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Is it worth the money to go to a top 10 school?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by EC, Dec 26, 2001.

  1. EC


    Hi Everyone,

    Sorry, I know this question has been touched upon but I wanted your opinions. How important is your choice in medical school in terms of residency acceptance and career options? The tuition at my state school is only a fraction of the price of private schools, and to pay for the tuition I would have to take out a loan. But I've been told that in order to enter a field in academic medicine, one must attend a prestigious medical school with strong research programs. What do you think?
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  3. DarksideAllstar

    DarksideAllstar you can pay me in bud 7+ Year Member

    Dec 17, 2001
    West of the Haight
    I know for a fact that it is totally possible to get a great residency coming from a small, unknown school. A couple of friends of mine from the Univ of Nevada School of Med have gotten residencies at Stanford, UCLA, Duke, and Mayo. I have also spoke with some of the faculty at UCSF and they said that it is totally possible to get into academic medicine from a smaller, less well-known school. I think that its all about what you do while you are in school (research, board scores, etc..)that makes your career, but you may have to work a little harder than someone coming from Harvard to get the same residency. I just may go to my state school to save some serious $$$.
  4. Triangulation

    Triangulation 1K Member 7+ Year Member

    Aug 27, 2001
    Not all top schools are expensive. Certainly the UCs or the University of Washington spring to mind. Even for the first year paying out-of-state tuition, it's not like a private school. Gettin' in is the tricky part, but it'd be for any of the top privates as well.

    I work in a lab w/an MD in a residency program at UCSF that has something like 10 slots in the nation and he didn't go to a top-ten. The other MD in the lab went to UIC and did his residency at Columbia. I wouldn't trip. This isn't a concern, certainly not versus $120K of debt.
  5. AJM

    AJM SDN Moderator Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    Jun 25, 2001
    Not even all top private schools are expensive. Stanford, for example, has some wonderful financial aid. Depending on someone's financial situation, they can easily graduate from Stanford med with less debt than they would have at their state school. (In fact, the average debt of graduating seniors there is about the same as the average debt at state schools).

    As far as how it helps you for residency selection, I would say that going to a state school will not close any doors, but going to a top 10 will place you at an advantage. Many of the "top 10" residency programs are very inbred amongst themselves, and will be more likely to give more consideration to applicants coming from other "top 10's". I'm currently interviewing at some higher ranked residency programs, and out of the applicants I've been interviewing with, about 2/3 are from "prestigious" (read: top 15-20) programs. The rest, however, are from other schools that are not quite as nationally recognized, and it seems like they had to work much harder to get there than those applicants from top 15 schools did. The applicants from the top programs, from the way they describe themselves in informal conversation, tend to be more in the middle of the pack at their school, while the applicants from all the other schools seem to be the ones that stand out at their schools (getting all honors, AOA, etc).

    So I guess my long-winded point is that I think it is certainly possible to get into those prestigious academic residencies from a state or lesser-known school, however you will most likely need to stand out in your class, which is much easier said than done. Another way to get more of an advantage from a state school is to do a visiting rotation during your 4th year of med school at a program you may want to do your residency at. That way, they will get to know you by who you are and not where you come from, and if you "wow" them, you will be considered very highly for residency there.

    Last point is that you should look at individual schools' financial aid programs before you decide that your state school is by far the cheapest way to go. A school's published tuition does not tell the whole story by any means. There are many private schools out there that have very generous financial aid, but there are also many private schools that give no financial aid at all. Research that carefully. :)
  6. Whisker Barrel Cortex

    Whisker Barrel Cortex 1K Member 10+ Year Member

    Aug 10, 2001
    You can get in to the best residencies and the most competitive regardless of what school you go to (as long as its MD and in the US). I agree that going to a top 10 will give you a slight advantage and you may need to work a little bit harder in med school, but I do not think this is that significant of a difference. It is definitely not worth an extra 120,000 in debt. Think about it this way: if you pay off your debt in 10 years, with interest, you will likely be paying about 3 times your original loan amount (not my data, this is from financial aid office calculations). So think about if having a slight edge will be worth 360,000 in extra loan payments! I know if I had had the option to go to a state school, I would have chosen it.
  7. EC


    Hi Everyone,

    Thanks for responding. Your input was really helpful.


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