Medical Help with Final Decisions: Weill Cornell, UCSF/Berkeley JMP, or Mount Sinai?

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Staff member
Volunteer Staff
7+ Year Member
Oct 27, 2013
Hi world,

I'm narrowing down my med school decision ahead of the April 30th deadline and could use some advice. I've been fortunate enough to get accepted at Weill Cornell, the Joint Medical Program at UCSF/Berkeley, and Mount Sinai. All second looks have been cancelled this year and I've got absolutely no clue which to go with. I know I'm lucky to have gotten into these programs and I don't mean to boast about them by any means. I'm just really at a loss. Since I'm from New York City and went to college upstate, a move to California would mean living across the country from my closest friends and family, and SO (long distance never works out so am I just setting us up to break up?). That being said, the UCSF/Berkeley program has a really health equity/social justice-oriented curriculum, and I'm looking to work in underserved (mostly Spanish-speaking) communities throughout my career. I'm tentatively interested in OB/GYN because I want to address maternal health disparities among Latin women.

My main hold up for Weill Cornell is that its pretty disconnected from health disparities work, for JMP is that it would be a cross-country move away from my support network, and Mount Sinai is that its the lowest ranked out of the three.

Here are the pros/cons of each, any and all thoughts would be most welcome:

Weill Cornell:

Pros: #9 medical school, robust global health program, human rights clinic, access to underserved communities in outer-boroughs, near friends, SO and family (all huge!)

Cons: Nothing new environment-wise, the school is very hoity-toity (on the Upper East Side in Manhattan, so most of the patients they serve are insured/wealthy), very research-intense when I'm looking for a more primary care education, worried that clinical skills won't be emphasized (strikes me as the kind of place that has a lot of money for research but med students aren't expected to know how to take BP)

UCSF/Berkeley Joint Medical Program

Pros: #4 medical school, health equity curriculum, robust clinical skills, small cohort (JMP = 16 people for the 2.5 years at UCSF), great outdoors, seems really supportive and close-knit, could practice driving (lol), could use native Spanish skills when working with underserved Latino communities, adventure of a new place

Cons: Cross-country move (I've spent approx 5 days in California so moving to SF seems like a total black box), involves a masters which I wouldn't really pursue otherwise, would probably mean long-distance or breaking up with my SO

Mount Sinai

Pros: social justice-oriented, great student clinic in a Spanish-speaking neighborhood, seems like a tight-knit group of people

Cons: lowest-ranked by about 10 slots, nothing new about the environment (20 minutes away from my house)

Thank you!

First of all, throw rankings out the window. They are pretty arbitrary and all of 3 of the schools are great and well-known. Besides, if ranking truly mattered to you, you'd be going to UCSF because as you state its the highest rank listed here at #4.

That said, family, friends, community, and your SO all seem to be of most importance. That leaves you with two great choices.

Since both of these choice have the same "no new environment" and we're not talking about ranking, Mt Sinai doesn't seem to have cons.

Which school is cheapest for you to attend? And would you be living at home for either of the NY campuses? If so, that also saves a lot of money to besides the difference in tuition.

It also seems your ONLY hold-back from Sinai is the ranking. Again, throw it out the window - USNews rankings are arbitrary and trash.


Admissions advisor
7+ Year Member
Oct 14, 2011
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  1. Academic Administration
If you're used to living in NYC, living in SF is similar (congestion, shouldn't rely on cars) and different (different weather, microclimates). The three C's come into play: cost of attendance, close proximity to support system, and curriculum. If you're "young enough", stretching outside your comfort zone isn't a bad thing so don't be afraid of SF if you've never gone outside the tri-state in your life. There's definitely civilization out there. There is also a fourth C: connections after graduation, but the world is pretty small in the area you want to be part of. And yes, your Spanish will be extremely useful in SF (not that it wouldn't be in NYC of course). Both places have insane costs of living, and SF is higher in cost.

Now, I'm not going to give you any advice regarding your personal relationships. Certainly if there isn't a ring already involved, it's your decision and technology works wonders with communication now. Who knows... your friends and family would love to visit you out in California especially when it starts to get cold in the winter. But it's really nice to be in a small cohort through thick and thin, especially if you all share the same motivations. The opportunities where you are in front of patients where you make a difference (curriculum) should help you, because for clerkships, you can ultimately go anywhere you want, even back home.

You are blessed to have a tough decision. Good luck!
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