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Harvard v. UCSF

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by tobi, Apr 28, 2001.

  1. tobi

    tobi New Member

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    The clock is ticking and I need to decide between Harvard Med and University of CA San Francisco. Any advice? Any insight or opinions?

    My draw to UCSF is largely location and quality of life, but I am wondering if I should pass up the chance to attend Harvard? They are both great schools, but will the Harvard name open up more doors for me after graduation? I am also wondering about the difference between a private (Harvard) and public (UCSF) med school, specifically when it comes to rescources and funding? Finally, should I be worried about being in the "guinea pig" class of UCSF's new curriculum?

    Thanks for your help. =)
     
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  3. spacecadet22

    spacecadet22 Senior Member
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    Congratulations on both of your acceptances! While I'm sure it is nerve racking trying to make this big decision--I can offer two words of advice. First, San Francisco is a great city BUT it is ultra expensive and that new curriculum doesn't sound like it is all it is cracked up to be. Second, I'm not sure I could pass up Harvard. While you will certainly be challenged, I think the learning experience would be so great. You don't just get one fabulous hospital like UCSF, you get the Brigham, MGH, Deaconess, Children's, etc. No matter what you are interested in you would be exposed to some of the best medicine anywhere. So forget about names right now, and just decide which one will offer you more...good luck.
     
  4. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
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    While I might favor UCSF because of its location (and my family in California), I just wanted to comment on the statement that you are limited to 1 hospital at UCSF. Truth is, UCSF does not have enough clinical sites for all of its students doing 3rd year clerkships. Thus, many students are required to do their clerkships elsewhere, including some in Fresno and other Central Valley towns.

    Being a Central Valley girl myself, my comment isn't based on the reputation but rather that you will have to do some traveling most likely during your 3rd and 4th year to get all of your rotations in. As I recall some UCSF students telling me (while I was doing a 4th year elective there), that everyone had to do an "away" Core rotation.

    As far as the new curriculum, Harvard's is also not a traditional didactic lecture format either.

    Both schools are fantastic and will provide you with an excellent education and adventure.

    Congrats and best of luck to you.
     
  5. ckent

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    If you do not go to Harvard you will regret it for the rest of your life. When you get older, even when you are close to retirement, people will still introduce you as a "Harvard-trained physician". I can't imagine, and I've never heard anybody say a "UCSF trained physician". Go to Harvard, I wish that I could.
     
  6. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
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    Are you a Californian Kent? Because I HAVE heard people introduce someone as a UCSF grad - its considered pretty prestigious in these parts, as well as among the general medical community.

    Sure, the average Joe knows Harvard Med more than UCSF, but within the medical community UCSF is plenty prestigious (although I'm not sure the issue here is prestige but rather employment after graduation.) A UCSF degree will get you into PLENTY of prestigious residencies, just as a Harvard education will. The average Joe isn't doing the hiring, the medical community is and both schools are extremely well regarded, even outside of our little left coast!
     
  7. mustang289

    mustang289 Junior Member

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    While they are both clearly great schools, I can't imagine why anyone would pass up Harvard. The only reason one might choose UCSF over Harvard is if you were a California resident. Since it looks like you are from New Hampshire, tuition wouldn't be that low for you and you would also have to deal with the extremely high cost of rent in SF. If you are worried about resources and funding, Harvard clearly has the edge. They have over twice as much money in NIH research grants than UCSF. The new curriculum at UCSF is a bit worrisome as well. While I'm sure they have tested it to the best of their ability, the true test will come when they try and implement it for the first time. There are bound to be some kinks in the system that this year's incoming class will have to work out. I've also heard that they won't even let the students do the dissecting of the cadavers this year, something that many consider a "right of passage" for med students. In any case, congrats on your enviable "tough decision."
     
  8. Hercules

    Hercules Son of Zeus
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    Harvard is a great school, but there are definitely reasons to pass it up. I didn't even apply there, and my numbers are considerably over their average. Harvard, just like any other school, has a certain style and flavor to it. If you like it, apply/go there; if you don't, there's nothing wrong with choosing another school that is a better fit.
     
  9. Emily1

    Emily1 Senior Member
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    Hi, I haven't posted here in a while (just write the diaries, that takes enough time...). But I just wanted to comment that I had to make the same choice last year. I chose UCSF, and I haven't regretted it. For me, the decision was also financial -- I know people talk about how expensive SF is, but it really isn't anywhere near as expensive as going to a private med school -- and Boston isn't so cheap either. You would be able to get in-state tuition after your first year. In terms of quality of life, it's a great school -- very committed to student well-being and accepting interesting people w. interesting backgrounds. I'm sure that Harvard is the same, though I think perhaps a little less diverse. I don't think that the reputation thing is a huge difference in either place...and as far as the rotations, maybe its a recent change, but nobody "has" to go to Fresno or outlying hospitals -- there's a program there that some students choose b/c it offers primary care focus and, apparently, really good training, but no one is forced out there. If you stay in SF, you have 3 hospitals for rotations -- Moffitt/Long, SF General, and the VA. As far as the new curriculum goes, I definitely see your concerns there. The irony is, the entire goal is to basically make it "More like Harvards" (though they'd never say that outright). So honestly I'm not sure that the differences will be that great between the two schools. I just thought I'd throw these things out, since it sounded like maybe you didn't have all the info you needed to make the choice. There are a wnumber of people here who had the same decision, and I'm sure that there are also a lot of people at Harvard who made the same decision, and basically I think you have to just go with your gut on this one (and your bank statement, if money is an issue). I really don't think I'll ever regret turning down Harvard, but to tell you the truth, I'm sure I would've been happy either place. And I'm sure you will be too. Sorry for the long babbling post. Hope it helps.
     
  10. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
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    Thank you for the clarification. I had understood when doing my 4th year elective and talking with some of the 3rd year UCSF clerks that EVERYONE had to do an away rotation because of the lack of clinical sites at the university hospital. Perhaps when they meant "away" they meant the VA or Moffitt. Not exactly "away" in my book. I obviously misunderstood.

    Thanks again.
     
  11. ckent

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    I am not a Californian, I just wanted to add that I know that UCSF is a very prestigous school, I would (and I'm sure most people who didn't) have loved to have gotten into a school as prestigous as UCSF and gone, but given a "fantasy" choice between the 2, I, personally, still would have chosen Harvard. I know financial concerns play a large role but when it comes to Harvard, in my opinion, I would have gone into much deeper debt to go there. Not because I think people that have Harvard on their resume will ever make more then the people at UCSF or any other school for that matter, but I, being a person of weak character, would love to go around introducing myself to every Joe patient as a doctor from Harvard. Other physicians may have equal respect for physicians from UCSF, but some people (me included) would like to have some of the prestige with non-medical people, world-wide, by graduating from Harvard. I think people listen to you more and are more likely to assume you know what you are talking about. I know it's vain, I actually go to my state school because I didn't want to spend the extra money to go to a private school (and I didn't get into one) ;) but had Harvard recruited me I would have had a hard time saying no.
     
  12. coop

    coop Senior Member
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    tobi,
    Emily hit this on the head. A lot of these responses seem to be coming from the stereotypical premed perspective of harvard harvard harvard as the mecca of the medical world. Its just a school, just like any other school. If you are lucky enough (though I'm sure it's not all luck) to be in such a position then you have to consider which school is right for YOU and YOU alone. My personality is the exact opposite of student515's. I would never introduce myself as "HI I'm harvard trained coop MD"... or "UCSF trained coop MD" for that matter. Ok getting away from my point

    My point is that you have to go to the place that is where you want to be at this time in your life. Things like a cirriculum better fitted to the way you learn best. What part of the country you want to be in. If there is a financial difference between the school you need to consider that. Quality of research and hospitals, though in this case you are so clearly getting THE BEST from either of these schools it's basically a wash (some would argue against this point, in favor of harvard's MG,BWH,Childrens).

    Basically these are great schools and don't let your decision be based on the place that you want to say you are from in order to impress others. Base it on yourself. You can't go wrong in this enviable decision unless you pick YOUR school for someone other than YOUR self.

    Hope this rant made some sense, good luck with your decision.
     
  13. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
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    You aren't admitting anything heaps of other people don't believe and your "vanity" is well understood.

    My comment was just that the original poster was concerned about which would provide better employment prospects - since both have pretty darn good match results (since in the end, where you do your residency will matter more than where you went to medical school), I would anticipate that he would have NO problem getting a good post-residency job from either school and that UCSF is considered prestigious WITHIN the medical community.

    I will grant you that Harvard is *more* prestigious, especially among the lay public, but I wasn't sure that was what the poster was concerned with.

    Thanks for clarifying your thoughts.
     
  14. Mikado

    Mikado Senior Member
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    'Harvard' is a magic word.

    'UCSF' is not.

    You would probably get the same education in either school. But nobody will believe that.
     
  15. coop

    coop Senior Member
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    ahhhhh!!! you people drive me crazy sometimes.

    sorry
     
  16. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
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    Apologies aren't necessary coop; I feel your pain! ;)
     
  17. caffeinegirl

    Physician 10+ Year Member

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    When I went to UCSF's revisit,there were students who were trying to make this decision. I know of two of them who decided on UCSF and the major plus point was the students. As one of them said, "at Harvard I stood out, I didn't feel like there were people like me there. At UCSF I fit in with everybody, and everybody here seems to accept me and know where I come from."
    I think that UCSF, based on talking to them about their experiences at both campuses has a more diverse student body, both in ethnicity and life experiences.

    THAT was the CLINCHING selling point for them, and for me

    :)
     

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