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Go to the cheapest school you get into?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by swtiepie711, Mar 14, 2007.

  1. swtiepie711

    swtiepie711 Senior Member
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    This thought was sparked by another thread, and I was curious to see what others on SDN think about the notion that applicants should go to the cheapest school they get into. It seems the thought there is that you can't predict where you'll end up (what specialty, what job, etc.), and so it's wisest to invest as little as possible so as to position yourself optimally (in view of financials) for the future. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

    Also, what are your thoughts on choosing a cheaper state school over more expensive private school which is higher ranked, may have better faculty, may have a stronger alumni network (not sure how, if at all, this plays in), etc? What is the ranking difference was significant (say, #10 vs. #50?) (of course, this brings in the issue of USNews rankings, how they aren't the most accurate, etc, but they're the best we've got)?

    Anyways, just curious to see what people think of this notion :confused:
     
  2. IckeyShuffle

    IckeyShuffle MS1 t-minus 1.5 months..
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    go to the school that best fits your needs/personality. if you are big city person do not go to Vermont. If you are a moutain man/woman do not go to NYU. If you have butt loads of money go wherever you want. if you want to save money go where you will be the happiest at the best price. it is such a subjective issue. besides, you know what something is worth? it is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it.
     
  3. KaraKiz

    KaraKiz I'm Ron Burgundy?
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    Ah the fundamental principle of economics.. you should read The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford. Its very good. You'd prob dig it.:thumbup:

    SwtiePie: I am an advocate of going to the school you fell in love with, even if its more expensive. As much as I love money, I love me more. :) Many others on this forum would say to go with the cheaper option. I guess it just depends on your personality.
     
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  4. jsnuka

    jsnuka Senior Member
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    The thought behind the "go to the cheapest med school" thing is that at the end of the pipeline, an MD is an MD. No one is goign to care where you went to school. The only thing that will matter is that you treat your patients with compassion, that you listen to them b/c no one knows their body better than him/herself and that you know what you are talking about in administering that care.

    Why accumulate a TON of debt when it is not necessary, if in the end you are all equal?:confused:

    Makes no good sense.

    Besides, being smart about the application process and your career projection thereafter, you can make your undergraduate medical education be as similar to the cool aspects of any other medical school in the country, if you are so inclined/motivated.

    Why pay more when you can do it on the cheap some place else?:confused:
     
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  5. dutchman

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    Biggest concerns for physicians today:

    1)DEBT
    2)Litigation
    3)Lifestyle

    If you don't have a lot of debt, you can cut down on #1 and #3, take it for what it's worth.
     
  6. OP
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    swtiepie711

    swtiepie711 Senior Member
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    I guess this becomes difficult because, of the 3 schools I'm debating between (2 private, 1 state, and I feel very fortunate to have these options), I loved aspects about them, but I'm a realist - I see the pros/cons of all choices (i.e. the best ranked of the 3 had great facilities & a name to boot, but would require my husband and I to move thousands of miles away from family/friends to a place that isn't as nice as where we could go if we chose, say, the cheaper state school, which affords us nice weather, cheaper tuition, but may not have the facilities, faculty, etc of, say, the other private schools)....

    I guess what I'm saying is, of course, I'd choose the one I love most if there was indeed one I loved most. And, sadly, the last school I'm waiting on is the one I would go to in a heartbeat above the others, but I haven't heard back post-interview. So I know I'd be happy with various aspects of each school and less happy with others, none stands out apart from the rest as having far more pros than cons, so I'm left with a stalemate. And it becomes what's most important:

    Cost? Then the state school wins.
    Location? Then the state school or state private school win, but the OOS private school loses.
    Proximity to family? Again, the state school or state private school win, but the OOS private school loses......
    Prestige/Reputation/Rank: OOS private school clearly wins.
    The list goes on, and there's no clear cut winner....

    I have a feeling I'll be headed to at least 2 out of 3 of the second looks, but I was just curious about the whole minimize-your-debt-maximize-your-financial-situation-afterwards theory

    Thanks to all or any who share their thoughts!! :)
     
  7. KaraKiz

    KaraKiz I'm Ron Burgundy?
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    Swtiepie - can you go to all 3 second looks? Maybe it will help you with your decision.
     
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  8. HumbleMD

    HumbleMD hmmmm...
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    I've arrived at the point where the concept of debt is terriffying me, so if one school is substantially lower than another (by a possible scholarship or otherwise) I'll be attending them. The schools I'm looking at are pretty much all on a similar level, that I would be confident I'd get a comparable quality of education, access to resources, and location in any of them, so it'll all come down to money in April...
     
  9. psipsina

    psipsina Senior Member
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    I am a strong believer that medschool is what you make of it. The minor disadvantages of a non big name school is that you will have to put out a bigger effor to make connections within a field of interest (i.e. do away rotations if there isn't a big name in that field at your school) and that your school might not have a strong reputation with all residency directors. The first one is easily overcome, and the second is nowhere near the top of the list of how a resident is ranked and can also be overcome by doing an away rotation at a program you are interested in thereby proving your ability to perform so you don't have to be judged by your schools name. I don't think its ever been shown that the proffessors are better at private schools, in fact they might be worse because they probably are stronger researchers who are more involved in their lab than preparing for your lecture, and most preclinical learning is done on your own anyway, many of us don't even go to class and still rock out our exams. There have been arguments that maybe private schools better prepare you for the step 1 because they tend to have some high averages, but this is probably just a function of the fact that they only accept people with killer mcats which means all their students are good test takers and self motivators. As far as clinical experience goes it depends on the hospital affilations, not the school's name, and often the big public hospitals affiliated with state schools offer more hands on experience anyway. The quality of clinicians as teachers will vary anywhere you go, because its more about individual personality than prestigiousness, anecdotally I've had amazing experiences with every clinician I've worked with at my little state school in the deep south. So all of the big factors in your competitiveness for residency are pretty much depending on you, how hard you work, what your inate potential is, your personality on the wards etc. So we get down to the nitty gritty which is where are you going to be happiest and least stressed so you can be all the medstudent you can be, and this is a personal thing. You might have just fallen in love with the vibe of one school and really felt uncomfortable somewhere else. You may have issues with certain locations or distance from family or ability for your spouse's interests. Then finally there is cost. Cheeper is better, whether because its a lower tuition or because you have a fat scholarship offer. So you have to balance these last things out. I wouldn't go somewhere I was going to hate because it was cheep, but I would go (and did) to the cheepest option that I feel I could be happy at and therefore maximize my full potential.
     
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  10. OP
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    swtiepie711

    swtiepie711 Senior Member
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    Technically, yes (I think). Two are in April, the third is in May (I believe, though they haven't announced it yet). However, I wish I could just come to a decision already! Ack - it's tough not knowing where you'll be in 6 months, and it's even more tough because I'm married - so the two of us don't know where we'll be in 6 months. It would be nice to have even narrowed a little - so we can start looking at housing, jobs for my husband, etc. I cannot believe that this process has been going on for over 9 months and still isn't over yet.... :(

    Thanks for your thoughts, Karakiz, and for anyone else who has or will contribute to the discussion!
     
  11. sirus_virus

    sirus_virus nonsense poster
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    Maybe it is my business background that makes me wonder why this topic is still under debate. Having said that, I will not pay more for a medical education if there was any other cheaper options. Actually, I don't believe people should go above 80K in debt for medschool, that is just my opinion.
     
  12. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California
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    I feel for you, swtiepie. Choosing a medical school is challenging enough when you're only looking out for #1. Throw in a partner and it becomes a whole lot harder.

    If you absolutely fell head-over-heels in love with one school to an extent that every other choice feels like a let down, I'd bite the bullet on cost. But I don't see that as your situation. If you can see being very happy at all of your options, I'd have finances weigh in pretty heavily.
     
  13. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California
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    That said, swtiepie, you're married. For folks who are single and unattached, this probably doesn't bear the weight it does for those of us with chains, sorry, rings.

    For the next four years of medical school (and three to seven years after that for residency/fellowship), you will not be the sort of spouse you'd probably like to be. You'll be distracted, stressed and less available than you usually are. No matter how supportive your spouse is, there will be times that they will feel unloved, underappreciated, and ignored.

    To me, this is a necessary evil of becoming a doctor while married. But an evil nonetheless. I'm trying to combat this by doing everything that I can in choosing a school that will help make my wife happy. For me, choosing a school in an area that she can be happy (family, job opportunities, hobbies) is absolutely critical, because to some degree she'll have a lot more time to enjoy it than I will.

    Tough decisions, swtiepie. Just be sure to involve your husband in your decision as much as you can. He'll probably do the selfless thing of "it's all up to you, honey..." (my wife does this to the point of irritation), but I'd do whatever I could to make him feel of the process and that his happiness is a big determinant as well. He'll have to make a whole lot of sacrifices for the next 4 to 11 years, so I'd make his satisfaction paramount too. Med school is going to be tricky in the best of times; juggling med school with an unhappy spouse, to me, would be exponentially harder.
     
  14. ClockworkDoc

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    I would consider cost at the top of my list of things that I like/dislike about a school.
     
  15. 45408

    45408 aw buddy
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    I picked a school that's $10K more per year because I felt I would have a much better chance at doing well here. I wouldn't have liked a number of things about the cheaper school.
     
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    swtiepie711

    swtiepie711 Senior Member
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    I wholeheartedly agree! That was what made me hesitate about medicine in the first place - the desire to have a happy, healthy personal & family life. But my folks are doctors, I have good role models and an excellent support system (huge props to my husband who is more supportive that I could ever have hoped to have in a partner), and I know that we can have it all - it will just take careful planning, decision making and a will - where there's a will, there's a way....

    I want us both to be happy, but more for him. I know I'm facing a tough time ahead with med school, but that's "my" choice; I would never want to drag him to a place he doesn't want to live far from those his family/friends where he might encounter difficulty finding a job. This would be a recipe for disaster - I would never want him to be unhappy for I treasure him above all else and I would never want a choice "I" made to negatively affect our marriage.

    He has very much been a part of this process, but he does as your wife does, "If you want to go to XYZ, I'm right there with you." I have a pretty strong inkling that he'd rather stay in state (due to family, friends, weather, location, job prospects, etc.), and I have a pretty strong inkling he'd prefer the state school (cost, housing possibilities, location within the state, etc.).... This combined with the fact that the state school = lower debt for me/us has me leaning (today) toward it.... Though, of course, my thoughts change daily....

    I guess I just worry that the outcome of attending said state school would somehow lead to a less desireable outcome than attending one of the other schools - but this is the great unknown, something I certainly won't be able to figure out by May 15th ;)

    Oy, what a process, guys, what a process! This is why I keep hoping for my other state school to sweep in & accept me - that one has it all! Location, cost, reputation, etc. :) Haha, a girl can dream.... :love:
     
  17. photo_girl07

    photo_girl07 Western Blot Queen
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    I know I will be in debt after medschool...so I really don't want the money to determine where I go to med school. I'd rather go to a school where I will be the happiest and a school the supports a healthy lifestyle *less stressful and sunny*:cool:

    Just my $0.02
     
  18. OP
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    swtiepie711

    swtiepie711 Senior Member
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    I agree - I think my question lies in that I don't know where I'll be the happiest - though I believe it will be in state (CA) so that leaves me with 2 options here thus far. As you know from the other thread, I'm just waiting on lil' ole UCLA, which would be my top choice, to send me some love :luck: :love: but in the meantime, I need to start narrowing my possibilities as I haven't heard from LA yet and May 15th is rapidly approaching :scared:
     
  19. gary5

    gary5 Senior Member
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    There's no correct answer. It depends on what's important to you. I chose a private med school over a public, and I'd do it again. If you're really frugal, then choose the cheaper one. But remember, in general, you get what you pay for.
     
  20. NonTradMed

    NonTradMed Perpetual Student
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    Cost should figure into consideration of which school you want to go to, but it should not be the overriding factor. If the cost is small, say $10k, then it makes sense to look into other factors such as research (do they have that available?), area (is the area a place you could see yourself possibly doing residency?), rotations (do they have good hospitals setup within short distance?), faculties/students, facilitites (are they any good?). It makes no sense, IMHO, to save a small amount of money and get a lesser education or an unhappy experience. I don't believe all med schools are created equal b/c not all med schools have the same resources for what one may be looking for in a med school. Some med schools will stress research, others primary care etc. It makes no sense to go into a school that focuses on primary care if you know it's not your interest, but if they offer you a lot of money, then take it into consideration.

    I knew someone who got two fullrides, one to the local state school, one to a top 20 school with a big research name. If she had gone to the local state school, she would not have to pay ANYTHING. Going to the top twenty school would have forced her to shell out an extra $15k/yr for living expenses.

    In the end, she decided that it was worth the extra $15/yr to go to a school with a bigger school name, a better reputation, and a matchlist which placed disporportionate number of people into competitive residencies at top places, plus the location was much better.

    The $15k was then paid in part through subsidized loans which accued no interest in school. Also, her parents were solidly middle class and she had no siblings so they could shell out a few thousands to cover anything beyond the subsidized loans. She hopes to get into a competitive field.

    Now maybe she would have ended up in the same residency had she stayed at the local state school (no debt), but I think that extra $15/yr was worth the extra prestige and 'boost' to her application should she choose to go into derm (she is considering it), especially since the school she choose has such an excellent research network and resources (well known med school for it). But my friend also decided not to go to an even better school which gave her NO scholarship because the cost (to her) was too high for the added 'prestige' that school brought.

    The school she choose balanced out her goal of cost, prestige/reputation, location. I think this type of thinking is how most people should approach picking med school (should they be so lucky to have more than one choice). Ask yourself if the extra money is worth the whatever extra that the more expensive school may provide.
     
  21. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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    Do you have your financial aid packages yet? If not, it makes no sense to even worry yourself like this until you do. :) Private schools do tend to have higher tuition, but they also sometimes give people more grants. I would advise you not to make any decision until you have those aid packages in hand. In addition, choosing a school that is somewhere close to family and will make your spouse happy is a HUGE consideration, particularly if you plan to stay happily married while you're in med school. ;) If I were in your position based upon all the info you've given us, I would choose one of the state schools without a second thought. Not only is it probably cheaper, but it would make your spouse happy. I can't imagine being married and feeling like USNWR's choice is more important than my spouse's happiness, our mutual financial future, and being close to people who love me. But that's just me. :)
     
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    swtiepie711

    swtiepie711 Senior Member
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    Thanks for your thoughts, QofQuimica! I, too, couldn't imagine choosing for ranking alone (in fact, it troubles me to consider it too strongly at all).

    The only problem with what you said is that I have 2 acceptances in my state in the same region of the state (one urban, one suburban) but one is private, one is public.

    For spouse's happiness, either would work (but I believe the suburban environment would be more enjoyable for us both & cause him to worry a little less about me going to/from campus, say, at night, etc.)

    For mutual financial future, state school would be better (no, I don't have the financial package from the private school, but I know I'm probably going to get jack)

    For being close to people who love us, either would work.

    For job prospects for my husband, either would work.

    For better preparation for me as a physician, I don't know.

    Therein lies the dilemma.

    Again and again, thanks for your thoughts. I know that this is very much a "personal" decision (or in my case, a mutual decision), but I enjoy hearing other peoples' thoughts on the matter (part of my decision making process). Do let me know if you any thoughts on cost, public vs. private, choosing schools, etc. :)
     
  23. Kfire326

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    I'd say go wherever you'd be happy. Med school is med school... you learn the same stuff, take the same boards either way. If spending less money makes you happy, go for it.
     
  24. diosa428

    diosa428 SDN Angel
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    If the state school is a UC, and you want to stay in CA for residency and beyond, then go to the UC. All the UCs are well respected, great schools, and you'll have an edge on getting a CA residency (unless the out of state private school is like Harvard or Hopkins).
     
  25. OP
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    swtiepie711

    swtiepie711 Senior Member
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    I had wanted to keep the posts as bare bones as possible to get as much objective thoughts on the whole cost factor, but I guess now it wouldn't hurt the discussion too much to throw out the schools: UC Irvine, USC and WashU. Given everything above, thoughts?

    My gut says USC or UCI, not WashU (for the happiness of my husband and myself).

    For USC: LA County's supposedly great clinical training, but I don't know how much is just being thrown into the deep end due to staffing issues/high volume/etc. USC has an almost cult-like alumni network - don't know if that would help in landing a residency/job down the line at all. USC faculty interviewer was the most amazingly enthusiastic, interesting, interested, etc. faculty member I met on my interviews. But USC's in a cruddy area (yes, this is arguable, but for personal living circumstances, it ain't so hot), facilities seemed old when I was there (though not much different from UCI), cost is high, and I didn't get to meet many students. I believe it's P/F in the 1st two years and systems-based curriculum, which I like the idea of.

    UCI, on the other hand, is cheaper, suburban, potentially great housing situation if it works out. However, I'm not too familiar with the clinical training at UCI (haven't been able to get much info on that from anyone), the clinical sites are spread out (translates to a lot of car commute time), several people I know had never even heard that UCI had a medical school, the students I met seemed really chill/friendly/etc. However, they were making fun of the people who try to get Honors (grading is H/P/F, which is another potential con) and for some reason that gave me a funny vibe. Also, minor note, they supposedly have tests almost every Monday (someone said 9 out of the 1st 11 weeks they had Monday tests), and that just sucks.

    The USC vs. UCI debate is a ridiculously tough one for me (one that I have already gotten some advice on SDN for - sorry guys, to bring it up again! I tried to limit this to schools & cost in general, not the schools I'm specifically deciding between). I guess what prompted me to start this thread is, if I'm that unsure, should I not just choose the cheaper school???
     
  26. diosa428

    diosa428 SDN Angel
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    FYI - Monday tests are better than Friday tests. You study all weekend. Yes, that seems to kill your weekend, but really you will probably relax on Friday and have all day Sat/Sun to do work. We have mostly Monday tests, with some Friday tests, and the Friday tests are much worse because you either #1 - miss classes that aren't on the exam so that you can study and then have to play catch up, or #2 - go to class and then have less time to study. And frequent tests are a pain, because you feel like you're always studying, but there is less material on each exam, which makes the studying easier.
     
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    swtiepie711

    swtiepie711 Senior Member
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    Thanks, Diosa! I really appreciate that perspective - hadn't really thought about it like that (the need to skip class to prepare for a friday exam, etc.) Thanks for shedding some light to aspect!
     
  28. p9142

    p9142 UR out of your element!
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    UCI, no contest. Its a well thought of school, plus you will get in-state tuition. At WashU they will ask you for your parents financial info to get anything knocked off of their atrocious 40K tuition, plus you would have to live in St Louis. Its bad enough for just you, but asking your husband to move from California to Missouri might be grounds for divorce.
     
  29. OP
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    swtiepie711

    swtiepie711 Senior Member
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    :laugh: LOL I agree - thought it was pretty silly, what was I thinking?!? :oops:
     
  30. etsuprinthead

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    i'm going to the school i'm in love with, even though, yes, rent in berkeley costs a whole lot more than in little old johnson city, tn (where?). i think of med school as my last chance to go away from home with few responsibilities (i.e. no husband or kids), so i'm going to take it. anyway, i plan on doing a "loan forgiveness" program and work on an indian reservation or some such place in order to get it paid off.
     
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    swtiepie711

    swtiepie711 Senior Member
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    To me, this supports the theory that if there's a clear favorite in your pack of acceptances, choose it even if it would be more expensive. Again, my issue is that there isn't a clear favorite - so does cost become a or the deciding factor?

    BTW congrats on Berkeley/UCSF - that's an awesome program, great reputation, great location!!!
     
  32. honker

    honker Junior Member
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    The easy answer is to go with your gut. On a bit more dispassionate note, what are your long term plans in the medical field? If you are certain that your dream is to be an academician at a med school doing teaching and research activities, then Wash U would be the most appropriate choice. If you are planning on primary care or such, then UCI is a more cost-effective option. If you want to get a hypercompetitive residency, such as derm or ortho, then Wash U would give you a leg up on that. I don't see USC as a reasonable choice for you if money is an issue. The obvious solution is to snag a place at UCLA!..Good luck.:D
     
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  33. Biscuit799

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    OP: This is the smartest idea I've ever seen posted on this forum!! :thumbup:
     
  34. kbear12

    kbear12 Wishin' and Hopin'
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    Swtiepie, have you sat down and calculated the cost differences between the three schools? I did this yesterday and realized UCI was only about 10K cheaper over four years than a private school I am considering on the East Coast. As much as I love CA, it is a very expensive state and the OC is one of THE most expensive places to live. And you are right, you will be spending a lot of time community on the freeway to clinical site for UCI (not fun when gas prices are so outrageous).

    Additionally, the regents just approved a big fee increase at all the UC schools which will translate to a 10-12% fee hike in the fall for UC med students. This was all over the news in CA this afternoon.

    http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/03/14/BAGB4OL5HU13.DTL

    St. Louis is not a bad city (I have spent a lot of time there) and it's not expensive. And isn't WashU's tuition stabilized over the next four years??
     
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  35. phishee

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    I asked my M1 student interviewer and she said they don't make you do anything you aren't ready for. If you feel uncomfortable you can always just watch. Her and her roommates were practicing stitching on pig's feet so that they would feel ready to do it in County.
    I've never lived in LA, but Irvine rent is up there and I would say comparable to LA living cost. So maybe you can take that out of your cost equation. And yes, I know that still leaves the huge difference in tuition. If you don't love one more than the other, I guess go for UCI. I would say wait till April to see if USC gives you any financial aid. Also keep in mind that you do not have to live right next to USC; there are some nice surrounding areas.
    Good luck on your decision, and I agree with the other poster. Don't make your husband move to WashU, especially since you're not dying to go there. With your busy schedule in the coming years, you should try to keep as many factors in your home/marriage life stable. And having friends and family around could help a great deal.
     
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  36. Gut Shot

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    Eh, M1 and M2 teaching at all medical schools is marginalized. Highly ranked schools become highly ranked by attracting research dollars and brilliant clinicians, not by great teaching. Faculty in general find medical student instruction a disdainful burden, and it shows. I can guarantee that if you were to attend class, even at many top institutions, you would be appalled by the shoddy lectures and poorly conceived course curricula.
     
  37. crazy_cavalier

    crazy_cavalier T3-Weighted
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    The best way to pick your school is to answer the question: "which school would I be happiest at?"

    While you are on the interview trail, you will get a sense of whether a school "felt right" or not for you. While tuition is certainly important, can you honestly argue that an overall additional $10k-$40k is really going to make or break the deal for you in the long term, given that your total loan debt is going to be in the neighborhood of $130k-160k regardless? Or let me rephrase that for you: is it worth it to be miserable for 4 years at a school that has cheaper tuition?

    Honestly, just pick which school you liked the best. Whatever factors influence that - perhaps setting, or the feel/atmosphere you got from the students or administration or just the school itself - go with that.
     
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  38. HumbleMD

    HumbleMD hmmmm...
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    Wow, when did we arrive at the point in life that $40,000 dollars becomes trivial. I hope I'm not the only non trust fund kid here...
     
  39. OP
    OP
    swtiepie711

    swtiepie711 Senior Member
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    Thank you! I 100% agree!

    The only point when I would be swayed is if I had a clear cut favorite that would cost more - that would be tough. But if you don't have a clear cut favorite &/or you could see yourself happy at multiple places, what becomes the deciding factor? cost?
     
  40. HumbleMD

    HumbleMD hmmmm...
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    For me, yes, but I'm not everyone. Do you have financial aid awards yet? Have your schools decided on scholarships yet?
     
  41. crazy_cavalier

    crazy_cavalier T3-Weighted
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    A.) If it's the difference between 4 years of being generally miserable and 4 years of being generally happy, one could argue that it is worth the difference, given that your total debt is going to be ~$130k-160k regardless
    B.) You dont have to have a trust fund to adopt this viewpoint.
    C.) Some doctors make 40k in two months. Some even make it in one month.

    At what point would you argue the price differential for tuition is insignificant? $5k? $10k? What criteria do you use and how do you determine it?

    Picking the cheapest school is NOT the best approach to picking the school you attend. The best approach is to pick the school that you liked the most // would feel happiest at.
     
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  42. crazy_cavalier

    crazy_cavalier T3-Weighted
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    All other things considered equal, then pick cost of tuition to help you decide. It seems obvious that if you are equally happy at school A and school B, then you would turn to cost to help you decide.
     
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  43. smq123

    smq123 John William Waterhouse
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    Hi -
    First off, congratulations on having such a tough choice to make! You got into some very good schools.

    That aside, I know how hard it is to make this decision. You don't know what questions to ask as a pre-med. You'll figure out which questions to ask once you finish your first year of med school, but by then it's too late. And it's notoriously hard to get straight answers anyway. However, knowing what I know now (as an MS2), this is what I would ask if I were in your position:

    1) How are the classes graded? Are they graded on a curve?

    2) What is the cut-off for a "Pass?" Is the cut-off predetermined, or does it vary according to the class average? (I personally like knowing in advance what I need to shoot for, but everyone's different.)

    3) What kind of student atmosphere is there? Do they cooperate by sharing notes, or is their interaction limited to the classroom and the corner bar?

    4) How receptive is the faculty to student input? For instance, do they allow students to challenge exam questions? If a student has a genuine complaint, do they feel comfortable coming forward and speaking up, or is that kind of thing discouraged? Do students feel that their student deans are truly there to advocate for them, or is the general impression that the deans aren't very helpful?

    5) If a student had a personal/academic problem, do they feel like there is someone in the administration that they can turn to for help and guidance? Or do they feel like they'd have to deal with this on their own? For instance, one of my classmates happened to casually mention to her student dean that she'd gotten engaged, and that they were probably going to get married during 3rd year. The dean immediately offered to set up a meeting a week before clinical rotation scheduling was due, to make sure that my classmate's schedule would allow her enough free time to plan a wedding, without compromising her academic performance. (This is just one of a number of examples.)

    6) Does the school print out lecture notes (= a "syllabus") for each course, and distribute it for free to all students? Or do they expect their students to rely mostly on textbooks and review books? Some professors don't write very good syllabi, but you probably have to purchase textbooks and review books. It can be a toss-up sometimes.

    7) Do they record lectures? Do they record only audio, or video too? Is there a scribe service? Do professors distribute copies of their powerpoint presentations, or do professors at that school routinely use old-fashioned things like overhead projectors and slides? (I know that some people hate powerpoint, but I'd rather look at a diagram on a computer screen than have to squint at Kodachrome slides that date back to the 1950s.)

    8) How prepared did the 4th years feel for residency interviews and the match process? Did someone in the administration sit them down and go over the process in detail with them, or were they kind of left to fend for themselves?

    9) What services does the school provide to help its students pass Step 1 and Step 2 CS? Do they offer review sessions and/or mock exams?

    I know - it will be difficult to get straight, unbiased answers to most of these questions. But maybe they'll be something to ponder while attending the school's 2nd look day.

    Good luck with your decision!! :)
     
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  44. smq123

    smq123 John William Waterhouse
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    Haha - that's pretty funny. I was actually going to say that Friday tests were so much better than Monday tests. Our school always designates the day before the test as a study day, so you're guaranteed to have one whole day to study. The Tues. and Wed. before the test are usually just review sessions, too. It's all what you're used to, I guess.
     
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  45. Gut Shot

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    I've found that one's happiness depends far more on personal traits than on what medical school they attend(ed). The notion that selecting one school over another will lead to a rich, joyous four years vs. irrevocable doom is rather farcical.

    No, but it's not a bad rule of thumb to counteract some of the prevalent misconceptions that premeds often possess:

    1. Debt load is irrelevant
    2. Income will inevitably be extremely high
    3. Higher ranking school = better teaching & superior clinical training
    4. Overemphasis of reputation in residency selection
     
  46. HumbleMD

    HumbleMD hmmmm...
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    :coughprivilegecough:

    I'm a very adaptable person, and I guess I chose where I'd apply with a lot of thought, so I'd be genuinely happy at any of the schools, thus money becomes the deciding factor. I hate the snow, but I could slog through it for a good scholarship. $40K, with interest, is a lot of money. That's a luxury car (I've had my eye on an Audi A4 for a while now). Go talk to a resident right now and ask them if $40K would make a difference in their lives. I doubt they'd say "Oh, that wouldn't matter at all, I'm sitting on 160 K in debt, so why even bother." No, they're looking at any way to begin to chisel away at that monster. Then go ask a practicing physician. I doubt they'd giggle and say "I'm sorry, I only conceive of the world in millions, not thousands of dollars." And incidentally, 40k is about exactly where I deem the money begins to become significant...

    I do also wonder if you understand how debt works (interest rates, etc), but even on a general level (I recall that episode of Seinfeld where Kramer starts taking from companies because they can "write it off" until Jerry asks "where do they write it off from?"). Yes, debt may be as high as 160K, but that doesn't negate 40K. If anything, realizing that one may have that much debt should motivate them to cut out debt everywhere possible if you're facing that beast (and 25% is a huge fraction, and a huge chunk of money - remember, luxury car?). Do you have a bunch of credit card debt (I'll bet you do - you must be the kid the financial aid counselors fear)?

    I certainly hope you and your fellow hedonists will be in a higher paying specialty...
     
  47. sunnyjohn

    sunnyjohn Got Mustard?
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    I'm a cheap rat bazztid.

    Having been homeless and poor as dirt, the idea of getting into the cheapest med school in the US brings happy tears of joy to my stingy tear ducts.

    If Podunk School of Medicine gives me a full ride and an MD, prestige can kiss my tookus.
     
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  48. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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    Wait and see what the private school offers you. If it's not enough, you might also try asking them (nicely of course!) for more. :luck: to you.
     
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  49. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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    Best post in this whole thread. :thumbup:
     
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  50. MChitty

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    This is very true...but you have to have some way to pick between two schools. For example, I may potentially be picking between two schools. Both are in my state, but one is the ridiculously cheap state school and the other is a very expensive private school. I really like the private much more than the state. And I don't mean location, it's more stuff like the state school's emphasis on research vs. clinical, class seems competitive, that type of stuff. Then what?
     

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