Cons: $43,000 per year, more expensive cost of living (in center city), where will I put my car?, requires cross-country move, harder for fiance to find a post-doc, turned off by many interviewees I met (not so much the students though) who were from Ivys and seemed like they had their panties in a twist while looking down their nose at me for being from UT Austin (worried this may reflect on a large proportion of the students?), oh and did I mention, lots of DEBT!

Any opinions on whether I should try to get of the waitlist at Penn or just go to UTSW (I really liked the school BTW, no complaints except it's just not Penn, it's just not Philadelphia).

(Hey, at least at UTSW I'd get to wear all my summer clothes + open toe shoes a lot more :love:)
 

bookfreak89

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Less than 8k per year?!.......:wow:

UTSW, hands down. Also, you are on the Penn waitlist. There is no guarantee that you will get off it.
 

JasonE

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while i understand that penn is your dream, utsw is a great school. down the road, i think you will thank yourself for not building the debt. and because you got yourself into this whole big application process because you want to be a physician, i think you'll end up finding yourself just as happy at utsw than penn. after all, you're still following your dream.
 
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I would go ahead and remain on the waitlist. Idt it really mattersif you send in the LOR materials but I wouldn't withdraw. Even if you decide not to go, you may always wonder if you would have gotten in right?
 

canjosh

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For the past ~2 years, and since interviewing in Sept., I've had my heart set on going to Penn for med school. But as the realities of taking out so much money in loans starts to set in, compounded with the whole healthcare system changing and nobody knowing what's going to happen to reimbursement rates, I'm really starting to doubt whether or not that's a smart idea.

I've been accepted to UT Southwestern (in state) with a nice scholarship so that my tuition would be less than $8,000 per year (and I might even get more scholarship $$), and I'm currently on the lovely "tier 1" waitlist at Penn. I've had letters of interest/intent ready to send to Penn in the event that this happened, but now I'm struggling with whether I should just accept my fate (not being accepted to Penn outright), withdraw from Penn and go to UTSW. Then hopefully I can do an away rotation in Philadelphia 4th year and consider going to Philly for residency (eventual location is more important to me than program rank, and I'd eventually like to move to Philadelphia).

UTSW:
Pros: Cheap tuition (<$8,000 per year), cheap cost of living (huge 2 BR apartment w/ all the amenities for $1200), I already have a car, family is close, fiance should definitely be able to find a post-doc at UTSW, lots of friends at UTSW already, I felt like I clicked better with the students (more "normal" people, girlfriends for me to go out on the weekends with, etc.), Parkland + Children's Hospital for training
Cons: Not Philadelphia, 2 year preclinical + grading

Penn:
Pros: "dream school", Philadelphia, 1.5 year preclinical, better for Philadelphia residency?, pass/fail/honors (does it matter?)
(loved everything about the school, the curriculum, and the clinical training)
Cons: $43,000 per year, more expensive cost of living (in center city), where will I put my car?, requires cross-country move, harder for fiance to find a post-doc, turned off by many interviewees I met (not so much the students though) who were from Ivys and seemed like they had their panties in a twist while looking down their nose at me for being from UT Austin (worried this may reflect on a large proportion of the students?), oh and did I mention, lots of DEBT!

Any opinions on whether I should try to get of the waitlist at Penn or just go to UTSW (I really liked the school BTW, no complaints except it's just not Penn, it's just not Philadelphia).

(Hey, at least at UTSW I'd get to wear all my summer clothes + open toe shoes a lot more :love:)


I'd say UTSW all the way, and don't look back!
 

Phosphorus Ylide

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You are looking at a difference of over 100k for tuition over the course of 4 years. You total cost of attending UTSW for the duration of your medical education would be cheaper than a single year at Penn! For me, the choice is obvious.
 
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It doesn't even sound like you enjoyed Penn all that much, other than the fact that you seem to love Philadelphia. If you want to live in Philly, go with your Jefferson or Temple acceptances. I agree with everyone else though, save the money! Go to UTSW!
 

EBLoneStar

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It doesn't even sound like you enjoyed Penn all that much, other than the fact that you seem to love Philadelphia. If you want to live in Philly, go with your Jefferson or Temple acceptances. I agree with everyone else though, save the money! Go to UTSW!
Don't get me wrong, I did love Penn! Maybe my seeming lack of enthusiasm in my post is me subconsciously trying to convince myself (and the people who would respond on here) that UTSW is the best decision.

Thanks for all the replies though! I agree that it's definitely looking like UTSW is the best place for me now. I'm just glad in a way that I did get waitlisted at Penn! Or else it might have been really hard for me to turn it down. :(
 

mdeast

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Don't get me wrong, I did love Penn! Maybe my seeming lack of enthusiasm in my post is me subconsciously trying to convince myself (and the people who would respond on here) that UTSW is the best decision.

Thanks for all the replies though! I agree that it's definitely looking like UTSW is the best place for me now. I'm just glad in a way that I did get waitlisted at Penn! Or else it might have been really hard for me to turn it down. :(
Wow. We have very similar acceptances (and I love Philly too, live here now). Here's my advice. First off, you don't have any other choice really than to enroll at UT-SW. It's the best school you were accepted at, with the lowest debt load (by far). There's really no question.

I think given those circumstances, and the fact that Penn does have decent financial aid (but it will be NOWHERE near UT-SW), it's probably unlikely or at least unsure whether or not you'd accept an offer to come off the waitlist.

My advice would be to stay on, maybe voice your continued interest in Penn, but make sure not to state it is your first choice or that you will definitely enroll if accepted. Honesty is a good route. If you want this process to be over (believe me, I sympathize with that immensely)...I'd suggest just withdrawing and enjoying a very care free summer and start looking forward to a relatively inexpensive 4 years at one of the best US Medical Schools in the country. Very few people are put in that situation in this process, so you should feel lucky and privileged.

Also, keep in mind for Philly that if you're looking to match to Penn (or CHOP), these institutions tend to be slightly biased against graduates of other schools in Philly. Check out the Temple Med, Drexel, and Jeff match lists and you'll be surprised that very few students match to HUP or Pennsylvania Hospital (i've looked into this)...despite the fact that it'd be more likely for local medical students to want to stay in Philly (and they do, but usually at their home institutions, a local hospital, or another non-Penn medical institution).

Oh another note. You can definitely keep your car in the city if you know the creative places to park it on the street (where there's always street parking in Center City). And if you GF is looking for a post-doc...Philly is home to Penn, Drexel, Temple, and Jeff which all have a lot of research going on...if her PhD was in the biological sciences. So she could definitely find a post-doc job. My lab is looking, lol.
 
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LRAccord624

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I actually had a similar situation to yours, so I'll give you my 2 cents. When I applied this past fall, Dartmouth was my 'dream' school. I know some people don't like the location/small town feel but I'm originally from CO and the location + the outdoor activities really appealed to me. I matched to my first choice in TX and was also accepted to Dartmouth.

The problems I anticipated were similar to yours: DEBT, cross country move, difficult for my boyfriend to get a job in the future, etc. Plus, I really felt like I connected to the people in Houston more- they were laid back, mostly had good senses of humor, and were very friendly. I just didn't feel like I fit in as much at Dartmouth. Ultimately, I withdrew, and it was probably the most painful decision I've made. I'll probably always wonder 'what if'. But I know I made the right choice.

I really think you should choose the school where you like the people and feel most comfortable (UTSW). Medical school is going to be a tough time, so having lots of friends in your class will make it better. Plus, at under $8,000/yr... That's hard to pass up.

Good luck with your decision, but I think you already made it. The hard part is following through.
 
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Ugh. I feel your pain. I don't really have any advice because I am grappling with the same problem.... but yeah, you are not alone. This decision is so tough :(
 
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So, like you, Penn was my dream school (but I wasn't lucky enough to get an interview =(. I can definitely see how hard it would be to turn down a chance to go to such a great school. However, after reading your post, it seems like UTSW may be a better fit for you (and I think you've come to this realization too).

It's always hard to have to turn down your dream school for money or any reason really (I didn't have to for med school, but did for undergrad), but sometimes it really is for the best!

After visiting UTSW this past february during MS0 day, I was blown away by the faculty and the other students there. I can not only see myself being here for the next 4 years, but loving every moment of it. I withdrew from all my other schools just because I never ever got that same feeling visiting other schools, and I think its important to be very comfortable in your environment to succeed.

Good luck with your decision and I hope to see you at UTSW next year ^.^
 

MilkmanAl

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From what little info you've posted, there is absolutely no question that you should go to UTSW.

As with anyone pining over a "dream school," I encourage you to deeply consider why you feel it's such a great place. Are they reasons that actually matter? It seems like your primary motivation is the city it's in, and that is a really, really awful thing to base your school choice on unless you have some pressing reason that you need to be in that city. You're not going to be getting out enough for the city to make that much of a difference. I'm in Little Rock and perfectly content, if that tells you anything. What you should be looking at are things like student stress levels, quality of the clinical years (in terms of education, hours, competition, etc.), debt, and class cohesion. If you're a research kind of guy, throw that into the mix, too (though it's sort of moot in this situation since both schools are excellent in that regard).
 

Salt and Lime

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Ugh. I feel your pain. I don't really have any advice because I am grappling with the same problem.... but yeah, you are not alone. This decision is so tough :(
+1

OP, I am probably going to go with the school in the city in which I want to live rather than the school with cheaper tuition. However, the difference in tuition between the schools is nothing like what you're looking at. I am thinking of it as the cost of relocating to the city in which I'd rather live. The extra expense is worth it to me. I would have to spend money to move to the city where the cheaper school is anyhow, and then spend money again to relocate to the city I want to end up in, so I'd rather just move there in the first place.

I can not relate to your love for Philly at all, though. :laugh:
 

paki20

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though you didnt really show that Penn is your deam school in your post (maybe because you haven't been accepted yet and are trying to keep your hopes low) but if Penn is truly your absolute dream school why would you consider turning down a dream?? keep at it if you want to achieve your dream..while there is no guarantee you'll get off the waitlist you're right on the cusp of achieving your dream so don't withdraw..not everyone gets a chance to attend their dream school..and if you dont end up getting in..no worries you're already in at UTSW (an AMAZING school) and there is always residency to live in Philly..but at least you wont have the regret that you didnt give it your best to achieve a dream..i say stay on the waitlist and send LOIs

but congrats UTSW is truly an amazing school..you can't go wrong either way
 
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EBLoneStar

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I guess I might add some of my reasons why Penn, why Philadelphia:

- Penn's clinical neuroscience "certificate" program is perfect for me (Neuro major in undergrad, nerve regeneration research for 3+ years, If I had to choose today, I'd choose Neurology for my speciality)
- I'm leaning toward eventually pursuing an academic career in a major urban medical center, and the patient population in Philadelphia as well as being at Penn for 4 years would be perfect for preparing for that
- I already know some researchers at Penn I could potentially do research with
- Amazing training at HUP and CHOP + others
- Penn has amazing facilities, a beautiful campus, 1.5 year preclinical which would give me more time for research/elective rotations, less stressful grading scheme

- My fiance is originally from Philadelphia and his parents and 3 of his best friends all live there, and we've talked for the last few years about relocating to Philadelphia for the long term. I'm worried if we both go to Dallas now, with the hope of going to Philadelphia for residency (If I can even get a good residency in Philadelphia, which is a big IF coming from Texas or so I feel...), it's going to be really difficult since our schedules will be offset (me = med school 4 years, residency 3-7 years?; him = 2-3 years for post-doc, then 2-3 years for next post doc, then looking for junior faculty positions for which there are lots more options in Philadelphia)
- Philadelphia has decent public transportation so I wouldn't have to drive friggin' everywhere

*sigh*

Sorry to see that so many other people seem to be struggling with similar decisions (practicality vs. first choice school)
 

jbz24

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There's no reason not to just leave your name on the list and see what happens. It seems that the odds are against you for getting off Penn's waitlist (just by looking at how difficult it is to get off as mentioned in some other threads), so it more than likely won't be your decision to make anyway. I hope that doesn't sound harsh. Also, many of the reasons you mentioned (excluding the research interests) point more towards you wanting to be in Philadelphia as opposed to Penn only, so I would consider Jefferson as well. However, UTSW is an excellent school and in my opinion, the best in Texas. I most likely wouldn't choose Jefferson over UTSW unless the location and personal factors supersede prestige and cost.
 

mdeast

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I guess I might add some of my reasons why Penn, why Philadelphia:

- Penn's clinical neuroscience "certificate" program is perfect for me (Neuro major in undergrad, nerve regeneration research for 3+ years, If I had to choose today, I'd choose Neurology for my speciality)
- I'm leaning toward eventually pursuing an academic career in a major urban medical center, and the patient population in Philadelphia as well as being at Penn for 4 years would be perfect for preparing for that
- I already know some researchers at Penn I could potentially do research with
- Amazing training at HUP and CHOP + others
- Penn has amazing facilities, a beautiful campus, 1.5 year preclinical which would give me more time for research/elective rotations, less stressful grading scheme

- My fiance is originally from Philadelphia and his parents and 3 of his best friends all live there, and we've talked for the last few years about relocating to Philadelphia for the long term. I'm worried if we both go to Dallas now, with the hope of going to Philadelphia for residency (If I can even get a good residency in Philadelphia, which is a big IF coming from Texas or so I feel...), it's going to be really difficult since our schedules will be offset (me = med school 4 years, residency 3-7 years?; him = 2-3 years for post-doc, then 2-3 years for next post doc, then looking for junior faculty positions for which there are lots more options in Philadelphia)
- Philadelphia has decent public transportation so I wouldn't have to drive friggin' everywhere

*sigh*

Sorry to see that so many other people seem to be struggling with similar decisions (practicality vs. first choice school)
Just to point out...Penn only has P/F the first semester. The rest of pre-clinical is P/F/Honors. Clerkships are Honors/High Pass/Pass/F....so the grading scheme isn't super non-stressful. Also, Penn does have some great facilities....but even compared to other Philly medical schools, they're not so great. Temple has a brand new medical school building, Jeff has a new building as well, plus a nice hospital. HUP is a pretty rundown, somewhat depressing place...sort of reminds me of NYP...rundown facility full of great doctors, although probably not to the extreme of NYP-Columbia. CHOP is beautiful, but you'll spend relatively little time in CHOP as a med student. Penn has some nice, new research buildings (as well as the CAM...although, that's more out-patient stuff than in-patient). I think Penn is awesome and I still really want to go there too... but don't discount it's imperfections.

If you REALLY, REALLY want to live in Philly, you should be enrolling at Jeff (or Temple, if that's your preference) regardless of you eventual status at Penn. Given your reluctance to enroll at those schools over UT-SW, it's clear that you also have a bigger priority for cost/ranking. It's a tough decision, and considering you're still up in the air, why not just stay on and see what happens?

Be careful about writing LOIs though. You don't want to burn any bridges by backing out.
 

bigman225

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Think about yourself 10 years down the road looking to start a family, buy a house, etc. The extra money just isn't worth it, especially when talking about comparable schools. I am in a similar situation ("good school" verses "dream school + 200k extra debt") and will be going with the money.
 
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I guess I might add some of my reasons why Penn, why Philadelphia:

- Penn's clinical neuroscience "certificate" program is perfect for me (Neuro major in undergrad, nerve regeneration research for 3+ years, If I had to choose today, I'd choose Neurology for my speciality)
- I'm leaning toward eventually pursuing an academic career in a major urban medical center, and the patient population in Philadelphia as well as being at Penn for 4 years would be perfect for preparing for that
- I already know some researchers at Penn I could potentially do research with
- Amazing training at HUP and CHOP + others
- Penn has amazing facilities, a beautiful campus, 1.5 year preclinical which would give me more time for research/elective rotations, less stressful grading scheme

- My fiance is originally from Philadelphia and his parents and 3 of his best friends all live there, and we've talked for the last few years about relocating to Philadelphia for the long term. I'm worried if we both go to Dallas now, with the hope of going to Philadelphia for residency (If I can even get a good residency in Philadelphia, which is a big IF coming from Texas or so I feel...), it's going to be really difficult since our schedules will be offset (me = med school 4 years, residency 3-7 years?; him = 2-3 years for post-doc, then 2-3 years for next post doc, then looking for junior faculty positions for which there are lots more options in Philadelphia)
- Philadelphia has decent public transportation so I wouldn't have to drive friggin' everywhere

*sigh*

Sorry to see that so many other people seem to be struggling with similar decisions (practicality vs. first choice school)

I think I saw you at UTSW; you were there for a second look with your roommate after you previously interviewed.

In short, go with UTSW: 1) 7th Most Cited Institution in neurobiology (ScienceWatch) i.e. great research opportunities & $3k stipend for summer research, + official distinction in research is available which would greatly benefit you in your quest for a place in the ivory tower eventually, 2) CHEAP CHEAP education, 3) Did you see the 2010 match list?! :laugh: Neurology matches to Hopkins, Harvard, UTSW, and UCSF 4) Better living situation 5) The grading system as you probably know is now P/F the first semester which helps a lot, plus for neurology you can land a great residency without being top n%tile

No Contest IMO
 
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EBLoneStar

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I think I saw you at UTSW; you were there for a second look with your roommate after you previously interviewed.

In short, go with UTSW: 1) 7th Most Cited Institution in neurobiology (ScienceWatch) i.e. great research opportunities & $3k stipend for summer research, + official distinction in research is available which would greatly benefit you in your quest for a place in the ivory tower eventually, 2) CHEAP CHEAP education, 3) Did you see the 2010 match list?! :laugh: Neurology matches to Hopkins, Harvard, UTSW, and UCSF 4) Better living situation 5) The grading system as you probably know is now P/F the first semester which helps a lot, plus for neurology you can land a great residency without being top n%tile

No Contest IMO

Thanks for the info! It makes me feel better about my mobility (i.e., getting out of Texas!) for residency without having to compromise on my choice of speciality.

And yep! That was me, coming back to visit again with my roommate. UTSW was my first interview, and I had since been to ~10 places around the country, and everything was a big giant blur!

And in response to others, the reason I kind of just want to decide where I'm going now and withdraw from Penn if it's for the best is I want to find an apartment, sign a lease, and move in the middle of the summer if I can. And I need to decide for sure so that my fiance can start contacting PIs for post docs.

Basically I feel like if I'm going to hold out for Penn, I almost need to be okay with going to Jeff or Temple if it I don't end up getting off the waitlist (since I'd need to decide for sure to move to Philly). But I just can't see myself paying 4X as much to go to one of those as opposed to UTSW.

I'm definitely leaning toward UTSW though, even if I got a call tomorrow saying I was in at Penn (totally not going to happen, I know). Thanks for everyone's help in putting things more into perspective. :)
 

scrubswannabe

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and I'm not saying that because I'm on the waitlist for Penn or anything lol
but the above posts were really informative and convincing

its not worth the money or giving up all the advantages that you said UTSW offers
 

MossPoh

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Two very solid schools. In the long run money wins hands down. It would've before this whole sky is falling panic people are having as well.

Seriously, reimbursments have been going down for well over 20 years with a brief pause during the Clinton administration. As my dad (a doctor) said when we were talking about it on the phone, "If it is what your passion is then it shouldn't matter anyway." Which is true to most reasonable levels, which is where we will be. Hell, when you look at speciality satisfaction and even satisfaction rates within an individual speciality, the lower paying gigs tend to rate higher. The lowest are opth, derm, etc. and the highest is usually FP. Academics make less in all fields and they tend to have higher satisfaction.

Several reasons to consider Upenn over utsw.
1) It'd eat at you your entire life that you didnt.
This is a slight possibility. Honestly though, once you start medical school you realize that it really doesn't matter. You'll make some of the best friends of your life (and some people you will hate). The experience is whatever you make it.

2) You have a high likilehood of doing HPSP or are VERY interested in primary care fields in underserved areas for scholarships.
Only do HPSP if you want to serve in the military. Not for the cash. Less extreme options may include national guard stuff that could knock 10-20k off a year.

3) You have a significant other or dying relative in Philly who can't leave no matter what.
I was able to be with my grandmother when she died. I was able to hang with my dad when he was in the hospital sick. Those are experiences that define me more than any loan repayment will. The significant other is a little lower on the priority list. That money saved, you could fly and visit him or her quite a bit.

4) You killed a man in Texas.
Pretty self explanatory. Chuck Norris will come get you.....unless you're Laura Bush.
 

SouthernSurgeon

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I see no harm in staying on the penn waitlist for now. At this point it is just what you said - a dream.

If you take yourself off the WL - don't you think part of you will always wonder what if?

Make the decision if and when you have to. No reason to make it now without all the information in hand.
 

EBLoneStar

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I see no harm in staying on the penn waitlist for now. At this point it is just what you said - a dream.

If you take yourself off the WL - don't you think part of you will always wonder what if?

Make the decision if and when you have to. No reason to make it now without all the information in hand.

The reason is because if I'm going to choose UTSW regardless of what happens, I need to decide NOW so my fiance can start contacting PIs for postdocs in dallas and I can potentially sign a lease in the next month or so in Dallas. Once these two things have happened, there will be no way for me to realistically decide to go to Penn even if I do get in off the waitlist.

I wish this whole process was completed several months earlier, so that even being taken off the waitlist "at the last minute" meant two months or so before school started.
 

mdeast

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The reason is because if I'm going to choose UTSW regardless of what happens, I need to decide NOW so my fiance can start contacting PIs for postdocs in dallas and I can potentially sign a lease in the next month or so in Dallas. Once these two things have happened, there will be no way for me to realistically decide to go to Penn even if I do get in off the waitlist.

I wish this whole process was completed several months earlier, so that even being taken off the waitlist "at the last minute" meant two months or so before school started.
I'm trying not to be biased because I'm also on the Penn Waitlist and want to attend, so there is a conflict of interest in my advice.

But, honestly....there is nothing wrong with withdrawing and just moving on with this decision. I still don't see any disadvantage to attending UT-SW. Especially considering that your friends and family are there, it'd be easier for your significant other to get a job, it's way less expensive, you're on a time crunch, etc. Philly will always be here for residency...just check out the UTSW match list. I'd imagine that anyone who wanted to match in Philly...did match in Philly.
 
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Right, you have to keep in mind that it's difficult for us to just look at a final match list and analyze it. There's a pretty good chance that a lot of students at UTSW want to stay in TX and not as many want to go out of state, which explains the large # of Texas residencies. I guess the best way is to talk to students to see how difficult it was for them or their classmates to match to out-of-state residencies.
 
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Pre-Medical
The reason is because if I'm going to choose UTSW regardless of what happens, I need to decide NOW so my fiance can start contacting PIs for postdocs in dallas and I can potentially sign a lease in the next month or so in Dallas. Once these two things have happened, there will be no way for me to realistically decide to go to Penn even if I do get in off the waitlist.

I wish this whole process was completed several months earlier, so that even being taken off the waitlist "at the last minute" meant two months or so before school started.
I am in a similar situation bc I am accepted at a cheap school and also WL'd at high ranking prestige school. As far as your situation is concerned, couldn't you have your fiance contact PIs in both places and tell them the situation? I'm sure they would understand. Also, I am just leaving the signing of the lease for the beginning of summer when I will know 100% if Im off the WL. The apratment things shouldn't be a deal breaker. I agree w athe above ppl in that you should at least remain on the WL if only to see "what if". You've paid the app fees and obviously have had a vested interest in the place for a while. Might as well see it through. You can play it by ear and if/when you get off the WL you can jusdge whether it would indeed be too difficult to start making new arrangements.
 
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