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Harvard Vs. Straight Med

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by alianwaar4, Apr 1, 2004.

  1. alianwaar4

    alianwaar4 Junior Member
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    hi guys im in a big dilemma...

    i just got into harvard undergrad today Yay! :D im really happy about that, i had gotten deferred early and then finally accepted

    but as i was waiting for haravard, i got accept to union/albany med

    and i know for some this may be an easy decision but it really isnt...on one side is a guarantee to becoming a doctor without the premed pressures and tension of burning out and on the other side is all the prestige and everything that goes with harvard...i dont know how hard i would want to work AGAIN to get into med school especially after having this chance at going to union/albany and hopefully getting a rads residency

    i dreamt of becoming a doctor before i dreamt of going to harvard...now that i got into harvard everyone and their brother says to go there...but what they dont realize is all the stress and tension and tests of my passion of medicine it will bring with it with MCATS, gpa and superficial premed resume building...while union albany would be much more laid back and would let me just become what i want- a doctor :(

    please guys i need every bit of advice i can possibly get
     
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  3. DrBravesgirl

    DrBravesgirl Surgeon for a year
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    congratulations on your harvard acceptance..i remember those days, waiting anxiously for that first week in april so that i could finally know where my future would lead me.
    but...there are a few things to think about before making this decision....
    1) union/albany. yeah, that's amazing that you'll be guaranteed to become a doctor. it's huge. but...are you ready to spend a sizable chunk of your life there? can you stand being in the same city 6-8 years? (first off..i guess i should ask if this is a program you can apply out of. i'm pretty sure it is, but still, it looks badly upon you in some programs if you do exercise your option to apply out).
    2) harvard is your dream school. that's awesome that you've been able to make it come true. are you ready for the atmosphere? are you ready to deal with the egos you'll run into? (i'm not saying that all harvard-ites have egos. i know a lot of great people who have come from there..very nice, down-to-earth folks. but there are definitely those who don't fall under that category, and probably more of them than at albany. just a hunch).
    3) will albany make you take the mcat? (some progs require you to take it, and get some sort of cutoff score to stay in the program). if so...how different would attending harvard be? you're still going to prepare for it. you're still going to stress.
    4) are you ready to sacrifice the benefits of a lfull iberal arts education by going to albany?

    good luck with the decision making. and enjoy the rest of your senior year :)
     
  4. SunnyS81

    SunnyS81 Senior Member
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    From what I remember of the albany programs they are 6 years .....so you really can't apply out beacuse you do a B.S. in premedical sciences or something like that in two years.

    I would go to harvard. Albany's med school isn't the greatest (just check out the facilities), and always think "Why do they have a bs/md program?" I think the best school left with one is Northwestern or Case......we phased ours out. I think the programs are trying to go after students that they otherwise would have no chance at.........think about your goals.......what you want to get out of college.........it isn't just a degree and becoming a doctor........there's an experience (especially undergrad).

    1/3 of applicants get into med school, is that extra 2/3 worth the "guarantee?"
     
  5. alianwaar4

    alianwaar4 Junior Member
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    the med program is 8 years bs/mba/md without the mcat, 3.4 maintaining...and with my ap credit i wont have to take calc and only a trimester of bio, a trimester of chem and i get 2 A's calculated into my gpa for bio and chem from my AP 5s, and standard year of orgo and physics, the program doesnt require the mcat

    you bring up a good program of why they even have the med program and your right it is to attract students...but in the end doesnt everyone say just have good usmles and graduate from an american med school?

    i have no clue what to do...i dont know if its worth the risk...
     
  6. exmike

    exmike NOR * CAL
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    I wouldnt decline harvard unless I got into an "elite" 7 year program like Northwestern. You have limitless possibilities coming out of the big H. Dont risk being stuck at Albany, and not even being guaranteed medical school b/c there are certain GPA requirements.
     
  7. courtyard

    courtyard Member
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    Congrats!

    Having just completed (albeit sucessfully) the medical school admissions process myself, I am almost tempted to say go straight med.

    But then, I tried to reflect upon myself five years ago when i was entering college. While I thought I would go for medicine, I also had other interests in mind. Overall, I think college for me has been more than just premed classes, asking profs to write rec letters, trying to build CV.

    In college, people spend time to discover themselves..what interests them, ideas, values, etc. For me, I don't come from medical family. I think experiences i gained in college, volunteering, community services, teaching, research...etc, helped me realize what i want to do.

    I have friends in foreign country who already have MD b/c there, medical school is combined education alot like bs/md here. But I dont believe that path has made their lives more "effiecient".

    I say go to Harvard and meet people, get yourselves involved medical and nonmedical. After that, you will know whether medicine truly is the path for you, and if so, i am sure you will get into program that will offer you great opportunities.

    CY.
     
  8. IlianaSedai

    IlianaSedai Senior Member
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    What a tough decision!

    Well, I went to a combined programme and am now a med student at said combined programme. Most people have ALWAYS told me the programme is the best thing ever-- but it's also not Albany Med.

    That said, I went to a GREAT college, and from what I can tell you of that, going to Harvard WILL be a great experience, but its name will NOT guarantee you admission into med school. If you can't make a reasonable GPA, pre-med advisors will tell you to either forget about applying, do a post-bac or masters to improve your chances, add Caribbean schools to your application, or apply to dental school. Not all Harvard pre-meds make it to med school.

    Most likely, you will love Harvard -- but you will also have to work hard in order to bring your grades up.

    If you can't figure it out from all of this, I'd encourage you to TAKE A TRIP THERE to visit Union and then to visit Harvard. I think it's best to choose based on what UNDERGRAD experience you'd like to have. I don't think it's worth going to a college you don't like just because your prospects afterward look a little better. You have to LIVE there and live with your choice for the next FOUR years. If you don't like Union, go to Harvard and take your chances with pre-med. If you love Union, then I'd respect your choice to go there and go through Albany Med.

    That said, while I'm here, I sometimes DO regret not giving myself the chance to apply and see if I can get into a better-ranked school or a school in California. I get a very good education as is, but the grass is always greener on the other side. ;)
     
  9. banannie

    banannie Senior Member
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    congrats on getting into harvard.

    first, being a premed at harvard is not as tough, competitive, or burn-out inducing as you might think. it's as stressful or laid back as you want to make it. honestly, most people at harvard realize that they're probably getting into med school anyway (>90% do) so they're not constantly freaking out about their resumes. there are so many amazing extracurricular and service opportunities that you end up doing those things because you want to, not because you need to for your medical school app.

    second, what is so bad about having to work hard or test your commitment to medicine? personally, i think everyone should put themselves in situations that challenge them, personally and intellectually. worst case scenario: you end up deciding not to go to medical school because you find something else that you're deeply passionate about and that truly makes you happy. that's a great thing!

    cambridge/boston >>> upstate new york. sorry, this is not a subjective point up for debate. it is simply true.

    most likely, harvard will provide you with more and better opportunities to broaden your horizons. your classmates will amaze you every day. every week, a new world-renowned speaker will be on campus.

    2 minor points: no, not everyone is happy at harvard. in fact, i was sometimes miserable. but looking back, i am so so so so glad i went there. i really miss it!
    also, if you do go to harvard, consider majoring in something other than biology. it's one of the largest majors there and tends to be impersonal. i changed my major to "history and science" and it's one of the best decisions i ever made.
     
  10. getcloned

    getcloned Hilton Magician
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    i may be different than everyone else here, but i can't imagine being 18 and committing to a career. i say go to harvard, have a blast, meet new people, and learn new things.

    trust me... if your grades are good, and you STILL want to go to med school, you'll get in with a harvard degree.

    you will learn so much about yourself in the next 4 (or 5) years... it's priceless.
     
  11. Vincristine

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    Even thought I went to MIT, I AM allowed to tell you to go to Harvard. I agree with many of the points already made. College is an entirely different experience -- it's not 100% about getting into medical school. The experience you have will almost undoubtedly be a million times better at Harvard than Albany. Cambridge is my most favorite city and I can't stand to do more than eat dinner in Albany, not to mention spending the next 8 years there! I also agree that if this was the Northwestern program, my opinions would likely be different. (Interestingly enough, however, I got into the Northwestern combined program, but not into medical school there 4 years later!)
    No one here has mentioned money. I've got no idea the cost of Albany, but I do know what Harvard costs. I financed most of the undergrad education with loans, unlike lots of my med school classmates. Sure, I freak out from time to time about being $120k in debt, but I'm not sure I'd do it any differently.
     
  12. Habari

    Habari Senior Member
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    the financial aid at harvard is excellent, as it is at most of the schools with the largest endowments. they generally more than meet need, and i can assure you that it would be better than the aid you would get at union/albany.

    out of highschool i, too, was accepted to a ba/md program w/pennstate med - but chose to go to urochester instead on some scholarship - an arguably less clear cut decision. i'm currently at cornell/rockefeller md/phd in nyc, but was accepted to 10 'top 15' schools for md/phd[1 was mdonly] when i applied last year. this is anecdotal - but given your choice, it would be a mistake not to matric @ harvard.
     
  13. drdoctor

    drdoctor Senior Member
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    This is a very tough decision. You said your sister went through the Union/Albany BS/MBA/MD Program and got a really good residency in california. Are you getting any money from either schools? Does distance matter. The Harvard name is not going to get you into medical school. You still have to do well and that will be tough with hardcore premeds all around you. What do your parents think? Talk to some doctors in your area or medical students that you know and find out what they think.
     
  14. ab003

    ab003 Junior Member

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    I think you need to think about what you want...I'm in the GW 7-yr BA/MD program and last year I was in a similar position to you in that I was choosing among med programs in April (GW, Stony Brook, Union, RPI, couple others) and the Univ. of Chicago. While UofC isn't necessarily Harvard in terms of prestige, med school acceptance rate, etc, I think the factors you need to consider in making this decision are not too different....

    - Yes, USMLE scores, LORs, and grades play (arguably) a greater factor in residency placement than where you went for med school, you are at least 7 years away from that...don't base a decision on something that is so far removed from you..

    - What do you want from college life? Do you want to study your arse off and have a better chance of getting into a top 20 med school? Or do you want to take it easy and enjoy the fruits of your labor in high school by not having to worry about med school? I mean, I have to maintain a 3.3 here, while most other premeds need at least a 3.6 to even be competitive..I'm not saying slack off if you go to Union, but just know that from my experience that the cushion REALLY is nice...

    - Think about what experiences you want in college..I chose GW over Stony Brook because of the MCAT as well as the intellectual stimulation I get from being here (DC vs. Long Island or Hyde Park)...While I don't want to hijack this into a "why GW is so cool" post, just keep in mind that you will most likely get more intellectual stimulation/experience more/different things in Boston/Cambridge over Schnectady, NY (no offense to my fellow upstaters...)

    If I were you, I would visit both places again and see what it would be like if you were a student there, I think the real possibility of going there will weigh heavier in your paradigm as opposed to the cozy, "yeah, it's nice" outlook you have on interview day...

    Med programs have both advantages (you're 17/18 and ARE going to be a doctor, less stress, no MCAT) and disadvantages (20 years from now, "I think I could have gotten into Mayo," being in the same place for 7 years), weigh both carefully in your decision...

    PM me if you have any questions..
     
  15. doc05

    doc05 2K Member
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    this is not a tough decision. Unless you can't afford Harvard, go there. The school is unparalleled in all areas.

    do not even think about union/albany - turning down Harvard would be the biggest mistake of your life.
     
  16. FLgirl

    FLgirl Junior Member
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    Congratulations!:clap:
    I strongly urge you to visit both cities again. See what feels right. Are you really interested in Albany or just relieved to have the process over?
    Having lived in Boston, I urge you to consider Harvard. Boston may take a little adjusting (not sure where you grew up), but it is an great city. And it really is an incredible opportunity to study at one of the world's most prestigious schools. Why the rush? Take the time to get an incredible liberal arts education and believe in yourself that you will do well and get into med school regardless. Although Harvard isn't the end all be all- it will provide endless opportunities that you won't have elsewhere.

    Anyways, just my opinion. Do what feels right, but don't go to Albany just because its safe.
     
  17. Trajan

    Trajan Senior Member
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    I'm a first year at Albany Med (though I didn't enter via a combined program) and am very happy that I chose to attend. I have very fond feelings for Union as well (my sister and her husband both went there). It's a fantastic school with lots of history and offers the opportunity for a tremendous liberal education (my brother-in-law got a B.A. in English there and Yale Law School -- where he's now doing extremely well -- was happy to take him).

    That said, if you think you can be successful there, I would absolutely go to Harvard.

    I'm not a huge fan of combined programs and would like to see them done away with. I don't advertise that opinion at school, as I feel no need to alienate a third of my class who entered via such programs -- many of whom I like very much and think will make excellent physicians. However, there are major drawbacks to these programs. Even if you are bright enough to get into Harvard, that doesn't mean that you are certain that medicine is for you. At my college (Middlebury) over 100 people were premed at orientation. Most of these people could have gotten into a combined program somewhere -- maybe not the one at Brown or Northwestern, but certainly somewhere in the US. Fewer that 20 of those people still wanted to be premed by senior year for a variety of reasons.

    Even if you do ultimately choose medicine, having balance and a wide range of experiences will serve you best. I think that combined programs put blinders on people as they embark on a critical part of one's formal education with extremely narrow goals in mind -- and Lord knows we don't need any more obsessive overachieving people in medical schools.

    You will get into medical school if you do not lose interest. The whole 2/3 of applicants not getting in anywhere business falls apart when you look at the people whe get into top colleges on their own merits. However, if you do lose interest, would you want to be locked in because you signed on at age 18? You will have more choices if you don't lock yourself into a program. The choice to not choose medicine, the choice to choose from any medical school you can get into, the choice to pursue medicine after taking a year or more to do something else after college. Who knows, if you go to Harvard you could even end up at Albany Med down the road! There are a number of Harvard College grads here now.

    Harvard has many downsides (talk to people who went there, not me, about them), but it's one of the few opportunities that even most medical students didn't get when they were 18.

    Good luck.

    PS -- Albany Med is a great school, but its tuition is absurdly expensive and gets worse every year. The Navy is paying my way, but I would have gone to a SUNY medical school if I, like most of my classmates, were paying with loans. I don't think I would like AMC as much as I do if I knew that it was putting a quarter million in loans around my neck. Just something else to think about.
     

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