Which one would you choose?

  • WashU

    Votes: 13 9.3%
  • UPenn

    Votes: 65 46.4%
  • Vanderbilt

    Votes: 15 10.7%
  • Yale

    Votes: 47 33.6%

  • Total voters
    140
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fwdlateral

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Sorry to start another help with choosing schools thread, but I've been fortunate to have gained admission to several great schools (WashU, UPenn, Vandy, and Yale, and am waiting to hear from Hopkins) and I have a really tough time choosing between them, assuming money is comparable.
Location isn't a huge deal for me, as long as I can do stuff outdoors and play sports easily. Having good music options (like orchestra!) would be a plus, as well. But I think the location of all the schools are fine and don't really care about weather.
I really like Penn's curriculum, but I feel like the preclinical coursework shouldn't be a huge factor. The clinical training seems much more important, but I have no idea how to compare schools in this area. I'm also interested in academic medicine, and want to do research on mathematical/systems biology/physiology, but I'm having trouble finding anyone doing research in these fields at any of the schools, and may just opt to do stuff at NIH ...
Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

EDIT: Whoops, forgot to mention that I'm also leaning toward an internal medicine subspecialty at the moment, not really sure which though, as they all seem very interesting. Though I'm not sure how much that would/should a decision ... Hmm.
 

Steeler7588

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Penn, but I'm not a fan of WashU's location or Yale's teaching style. Between Penn and Vandy, I think the 1.5 year curriculum will open up some important elective time for you. Vandy's 3rd year is pretty rigid.
 

mdeast

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You got into great schools, all in very different places. They're all highly ranked with wonderful opportunities and unique environments. You're set at any of them.

Penn is the highest ranked. I would go there because I love Philadelphia and the East Coast. Not everyone shares that sentiment. WashU, Vanderbilt, Yale are all equally great schools, so don't discount them.

Go to second looks, see which places clicks with you. Where would you be happiest over the next 4 years? (And yes, happiness can derive from location, curriculum, prestige, cost, students, patients, how nice of a first year lecture room each school has). Whatever floats your boat. That's ultimately the question that's most important to you. Don't go anywhere because others expect of it you. In the end, you won't care about this process ever again after August rolls around. Be happy. That's my motto.
 

Therapist4Chnge

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Whichever gives the best financial aid/least debt.

I don't like Upenn's location.
WashU location is okay.
Yale...decent.
Vandy is gorgeous.

Back in the day I considered all but Yale (Princeton was my Ivy fav.), though you can't go wrong with any of them.
 

sleepy425

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Whichever gives the best financial aid/least debt.

I don't like Upenn's location.
WashU location is okay.

Yale...decent.
Vandy is gorgeous.

Back in the day I considered all but Yale (Princeton was my Ivy fav.), though you can't go wrong with any of them.
St. Louis over Philly? Really? Don't get me wrong, St. Louis is not nearly as bad as people make it out to be, but Philly is awesome!!! Like super super awesome! There's so much to do, the food is great (I mean, really really great, like I'm from south Louisiana where the food is basically the best in the country, and Philly's food is just as good!), and the city itself is so compact. You can go from one end of the city to the other in no time! Maybe it's just because I like Penn so much, but yeah, I love Philly.

Now as far as schools are concerned, I'm obviously biased, but I love it at Penn. The administration is soooo good to us. They keep us really really relaxed even though we're learning a ton of stuff. I'm really liking the 1.5 year preclinical stuff so far, it doesn't feel compressed or rushed or anything, because they do a good job of stacking harder classes with easier classes (so you're taking 3 classes at once, but 2 are really easy, and one is a lot of work) during the first six months so that the work never gets to an extreme level. That way, they don't have to make anatomy 6 weeks or something crazy like that, it can still be 12 weeks long since we're taking 3 at once.

Many of our exams have at least some group component! Our head and neck anatomy exam was entirely a group exam (actually, it was a game which involved running up and down the stairs between test stations, followed by a riddle that led us to a place on campus where we could find a ticket to enter a spoon and egg relay race! sooo much fun!). So far in Mod 2 (Jan-Dec), we've had a group component to every exam, and I know that we're going to have a bunch more.

The fact that we have H/P/F grading for Mod 2 hasn't really affected us too much. More than half of the class has been getting honors on the exams (it's not a competitive grading scale, if you get above 90% in the class you get honors. If not enough people get above 90%, they will lower the cutoff).


Anyway, so obviously I think Penn is a great place to be! But those are all wonderful schools, and you can't go wrong no matter what you choose!
 

ApoK

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St. Louis over Philly? Really? Don't get me wrong, St. Louis is not nearly as bad as people make it out to be, but Philly is awesome!!! Like super super awesome! There's so much to do, the food is great (I mean, really really great, like I'm from south Louisiana where the food is basically the best in the country, and Philly's food is just as good!), and the city itself is so compact. You can go from one end of the city to the other in no time! Maybe it's just because I like Penn so much, but yeah, I love Philly.

Now as far as schools are concerned, I'm obviously biased, but I love it at Penn. The administration is soooo good to us. They keep us really really relaxed even though we're learning a ton of stuff. I'm really liking the 1.5 year preclinical stuff so far, it doesn't feel compressed or rushed or anything, because they do a good job of stacking harder classes with easier classes (so you're taking 3 classes at once, but 2 are really easy, and one is a lot of work) during the first six months so that the work never gets to an extreme level. That way, they don't have to make anatomy 6 weeks or something crazy like that, it can still be 12 weeks long since we're taking 3 at once.

Many of our exams have at least some group component! Our head and neck anatomy exam was entirely a group exam (actually, it was a game which involved running up and down the stairs between test stations, followed by a riddle that led us to a place on campus where we could find a ticket to enter a spoon and egg relay race! sooo much fun!). So far in Mod 2 (Jan-Dec), we've had a group component to every exam, and I know that we're going to have a bunch more.

The fact that we have H/P/F grading for Mod 2 hasn't really affected us too much. More than half of the class has been getting honors on the exams (it's not a competitive grading scale, if you get above 90% in the class you get honors. If not enough people get above 90%, they will lower the cutoff).


Anyway, so obviously I think Penn is a great place to be! But those are all wonderful schools, and you can't go wrong no matter what you choose!
wtf? Sounds almost like it's not serious. I had heard stories from some docs that Penn may be a bit too "loose." lol, I still don't know what to make of it.

Anyway, obviously all those schools are great. I think Yale and UPenn are above the other 2, but I personally didn't like Vandy or WashU...

OP, I'd take Yale. I don't think you can underestimate the value of a completely stress-free curriculum like the Yale system. I also heard from a senior mod on here that *his experience* was that Yale kids had less trouble matching to their top choice versus Penn kids for a few years running (he was a Penn student). I guess this might be reflected in the match lists if you look at them (but the importance of match lists has been debated ad nauseum). Also, New Haven is an hour train ride away from NYC.

And, I guess for you personally, I would contact the school and see if you can find a PI with something related to your research interests. I'm sure someone at one of these places is working on something akin to your interests. If not, then pick the school that let's you do a funded year out at the NIH (as you mentioned).
 

jturkel

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i interviewed at both vandy and wash u.....and absolutely loved vandy's location and school...students very normal. sure wash u has the prestige of being number 3, but unless i got a bunch of money from wash u, i'd pick vandy over them in a heartbeat.
 
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Upenn>Yale>WashU>>> Vandy

I didn't really like Vanderbilt. Students were..ehh...Nashville is ok. Facilities there are overrated.
 

ALPhysics87

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Upenn>Yale>WashU>>> Vandy

I didn't really like Vanderbilt. Students were..ehh...Nashville is ok. Facilities there are overrated.

Really? Out of every place I interviewed I liked Vandy the most.

I'd go with UPenn or Vanderbilt -- seem like the happiest places to be. At that level you're going to be competitive for a great match regardless of where you go. Go where you feel like you fit in the best.
 

jturkel

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Upenn>Yale>WashU>>> Vandy

I didn't really like Vanderbilt. Students were..ehh...Nashville is ok. Facilities there are overrated.
wow. you didn't like the Center for Experiential Learning and Assessment, with its "state-of-the-art" Standardized Patient Center and Simulation Center?
 
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jturkel - I saw very similar/nearly identical things at some of the schools I interviewed.
Also didn't like the brick style lecture halls (kind of drepressing), the loaction of the admissions office/lecture rooms relative to the medical center ;lecture halls located in a small hallway, and the fact that more than one student told me it can get very cliqueish. It's nice, but people on SDN over rate Vanderbilt.
 

ButImLETired

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jturkel - I saw very similar/nearly identical things at some of the schools I interviewed.
Also didn't like the brick style lecture halls (kind of drepressing), the loaction of the admissions office/lecture rooms relative to the medical center ;lecture halls located in a small hallway, and the fact that more than one student told me it can get very cliqueish. It's nice, but people on SDN over rate Vanderbilt.
I hate jumping to Vandy's defense all the time, Lord knows everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I just wanted to mention that in my experience, I don't really find cliques to be a problem here. We all get along remarkably well. Of course you find a subgroup with which you hang out most of the time, but I haven't come across too much pettiness or gossiping or anything like that. I'm actually pretty surprised to hear about that comment, cause I thought we all felt largely the same...oh well. Maybe I'm just out of the loop ;)

As for location, I agree, I think the brick walls are a little depressing. Thankfully we don't spend too much time in lecture, so we don't have to see them all the time. I really do like the fact that we're right across from the medical center though- I guess one may dislike that (you often have to go through the hospital to get to places) but I like being reminded of why I'm here, and being surrounded by MDs and patients helps with that.
Anyway, different strokes for different folks, I guess.

OP, discounting my complete and total bias, if I'd been in your position, I think I probably would have gone with Yale cause of the no grades, no tests thing. It absolutely wouldn't have worked for me (not self-motivated enough at all) but if you're that kind of person, more power to you. I'm not a huge New Haven fan, but it sounds like location doesn't matter much to you.

Good luck!
 

CourageKid

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wtf? Sounds almost like it's not serious. I had heard stories from some docs that Penn may be a bit too "loose." lol, I still don't know what to make of it.
Yeah. Penn is so easy that we don't even have to go to med school. We just show up in May and get a degree.
Really? We work hard. Sleepy was responding to the concern that a lot of people have about the addition of honors to the grading of Mod 2. It isn't a big deal because teamwork is such a big part of the curriculum and because there is no curve to the honors grading.
And the Amazing Face (the head/neck anatomy exam modeled after the amazing race) was one of my most memorable experiences of med school so far.

To the OP, you have great choices. If you're thinking northeast, there are a couple of differences between Penn and Yale that should be considered (with the full disclosure that I didn't apply to Yale, so I don't know all the details). Do you like bigger cities? Philly has more of an identity separate from Penn, which to me would seem to also provide more opportunities to find stuff you like to do in your free time. It's also a quick train ride to NYC or D.C.
As far a curriculums go, how self-motivated are you? I work hard, but there are a lot of things I like to do that are non-school related (eat, tv, wander through Philly, defend Penn on internet forums). I don't think that I could make myself learn the material as well in a curriculum that had no tests. I find that the 4 week separation between tests that we have at Penn is great because you can have a slow week-10 days (depending on the organ system studied) before having to really ramp it up again. But that's me. Clearly, many people thrive in the Yale system as well. It's really about your personal learning style.

The emphasis on the 1.5 preclinical curriculum at Penn is not as much about the 1.5 years in the classroom (although that's awesome), but rather more about the 2.5 years in the clinics. All the MS4s I've talked to say it's really an advantage to have more time to take electives and figure out what you are interested in prior to having to apply to residency.
- Good luck.
 
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biggreen05

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Fantastic options, congrats on your accomplishments. As I near the end of my time at Yale, I would like to contribute that the program here was just about everything billed to us at the beginning--a flexible, happy and cooperative environment in which to spend your beginning years in the medical world.

You are straight up going to get the same training at any of these places as they all have big hospitals with ample and dedicated teaching staff. You will also likely do the same on your boards and rotations wherever you are as the material is the same; match lists are solid for each as well. Regarding the asserted lack of exams here, that's just not true--we have anonymous exams for each pre-clinical course and clinical rotation which flag you for remediation if you fail (remediaton=prof telling you to study harder next time w/ no indication in your record of fail hence the motto pass now-pass later). So the structure is there in which to guide yourself if you need it, but it won't have bearing on your match 4 years down the line--as it really shouldn't. I would encourage you to find your differentiating factors in the gut feeling you got for how you would fit in, what things outside of medical school matter to you, and the culture of the school. You are going to do your best and cherish your time in retrospect at the place you were happiest.

I cannot comment on other schools as I did not go there, but based on the residency interview trail they all produced fine individuals. For Yale's part, I particularly enjoyed the non-zero sum environment in which you could pursue passions and try out new activities without the fear of dropping in class rank or falling outside of some pre-defined path to matching in a particular residency. I firmly believe in opening oneself to the broad opportunities in medicine rather than fixating on something we all have little experience in at MS1 (I thought IM myself and now am far from doing that). Yale will give you that opportunity in spades through the personal nature of the community in which you will find highly accessible mentors, in which the thesis will hook you up with experts in a particular field, in which you can move around clinical rotations during your 3rd (or 5th if chosen) years to see other fields, and in which students will help you out and try to infect you with their passion for a field (in fact, this is probably a reason we tend to get spikes of a particularly field's popularity from year to year).

In summary, I think the flexibility of Yale paired with a close community and personal mentorship at a very early stage is what really stuck with me at the end. Also, I was big into outdoors and there is some solid stuff here: Yale outdoors facility, parts of AT in northwest CT/MA, Berkshires, 2 hours to white mountains and skiing, etc.. Again, Vandy, Wash U, and Penn are fine institutions that have lots to offer themselves so you can't go wrong! Good luck.
 
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I only interviewed at Yale and Penn, and found the students happier at Penn: Better curriculum, friendlier culture, and much happier with Philly than New Haven. For those who care about ratings ( I personally do not) Penn outranks Yale in US News.
 

biggreen05

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Silly to assess who is happier. Easy to say people are Yale are very much stoked about being here. New Haven really isn't the liability some would think and in the end I am a bit sad to be leaving it for a bigger city for residency. This absolutely depends on the OP's preferences. Personally, I liked the mix of a mid-sized town with good restaurants/bars, easy access to quieter surrounding areas and outdoors, and solid integration with broader university community ie: grad school bar, IM sports.
It's not for everyone, but I think the group here is self-selected enough given how happy people are here--that has to be the discerning rep of this place if there is one you had to peg. Good luck
 

fwdlateral

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Thanks for all the replies! I think I've more or less narrowed it down to WashU and Penn. Yale and Vanderbilt both have great programs, but I have a nagging suspicion that the Yale System is not ideal for me, and I don't think Vanderbilt is a good fit. I feel like every school has the flexibility for what I may want to do outside of class, and of course all have great programs, mentorship, and training, so I've been waffling on my decision a lot. I feel like the curriculum and clinical training are all top notch, so I guess it comes down more to how I like the cultures and community of the school. I do like playing sports and such outdoors, though, so I'm a bit iffy on Philly. I think P/F is great, but while WashU and Penn have grades, I think it's uncurved, so it's not as bad as it could be. From what I've heard, Penn and WashU also have similar cultures ... I feel like my decision may just come down to which school has a PI that has research interests similar to mine. But at the same time, I'm afraid that none of them have someone that is doing the exact kind of research I have in mind, which makes it much harder for me to decide. Do schools ever fund students who want to do research at a different institution (eg ... UCLA?)? Again, thanks for all the input!
 

biggreen05

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Congrats on coming closer to a decision though I am sad to hear Yale doesn't seem to be your ticket (last plug: there aren't many people who get this far that won't succeed in this system--check out the match list if you are afraid of slipping through some crack). Regarding your question about research, I would recommend you leave your specific aims out of your decision for a school. For one, you can always do research away through fellowships such as the Howard Hughes and Dorris Duke which can be done at any other med school or at the NIH itself (for Howard Hughes Cloister or CTY). Secondly, your research interests now may change once you get 2.5 years into your undergraduate education as it does for many many students.

Pick where you get most excited about when you envision yourself going there. Both of your choices are excellent places to realize your career goals. Don't over-quanitfy the differences in this case; they are too minute. Pick one based on something easy (ie: distance to home, cool IM program, etc) and then let yourself get psyched about starting your career in a truly awesome profession.
 

futureIDdoc

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WU is a good fit for academic medicine, no? I do know a friend who went there and continued with the violin. I like Philly but WU seems like a good fit here.
 

Neuronix

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I also heard from a senior mod on here that *his experience* was that Yale kids had less trouble matching to their top choice versus Penn kids for a few years running (he was a Penn student).
A senior mod. You might as well point your finger at me :laugh:. This is what I get for PMing. So that's not exactly what I meant. My point was that the Yale match list looks excellent despite the low stress grading system. Grades have been a huge source of stress for me, and I often wish I didn't have to deal with them. Yale still has grading in clerkships, and those are the grades that matter, so I don't know what it all means in the end.

I do know several students at Penn who did not match, and many more who did not land in their top 3 choices, and I know their stories pretty well. But it's all just anecdote and it's mostly MD/PhD students, cause that's who I know best. I just find the focusing on things like rankings silly and even sillier I find this assumption that going to a big name med school means big name residency. It does mean big competition. And not being in the top 50% of your extremely competitive class looks bad, regardless what school you went to or what extra degrees you have.

Do schools ever fund students who want to do research at a different institution (eg ... UCLA?)? Again, thanks for all the input!
Almost never. There is a MD/PhD program that will fund you to work at the NIH, but few schools support it (Penn is not one of them). There are outside research grants you can apply for (HHMI), though it's extremely competitive. Word from the 3rd years is that out of 7 who applied for that grant only 1 got it.

Penn does have some selling points. The 1.5 year basic science curriculum is nice. The first year was a lot of fun for me and apparently CourageKid and sleepy425 as well. My only complaint were sign in sheets for PBL that basically required you to attend every day. It was a real hassle to try to miss a day or a PBL session for other reasons. Seems like this is a common theme for PBLs at other schools though.

The location of Penn is fantastic. It's pretty much in the middle of a cool northeast city that's not terribly expensive. If you don't like that, you just don't like big cities.
 
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ApoK

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A senior mod. You might as well point your finger at me :laugh:. This is what I get for PMing. So that's not exactly what I meant. My point was that the Yale match list looks excellent despite the low stress grading system. Grades have been a huge source of stress for me, and I often wish I didn't have to deal with them. Yale still has grading in clerkships, and those are the grades that matter, so I don't know what it all means in the end.

I do know several students at Penn who did not match, and many more who did not land in their top 3 choices, and I know their stories pretty well. But it's all just anecdote and it's mostly MD/PhD students, cause that's who I know best. I just find the focusing on things like rankings silly and even sillier I find this assumption that going to a big name med school means big name residency. It does mean big competition. And not being in the top 50% of your extremely competitive class looks bad, regardless what school you went to or what extra degrees you have.



Almost never. There is a MD/PhD program that will fund you to work at the NIH, but few schools support it (Penn is not one of them). There are outside research grants you can apply for (HHMI), though it's extremely competitive. Word from the 3rd years is that out of 7 who applied for that grant only 1 got it.

Penn does have some selling points. The 1.5 year basic science curriculum is nice. The first year was a lot of fun for me and apparently CourageKid and sleepy425 as well. My only complaint were sign in sheets for PBL that basically required you to attend every day. It was a real hassle to try to miss a day or a PBL session for other reasons. Seems like this is a common theme for PBLs at other schools though.

The location of Penn is fantastic. It's pretty much in the middle of a cool northeast city that's not terribly expensive. If you don't like that, you just don't like big cities.
Haha, I didn't mean to point you out like that... I think only people following the Penn thread would have known. My bad :oops:. Anyway, I hope OP realizes that Penn and Yale are essentially equivalent in every way. You won't be at any advantage/disadvantage at either of them. However, at Yale, I think the Yale System is a wonderfully stress-free way to do things.

Also, as far as doing research/degrees at away institutions. I know Duke allows its students to do this. However, they expect you to get your own funding, or you have to pay both Duke's and the away institution's tuition. So, I know there are kids who go to Harvard/Stanford for Masters Public Policy or MBA, but they had to pay double tuition for that year. I also know students who did a two year masters program at UNC and obtained complete funding+stipend. It varies.
 
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