markelmarcel

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Dec 17, 2009
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So... I'm sure there are other posts about this, but since this forum is so large and a lot of us are getting acceptance letters I thought I'd make a new post. :)

So, what things do you (current students or current PTs) think should be questions we (future DPT students) should ask ourselves when faced with numerous acceptances?

I'm going to venture out and put a few down...

Accrediatation status
Cost of tuition
Cost of living in area of school
Available assistantships
Potential connections for future jobs
Research opportunities
Class size
Teaching approach (Traditional, PBL, etc)
Opportunities for clinical placements
 

TheOx777

Moderator Emeritus
Jun 25, 2010
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I am so glad you posted this:thumbup:. I have not really seen a thread like this, and I think it is an extremely important decision to make. I have never been one to believe that all DPT programs are created equal. I know there are people that on this forum who say that a DPT is a DPT no matter where you go. While the title may be the same, I am certain that you WILL NOT receive the same quality of education at all 200+ programs across the nation. This is essentially a life long investment financially, professionally, and as a scholar to place yourself in the best situation to eventually be a excellent practitioner and leader in this field. So to approach it any other way is irresponsible and foolish.

I am deciding between several programs as we speak, and I definitely want to take a little time finalize my decision. I think the criteria you listed is a strong start and I use it ,among other things, to make a final decision. :cool:
 
Nov 3, 2010
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hey, I'm having a difficult time deciding between schools as well. I would love to know how you guys would compare azusa pacific university to chapman university. both are in california. the plus side to azusa is that they start this February, so i would be able to get the ball rolling asap! :)

thanks
 

jbizzle

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Jesspt is a current pt and has posted his opinion on this matter before. I'm not sure what he said exactly but he said that tuition should play a big part in choosing. I kind of agree with him. And markelmarcel, you do have it listed as second to accreditation status;) but I'm glad you posted this so I can have help choosing also.
 
Nov 3, 2010
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How about enjoying (for various reasons) the place you would be living?
If you're there 3 years seems pretty important.

Cost is big too, and minimal debt frees myself up in the future to do as I want meet goals beyond that of my professional ones.
 

johncronejr

10+ Year Member
Mar 8, 2009
308
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How about enjoying (for various reasons) the place you would be living?
If you're there 3 years seems pretty important.

Cost is big too, and minimal debt frees myself up in the future to do as I want meet goals beyond that of my professional ones.
Agree with this post. You are going to be living in the area for 3 years, you better make sure you like the surroundings.

Cost would be a big determinant for me if I were looking at numerous schools. If a school is accredited, then I believe you will get a good education in the field of PT. While I think it would be nifty to have the latest, greatest, neatest equipment available at the school, I also have to think about the possibilities that I am actually going to be able to use the XYZ 9000 Rotational-Garvitational Doo-Hickey when I actually get a job. Paying an outrageous tuition to be exposed to that technology doesn't make sense for me since I feel that most clinics/hospitals won't have the technology.

I have a rather easy choice. I applied to one school and am fairly certain that I will get in. The school is located in the same area of the state where I have lived all of my 45 years, so it is a nice thought to remain close to familiar people and surroundings, plus the tuition is not high.
 
Jul 30, 2009
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What helped me decide was writing a list of pros and cons for each program. When I did that, my choice was clear.

Tuition is a big thing to consider, but shouldn't be the only factor. Here's what I also considered, in case it is helpful...

I considered the curriculum to be high up on my list. I didn't want Gross Anatomy to be crammed into 4 weeks during a summer: I knew I needed and wanted more time than that. I wanted a chance to take electives and specialize.

I looked at the program's intensity and how the clinical affils were scheduled into the program. Do you prefer to be in the classroom for 2 years and spend your last year doing your affils OR would you prefer them dispersed throughout the program? Also, I looked at the clinical affiliation sites the schools had. Did they have the site(s) I would love to do an affil at (and hopefully get a job offer!).

Also, I looked at where the therapists I really connected with went to and the vibe from the students (if I met them at the interview day) I got at each program. Where I felt I fit in the most as a person and student really led my decision on where to go. Also, how many students drop out or are let go each year was a huge factor. What resources do you have? Do your classes have TAs that help out outside of class hours? Do you have 24/7 access to the anatomy lab? Do you have access to the plinths, etc after class hours? Is the program committed to keep as many students possible in the program?

It should be a program that fits your learning style, personality and budget. I did not chose the least expensive school, but chose one that I felt was worth the financial hole I'd be in upon graduation (well, probably because the really inexpensive program didn't take me, LOL, otherwise I'd probably have gone there, but also because it's a great program). For some, the cost will out weigh everything: nothing wrong with that! Just make sure it's more than the cost that attracts you to the program.

I agree with the previous poster, location does matter as well: it should be where you'd be willing to live for 2-3 years. Ranking and prestige aren't that important.

Good news, once your decision is over it's smooth sailing until the program begins! :D Oh, and enjoy your life while you have it!! Good luck!
 

jbizzle

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Thanks Kyra, I agree with what you said. I'm hoping to get into Temple because I felt Like I fit in well there at the interview. They have great clinical affiliations as well, not competitive as one student puts it. But their tuition is really high. Still waiting for their decision though.
 
Oct 21, 2010
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I think you guys have covered the majority of factors, but I would add in NPTE pass rates- first time, NOT overall. Many schools will post their first time pass rates on their website. Good luck!! There are many worse things than having to decide between multiple acceptances :)
 
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markelmarcel

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Dec 17, 2009
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How about enjoying (for various reasons) the place you would be living?
If you're there 3 years seems pretty important.
So, what if the two schools you got accepted to are within the same city? Haha. ;)

I applied to 3 schools in Pittsburgh and so far, I've gotten accepted to 2 of them. However, I wouldn't have chosen to even apply to these schools if I didn't love Pittsburgh.

Cost would be a big determinant for me if I were looking at numerous schools. If a school is accredited, then I believe you will get a good education in the field of PT. While I think it would be nifty to have the latest, greatest, neatest equipment available at the school, I also have to think about the possibilities that I am actually going to be able to use the XYZ 9000 Rotational-Garvitational Doo-Hickey when I actually get a job. Paying an outrageous tuition to be exposed to that technology doesn't make sense for me since I feel that most clinics/hospitals won't have the technology.
This a great point... Are you going to be in an area where you'll be able to use the "latest, greatest, neatest equipment" once you are done with school?



Also, out of the ones I originally listed, here is how I would order them (personally) in order of importance:

(9)Accrediatation status
(4) Cost of tuition
(5) Cost of living in area of school
(3) Available assistantships
(1) Potential connections for future jobs
(2) Research opportunities
(8)Class size
(7)Teaching approach (Traditional, PBL, etc)
(6) Opportunities for clinical placements
 

TheOx777

Moderator Emeritus
Jun 25, 2010
477
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Status
Agree with this post. You are going to be living in the area for 3 years, you better make sure you like the surroundings.

Cost would be a big determinant for me if I were looking at numerous schools. If a school is accredited, then I believe you will get a good education in the field of PT. While I think it would be nifty to have the latest, greatest, neatest equipment available at the school, I also have to think about the possibilities that I am actually going to be able to use the XYZ 9000 Rotational-Garvitational Doo-Hickey when I actually get a job. Paying an outrageous tuition to be exposed to that technology doesn't make sense for me since I feel that most clinics/hospitals won't have the technology.

I have a rather easy choice. I applied to one school and am fairly certain that I will get in. The school is located in the same area of the state where I have lived all of my 45 years, so it is a nice thought to remain close to familiar people and surroundings, plus the tuition is not high.
I totally agree with your assessment of costs. I may not have made that clear in my previous post, but I think cost is right up there on my list after curriculum, faculty, and clinical rotations. I got acceptances from pretty good programs and I automatically dropped every other program on my list that was 10-40K more. Even though PT's make a decent living, it's highly improbable that anyone on this forum is going to crack more than 150K/year as a "staff" or "regular" PT with a normal 40hr/week work schedule, so fiscal responsibility about the program you choose is paramount!

I love these kinds of discussions because it really gets the mental juices flowing :idea: about this "process", which can get convoluted at times. Keep it coming!
 

arvest25

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Nov 11, 2009
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I totally agree with your assessment of costs. I may not have made that clear in my previous post, but I think cost is right up there on my list after curriculum, faculty, and clinical rotations. I got acceptances from pretty good programs and I automatically dropped every other program on my list that was 10-40K more. Even though PT's make a decent living, it's highly improbable that anyone on this forum is going to crack more than 150K/year as a "staff" or "regular" PT with a normal 40hr/week work schedule, so fiscal responsibility about the program you choose is paramount!

I love these kinds of discussions because it really gets the mental juices flowing :idea: about this "process", which can get convoluted at times. Keep it coming!
True cost should be a factor, but you can't say it's dumb not to include cost into your decision! For me, I don't care if a school costs me 100K! I don't have to live an upscale lifestyle! It's all about living within your means! If I have to live in a $300 apt for 5 years or so just to pay a big chunk of it, then so be it! $$$ has no factor in my decision! In the end of all days, $$$ will not be a factor in whether we cross the gates or not....the only factor will be did we Live our lives through HIM! That is where I base ALL of my decisions! I know that HE will lead me to the promise land so I know I don't have anything to worry about!
 

jbizzle

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True cost should be a factor, but you can't say it's dumb not to include cost into your decision! For me, I don't care if a school costs me 100K! I don't have to live an upscale lifestyle! It's all about living within your means! If I have to live in a $300 apt for 5 years or so just to pay a big chunk of it, then so be it! $$$ has no factor in my decision! In the end of all days, $$$ will not be a factor in whether we cross the gates or not....the only factor will be did we Live our lives through HIM! That is where I base ALL of my decisions! I know that HE will lead me to the promise land so I know I don't have anything to worry about!
Ummm????:eek: the first two sentences.....

Anyway, there's plenty of things I guess people will do to help decide.
 
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May 8, 2010
128
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I don't have to live an upscale lifestyle! It's all about living within your means! If I have to live in a $300 apt for 5 years or so just to pay a big chunk of it, then so be it! !
Please PLEASE tell me where you can find a $300 apartment to live in. Seriously. ;)

While I'm sure the $300 is a bit of a stretch just to make a point, the point is, the cost of living usually isn't that cheap. (Then again, I live in the Bay Area and the cheapest I've ever paid in rent is $550 before utilities).

Anywho, I completely agree with everyone's perspective. I realize this decision is not hard for people (especially when you have multiple options!) In a weird way I think it might be easier to get into just one school, then viola! Decision made. :)

It seems like most people have covered the basics. One thing I would add, is (if you have the time) see if you can't actually SIT IN on some of the classes when you go to your interviews. Try and spend time exploring the campus on your own, away from the tour that is GEARED toward making you want to come to the program. When I was picking my undergrad, I spent time walking around the campus both before and after the tour. I even peaked into a few classrooms, checked out the teaching styles, facilities, and even struck up some conversations with the tablers. I wanted to get a feel for the school without all the huzzah of a tour.

Anywho, if anyone is still having trouble picking a program as time passes, I recommend talking to someone who has no investment in where you go. I know when I talk to my boyfriend about it, I am influenced by my desire to stay near him, but to be honest, I don't really think I want to go to either of the schools in this area. It took talking to some other friends to realize that I probably won't be as happy at those schools as I may be in some others. I'm not saying to ignore the advice of loved ones, but try and keep in mind that your true goals/desires may be clouded by them.

So that's my two cents, so most everything else has been covered. And hey, my guess is you can PM anyone on here if you want a more personal conversation about your situation. Sometimes it's easier to talk to a stranger to work things out. (Maybe that's why I'm so addicted to this site?)
 

jbizzle

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It seems like most people have covered the basics. One thing I would add, is (if you have the time) see if you can't actually SIT IN on some of the classes when you go to your interviews. Try and spend time exploring the campus on your own, away from the tour that is GEARED toward making you want to come to the program. When I was picking my undergrad, I spent time walking around the campus both before and after the tour. I even peaked into a few classrooms, checked out the teaching styles, facilities, and even struck up some conversations with the tablers. I wanted to get a feel for the school without all the huzzah of a tour.
HAHAHA!!!! I did this when I was at Temple and RFUMS. I walked around Philly and the health science campus the day before the interview and I was scared of the area and almost dropped them from my list. But after the interview I am HOPING to get an acceptance because they ended up being my 1st or 2nd choice. At RFUMS, the students I met (granted they were PA students) before I got all nice and dressed up in my suit weren't very nice to me. I plan on doing the same thing in Shenandoah, which I hear is very nice and beautiful.
 

lee9786

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I'm prioritizing by cost of tuition, location (cost of living), availability of financial assistance, program culture. All programs looked at are DPT accredited and have an acceptable first-time pass rate.

I think it'd be naive to not take costs into account. Two of the programs I'm looking at are ~35k/year tuition. Add fees, books, rent, food, etc. I'm guessing an additional 10-15k would be required per year to cover these. That's now putting the price at 50k/year and ~150k for the program alone, not including undergrad. I'd love to hear how DPT students are currently financing this.

I hear MD students complaining about their 250k student loan tab with their salary. The potential of being near 200k for a PT degree really makes me wonder if I'd not be better off just taking another year off, work as a PT aide, and then reapply to the preferred cheaper option. I guess once you take into effect lost income from a year of work, annual increasing tuition, inflation, it could be best to just bite the bullet. Who knows. Congress looking to decrease reimbursement and talk of potential government takeover of healthcare doesn't make the decision any easier either. There's still hope for the cheaper school. I've been debated whether or not to take the more expensive ones off the list. Trying to make a rationale decision in this type of economic environment is near impossible.
 

arvest25

7+ Year Member
Nov 11, 2009
111
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Please PLEASE tell me where you can find a $300 apartment to live in. Seriously. ;)

While I'm sure the $300 is a bit of a stretch just to make a point, the point is, the cost of living usually isn't that cheap. (Then again, I live in the Bay Area and the cheapest I've ever paid in rent is $550 before utilities).

Anywho, I completely agree with everyone's perspective. I realize this decision is not hard for people (especially when you have multiple options!) In a weird way I think it might be easier to get into just one school, then viola! Decision made. :)

It seems like most people have covered the basics. One thing I would add, is (if you have the time) see if you can't actually SIT IN on some of the classes when you go to your interviews. Try and spend time exploring the campus on your own, away from the tour that is GEARED toward making you want to come to the program. When I was picking my undergrad, I spent time walking around the campus both before and after the tour. I even peaked into a few classrooms, checked out the teaching styles, facilities, and even struck up some conversations with the tablers. I wanted to get a feel for the school without all the huzzah of a tour.

Anywho, if anyone is still having trouble picking a program as time passes, I recommend talking to someone who has no investment in where you go. I know when I talk to my boyfriend about it, I am influenced by my desire to stay near him, but to be honest, I don't really think I want to go to either of the schools in this area. It took talking to some other friends to realize that I probably won't be as happy at those schools as I may be in some others. I'm not saying to ignore the advice of loved ones, but try and keep in mind that your true goals/desires may be clouded by them.

So that's my two cents, so most everything else has been covered. And hey, my guess is you can PM anyone on here if you want a more personal conversation about your situation. Sometimes it's easier to talk to a stranger to work things out. (Maybe that's why I'm so addicted to this site?)
In my hometown Camden Arkansas! My cousin lived in them for 2 years! Those of the types of prices you get when you live in small towns in Arkansas
 
May 8, 2010
128
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Berkeley, CA
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Haha...fair enough. Come to think of it I'm sure if I moved back to my po-dunk town I grew up in rent would be pretty cheap too. Don't think I'd move back though ;)
 
Nov 3, 2010
203
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I'm prioritizing by cost of tuition, location (cost of living), availability of financial assistance, program culture. All programs looked at are DPT accredited and have an acceptable first-time pass rate.

I think it'd be naive to not take costs into account. Two of the programs I'm looking at are ~35k/year tuition. Add fees, books, rent, food, etc. I'm guessing an additional 10-15k would be required per year to cover these. That's now putting the price at 50k/year and ~150k for the program alone, not including undergrad. I'd love to hear how DPT students are currently financing this.

I hear MD students complaining about their 250k student loan tab with their salary. The potential of being near 200k for a PT degree really makes me wonder if I'd not be better off just taking another year off, work as a PT aide, and then reapply to the preferred cheaper option. I guess once you take into effect lost income from a year of work, annual increasing tuition, inflation, it could be best to just bite the bullet. Who knows. Congress looking to decrease reimbursement and talk of potential government takeover of healthcare doesn't make the decision any easier either. There's still hope for the cheaper school. I've been debated whether or not to take the more expensive ones off the list. Trying to make a rationale decision in this type of economic environment is near impossible.
Did you apply/have a shot at a mid-ranged tuition school even this cycle? Remember, one year lost with education is one less year earning a possible (nothing is guaranteed) salary as a physical therapist. You could also save up for a year after being licensed too. The disparity between aid and licensed is 2-3x I'd imagine, unless you're getting a salary much higher above minimum wage as an aid.
 

lee9786

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Feb 3, 2009
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Did you apply/have a shot at a mid-ranged tuition school even this cycle? Remember, one year lost with education is one less year earning a possible (nothing is guaranteed) salary as a physical therapist. You could also save up for a year after being licensed too. The disparity between aid and licensed is 2-3x I'd imagine, unless you're getting a salary much higher above minimum wage as an aid.
There's a couple in the mid-range. I might be looking to expand on the schools a bit.
 

callmecrazy

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So, what things do you (current students or current PTs) think should be questions we (future DPT students) should ask ourselves when faced with numerous acceptances?
My process went something like this:

1. Accreditation
2. Location: I wouldn't/couldn't move, leaving 4 schools locally
3. Acceptance rates for students not attending undergrad there: eliminated 1 school
4. Campus/program visit: eliminated 1 because it felt like a terrible fit

I was left with 2 schools to apply to, and was accepted at both. Considered these factors when deciding, roughly in this order:
5. Pass rates: non issue
6. Cost: compiled a detailed spreadsheet and they came out even in the end
7. Length of program: 7 semesters vs 9 semesters and decided this didn't matter to me as much as I thought it would
8. Curriculum and teaching methods: PBL versus traditional. Decided that PBL was not for me, and this was a huge deciding factor for me in the end.
9. Clinical schedule: were very different and I chose the program which I felt had a stronger clinical schedule. I also chose the school that did not allow traveling outside the area versus the one that required it, for personal reasons.
10. Class size: 35ish versus 55ish. I found pretty even pros and cons on each side.
11. Campus: small, secluded, scenic versus very large, urban campus. Didn't matter to me then but I am very happy now that I chose the more urban campus. Love having everything I could need within very short walking distance.
12. Faculty and ranking: #2 versus unranked, was a supporting but not determining factor. Though I did consider if there was a reason why NOT to accept at a top ranked school if everything else balanced out.

Other things that I wish I had the foresight to look into more:
- areas of specialty of the faculty, more helpful when you get closer to graduation
- research opportunities
- prevalence of the use of guest lecturers
- attrition rate
- classroom setup (hi-low tables or plinths? how many? anatomy models? etc)
- how many students per body in gross anatomy, and are they shared with another program?

... that was long, but hope it helps someone.

(FYI: I chose the #2 ranked, urban campus, 9 semester, traditional teaching method, local clinicals required, 55 student program, and I absolutely know it was the right choice for me. Though I know some that chose the other school and are just as happy as me!)
 

jesspt

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Jan 31, 2008
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BiZ was right earlier. I have posted on this previously, but will mention a few things again. As noted in prior posts, I think that most students, except those who have virtually no debt from undergrad, should factor NPTE pass rates and cost of tuition very highly. I mean VERY HIGHLY. Highly as in, if you got accepted to a program that is very inexpensive, with an NPTE pass rate above 95%, look no further.

Things to consider that may not be readily apparent to an undergrad student:
1. Gross Anatomy - It will form a foundation for some of your later coursework such as biomechanics, applied anatomy, etc. but may be less clinically applicable than one might think. When one is practicing, their knowledge to surface anatomy may be just as important, if not more so -i.e., knowing where to palpate what may help you more with your clinical reasoning than knowing where the medial superior geniculate artery is. For example, I know a few students from Carroll University in Wisconsin. They don't have a gross anatomy lab. Rather, they have a computer program that they utilize. I have been a CI to their students and haven't noticed any glaring dificiencies in their anatomy preperation. And their NPTE pass rate seems to be high, so the ommission of gross anatomy hasn't negatively impacted their performance on the test.

2. Geographic location/urban/rural environment - Remember. You'll be attending physical therapy school here, not living here. That's an important distinction. Many of you will find the PT school coursework more challenging than your undergraduate work and will have far less time for social events, etc. than you have had previously. In fact, you'll probably be spending more time in the library than you will exploring all that the surrounding town/city has to offer.

Many of you talk about how you don't place an emphasis on material things. Kudoes to you, but it's not just the material things that huge financial debt can impact. As you move on in life, many of you will find yourself married with a family. And many will want to provide more for your children than was provided for you. It's tough to pay for daycare and start a 529 college plan for you kids when your under financial strain from $125000 worth of loans from a school that you fell in love with because "it felt like the right fit", or it was in a major metropolitan area, or it had a 7 week gross anatomy course instead of a 4 week course, etc. You can see where I'm going with this.

Ultimately, this post will fall on many deaf ears. I have been advising potential PT students to primarily consider cost and NPTE pass rates for years. Few actually take heed of this, but many have told me once they started their first job that they wish they would have taken cost into larger consideration.
 
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markelmarcel

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Ultimately, this post will fall on many deaf ears. I have been advising potential PT students to primarily consider cost and NPTE pass rates for years. Few actually take heed of this, but many have told me once they started their first job that they wish they would have taken cost into larger consideration.
Great post jesspt- so-- how does one decide between two schools that are essentially "the same" as far as cost and NPTE pass rate?
 
Nov 3, 2010
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Not trying to be an ******* but if cost of tuition/living is not an important factor for me would you say it is more important to choice a school for location or for curriculum/program?
I am in a situation where I prefer the curriculum of one program and the location of the other. the NPTE pass rates are the same and both highly ranked programs.. not sure which to choose :/
 

jesspt

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Not trying to be an ******* but if cost of tuition/living is not an important factor for me would you say it is more important to choice a school for location or for curriculum/program?
I am in a situation where I prefer the curriculum of one program and the location of the other. the NPTE pass rates are the same and both highly ranked programs.. not sure which to choose :/
If it were me, I would make the choice based on curriculum. If you are in love with a given area, you can always work there after graduation.
 

jesspt

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Great post jesspt- so-- how does one decide between two schools that are essentially "the same" as far as cost and NPTE pass rate?
Then I would begin considering some of the other factors listed in previoius posts by other posters. From a practicing clinician's standpoint, I would look at the faculty's research history (and whether or not it is an area that I think would influence my future practice), and structure of clinical placements primarily. For example, if I want to practice in outpatient ortho and the faculty's research/publication history is really strong in pediatrics, that wouldn't necessaruly weigh heavily in htat program's favor. Also, can clinicals be structured to allow more experience in one's preferred area of practice?
 
Nov 30, 2010
40
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Great post jesspt- so-- how does one decide between two schools that are essentially "the same" as far as cost and NPTE pass rate?
How did you come to the conclusion that Chatham and Pitt cost is the same? Chatham's website shows that their tuition is $9,260 per term for 7 terms, which is $64,800, while Pitt is $20,288 per academic year, which they define as two semesters. If you add in $829 per credit for the summer terms I show that Pitt's tuition is around $83,000, in-state. Am I missing something?
 
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markelmarcel

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How did you come to the conclusion that Chatham and Pitt cost is the same? Chatham's website shows that their tuition is $9,260 per term for 7 terms, which is $64,800, while Pitt is $20,288 per academic year, which they define as two semesters. If you add in $829 per credit for the summer terms I show that Pitt's tuition is around $83,000, in-state. Am I missing something?
No, you aren't missing something-- it was just a general question, not necessarily for me personally.

Also, I've heard conflicting information on Pitt's tuition, so I'm placing a phone call today to know for sure. I'm done relying on "he said" "she said" - I need to know!
 
Jan 1, 2011
12
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Cullowhee,NC
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Pre-Rehab Sci [General]
so markel, jesspt, or anyone....I was accepted to Elon and I am hoping in Feb. or march I'll be accepted to Western Carolina. I'm leaning towards Western (assuming acceptance) primarily due to cost. 30k a year Elon, 7k a year at Western. Both have NPTE pass rates around 96-97% and both programs will be moving into new and larger facilities when I would start.

Any thoughts or advice on choices? I haven't heard from Duke or USF yet so I don't know if they are even an option.
 
May 19, 2009
133
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You're 3rd year at Pitt is spent in a full time clinical which not only maximally prepares you to work (seeing a full caseload on your own). But you get paid 1250/mo= 15000/yr which brings Pitt and Chattams tuition about equal. Hope that helps a bit and good luck to all.
 
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markelmarcel

7+ Year Member
Dec 17, 2009
1,109
79
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DPT / OTD
so markel, jesspt, or anyone....I was accepted to Elon and I am hoping in Feb. or march I'll be accepted to Western Carolina. I'm leaning towards Western (assuming acceptance) primarily due to cost. 30k a year Elon, 7k a year at Western. Both have NPTE pass rates around 96-97% and both programs will be moving into new and larger facilities when I would start.

Any thoughts or advice on choices? I haven't heard from Duke or USF yet so I don't know if they are even an option.
Honestly, if the pass rates are the same and you are going to get to be in a new building, go with Western, as long as you get accepted.

I ended up turning down Pitt. It was a REALLY hard decision, but I honestly cannot afford it without getting some type of assistance and the lady at Pitt pretty much told me that I'd be up the creek without a paddle. I appreciate her honesty, but it sucks that I have to turn down a great school because of cost. (I know it's cheaper than some other highly ranked schools, but I just can't justify spending more money on my education than what I can make the first year on the job.) I can still have an opportunity to get a clinical experience w/ UPMC at Chatham, all while finishing a semester early and paying 20k less. It was a hard decision, I analyzed ALL points and I really believe that I made the right choice for me.

As you are considering the big differences also Think about other minor things-- what about living costs? Parking availability? Program size? Gym nearby? Interests you have (you have to make a LITTLE time for yourself, even if it's only one day!)... etc, etc.
 
Jan 1, 2011
12
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Cullowhee,NC
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Pre-Rehab Sci [General]
Honestly, if the pass rates are the same and you are going to get to be in a new building, go with Western, as long as you get accepted.

I ended up turning down Pitt. It was a REALLY hard decision, but I honestly cannot afford it without getting some type of assistance and the lady at Pitt pretty much told me that I'd be up the creek without a paddle. I appreciate her honesty, but it sucks that I have to turn down a great school because of cost. (I know it's cheaper than some other highly ranked schools, but I just can't justify spending more money on my education than what I can make the first year on the job.) I can still have an opportunity to get a clinical experience w/ UPMC at Chatham, all while finishing a semester early and paying 20k less. It was a hard decision, I analyzed ALL points and I really believe that I made the right choice for me.

As you are considering the big differences also Think about other minor things-- what about living costs? Parking availability? Program size? Gym nearby? Interests you have (you have to make a LITTLE time for yourself, even if it's only one day!)... etc, etc.
Oh yea all the little stuff are covered. I mean my girlfriend and I own a home in Cullowhee so living expenses are covered, parking always sucks but it will improve with the new addition to the campus. the program size is 34 students to 8-10 full time faculty and yea there are two gyms I attend now, I work at the one on campus (I'm a cert. personal trainer and cert. powerlifting coach) and the other one is an MMA gym I train at. Yeah it's all there lol. I'm Sorry you had to turn down a school for cost but, you're not alone, I feel the same way.
 
Dec 13, 2010
57
0
Status
Rehab Sci Student
Throughout my selection process I have considered a majority of the things already listed here but there are a couple I don't think anyone mentioned yet:

1) Travel/Experience somewhere new
2) Family/Friends

I love to see new places and I feel like school is a good excuse to travel and experience somewhere new. Some of the programs I applied to are in places I have never been before but have heard good things about, or places I have visited briefly, liked, and wouldn't mind living in for awhile. Because I figure once I settle down...I will be living wherever I am for a long-term period of time, which is fine, but I think it's important to experience places different from where we've always lived. And as I said, school is a good opportunity for that.

My family and close friends are very important to me and are also a big factor in where I've chosen to apply, interview, where I will go if I am accepted to multiple programs, etc. I'd like to go somewhere where I won't necessarily have to say, "Bye, see you in 3 years", whether it be in a nearby town, same state, or simply a bigger city with an airport that would allow me to easily fly home for a visit.
 
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markelmarcel

7+ Year Member
Dec 17, 2009
1,109
79
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DPT / OTD
Oh yea all the little stuff are covered. I mean my girlfriend and I own a home in Cullowhee so living expenses are covered, parking always sucks but it will improve with the new addition to the campus. the program size is 34 students to 8-10 full time faculty and yea there are two gyms I attend now, I work at the one on campus (I'm a cert. personal trainer and cert. powerlifting coach) and the other one is an MMA gym I train at. Yeah it's all there lol. I'm Sorry you had to turn down a school for cost but, you're not alone, I feel the same way.
That's great! My boyfriend and I will soon be house-hunting- just for rent, while I'm in school. He already works in Pittsburgh, but lives about 40 minutes out of the city (with no traffic) so he's just as excited as I am to get into city! Yay for small commutes! ;)

Also, this may be a more girly thing, but I honestly got like amazing vibes from Chatham when I visited. A great first impression, continued "gut feeling". I also appreciated the fact that from the very beginning they have treated me like a person and not just a number.

And I'm a Spinning instructor ;) (I'll be looking for a new cycling gig soon, too!)
 
Jan 9, 2011
4
0
Status
Rehab Sci Student
So, I'm late to the forum and I only stumbled across this a month or so ago, after I applied to my schools. All the posts have been super helpful and informative and it seems like there are many people who are so knowledgeable about the field. So first of all, thanks to people who posted re: their experiences. I'm also in the boat where I'm trying to choose between multiple schools and deciding on the financial vs. 'experience'.
I'm originally from NYC and I've never been away from it for longer than a few months so the idea of living somewhere else, like Chicago, really is an incentive. Added to that, I'm also not just out of undergrad, so I assume I'm a few years older than the average applicant that applies right after undergrad, so I feel out of the whole 'school' game. I was accepted to Northwestern, Pitt, UDel, WashU and have interviews at a few other places that I'm waiting for as well (Columbia and MGH). What I've been getting from the forums is also the importance of clinical experience and I'm wondering how that factors in your decision, since it seems that a big part of the discussion has revolved around tuition and curriculum. Also, if anyone has anything to add, positive or negative, regarding the schools above, I'd love to hear as well.
 

One More Rep

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Jan 17, 2008
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I have read through all of these responses and they are great. I want some advice on making my own decision since I keep hitting a wall. Keep in mind, all of this comparison is assuming I get accepted to GSU (which I think I will based on my stats and what I feel was a strong interview).

Mercer


Pros:

-great student/faculty ratio since it is a new program (this is the second class admitted)
-brand new facilities, dedicated anatomy lab
-small campus with only graduate level students-no undergrads
-offers the only Neurologic Residency program in Georgia--I am highly interested in applying for that after school is finished
-on-site PT clinic
-less than 2 miles from my house, free parking, no rush hour commutes
-focus on service learning/community involvement in the curriculum

Cons:

~$70,000 total tuition
-in candidacy status, but not accredited yet

Georgia State University

Pros:

-similar curriculum to Mercer, two whole semesters of gross anatomy
-cheap in-state tuition ~$40,000 total with fees and such
-clinicals are spread throughout the curriculum
-high board pass rates 98-100%
-new facilities
-GRA opportunities, although competitive. Offers tuition waivers.

Cons:

-rush hour commute both ways on most days and parking hassles. Atlanta traffic is no joke!
-I went to undergrad here and I am seriously sick of the commute-see above
-huge school, tons of undergraduates and people in general since it is in downtown Atlanta
-any time you need anything administrative, it takes forever since 50 people are guaranteed to be in front of you. This includes financial aid, registrar issues, transcript requests, etc. Highly frustrating.
-many new faculty since half of them left to start Mercer's program-not sure if that will affect the education/board pass rates

Someone help! As you can see, I am leaning away from GSU primarily because of lifestyle concerns/traffic/stress. What is low stress and peace of mind worth? I am leaning towards Mercer because I was impressed with the program, the commitment of the faculty, the facilities, the easy commute and the Neurologic Residency program. I need an unbiased opinion, please.
 
Feb 5, 2011
5
0
Status
To th person debating between Mercer and GSU, You definitely have a tough choice. The fact that faculty of GSU left to go to Mercer says a lot, and I'm all for going to a diff school than you went to undergrad for. With that said, even if you didn't consider the huge tuition difference, it would be incredibly risky to go to mercer if it isn't accredited yet. All of the therapists I work with told me to not consider any unaccredited school. If there is any chance that they may not get accredited, go to GSU. Otherwise, it sounds like your happiness and the shorter "con" list would make Mercer worth the extra tuition (price difference probably isn't quite as bad when you consider commute costs too)

If anyone has insight into anything that would help me choose, I'd appreciate it...

Still waiting to hear from UF, USF, and UM-Baltimore, but I've gotten into VCU here in Richmond, VA (moved here a yr ago for a pt tech job),as well as Franklin Pierce University right outside of Phoenix, AZ.

FPU:

pros:

-new city with great weather
-small class size (20)
-diverse student body (few locals)
-In a sports-rich area (the specialty I want) and several faculty focus on ortho and sports
-low cost of living
-Fridays free the first semester due to no dissection (see con list)
-more diverse locations of clinicals
-good mix of traditional and pbl teaching
-new facilities
-great student to faculty ratio (1:3)
-got a great vibe from students, faculty, and their interaction during my brief visit
-faculty seems to always be there for their students
-already are accredited for 5 yrs via the NH campus

cons:

-gross anatomy uses plastinated bodies already dissected to their specifications i.e. No cadavers (not sure if this affects learning?
-$26,000 a yr private school
-only two yrs old and still in transitional facility. Hope to be in a bigger, better place by fall 2012
-only dept on the AZ campus so no big campus student center, gym, library, etc ( though there are cheap local gyms and copies of some reference books are around)
- not ranked since it's new
- since it's new, may not be as organized as other places?

VCU:

pros:

-$10,000/yr (instate tuition)
-ranked in top 25 of dpt schools in the country
-Wont have to move far (only a plus in a financial since...I would rather take the opportunity to try somewhere new)
-part of a big urban campus= use of gym, student center, library, intramurals, etc
-curriculum similar to FPU, though it's more experimental based teaching
- 1:7 faculty to student ratio so not as good but not horrible
- one professor does engineering research ("mathy" stuff interests me, but overall I don't like doing research)
-clinical time is all throughout 1st and 2nd yr classes and in the summers
-newly renovated cadaver lab

cons:

-Richmond has a way higher cost of living than Goodyear, AZ
-large classes (54) (though I think there are pros and cons to both small and large class sizes)
-entire dept is in the basement of a building. Kind of depressing
-almost all clinical rotation options are in VA. I'm way too much of the adventurous traveling type to stay in the same area. I'd do international clinicals if they were available
-lack of sports (and sports med clinics) in Richmond
- dpt facilities, libraries, and anatomy lab not open after 5pm weekdays and closed on weekends
-almost all students are homebodies from VA and our personalities don't seem to mesh quite as well as I felt they did with FPU students
-no faculty members seem to have any special interest in sports therapy or preventative care


I keep leaning towards FPU and then I wonder if the lower cost and more established program at VCU should override my gut feeling...help???
-
 
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markelmarcel

7+ Year Member
Dec 17, 2009
1,109
79
Status
DPT / OTD
I keep leaning towards FPU and then I wonder if the lower cost and more established program at VCU should override my gut feeling...help???
-
Well, you're dealing with a pretty large price difference... one place is 2x the amount of the other... Personally, student loan debt scares me, and even though I turned down the #2 program, I'm flattered I got accepted there, I feel that the less expensive program is going to give me a great education as well. However... I had a really good "gut" feeling on Chatham, even though to some it was "less desirable" when comparing it to Pitt.

If you have a good gut feeling towards one, you should probably follow it. I decided that I was looking at two great schools and even though I went for the unranked/cheaper program, I feel more comfortable being in a smaller program and with less debt when I leave.
 

jesspt

10+ Year Member
Jan 31, 2008
1,120
403
Chicago, IL
Status
DPT / OTD
SC,

Wait a minute. You got accepted to one of the better PT schools in the country, it is WAY LESS EXPENSIVE than the other school you are considering, and you're conflicted? This seems like a no-brainer to me.

I have lived in Richmond for five years previously and served as a clinical instrutor to their students and as a clinical mentor to new graduates from VCU when they came under our employ, so I know a bit about the Richmond side of things. I know nothing about FPU other than what you have listed and that one of their NH faculty , Joshua Cleland, is a well respected researcher and professor in the area of orthopaedic PT and manual therapy.

You say that FPU is in a sports-rich area. I don't know what this means. That there are professional teams in Phoenix? That a lot of people who live there participate in sports? A more relevant question for you is whether they have clinical placements in prominent sports medicine clinics. My guess is that they may, but that it is not very likely. As you probably know, most outpatient PT clinics say/advertise that they do sports medicine, but few PT clinics are strictly a sports medicine clinic, as that population tends to be too small to financially sustain a clinic. And as you are also likely aware, there are many outpatient ortho clinics in the Richmond are who see some sports medicine patinets but who also wee a greater precentage of a more general orthopaedic PT caseload.

Also, I think that Dr. Lori Michener might take a bit of offense to the fact that you don't think she has a focus in ortho/sports medicine. She is a very well published author in the area of musculoskeletal shoulder dysfunction. Here's a link to her bio page with a lis of her most recent publications.
http://www.sahp.vcu.edu/pt/about/michener.html

Check out the topics listed amongst those publications adn tell me she doesn't seem to have a pretty good handle on ortho PT. Also, Lisa Shoaf has an interest in ortho PT and LBP, although she is not nearly as well published as Dr. Michener.

Additionally, Pete Pidcoe and Dan Riddle teach several classes relevant to ortho and sports PT, such as bio mechanics and measurement of musculoskeletal function. Both are excellent researchers and good instructors, although many students can get frustrated with Dr. Riddle due to his very high expectations.


I'll sound like a broken record here to those who frequent this message board, but cost should be your number one factor in considering a school (as long as the NPTE pass rates of the students are good). If someone were to look at this just at face value without having any emotional attachemnt to the issue, I think that they would think this was a no brainer as well. On one hand you have a well-established PT program with a faculty that has a national reputation with tuition that will save you $16,000 PER YEAR, compared to a new PT program with a faculty that has a regional reputation that will cost you an exra $16,000 per year for the privilege of sitting in a library or student center in Phoenix while studying vs. sitting in a library or student center in Richmond while studying.

If you love the idea of living in Phoenix, move there after you graduate - you'll actually have free time to enjoy those things the city has to offer.
 
Mar 12, 2010
24
0
Status
Great post guys. In your opinion what school would you guys pick in this situation (See below). Does the name of the school matter? Some ppl that I have spoken to said the name and reputation of the school doesn't matter much but I would like everyone's opinion on this if possible.

Private School
115k 3 years
Scholarship maybe drops the tuition to 90k
NPTE 94%

State School
67-70k 3 years
NPTE Passing rating is 91%

City School
30-35k 3 years
NPTE Passing rating is 83%
 
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markelmarcel

7+ Year Member
Dec 17, 2009
1,109
79
Status
DPT / OTD
Private School
115k 3 years
Scholarship maybe drops the tuition to 90k
NPTE 94%

State School
67-70k 3 years
NPTE Passing rating is 91%

City School
30-35k 3 years
NPTE Passing rating is 83%
Personally I would throw the city school out immediately. Yes, it's the cheapest but an 83% pass rate is low! That leads me to believe that you may "pay what you get for" and the school/program doesn't prepare you enough...

It's a tough choice between the Private and State, as both of their pass rates are a little "lower" than what I would be comfortable in. Although, I guess i was lucky because all my schools had at least 98%-100% pass rate, so I didn't have to worry about factoring that into my choice.

Find out as much as you can about potential scholarships. What are the chances you can get one? (At the schools I applied to they have very SMALL chances, and so I picked the smaller program because I figured that was less people I had to compete with to get money! ;) ) What types are they, amounts, who do they go to, is it a one-time scholarship, etc.

I guess, consider location-- did you get to visit all three? Was there one that you felt most comfortable at? When I visited Chatham I just felt so comfortable and at home, it was definitely a driving force for me to choose them.

Are the programs similar in size?

I mean, there are a million questions you can ask yourself. What really helped me was I made an excel spreadsheet where I wrote down EVERYTHING I could think of (even parking availability!) and then made one column for the 2 schools I was deciding between. It really helped me to see what the pros/cons were of each school.

Good luck and wherever you decide they will be lucky to have you!
 
Nov 3, 2010
203
0
Status
Rehab Sci Student
VCU is too good of a program to turn down IMO, and at IS prices I think you're nuts. I'd guess the clinical placement is stronger given the history of the school.

As jesspt said you'll be very busy studying anyway.

AZ123 I'd go to your state school not knowing anything more.
 
Mar 12, 2010
24
0
Status
Personally I would throw the city school out immediately. Yes, it's the cheapest but an 83% pass rate is low! That leads me to believe that you may "pay what you get for" and the school/program doesn't prepare you enough...

It's a tough choice between the Private and State, as both of their pass rates are a little "lower" than what I would be comfortable in. Although, I guess i was lucky because all my schools had at least 98%-100% pass rate, so I didn't have to worry about factoring that into my choice.

Find out as much as you can about potential scholarships. What are the chances you can get one? (At the schools I applied to they have very SMALL chances, and so I picked the smaller program because I figured that was less people I had to compete with to get money! ;) ) What types are they, amounts, who do they go to, is it a one-time scholarship, etc.

I guess, consider location-- did you get to visit all three? Was there one that you felt most comfortable at? When I visited Chatham I just felt so comfortable and at home, it was definitely a driving force for me to choose them.

Are the programs similar in size?

I mean, there are a million questions you can ask yourself. What really helped me was I made an excel spreadsheet where I wrote down EVERYTHING I could think of (even parking availability!) and then made one column for the 2 schools I was deciding between. It really helped me to see what the pros/cons were of each school.

Good luck and wherever you decide they will be lucky to have you!

Thank you for your input Markelmarcel and Hefe

To answer your questions Markelmarcel, i did visit all 3 schools and the one i really liked was the private. but it is so expensive...The state school was the one i didn't feel too comfortable with. The teachers there seem to be very uptight and a few friends that have graduated there said "it feels that some teachers are out to get you". So that already makes me a little nervous about the program. All 3 schools are located in the same area so the commute will be roughly the same. The private has about 35students or so. The state has about 20-26. And the City has about 17-22.

A friend who graduated from PT school awhile ago simply said that every school is designed to prepare the students for the boards. The classes are the same and everyone learns the same things. He also said, that PT's roughly make the same amount of money no matter what school you go to. It is going to be 65k to 75k per year and the sooner you get out of debt the better. So his suggestion was go for the cheapest school...

so many tough decisions to consider but thanks for your help!
 
Feb 5, 2011
5
0
Status
Well when you include cost of living and all, VCU is only around $5,000 less a year. Plus they only have 250 clinical rotation contracs whereas FPU has over 500. I don't know how other therapists feel bur the few I have talked to about whether or not they consider the school ranking when deciding to hire someone and they all said no. And I know I'll eentually want to move back to the southeast later in life since my family is in SC so school is the best oportunity to try somewhere new. I guess while I know VCU is a food school and I like the city, something just keeps pulling me to choose FPU
 

One More Rep

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Jan 17, 2008
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Rehab Sci Student
Well when you include cost of living and all, VCU is only around $5,000 less a year. Plus they only have 250 clinical rotation contracs whereas FPU has over 500. I don't know how other therapists feel bur the few I have talked to about whether or not they consider the school ranking when deciding to hire someone and they all said no. And I know I'll eentually want to move back to the southeast later in life since my family is in SC so school is the best oportunity to try somewhere new. I guess while I know VCU is a food school and I like the city, something just keeps pulling me to choose FPU
These decisions are hard, aren't they? In your case, the tuition difference is very large, so you can't rule that out of your decision. However, if COL trumps that, then cost might not be as big of a factor. What I did is figure out a variety of loan repayment plans based on the estimated total cost of loans for each school. I compared my monthly payments for public vs. private. In my case, the monthly payment was not that much more if I go to the private school, so it helped me make my decision. Do you have any assistance from family or a place to stay for cheap in Richmond?
 
Feb 5, 2011
5
0
Status
Moreover, by sports-rich area I did mean there are more strictly sports clinics available. For example, spring training for MLB is rght by the school an that have a contract with one if the teams. And they offer sports med as an elective every yr whereas VCU does not guarantee that you will have that as an option. VCU also states that they are not that willing to make new contracts with clinics you find on your one. FPU is new and therefore willing to do the best they can to make improvements to the clinic that students suggest and to create new contracts (though they already have choices in cities that I would like to be in for rotations, VCU has few outside of VA and I'm really not interested in anywhere in the state other than Richmond and I definitely don't want to stay in the same city as my school for full time rotations.)

so yes, strictly looking at finances, it would be a clear choice, but overall, is it the best choice for me? I don't know. I'm a naturally indecisive person when it comes to things like his so needless to sy, I'm stressing about this a lot. I'm talkig with students from both schools this week so hopefully that'll help...
 
Feb 5, 2011
5
0
Status
These decisions are hard, aren't they? In your case, the tuition difference is very large, so you can't rule that out of your decision. However, if COL trumps that, then cost might not be as big of a factor. What I did is figure out a variety of loan repayment plans based on the estimated total cost of loans for each school. I compared my monthly payments for public vs. private. In my case, the monthly payment was not that much more if I go to the private school, so it helped me make my decision. Do you have any assistance from family or a place to stay for cheap in Richmond?
No help from family members and the cheap places in Richmond are far enough away from the school that the commute and cost for parking downtown would make up the cost difference.
 
Feb 5, 2011
5
0
Status
Just FYI I chose FPU...I decided that the environment of that school and the variety of clinical options trumped VCU. My mom even agreed that she would pull her hair out being stuck in VCUs facilities for the duration of school (basement of a very old prison-feeling building). Sooo excited to go to FPU now!!
 

ptootles

DPT
5+ Year Member
Jan 27, 2010
131
3
Arizona
Status
DPT / OTD
Just FYI I chose FPU...I decided that the environment of that school and the variety of clinical options trumped VCU. My mom even agreed that she would pull her hair out being stuck in VCUs facilities for the duration of school (basement of a very old prison-feeling building). Sooo excited to go to FPU now!!
Unless something unexpected happens, I will see you there on May 31st. :)