somekevinguy

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So, since there's a thread pitting Harvard against just about every other school, except for the one's that im contemplating, I thought Id throw this out there to see if there was anyone else in my shoes trying to make a decision about the two.

My only concerns about Harvard are how I'll fare in PBL, considering you don't really have that type of experience in undergrad too much and the weather in Boston.

As far as Duke, I love the area (im less of a big city person and more of an outdoors person) but my concern would be the variety of patients I see (ie less urban problems in Durham).

And while when thinking rationally, I don't want the miniscule reputation difference to influence my decision, it is still there in the back of my mind.

Finally...am I nuts for still keeping ucsd in the mix (im a cali resident and san diego is just about the greatest place to live in my opinion-not to mention a pretty decent school)

any input/comments/advice is greatly appreciated.
 

exmike

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Originally posted by somekevinguy
I don't want the miniscule reputation difference to influence my decision

miniscule? are you being facetious?
 

somekevinguy

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Originally posted by exmike
miniscule? are you being facetious?

I wasn't being facetious at all. I meant primarily in terms of the medical world, not in terms of droppin the H-bomb on people outside of medicine....and even outside of medicine, I think Duke is fairly reputable.
 
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I'm fortunate to have these two choices as well. I can't say I know what I'm going to do, but I think the 2nd looks will be helpful.

Duke:
My concerns with Duke are the location (away from a "big" city), more limited patient base, and flying through basic science and pathology in year 1. Benefits are a built-in year to pursue health policy studies/research, getting on the wards earlier, weather, living expenses.

Harvard:
With Harvard, I'm a little worried about PBL because it would depend on your group members and proctor (but they change each block). I think it would be a great way to learn medicine, though, if it worked out well. You do have to put more time into it.

Boston weather is going to be cold...a lot. Not sure how I feel about that. Boston would be really cool to live in though. Lots of people doing policy-related work to get involved with. I am a little concerned about arrogance of faculty or students. I've heard some horror stories, but the kids I met were awesome.

Duke might end up being cheaper for me because of the independent third year. Inside medicine, they both send people everywhere for residency. But, there is probably a greater chance of matching at one of their corresponding programs (ie stay in NC for residency vs. Boston area).

Dunno. Flip a coin?
 

somekevinguy

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periodic..you touched upon just about everything i was thinking about as well.

i think the only major difference i see is that i would probably rather live in durham than boston.

also, the fact that duke has...Duke basketball and the undergrad literally connected to the school is a plus...though cambridge isnt too far from the longwood campus.
 

somekevinguy

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Originally posted by jlee9531
i dont think you are nuts for keeping ucsd in the mix.

what kind of residency do you want to do?

the thing is...im not sure at this point...while im leaning towards peds (perhaps a subspecialty), thats not set in stone at all and so while i know if i want a residency in peds at ucsd, any of these schools will help me get there, i also want to have some flexibility as well.

And while I know this is a very personal decision, at the same time, Im guessing Im not going to find too many people who turned down Harvard (or duke for that matter) to go to ucsd.

I think going to the 2nd looks will help out a lot..or at least I hope they do.
 

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Originally posted by somekevinguy
the thing is...im not sure at this point...while im leaning towards peds (perhaps a subspecialty), thats not set in stone at all and so while i know if i want a residency in peds at ucsd, any of these schools will help me get there, i also want to have some flexibility as well.

And while I know this is a very personal decision, at the same time, Im guessing Im not going to find too many people who turned down Harvard (or duke for that matter) to go to ucsd.

I think going to the 2nd looks will help out a lot..or at least I hope they do.
 
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periodic

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thanks for such a thorough response, manchotpi. your insights are very helpful.
 

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things to consider about Duke (Note: I grew up in NH and have spent plenty of time in Boston. I've lived in Durhamfor six years (4 as an undergrad at Duke and 2 post-grad while I've worked).

-True the weather in Boston generally is much more unpleasant in the winter months, but realize that when North Carolina gets any winter weather, the place absolutely shuts down. School is canceled down here for a predicted inch of snow (no joke--it's happened 3 or 4 times just this year). Add that to the fact that people here absolutely have NO clue how to drive in the snow/ice and it makes for pretty miserable conditions. I can't stress this enough--it's honestly like a bad comedy, except that I'm living in the middle of it. Plus, the power has a nasty way of going out pretty frequently due to weather-related problems. Also, the summers in Boston are much milder and pleasant than down here, where humidity is easily in the 80-90% range much of the time and temperatures stay in the low-mid 90s.

-Durham, NC is ghetto as hell. There's nothing nice about it. In the time I've been here, I've been held up at gunpoint at a drive-up ATM and mugged on the street by a couple of thugs. At Duke Hospital just a couple months ago, a woman was robbed at an ATM in the middle of the hospital at about 1 pm. Also recently, a student was robbed in the student union at an ATM. The police down here are horrible (80% of home break-ins go unsolved). I just saw a recent news piece highlighting that there is severe understaffing in the police department. A couple officers interviewed stated that they had actually witnessed crimes being committed but couldn't do anything about it because they had other things to take care of.

-The roads/highways down here are horribly maintained. There was a news piece about two weeks ago highlighting how NC's road work ranked the worst in the nation. The reporter mentioned that NC's "stated policy of neglecting road maintenance has finally caught up with them." Gee, ya think?!

Anyway, these are things that you might not realize about the area until you've had a chance to be here for awhile. All I can say is that when I leave Durham in May, I sure as hell am not coming back. (Final disclaimer: Much of the rest of NC is beautiful--it's basically just Durham that blows).
 

josehernandez94

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Yeah, Chapel Hill's definitely the pat of butter in the sea of grits.... but damn, in and of itself, it can't salvage living in Durham!
 
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josehernandez...thanks for the insider's perspective on durham...from what i got out of like 2 days there was just "oh pretty...lots of trees, not too much traffic, plenty of parking" and not all those things that you figure out only after living there for a while.

Anyone have any additional comments about life in Durham or for that matter, Boston? thanks!
 

omores

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Well, I guess I'm in the freakish minority that actually likes living in Durham. Everything josehernandez says is true, but there's still plenty to love. Specifically: lots of great, cheap places to live. Very friendly, generous, kind people (except for the thugs who hold people up at gunpoint, of course). There's a real sense of neighbourhoods, of community here. And a vivid arts and music scene. I'm happy here. There are parts of Durham that are gang infested and scary, but they're easy to avoid. The vast majority of the crime here is property-related (car- and house- break-ins and the occasional mugging).

Somekevinguy, to allay one fear: you'll see an enormous range of patients at Duke Hospital. Durham, despite its small size, has plenty of urban grit (see paragraph one) -- the gang activity ensures that there are enough gunshot wounds and stabbings to keep all the ER staff happy. Lots of ODs too. And Duke also draws from a large rural area as well -- people travel for hours and hours to come for care here.

I think your plan to revist both places is a good one. You can't make a bad choice: just go with your gut.
 

omores

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Originally posted by josehernandez94
...when North Carolina gets any winter weather, the place absolutely shuts down. School is canceled down here for a predicted inch of snow (no joke--it's happened 3 or 4 times just this year). Add that to the fact that people here absolutely have NO clue how to drive in the snow/ice and it makes for pretty miserable conditions. I can't stress this enough--it's honestly like a bad comedy, except that I'm living in the middle of it.

So, so true. I grew up in Canada, so I was utterly bewildered when I saw that even a tiny bit of snow can paralyse a city. But then I realized that it's actually kind of an asset sometimes -- it's lovely to have a "snow day" in the middle of your surgery rotation, for example. Lots of spontaneous parties arise during the winter here, since work gets cancelled so easily.
 

supereagles

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I would go with harvard. Being a big city guy Durham really sucks. For me the only thing duke has going is its financial help and third year program. Personally I am choosing UCLA over duke even though Due might be cheaper for me in the long run.
 

banannie

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Originally posted by omores
So, so true. I grew up in Canada, so I was utterly bewildered when I saw that even a tiny bit of snow can paralyse a city. But then I realized that it's actually kind of an asset sometimes -- it's lovely to have a "snow day" in the middle of your surgery rotation, for example. Lots of spontaneous parties arise during the winter here, since work gets cancelled so easily.

As someone who spent 6 years living and working in Boston, I was thrilled to have school delayed/cancelled a few times because of very little snow here in Durham. It sure beats trudging through slush and black ice to/from the T . Plus, when it does snow down here, it can be breathtakingly beautiful. Unfortunately, in Boston, snow becomes dirty mush within 5 minutes and can stay that way for weeks. I have to say, I couldn't be happier with the weather in Durham. And the summers aren't all that much worse (in my opinion). That's partially because in NC, I'm able to exist in air-conditioned bliss everywhere I go, while in Boston, I only ever had a not-very-efficient window unit in my apartment, and too many afternoons spent in the beating hot sun waiting for the green line.

I actually like the charm and grittiness of Durham. But I would have a really hard time choosing Duke over Harvard unless I had personal ties to NC, or a really big scholarship.
 

somekevinguy

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Originally posted by banannie
As someone who spent 6 years living and working in Boston, I was thrilled to have school delayed/cancelled a few times because of very little snow here in Durham. It sure beats trudging through slush and black ice to/from the T . Plus, when it does snow down here, it can be breathtakingly beautiful. Unfortunately, in Boston, snow becomes dirty mush within 5 minutes and can stay that way for weeks. I have to say, I couldn't be happier with the weather in Durham. And the summers aren't all that much worse (in my opinion). That's partially because in NC, I'm able to exist in air-conditioned bliss everywhere I go, while in Boston, I only ever had a not-very-efficient window unit in my apartment, and too many afternoons spent in the beating hot sun waiting for the green line.

I actually like the charm and grittiness of Durham. But I would have a really hard time choosing Duke over Harvard unless I had personal ties to NC, or a really big scholarship.

throw in a full ride at duke....im guessing that changes most things?
 

SarahGM

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Originally posted by somekevinguy
periodic..you touched upon just about everything i was thinking about as well.

i think the only major difference i see is that i would probably rather live in durham than boston.

:wow:

You must be kidding! Get me OUT of this town, please!!!
 

somekevinguy

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haha...ok granted this is based on like 2 days in each city, being more of a small-town type guy than huge city type guy, cheap cost of living, better weather, more trees/nature...etc but if you have reasons why you really dont like durham, id really like to know bc i know my extensive experience of 2 days hasnt given me a comprenesive first hand view.
 

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hey kevin, just to throw in my 2 cents.

u mentioned that you really like san deigo, and i think that since u seem like you're coming down to which city you would want to live in, SD is the place for you. If you're worried about residency and stuff after med school, you shouldn't be. It seems like from your stats, you're very capable at excelling at any institution.

SD is not a bad school and if you excel there, you'll be able to get a top notch residency...doesn't matter your med school. I truly bevlieve that it's the man (excuse the gender use) that makes the school, not the other way around. Not to say that you think all about the school but just keep that in mind.

so with all that said, i do NOT think you're crazy for keeping SD in your considerations. in fact, i think you should consider it more just based on what you mentioned before and your leaning towards which city you rather live in.
 

SarahGM

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Originally posted by somekevinguy
haha...ok granted this is based on like 2 days in each city, being more of a small-town type guy than huge city type guy, cheap cost of living, better weather, more trees/nature...etc but if you have reasons why you really dont like durham, id really like to know bc i know my extensive experience of 2 days hasnt given me a comprenesive first hand view.

My beef with the whole Triangle area (and I don't mean to offend anyone because I know I've only been here since July -- I am sure NC is a wonderful state to those who know and love it better and I completely respect that) is that it seems to just be an oasis of bland strip malls and apartment complexes in an otherwise really hickish state. Sure there are beaches and mountains, but what does one do in the SEVEN HOUR expanse of land in between the two?

I grew up in upstate New York (granted, it can be noted for it's blandness) and went to school in idyllic Hanover, NH... and I've realized how much I miss the north. Not only that, though... I think that I need to be somewhere either rural/mountainous or very, very urban. None of this dull, washed-out suburbia nonsense... mile after mile of Petsmart and Target and Dick's Sporting Goods repeated over and over again.
 
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to quote our old friend doctorcynical...

how pretentious is this thread?
 

somekevinguy

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Originally posted by linus
to quote our old friend doctorcynical...

how pretentious is this thread?

i understand completely how you could feel this way but to be honest, no one would be making these comments if it didnt happen to be two highly ranked schools or whatever... so just bc id like as many opinions as possible before making a decision about my future doesnt make me pretentious....same as any other person asking about opinions for two different schools isnt necessarily pretentious (ie the plethora of other threads out there comparing x school to y school....)

anyhow, for those posting helpful info, i really do appreciate it...im guessing 2nd looks will be really helpful but opinions from people who have lived in these cities/gone to these schools is always really valuable
 

JohnHolmes

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Originally posted by somekevinguy
i understand completely how you could feel this way but to be honest, no one would be making these comments if it didnt happen to be two highly ranked schools or whatever... so just bc id like as many opinions as possible before making a decision about my future doesnt make me pretentious....same as any other person asking about opinions for two different schools isnt necessarily pretentious (ie the plethora of other threads out there comparing x school to y school....)

anyhow, for those posting helpful info, i really do appreciate it...im guessing 2nd looks will be really helpful but opinions from people who have lived in these cities/gone to these schools is always really valuable

Kevin, when and how did you hear about the scholarship to duke?

CCW
 

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Why do I bother looking in these threads? I know I have absolutely nothing to add of value. What twisted curiosity am I trying to satiate? And the only result it produced is that I feel real, real dumb. Congrats on the great choices....I forgot what they were I just remember they were good. Was one of them in the south?

I gotta get outta this thread! :scared:
 

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Originally posted by TheFlash
Full ride to Duke! :wow: C'mon kev, is there even a decision here? Congrats! :clap:

now knowing this. this is a no brainer.

duke.

highly respected.
any opportunity you want under the sun.
basically any residency you want if you do the work.
its free.
duke is in the ACC.
and the weather appears to be a bit more cali like than boston.
once again...

duke.
 

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I'm in the same situation w/ Penn and Harvard. I received a scholarship to Penn, which is just one of the few factors that has tipped me in the Penn direction. I suppose it's easier for me, considering I fell in love w/ Penn on my interview day...

G luck
 
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Kevin- you DO realize that everything I said about Durham is completely overridden by the fact that you have a full scholarship to Duke. I'd say it's completely worth it. Do not pass this up! And congratulations! :clap:
 

04DukeBio

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If you managed to get Duke to give you financial aid, I have all the respect in the world for you. That office took all of my applications, posted them on a corkboard, laughed at them, and then tore them up and fed them to their pet hylophagous goldfish... anyways, I would say Duke, all the way.

Like SarahGM said, Durham and the Triangle area is a -different- experience for people used to living in more urban, 'cultured' places. I come from West Virginia, so, Durham is comparable to my home state.

Having got out of Duke last December, I've been spending the past three months living as a Durhamite, and it's not the most glorious experience. The Triangle suffers from major Urban sprawl, complicated by the construction of several new shopping centers and a Super Target. The road and highway system is not extremely well-planned, though you can generally find a good method of transit if you spend some time puzzling over city maps. My biggest complaint is the huge number of people who populate said shopping centers - it's quite a hassle buying stuff from Target/WalMart. I generally just end up going to Whole Foods (which is also often packed, after work).

If you're looking for nightlife akin to Chicago/New York, try another area. There's a smattering of smoky, sit-down bars, nothing too upscale. There is -one- upscale bar that opened early this year, but my friends and I predict a quick turnover.

That said, cost of living is great. I have a roomie in a spacious 2BR multi-room apartment and I pay 325/mo. Water is cheap, and the weather is nice and warm (though we've had freak ice and snow these past two years). There are plenty of trails to hike, and there is a definite plus to having warm, sunny Southern beaches a few hours' drive away. Albeit, working, I wish I had weekends to enjoy them, but, eh.

The area is quite naturalized. This leads to some allergy problems in the spring (right about now, for me at least) as trees release pollen. The pines also release very yellow (generally non-allergen) pollen, some years to the point where it stains the ground gold! It's all worth it, though, and wisteria dangling from the trees in may and june is something you won't see too often in Boston.

Apparently there are cultural and artistic activities in Durham, but you need to be proactive in searching them out. As an undergrad without a car, it was difficult for me to go into the city. Duke's UGrad campus was definitely NOT integrated with the city in any way, shape, or form. As a professional student I'm sure you'd have more freedom.

As to patient diversity, Duke Med Center draws a great deal of patients from across the country, and you also do get a sizeable urban experience. There are plenty of opportunities to work with all sorts of patients. I wouldn't worry about that.

The best way to describe Durham? SPREAD OUT. Things are not close to each other here. To fully benefit from what Durham has to offer, you need to drive. SOUTHERN. While it's crowded here, the people are generally nice, and you feel usually welcome in most places. SPRAWLING. Urban Sprawl has really taken a hold here, which makes things cheap and convenient, but also a major pain when it takes time to find a parking space, drive, and wait in checkout lines. GREEN. North Carolina is great for the outdoorswoman/man. Duke Gardens, at least, is worth many a trip.

My overall experience? It's liveable here, but it's not where I want to stay for the rest of my life. It's a relatively quiet place where one can hunker down and concentrate on studying.

I have no idea what Boston is like.

Hope that rambling message helped.

04DukeBio
('03 Dec. Bio/Genetics)
 

omores

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Hey y'all -- going to Second Look Weekend? There's a "Life in Durham" panel discussion on Saturday morning. I'll be on the panel, representing the folks who like living here (most of the time, anyway).

Come up and introduce yourself at the lunch afterwards -- I'll be there too.
 

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04DukeBio, I'm surprised to hear of your difficulty getting financial aid from Duke. Are you talking about undergraduate financial aid? I'm wondering, because Duke Med has the reputation of being one of the very best, if not THE best financial aid programs in the country! I got into Duke Med off the waitlist in 2002 and expected to get little to no financial aid since it was so late in the season (mid-July, only 2 weeks before classes started!), but in fact I ended up getting literally DOUBLE the grant money I was offered by Penn, and over 4x what some other schools would've given me! Duke Med financial aid is the best!
 

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Just to second some of the things being said here about Durham, I'll throw in my 2 cents. I've lived here for about a year and a half now and I have to say I really love it! But I definitely shared some of the same fears described in this thread before I got here.

Like omores said, the patient population here is VERY VERY diverse. Duke hospital actually provides excellent care for an enormous number of medicaid patients, and students spend time in some of the poorer or more rural areas of North Carolina quite a few times throughout the clinical years.

Of course, Durham isn't Boston or NYC, and if you really have to be in a big city then Durham is not the place for you. But don't knock it 'till you've tried it! Durham's awesome! Sure there are some unsafe areas (like any city), but there are so many more positives. Rent is amazingly cheap, gas is cheaper, we have a local AAA baseball team, we have an NHL team, we have lots of really great restaurants, Chapel Hill is right down the road, the weather is great...the list goes on and on, not to mention the Duke curriculum, which allows you to do your clinical work a year earlier! In my experience, being on the wards is how you REALLY learn medicine, and having or not having a 2nd year of classwork doesn't make a bit of difference. In fact, I chose to come here solely because I loved the curriculum so much! I can't even imagine spending another year sitting in class and labs all day.

-Tom :)
 

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Ah, Tom, you're right.

I was an undergrad - it was nearly impossible for me to get any aid. I didn't know how Duke Med's financial aid program was, so don't take my word for the financial aid bit.

Also, Durham/Chapel Hill is really much more fun with a car. You can do so much more, as I 've discovered in my three months being car-enabled after my landlocked undergraduate existence. So, it's great here, for the reasons Tom mentioned and more :)

04DukeBio
 

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Originally posted by omores
Hey y'all -- going to Second Look Weekend? There's a "Life in Durham" panel discussion on Saturday morning. I'll be on the panel, representing the folks who like living here (most of the time, anyway).

Come up and introduce yourself at the lunch afterwards -- I'll be there too.

"Omores" were you wearing the hat on the panel for life in durham this weekend?

CCW
 

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yeah, i have the 2 million dollar pen.

whats up "h"

I talked to you on interview day ... your husband is here, I know, and you are in the same horrible position kevin is in ... faced with a NANALINE DUKE SCHOLARSHIP ... damn overachievers! :)

CCW
 

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ok sorry i didnt want to read all of the replies to see if anyone has already mentioned this or not, but i did read the first ten or so. anyway when i think of harvard and duke the main difference that automatically comes to mind is STRESS!!!!! harvard is way low stress and duke is like asking to be put through the grinder 24/7. just look at the types of questions that they ask in the interviews. they want people who will stuff facts into their heads until they explode. why? because they make you finish the basic sciences in less than two years. i might be wrong about some of this but that was my impression. med school is stressful in and of itself, but duke pushes it to the limit.
 

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Originally posted by bewitched1081
ok sorry i didnt want to read all of the replies to see if anyone has already mentioned this or not, but i did read the first ten or so. anyway when i think of harvard and duke the main difference that automatically comes to mind is STRESS!!!!! harvard is way low stress and duke is like asking to be put through the grinder 24/7. just look at the types of questions that they ask in the interviews. they want people who will stuff facts into their heads until they explode. why? because they make you finish the basic sciences in less than two years. i might be wrong about some of this but that was my impression. med school is stressful in and of itself, but duke pushes it to the limit.


actually, you are wrong about this. the preclinical year is not bad at all. harvard may be "way low stress" but for preclinical workload, duke is comparable to any other medical school. we had about three weeks before winter break that really felt like a grind, during the infamous "block 2". other than that, i rarely need to spend more than 2 hours studying a night, and i don't even manage to get that much done often. some people don't do anything other than go to class during the week, then spend the weekend studying.

duke's used this curriculum for 20+ years. there are smart ways to condense material and teach what's useful, rather than going into tedious detail. i honestly think duke's done a good job with this. sorry your impression was so far off, bewitched, but i promise you, duke is infinitely manageable. and this is coming from a humanities major with at 3.3 GPA. ;)
 

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Originally posted by bewitched1081
ok sorry i didnt want to read all of the replies to see if anyone has already mentioned this or not, but i did read the first ten or so. anyway when i think of harvard and duke the main difference that automatically comes to mind is STRESS!!!!! harvard is way low stress and duke is like asking to be put through the grinder 24/7. just look at the types of questions that they ask in the interviews. they want people who will stuff facts into their heads until they explode. why? because they make you finish the basic sciences in less than two years. i might be wrong about some of this but that was my impression. med school is stressful in and of itself, but duke pushes it to the limit.

These rumors are the work of Beelzebub, no doubt.

CCW
 

bewitched1081

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Originally posted by banannie
actually, you are wrong about this. the preclinical year is not bad at all. harvard may be "way low stress" but for preclinical workload, duke is comparable to any other medical school. we had about three weeks before winter break that really felt like a grind, during the infamous "block 2". other than that, i rarely need to spend more than 2 hours studying a night, and i don't even manage to get that much done often. some people don't do anything other than go to class during the week, then spend the weekend studying.

duke's used this curriculum for 20+ years. there are smart ways to condense material and teach what's useful, rather than going into tedious detail. i honestly think duke's done a good job with this. sorry your impression was so far off, bewitched, but i promise you, duke is infinitely manageable. and this is coming from a humanities major with at 3.3 GPA. ;)

thanks for the perspective. im sure the OP appreciates it.
 

omores

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Originally posted by Cooper_Wriston
yeah, i have the 2 million dollar pen.

whats up "h"

I talked to you on interview day ... your husband is here, I know, and you are in the same horrible position kevin is in ... faced with a NANALINE DUKE SCHOLARSHIP ... damn overachievers! :)

CCW

Hey wow! Now, I didn't get an up-close look at you on Saturday, but I think I remember you from the interview day -- over lunch at a very crowded table back in October or November? I must have been pretty big in the belly back then.

Yeah, the scholarship was a godsend, I'll admit. Got very lucky with that one (like the admissions process, I think there's a fair amount of luck involved with the awarding of scholarships as well). But sounds as if you might be having some luck with Wash U. Hope things go well with that (if the pen wasn't enough to convince you to come to Duke regardless...)
 
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