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Aug 17, 2020
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Hi everyone! I’m incredibly lucky to be in the position of picking between these amazing schools, and I would appreciate any advice you all have! To give a little background information about me, I’m coming straight out of undergrad, I’m really interested in public health, and it’s important to me that I go somewhere with happy students and a social atmosphere (post-COVID). I haven’t received aid packages from any of these schools yet, so cost is still a big unknown. Here are all of the pros and cons I could think of:

Hopkins
Pros
  • Can’t beat the name recognition
  • Stellar clinical training and facilities
  • Bloomberg is ranked #1 for public health, great place to get an MPH and do public health research
  • Love the structure of the preclinical curriculum (intercession weeks, focus on health disparities)
  • Match list is ridiculously good
Cons
  • Don’t know anyone in the area
  • Baltimore seems cool, but it’s a smaller city, and I prefer large cities
  • Can’t really tell how close/social the student body is
Columbia
Pros
  • New york city, obviously (though I guess having so many things to do could be distracting)
  • Mailman is also an incredible public health school
  • Lots of friends/family in the city
  • Washington heights seems awesome
  • P&S club seems like a great way to make friends/build community
Cons
  • Not a fan of the first year dorms, but also don’t want to miss out socially by living off campus
  • Have heard that columbia students tend to be more stressed than the average med student, not sure if this is true
  • Might be a while before new york really rebounds post-COVID
Penn
Pros
  • Love the learning group-based curriculum style
  • Students seem really fun and really happy
  • Beautiful facilities
  • Easy access to classes at business school, law school, etc, which is super cool
  • Apparently they have lots of funding for students who want to do MPHs
Cons
  • Biggest con is that they don’t have a public health school. They have public health research going on and they offer MPHs, but I feel like the lack of an actual public health school might make it harder to make connections and do research in that field.
  • Don’t know a ton of people in Philly

Thanks in advance for your input!!
 

fogo

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Dec 3, 2015
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I'd say Columbia. It offers the best in terms of social support, you can enjoy the big city life, and fits well with your interests in public health. School prestige and reputation for all three are second to none, and Columbia matches ridiculously well. Congratulations on such a successful cycle!
 
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Congratulations! All of these sound amazing. It sounds like Columbia and Hopkins may be a lean given the public health schools, but look at the packages and give thought to whoever gives you the best deal.

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mr_unlimited

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May 26, 2017
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To add some diversity in opinion to the mix, I think public health at hopkins is pretty unparalleled, and at least anecdotally the people I know there are very happy with the community. This is something you could get a better sense of during second look. If you have more personal ties to NYC however, I think it totally makes sense to choose Columbia. I don't think you can go wrong though, congrats on such a successful cycle!
 
Mar 29, 2021
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I am in the same boat (deciding between Columbia and Johns Hopkins + wanting to pursue public and global health medicine), so I can't give you an answer given I haven't figured it out myself.

However, I can share some additional factors that I've been considering for myself in case they can help tip you towards one school or the other.

Columbia
  • (+) Existing support network - Similar to you, my social circle is in NYC (as is all of my furniture)
  • (+) Dual degree - I'm considering an MD/MBA, and Columbia has a much better MBA program compared to Hopkins
  • (+) Diverse patient population - While both are diverse cities, NYC is arguably more diverse (more cultures, more people from different countries)
  • (+) Median cohort age - Columbia's accepted student cohort generally seems a bit older (just based on the GroupMe intros). As someone who has been out of school for a bit, I feel I may be able to relate slightly better to an older class
  • (-) Cost of living - NYC has a higher cost of living, so will drain my fin aid budget/savings a bit faster
  • (-) Course reqt - This may not apply to you, but I am missing one of the course reqts, which I would have to take this summer and would cost me ~$5K and any little free time I have before med school
Hopkins
  • (+) Public health opportunities - While both have great public and global health programs, I heard JHU receives the most research funding of any school (don't quote me), plus it has the Global Health Leadership track. Also, I can only assume that its relationship to the NIH is quite strong given its proximity
  • (+) Housing - The 929 apartments where many students / med school affiliates live are way better than Columbia's first-year housing and are actual apartments rather than dorms
  • (+) Financial aid - JHU was surprisingly generous with its fin aid for me, though I expect Columbia will be the same
  • (+) Cost of living - Baltimore is more budget friendly, especially with regards to housing
  • (+) Class size - JHU has a slightly smaller class size, though maybe not small enough to make a huge difference
  • (-) Familiarity with Baltimore - I am less familiar with Baltimore and don't know anyone there, so I would need to re-establish my social circle (not terrible, but it's nice to know a few people outside of medical school who can ground you a bit)
  • (-) Dual degree - Its MBA program isn't as good as Columbia's, though if you plan to pursue an MPH, I feel they are comparable

Also, I've also heard the rumor that Columbia students are more stressed, but compared to Hopkins students, I doubt it.

Sorry for the long post, but I hope this helped (or at least didn't make you even more undecided). For me, I feel like my heart is saying Columbia, but my head (and mom) are saying Hopkins, so I definitely understand if you feel like you're having decision paralysis. Though, however you decide, there's a high likelihood that we will be classmates! :)
 
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Aug 19, 2019
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Columbia student here! Not sure where the rumors of being more stressed come from, I think the environment is pretty supportive and chill. Our grading system is relaxed, the faculty have been really supportive, there’s been no gunner vibes. Overall I’m super happy to be here.
 
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Mar 30, 2021
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Congrats on killing the cycle! My vote would be for Columbia. No meaningful difference in reputation and Columbia has been a step ahead in investing in their school (see: their new med school palace). Family connections and NYC? easy choice
 
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