Ivy League vs. State School (pre-med)

BraveNewWorld

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    Hey everyone (first post)

    I got into Columbia University (dream school) for class of 2020. Talking to current and past students, I'm amazed by how smart they are. I've been told it is extremely difficult to maintain a good GPA, especially in the physics and biology classes.

    However, in the future I see myself going to medical school. I'm wondering if an Ivy league school will help me with MD admissions, or hurt me in the long run, as if I went to the state school I'm pretty sure I'd be able to maintain a 3.95+ GPA.

    Thanks!!
     
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    deleted407021

      Maintaining good grades is going to be up to you. People will blame their institution for their low GPAs, but I doubt they'd do the same to explain their high GPAs. It's called the self-serving bias.

      I suspect you'd have lots of great opportunities at Columbia and -- should you decide to change career paths -- you might be in a better position coming from such an institution.

      Take this with a grain of salt and best of luck wherever you end up. You can definitely get into a great school from either Columbia or a state university.
       
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      md-2020

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        Provided the loans are not debilitating go to Columbia. No matter where you go there's a better than good chance you don't end up becoming a doc (could be your choice, might not be) and in any of those scenarios you're so much better off with a better pedigree. You also do get some brownie points in the med app process for a diploma from a top school, as much as some SDN users hate to admit it.

        Also, there's is 0% chance you can guarantee that you'll be 3.95+ at your state school...if anything Ivys will inflate while public flagships will not. The anecdotes of my own friends who chose state schools over top privates for the social scene/easier classes but then barely graduated are plentiful.
         
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        EverStriving

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          I had a similar choice between an Ivy and the UCs I got into. Eventually I chose a UC because it was well-ranked department and they made it dirt cheap for me to attend (merit scholarship).

          Were there downsides to the state route? Maybe - hard to know how much more the Ivy prestige would help my app. What I do know for sure though is because I saved a ton of money, I now have savings to go toward med school, which means my debt burden afterwards will likely be very manageable. In addition, if I had chosen Ivy I would have had to work during school or take out a lot of debt, greatly increasing my stress level. My relatively low stress during college allowed me to fully develop my intellect, and focus on getting really good research experience.

          So, would I make the same choice again? Yes.
           

          WedgeDawg

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            Hi.

            I have a link in my sig that I recommend checking out that talks about my experiences as an Ivy League premed.

            Once you have read that, there are a few things you should consider when making this decision.

            First, know that you can go to a good MD school from any accredited US institution. However, many private MD schools take into account reputation of your undergrad when evaluating your application. That doesn't mean that it's impossible to go from North Dakota State to Harvard med, but that you really have to be a superstar applicant. By going to a strong undergrad, you already have a proxy for "success" (whether you chose to believe in the validity of that proxy or not) just by virtue of attending a prestigious school. I will quote my older post here where I looked at one year of students at Yale med and where they went to undergrad (data provided by Yale School of Medicine admissions office):

            Just as a related noted of information, in Yale's most recent graduating class, which I would assume is similar in makeup to harvard's, 66 students had degrees from Ivies, Duke, Stanford, MIT. 6 had degrees from WashU, Northwestern, Hopkins. This is out of a class of 103. 70% of students from elite schools (and that's not even counting schools like UVA, Michigan, UCLA, of which there were a couple each).

            Second, GPA is very important. If you are the type of student who can get into Columbia, you will likely be able to do quite well (3.8+) at your generic non-hardcore state school (so exclude places like Berkeley, UCLA, UVA, etc that attracts the "best of the best" of the state students in each state). However, you can never guarantee hitting that "3.95+" you think you'll be getting - it's just not something you can judge as a high schooler. If you get a high GPA at either school, you'll be in great shape (though arguably, a 3.9 from Columbia carries more weight than a 3.9 from Random State U). If you get a low (<3.3) GPA at either school, you're in bad shape (though with an extraordinarily high MCAT, it might be possible to salvage the 3.3 from Columbia). However, if you get a middling GPA (~3.5-3.6), you're much better coming out of Columbia with that GPA than your state school. 3.5-3.6 is a decent GPA for medical school applicants coming out of Columbia. It might not get you into HMS, but it will likely get you in somewhere. Additionally, there are some mid-tier schools that put disproportionate emphasis on a prestigious undergraduate background (USC-Keck, Hofstra, etc), so coming out with a lower GPA from Columbia but an okay to good MCAT will make you the target population for these medical schools. However, remember that everyone at Columbia will be like you - high achieving, motivated, intelligent, hard-working, etc, so you can't just assume you'll be on top there. Chances are you'll be somewhere in the middle. You're more likely to be closer to the top at your state school, but you also might not be. It's just not something that you can correctly predict 100% of the time. This is a call you have to make.

            You will likely get a more enriched education at Columbia. You'll be competing with better students, you'll have better faculty, more resources, more opportunities, etc etc etc. This might be what you're looking for, or it might not be. How much you value this is up to you.

            Columbia will be the harder school. It's not known for either grade inflation or grade deflation, and its filled with some of the brightest students in the world. Your tests will absolutely be harder at Columbia than they will be at your state school. One anecdote I like to give is that at my (also Ivy League) undergrad, we had brutal organic chemistry tests where you had to do syntheses and mechanisms and stuff from scratch. That was what I thought the industry standard was, until I talked to friends of mine from high school who took organic chemistry at our generic state school. Their organic chemistry tests were entirely multiple choice. That makes it a lot easier. I got a chance to look at my friend's genetics test at a different state school (a much better regarded one than the first) and it was laughable compared to the ones I had to take. Now, these are just anecdotes, so keep in mind that your experiences may be totally different and that this doesn't constitute empirical evidence. All I can do is share my experience in the absence of objective data.

            If you decide later that you don't want to do medicine or that you want to do something else for a year or two before you do medicine, you will be much better off coming from Columbia.

            Cost is the last (but HUGELY important) factor I will explore here. College is expensive. Medical school is expensive. You will be taking out a lot of loans (most likely) and you will be paying them back for a long time. Common wisdom is to take the cheapest undergraduate path possible. I do not espouse this particular view; I only say that you should weigh the cost of attendance against all the other factors. Debt is not something that just goes away, and physicians don't make enough money that you can say "I'm going to be a doctor so I don't care how much I pay up front". Look at your financial aid packages and how much your parents are willing to contribute before making your decision.

            I thoroughly enjoyed my time at my school. I thought it was a world class undergraduate education, I was able to accomplish many things, had a wonderful social experience, and felt I developed as a person. I would not trade my undergraduate experience for the world. Would I have been happy at my state school or at another undergraduate school? Likely yes, but as I have had only one experience, I cannot say for sure. My parents said to me when I was making my decision that I would most likely only have the opportunity for an Ivy League education once, so if that was something I valued, I might as well take it now. I'm not sure that's good advice, but I definitely thought about it and it influenced my decision in the end. You will find people here from every type of school that loved their college experience, hated it, or anywhere in between. I've laid out the pros and cons for you both in this post and in the one in my sig. Only you can make this decision and there isn't a wrong choice.

            Feel free to PM me if you have any further questions and I'll do my best to help you out.
             
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            eteshoe

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              I will first say that where you go to school will not really harm your chances of getting into med school provided you meet the minimum threshold of requirements needed for admission.

              That being said, I did attend a top tier institute (Ivy/Ivy-like) and while it was a tough academic experience, I came out of the other side a better battle-tested student. Something I'm sure I would not have been able to achieve going to some of the easier schools I got into (doesn't mean I wouldn't have been able to get into med school). As @WedgeDawg, the resources available are incredible and make for a pretty fulfilling college experience. However, it was because these experiences that I chose to pursue the path I'm currently on (MD/PhD).

              The COA is a major issue. Had I not won the scholarship I did, I wouldn't have been able to justify the cost to my parents. Just some things to consider in your final decision. Congrats and good luck.
               
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              GrapesofRath

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                Unless finances are a significant hindrance this isnt a hard decision; Columbia. Dont overthink it. And I say this largely because regardless of what any pre-med likes to think when they enter campus Day 1, there is a good chance they will never even end up applying to medical school. Engineering tempts many. So does politics and the PhD concentration. Dentistry even from top schools isnt an uncommon choice. Finance/consulting tempts even more. These are just a few possible non pre-med options. Point is, for many who dont end up applying to medical school, it's their choice not "being weeded out" that drives that decision at big name schools.

                Honestly if your concern is the difficulty of Columia's pre-med courses my best advice would be to start out slow and light. There's no rule you have to be a science major; quite the contrary. Only rule is to take the pre-reqs(and as youll find more and more schools are easing up on their requirements with those). Youll see Law2Doc throw this idea around and it's a pretty solid one; major in something in UG you enjoy that's not pre-med then take the pre-reqs after you graduate in a post-bacc. Worst comes to worst you avoid the Columbia competition while still getting a degree which can serve as a great backup option if med school doesnt work out. In fact if you are open to a couple gap years after college/not entering at the age of 21, it's definitely something Id consider. If I could do it all over again this might have been the move I would have done. The fact you go to Columbia where you can get a high level job out of college with pretty much any degree(which isnt the case at many state schools) makes the pros of this decision even better.

                Focus on doing well, no matter what you do at. Dont rely on the "prestige" of Columbia to carry a 3.25. Contrary to what others have posted IMHO the "boost" that comes from a big UG name is in a number of ways largely for top med schools which nobody should bank on being competitive for as a freshmen regardless of where they got into UG or how well they did in high school. Alot of these "85% of our grads who apply to med school get in" that youll see from top schools are highly misleading. I would just keep that in mind and not force yourself 100% have to push through if you find yourself struggling at a class or two at Columbia. Worst comes to worst and if you find you struggle in a pre-med class or two at Columbia, there's no reason to have to push through it there if you dont want to; medicine will always be available and for some they just arent ready for the rigor and competition of pre-med classes at 18-19. Nothing wrong with going back after you graduate to take the pre-reqs; as long as your college GPA was solid and you do well in the pre-reqs as a post-bacc, youll be fine.

                Bottom line keep all your options open, both pre-med and non pre-med ones. Columbia far and away gives you your best shot at that. If medicine is truly your end goal, keep your eyes on the prize, long term. The route to getting that prize even if you go to Columbia might not necessairly be at Columbia; but you should still go there regardless rather than trying to lay out and predict all the unpredictabilities of life now as a 17 year old.
                 
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                BraveNewWorld

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                  Thank you for all the replies!

                  Columbia would be cheaper than state school with the FA package. However, my state flagship is quite good for the sciences and has its own medical school and honors college. NYC would also be very expensive to live in, since I plan to venture outside of campus and explore. However, I do agree that it might be more "secure" to go to Columbia in case I decide to drop pre-med.

                  I'm wondering if it would be good to shadow a doctor the summer before I leave for college, that way I can determine if medicine is the career for me. I live quite far away from Columbia, so I wouldn't be able to continue shadowing doctors.

                  In high school, I had research experience in an oncology wet lab. Right now I'm interested in neurological diseases. Would it be a better idea to contact physicians who are working in oncology since I have previous experience, or better to try something different? Thanks.
                   

                  WedgeDawg

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                    Thank you for all the replies!

                    Columbia would be cheaper than state school with the FA package. However, my state flagship is quite good for the sciences and has its own medical school and honors college. NYC would also be very expensive to live in, since I plan to venture outside of campus and explore. However, I do agree that it might be more "secure" to go to Columbia in case I decide to drop pre-med.

                    If Columbia is cheaper, it's almost certainly going to be the better option.

                    I'm wondering if it would be good to shadow a doctor the summer before I leave for college, that way I can determine if medicine is the career for me. I live quite far away from Columbia, so I wouldn't be able to continue shadowing doctors.

                    You can if you want, but you can and should shadow doctors during college. I know that many of the doctors at CUMC are very open to being shadowed, especially by students affiliated with Columbia

                    In high school, I had research experience in an oncology wet lab. Right now I'm interested in neurological diseases. Would it be a better idea to contact physicians who are working in oncology since I have previous experience, or better to try something different? Thanks.

                    It doesn't really matter (if you're talking about shadowing).
                     
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                    Law2Doc

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                      Hey everyone (first post)

                      I got into Columbia University (dream school) for class of 2020. Talking to current and past students, I'm amazed by how smart they are. I've been told it is extremely difficult to maintain a good GPA, especially in the physics and biology classes.

                      However, in the future I see myself going to medical school. I'm wondering if an Ivy league school will help me with MD admissions, or hurt me in the long run, as if I went to the state school I'm pretty sure I'd be able to maintain a 3.95+ GPA.

                      Thanks!!
                      Purely from a hope to get into med school gambit, your point isn't so wrong. However:
                      1. Most premed high school students (i.e. 90%) are not still premed 4 years later. So when you emerge from college most likely looking for that non med school path you'll be better off the B student from Columbia than the A student from state.
                      2. If you expect to have an easy time you probably won't work that hard, get caught up in fun and not put up the grades you think.
                      3. If you are afraid to challenge yourself you might not have the rocks for med school.
                      4. A better path would be to go to Columbia. Take easy courses you like and avoid the prereqs, and then go take them open enrollment as a postbac afterwards, with fewer distractions. Then you end up with the best of both worlds, Ivy Pedigree (in case you end up going a no medical path where it matters more) and high sGPA.
                       
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                      deleted407021

                        If medical school is the end game...then neither.

                        Go to a CC. Save TONS of money since your first two years will be the same wherever you go.

                        Ace your classes, develop good relationships with your CC professors. Transfer. Work hard and ace classes at your 4 year and develop good relationships with your professors there as well. Prove yourself on your MCAT. Sprinkle in your ECs throughout. Apply early for med school. Profit.

                        Getting into med school is a game. First and foremost... GPA and MCAT. These get you your interviews (coupled with the right ECs and the right personal statement). Name of your undergrad won't help if you were pulling a 3.4 there while the dude who went to Chico State pulled a 3.8. Lolz

                        Everything else is icing on the cake.

                        However... if med school ain't the end game... then yea...Go to Columbia.
                        This is bad advice. CC over Ivy? Absurdity!

                        Columbia will give you opportunities you would never have at a community college, either regarding premed or otherwise. There's no reason why your grades should suffer just because you go to an Ivy. That's up to you, as I pointed out earlier.

                        No reason to play the stupid hopscotch game with the CC to university. Take the awesome opportunity you have and go premed, pre-whatever or change to an entirely different field, because you're going to a school with lots to offer.
                         
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                        DetectiveAlonzo

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                          This is bad advice. CC over Ivy? Absurdity!

                          Columbia will give you opportunities you would never have at a community college, either regarding premed or otherwise. There's no reason why your grades should suffer just because you go to an Ivy. That's up to you, as I pointed out earlier.

                          No reason to play the stupid hopscotch game with the CC to university. Take the awesome opportunity you have and go premed, pre-whatever or change to an entirely different field, because you're going to a school with lots to offer.

                          Sorry you feel that way.
                           
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                          deleted407021

                            Sorry you feel that way.
                            Did you edit out that whole post because you knew it made no sense? I'll address some points, anyway -- for the sake of the OP and his/her wellbeing.

                            Why would Columbia offer better opportunities? Well, let's see. Ivy League, or community college? Ivy League ........... or community college? I'll leave it at that. No reason to address how silly that question is.

                            The big fish/shark vs. guppy analogy. OP is obviously a high performing student and likely is one of the best in their HS graduating class. However, the reason they got into Colunbia is because that is the kind of institution where that caliber of student can be challenged. OP would be selling themselves short by going to some community college. You're right -- they'd be sharks among sharks, but that's because this ocean (*sigh* I guess I have to make this analogy work) is very selective. No guppies allowed.

                            Competition/cut-throat environment. Competition is healthy, but one is absolutely free to engage in direct competition with others, or not. OP need not get involved with the cut-throat gunner premeds and it's honestly advisable that he/she does not. Plenty of people on the forums have done likewise at their UGs with great success. "I just stayed away from other premeds" has been uttered 1 million times or more.

                            Just because you went to a CC and got into med school does not in any way mean that your experience was ideal. Giving up Columbia for some 2 year college would be a very bad move for OP, and that's really very obvious to anyone.

                            Additionally, please place all anecdotes in the nearest conventient waste receptacle.
                             
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                            DetectiveAlonzo

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                              Did you edit out that whole post because you knew it made no sense? I'll address some points, anyway -- for the sake of the OP and his/her wellbeing.

                              Why would Columbia offer better opportunities? Well, let's see. Ivy League, or community college? Ivy League ........... or community college? I'll leave it at that. No reason to address how silly that question is.

                              The big fish/shark vs. guppy analogy. OP is obviously a high performing student and likely is one of the best in their HS graduating class. However, the reason they got into Colunbia is because that is the kind of institution where that caliber of student can be challenged. OP would be selling themselves short by going to some community college. You're right -- they'd be sharks among sharks, but that's because this ocean (*sigh* I guess I have to make this analogy work) is very selective. No guppies allowed.

                              Competition/cut-throat environment. Competition is healthy, but one is absolutely free to engage in direct competition with others, or not. OP need not get involved with the cut-throat gunner premeds and it's honestly advisable that he/she does not. Plenty of people on the forums have done likewise at their UGs with great success. "I just stayed away from other premeds" has been uttered 1 million times or more.

                              Just because you went to a CC and got into med school does not in any way mean that your experience was ideal. Giving up Columbia for some 2 year college would be a very bad move for OP, and that's really very obvious to anyone.

                              Additionally, please place all anecdotes in the nearest conventient waste receptacle.

                              For anonymity purposes. You still didn't answer the question though. It doesn't matter where you go. You can make your own opportunities.

                              OP. Save yourself headache and heartbreak. Go to a CC. Save money. Make your life easier because we all know it will be hell once you start med school.

                              Well... if you go to Columbia.. it will be "if" you start med school. Good luck. You will do great wherever you go.
                               
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                              deleted407021

                                For anonymity purposes. You still didn't answer the question though. It doesn't matter where you go. You can make your own opportunities.

                                OP. Save yourself headache and heartbreak. Go to a CC. Save money. Make your life easier because we all know it will be hell once you start med school.

                                Well... if you go to Columbia.. it will be "if" you start med school. Good luck. You will do great wherever you go.
                                What, with magic? Columbia will provide astronomically more opportunities than a CC. This is so dramatically obvious I don't know any other way to explain it. It's clear -- some institutions provide better resources, outlets and networking opportunities than others, Columbia certainly amongst the best of them.
                                 
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                                Goro

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                                  But CC-> Columbia will still yield a Columbia degree!

                                  This is bad advice. CC over Ivy? Absurdity!

                                  Columbia will give you opportunities you would never have at a community college, either regarding premed or otherwise. There's no reason why your grades should suffer just because you go to an Ivy. That's up to you, as I pointed out earlier.

                                  No reason to play the stupid hopscotch game with the CC to university. Take the awesome opportunity you have and go premed, pre-whatever or change to an entirely different field, because you're going to a school with lots to offer.
                                   
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                                  deleted407021

                                    But CC-> Columbia will still yield a Columbia degree!
                                    Why not go to Columbia from the start -- with the FA package -- and start making connections, challenging one's self and taking advantage of resources there, instead of playing the weird CC hopscotch game? It seems like such a superfluous route to take.
                                     

                                    Goro

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                                      IF FA is doable, then the full 4 years at Columbia would be a better choice.

                                      Why not go to Columbia from the start -- with the FA package -- and start making connections, challenging one's self and taking advantage of resources there, instead of playing the weird CC hopscotch game? It seems like such a superfluous route to take.
                                       
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                                      WedgeDawg

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                                        But CC-> Columbia will still yield a Columbia degree!

                                        This is nearly impossible to do. The chances of OP being re-admitted to Columbia, especially from a CC, are almost 0. Even as a transfer, it's very very very difficult and most transfers to Ivy Leagues come from other Ivy Leagues.
                                         
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                                        bee17

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                                          I chose a state school for undergrad for financial and location reasons. But it looks like you're lucky; your best school option is also the cheapest! I'd take that Columbia acceptance and never look back. Your GPA will most likely take more effort to maintain at Columbia, but if you put in the work, take it seriously, and get help when you need it, you should be just fine. If you're worried, don't overload yourself with credits and responsibilities your first semester.
                                           
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                                          mspeedwagon

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                                            Wait... why is this even is a thread? You want to pay more money to go to a state school than Columbia b/c of a potential hit to GPA. Have you gone nuts?

                                            First, as mentioned above, many pre-med students end up deciding against med school for one reason or another. Second, Columbia's placement rate to med school far exceeds any state school (yes, even the UCs). Med schools know what they are getting with Ivy League students that have done well. They are battled tested students. Third, the career opportunities you'll have out of Columbia will be far better. I meet people from UF all the time that are struggling to find work (picked UF because it's supposedly the best state school in FL [where I am], but the comparison goes beyond UF). It's pretty much virtually impossible to even hire most of my classmates at this point. They remain in the job market for days at most and they command salaries well upward of a 100k. Several folks from my undergrad were millionaires by 25 (Shirin most famously since she was on Survivor: http://fortune.com/2015/05/22/yahoo-exec-survivor-first-million/).

                                            I don't really know what state school you are talking about. But, if you enter the work world with a high GPA from a mediocre state school that will mean very little and you'll be struggling to find work. A mediocre GPA from Columbia with good networking, and you'll make millions. So better med school choices, better academics and better job prospects for a lower price. Good luck with the easiest decision you'll ever make!
                                             
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                                            WedgeDawg

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                                              Lol I would love to see some data that the typical Columbia grad lands a six figure job with their bachelor's

                                              If they go into a CS-related job, or IB, that's not unreasonable, especially in NYC or SF. If they go into consulting, probably looking at more like 80k, probably hitting 6 figures after 5 years if they stay with the firm. Consulting, banking, and tech account for a decent percentage of grads. Outside of those fields, probably not. Even engineering will not put you over until probably mid career.
                                               

                                              mspeedwagon

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                                                FYI... I'm not talking about 100k straight out of college. I'm 10 yrs out at the moment. I wouldn't even consider a job for less than 150k (I work(ed) in pharma). I only have a bachelors degree. At 150k, I'd be one of the lowest paid members of my Ivy League class today (graduated in 2005) - though, those that have remained with only a bachelors are in a minority. In the job market, I'd remain actively seeking for two wks at most before landing a position. This is true of virtually all of my classmates.
                                                 
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                                                efle

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                                                  I'll have whatever you're having. Ivy grads do well but the kind of thing you're describing is only for a small fraction of high performers and majors in things like compsci, engineering etc. 150k after ten years does NOT put you at the bottom of the distribution.
                                                   

                                                  WedgeDawg

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                                                    I'll have whatever you're having. Ivy grads do well but the kind of thing you're describing is only for a small fraction of high performers and majors in things like compsci, engineering etc. 150k after ten years does NOT put you at the bottom of the distribution.

                                                    It's entirely field and location dependent. If you're either going straight to graduate school or preparing for going to graduate school, you're likely going to either be making nothing/negative (aka me) or you're going to be doing something fairly low paying (scribing, research assistant, paralegal, etc). If you're going straight into a PhD program, you're going to have your stipend of 30-40k for the duration of grad school and then you're probably not making much more as a post-doc.

                                                    If you're going into tech, you're probably going to be making anywhere from 70-80k in a city like Boston to 140k in SF.

                                                    Engineering, probably in the 60-90k range depending on where and what field of engineering (a somewhat significant portion of my class).

                                                    Consulting in Boston, NYC, etc is going to be 70-100k (lower in Boston, higher in NYC). A very significant proportion of my class went into consulting (though many don't plan on staying long term). I do have friends working in consulting in other smaller cities with low costs of living who are only making 50-60k, but because of the low cost of living, they're living like kings comparatively.

                                                    Banking on Wall Street will be 90-120k plus bonuses or whatever (another fairly significant portion of my class).

                                                    There are also people who decide to go into long-term non-profit enterprises and they are probably on the lower end in terms of salaries.

                                                    I have no idea how these translate to 10 year out salaries.

                                                    Edit: efle's link shows that the median salary for new graduates from Columbia is in the 60k range. Taking all career trajectories into account, I think that's pretty accurate, though the range and probably the SD is very very wide.
                                                     
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                                                    mspeedwagon

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                                                      I know most of my class from 2005. I've seen the data, it's available via our website, though not public as far as I'm aware (and it's collected via surveys completed by alum, so take it for what it's worth). All the number below are very low. Close to a thousand people filled up the surveys last year (they are taken during reunion years).

                                                      Here it is based on figures (again 10 yrs out and this is salary and bonuses [benefits are not included and all figures are pre-tax]). They are broken down by city so I'll just compare them to the number quoted below. Also, they don't differentiate between full-time and not so not sure about hours worked.

                                                      Tech (SF): Highest reported annual earning 2.5 million / lowest 75k. Average: 225k.
                                                      Tech (MA): Highest reported annual earning: 1.5 million / lowest 50k. Average: 175k.
                                                      I'm assuming engineering is lumped in with tech. I don't see a separate engineering category on our survey.

                                                      Consulting (NYC): Highest reported annual earning 5 million / lowest 50k. Average 250k.
                                                      Consulting (MA): Highest reported annual earning 3 million / lowest 60k Average 235k.

                                                      Investment banking (NYC): Highest reported annual earning 10 million (highest of all fields)/ lowest 85k. Average: 300k (highest of all fields).

                                                      The only field I see with low numbers are non-profit workers. The annual average income of all 2005 grads is 175k per the survey. Again, this is all self-reported. I had reported earnings of 150k and was below average.

                                                      About 20% of my class reported making their first self-made million by 30. Sadly, I wasn't in that category.

                                                      It's entirely field and location dependent. If you're either going straight to graduate school or preparing for going to graduate school, you're likely going to either be making nothing/negative (aka me) or you're going to be doing something fairly low paying (scribing, research assistant, paralegal, etc). If you're going straight into a PhD program, you're going to have your stipend of 30-40k for the duration of grad school and then you're probably not making much more as a post-doc.

                                                      If you're going into tech, you're probably going to be making anywhere from 70-80k in a city like Boston to 140k in SF.

                                                      Engineering, probably in the 60-90k range depending on where and what field of engineering (a somewhat significant portion of my class).

                                                      Consulting in Boston, NYC, etc is going to be 70-100k (lower in Boston, higher in NYC). A very significant proportion of my class went into consulting (though many don't plan on staying long term). I do have friends working in consulting in other smaller cities with low costs of living who are only making 50-60k, but because of the low cost of living, they're living like kings comparatively.

                                                      Banking on Wall Street will be 90-120k plus bonuses or whatever (another fairly significant portion of my class).

                                                      There are also people who decide to go into long-term non-profit enterprises and they are probably on the lower end in terms of salaries.

                                                      I have no idea how these translate to 10 year out salaries.

                                                      Edit: efle's link shows that the median salary for new graduates from Columbia is in the 60k range. Taking all career trajectories into account, I think that's pretty accurate, though the range and probably the SD is very very wide.
                                                       
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                                                      WedgeDawg

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                                                        I know most of my class from 2005. I've seen the data, it's available via our website, though not public (and it's collected via surveys completed by alum, so take it for what it's worth). All the number below are very low. Close to a thousand people filled up the surveys last year (they are taken during reunion years).

                                                        Here it is based on figures (again 10 yrs out and this is salary and bonuses [benefits are not included]. They are broken down by city so I'll just compare them to the number quoted below. Also, they don't differentiate between full-time and not so not sure about hours worked.

                                                        Tech (SF): Highest reported annual earning 2.5 million / lowest 75k. Average: 225k.
                                                        Tech (MA): Highest reported annual earning: 1.5 million / lowest 50k. Average: 175k.
                                                        I'm assuming engineering is lumped in with tech. I don't see a separate engineering category on our survey.

                                                        Consulting (NYC): Highest reported annual earning 5 million / lowest 50k. Average 250k.
                                                        Constulging (MA): Highest report annual earning 3 million / lowest 60k Average 2435k.

                                                        Investment banking (NYC): Highest reported annual earning 10 million (highest of all fields)/ lowest 85k. Average: 300k (highest of all fields).

                                                        The only field I see with low numbers are non-profit workers. The annual average income of all grads is 175k per the survey. Again, this is all self-reported. I had reported earnings of 150k and was below average.

                                                        Yeah my numbers are starting salaries w/o bonuses based on people I've talked to at graduation and a little bit of aggregate data.
                                                         
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                                                        mspeedwagon

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                                                          efle

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                                                            Sure, if you only ask about people who immediately went into all the highest paying fields in big cities you'll get impressive numbers (though still not to the point that 150k is bottom of the bell curve). But when you say "my class at columbia" you have to include all the humanities majors and nonprofit workers and such. If you want to say everyone is making 150+ that got jobs in private sector drug research, on Wall Street etc I take no issue.
                                                             

                                                            mspeedwagon

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                                                              175k includes the whole class that reported their income. 150k is below that number (below average). That said, over half these folks have graduate degrees. I'm was in the minority without one. I definitely wasn't starving on 150k living in NYC, but was below the class average.

                                                              Basically the same way I feel on every med school exam. I'm passing, but below the class average.

                                                              Sure, if you only ask about people who immediately went into all the highest paying fields in big cities you'll get impressive numbers (though still not to the point that 150k is bottom of the bell curve). But when you say "my class at columbia" you have to include all the humanities majors and nonprofit workers and such. If you want to say everyone is making 150+ that got jobs in private sector drug research, on Wall Street etc I take no issue.
                                                               
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                                                              Obnoxious Dad

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                                                                If your state school has a medical school attached, you aren't from California and your primary motivation is to get into medical school, you should attend your state university. I think the people who are telling you to go to Columbia are just trolling you. If you look at the grade point averages of the people who get into medical school and the standard deviations of those GPAs, there is very little room in medical schools for people who get GPAs below 3.5. Getting a GPA above a 3.5 at Columbia will be a major accomplishment. You will be surrounded by gunners who will set ridiculous curves. If you go to your state school and stay out of trouble, you should be able to curb stomp the competition. You will set the curve. If you come close to a 4.0 and get a great MCAT you will most likely get accepted to medical school, unless you are from California.
                                                                 

                                                                WedgeDawg

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                                                                  If your state school has a medical school attached, you aren't from California and your primary motivation is to get into medical school, you should attend your state university. I think the people who are telling you to go to Columbia are just trolling you.

                                                                  Nope, sincere advice from people who've been through a similar selection process.

                                                                  If you look at the grade point averages of the people who get into medical school and the standard deviations of those GPAs, there is very little room in medical schools for people who get GPAs below 3.5.

                                                                  A fair point. For people who got between a 3.4 and 3.6, 35% of them got into medical school, compared to the national average which is 44%. (source: AMCAS Tables)

                                                                  Getting a GPA above a 3.5 at Columbia will be a major accomplishment.

                                                                  Nope. You just have to be a bit above average. Median GPA at Penn is 3.38. Median GPA at Dartmouth is 3.40. Median GPA at Columbia (data from a few years ago) is a 3.55, but Columbia uses A+s, so if you account for that (counted as 4.0 for AMCAS), it's probably close to a 3.4 (maybe higher) just like the other two non-inflationary, non-deflationary Ivies.

                                                                  (If you want my sources, let me know, and I'll go back through my history and find them)

                                                                  You will be surrounded by gunners who will set ridiculous curves.

                                                                  You will be surrounded by ambitious, competitive, high achieving people. But they won't set ridiculous curves by themselves. Some people will, but the medians will be very manageable for the average or slightly above average Columbia student, and a good student will be able to find a way to do acceptably well - at least enough for medical school.

                                                                  If you go to your state school and stay out of trouble, you should be able to curb stomp the competition.

                                                                  Not necessarily true. I would say it's likely that the OP can hit a 3.7 at their state school (unless it's UCLA, Berkeley, UVA, Michigan, or any of the other "harder" state schools), but "curb stomping" the competition is a bit much to predict at this point.

                                                                  You will set the curve. If you come close to a 4.0 and get a great MCAT you will most likely get accepted to medical school, unless you are from California.

                                                                  If you get a 3.5 at Columbia with a great (or even decent) MCAT you will also most likely get accepted to medical school as well, even if you're from California.

                                                                  == ==

                                                                  Now, you do have a point that the competition will be stiffer at Columbia, but it's also easier to get into medical school with an average-ish GPA from Columbia (which, if you got in, is definitely attainable) than with an average-ish GPA from your state school (which will be an enormous uphill battle).[/quote][/QUOTE]
                                                                   

                                                                  efle

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                                                                    If your state school has a medical school attached, you aren't from California and your primary motivation is to get into medical school, you should attend your state university. I think the people who are telling you to go to Columbia are just trolling you. If you look at the grade point averages of the people who get into medical school and the standard deviations of those GPAs, there is very little room in medical schools for people who get GPAs below 3.5. Getting a GPA above a 3.5 at Columbia will be a major accomplishment. You will be surrounded by gunners who will set ridiculous curves. If you go to your state school and stay out of trouble, you should be able to curb stomp the competition. You will set the curve. If you come close to a 4.0 and get a great MCAT you will most likely get accepted to medical school, unless you are from California.
                                                                    Well, I actually agree that if your single purpose in life for the next 4 years will be medical school admission to any school, the safest route is to go to State for college.

                                                                    If, however, one is like most 17-18 year olds and doesn't really know what they want to do in life yet;
                                                                    if they want the most brilliant, hardworking peers that will push them to perform at their best;
                                                                    if they want the resources and name to help them aim for the most competitive med schools;

                                                                    then they should go for the tough, prestigious college.
                                                                     
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                                                                    GrapesofRath

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                                                                      In fairness while medical school wont give anywhere near this big of a boost for UG prestige, you could argue it is harder to get a 3.5 from a IVY than it is a 3.8 from a State U. Honestly if it turned out a 3.3 from a top school was as difficult as getting a 3.8 from a State U it wouldnt surprise me one bit, particularly the middle tier State U's that let in pet rocks.

                                                                      Average at an IVY is still a significant accomplishment; your in a class full of valedictorian 2200+ scorers(this is going to be even worse in science classes) and you have to beat out at least half of them for a 3.5(more really). At a State U with some 1750 SAT Average probably 2-3% of the class at most(even for premed classes) will be of that 2200+ val/sal variety. I can only say based off my own personal experience and others I know but I personally took classes from 3 differnet schools in college. A high end state school. An average/low end state school. A top 15 school(took 2 summer classes, 1 science one). I put more effort into getting a B at a top 15 school than I did for probably 70% of the A's I did at the high end state school I went to college. The science class I took at a low end state school I put in similar effort to get an A as I do for gen ed's at the high end state school. I see these similar trends(I have a sibling that transferred from a State U to a top 10 school) with many others I know. Spend way too much time discussing it with my friends honestly.

                                                                      Having said this, this still IMHO is an absolute no brainer if money isnt a factor. No matter what you say, the majority of people who start out as pre-med(and this is still true to a fair extent to the smart students who dont get weeded out) will not go to medical school or even apply. You have to look at it practically. It's kind of ruthless to have this perspective, but you have to. Your options as a non pre-med at Columbia dwarf what they are at State U. A medicore IVY graduate can land themselves a cushy job/role post-grad in a hoard of majors often with much more success than high end grads at State U's. And like I said above, if your end goal turns out to be medicine a) hit that 3.4-3.5 do well on the MCAT and youll probably be fine b) If you find Columbia is too intense after a science class or two simply complete your degree then as a post-bacc retry science courses at some local U or some post-bacc where the competition is much less intense. Their are far worse things than a gap year or two; in fact again if we go by historical precedent even if you stay as pre-med odds are you wont directly go to medical school after graduation.
                                                                       
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                                                                      Obnoxious Dad

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                                                                        OK, I'll give WedgeDawg and GrapesofRath the benefit of the doubt. I suppose they are sincere but they are still wrong. I have four degrees including an MBA and a law degree. I am a member of the bar and I'm a CPA. I've stared at medical school admissions data for years because my daughter is now a licensed physician and I have an interest in medical workforce issues in my home state. Please note my daughter never flunked a shelf exam or a step exam in med school. She was perfectly competitive with a bunch of Ivy League twerps.

                                                                        When my daughter chose an undergraduate college she turned down a "public Ivy" in her home state and went to a private college in another state with a student body largely composed of students who had chosen not to attend the "public Ivy" in their home state. My daughter's decision was as dumb as carrots. She scored above the average for accepted medical students on the MCAT but she had to apply to 31 MD schools and 7 DO schools. Although her MCAT score was higher than the average for accepted medical students at her state school and for allopathic students in general, she couldn't even get an interview there because her GPA was slightly under a 3.5. She got into a new MD school in another state through a remarkable chain of lucky events. Long after she went to medical school I talked to the dean of admissions at our local state medical school and was told they did nothing to normalize college transcripts to account for the varying rigor of undergraduate colleges and majors. The reason they do nothing is that they don't know how to normalize transcripts.

                                                                        The reason medical school aspirants need to fixate on their home state medical school is that's where they have the best chance of being admitted.

                                                                        My daughter was asked by a friend of a friend at the local "public Ivy" to go over this friend's midterm in organic chemistry. My daughter fought back laughter and tears because the exam was so easy. The exam basically required the students to regurgitate the text book. My daughter's typical undergraduate science exam was an endless stream of knuckle balls.

                                                                        You also need to understand that Columbia will not give a damn that you don't get into medical school. If you want proof, look at their physics courses. Columbia does not offer a year long sequence in algebra based physics. If Columbia cared about their students getting into medical school, they'd offer an algebra based sequence.

                                                                        Before you make a decision please read Malcolm Gladwell's David and Goliath. There's a chapter in the book about a woman who loved science and chose to go to Brown over the University of Maryland. She always understood the readings and the lectures in her science courses at Brown, but the exams were a nightmare. She just couldn't hang with the other science students at Brown. She ended up changing majors but believes that if she had gone to Maryland she'd still be in science.

                                                                        Finally, recent studies have shown that people who get accepted at Ivy League institutions but choose to attend their local state school are just as successful as the people who go to Ivy League schools.
                                                                        http://www.cbsnews.com/news/why-ivy-league-rejects-earn-more-money/

                                                                        Good luck.
                                                                         

                                                                        efle

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                                                                          OK, I'll give WedgeDawg and GrapesofRath the benefit of the doubt. I suppose they are sincere but they are still wrong. I have four degrees including an MBA and a law degree. I am a member of the bar and I'm a CPA. I've stared at medical school admissions data for years because my daughter is now a licensed physician and I have an interest in medical workforce issues in my home state. Please note my daughter never flunked a shelf exam or a step exam in med school. She was perfectly competitive with a bunch of Ivy League twerps.

                                                                          When my daughter chose an undergraduate college she turned down a "public Ivy" in her home state and went to a private college in another state with a student body largely composed of students who had chosen not to attend the "public Ivy" in their home state. My daughter's decision was as dumb as carrots. She scored above the average for accepted medical students on the MCAT but she had to apply to 31 MD schools and 7 DO schools. Although her MCAT score was higher than the average for accepted medical students at her state school and for allopathic students in general, she couldn't even get an interview there because her GPA was slightly under a 3.5. She got into a new MD school in another state through a remarkable chain of lucky events. Long after she went to medical school I talked to the dean of admissions at our local state medical school and was told they did nothing to normalize college transcripts to account for the varying rigor of undergraduate colleges and majors. The reason they do nothing is that they don't know how to normalize transcripts.

                                                                          The reason medical school aspirants need to fixate on their home state medical school is that's where they have the best chance of being admitted.

                                                                          My daughter was asked by a friend of a friend at the local "public Ivy" to go over this friend's midterm in organic chemistry. My daughter fought back laughter and tears because the exam was so easy. The exam basically required the students to regurgitate the text book. My daughter's typical undergraduate science exam was an endless stream of knuckle balls.

                                                                          You also need to understand that Columbia will not give a damn that you don't get into medical school. If you want proof, look at their physics courses. Columbia does not offer a year long sequence in algebra based physics. If Columbia cared about their students getting into medical school, they'd offer an algebra based sequence.

                                                                          Before you make a decision please read Malcolm Gladwell's David and Goliath. There's a chapter in the book about a woman who loved science and chose to go to Brown over the University of Maryland. She always understood the readings and the lectures in her science courses at Brown, but the exams were a nightmare. She just couldn't hang with the other science students at Brown. She ended up changing majors but believes that if she had gone to Maryland she'd still be in science.

                                                                          Finally, recent studies have shown that people who get accepted at Ivy League institutions but choose to attend their local state school are just as successful as the people who go to Ivy League schools.
                                                                          http://www.cbsnews.com/news/why-ivy-league-rejects-earn-more-money/

                                                                          Good luck.
                                                                          Not quite blanket accurate...

                                                                          Private med schools do account for selectivity of your alma mater, while public schools do not. See AAMC survey in my signature.

                                                                          Brown is actually notorious for inflation and for blocking fail marks from student transcripts (only passing grades are recorded) though I get the gist. I'm not sure how Columbia wanting students to take calc based physics is a sign they don't care about their students, when calc is its own required subject for med admissions anyways.

                                                                          Several top private schools release acceptance data tables for their premeds. 3.5 / 32 students tend to have success at least on par with 3.7 / low 30s nationally.

                                                                          Your state MD is not the most accessible option for the many applicants out of California!
                                                                           

                                                                          mspeedwagon

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                                                                            I see a mention of my alma mater here and have read the book and I STRONGLY DISAGREE with it. The science classes at Brown are not a nightmare (especially compared to medical school classes). They are pretty normal for undergrad. I attended several different institutions and while the classes at Brown are on the harder end of them, they are not of epic difficulty. Also, the girl mentioned by the author didn't actually go to Maryland. She just believes had she gone to Maryland she'd have done better. That's like me saying is I went to the University of Alaska I would have done better (I don't know the first thing about the school and have never been to Alaska, but hell, I would have done better... I'm saying this on absolutely no authority!).

                                                                            I've read all the studies of Ivy Grads that go chose to go to their state schools despite Ivy admissions. For the most part, most of these comparisons are worthless (these students are pretty limited and well is relative). Also, the methodology of many of these studies is flawed (for example, one study counted a student that turned down an Ivy League school for undergrad and then went on to get a Harvard MBA in their turned down Ivy League to attend state school category... I'd argue that they should eliminate anyone that ever attends an Ivy League school for any degree b/c things like a Harvard MBA is basically an Ivy League degree to help earnings). There are successful grads out of all universities in the country. What is more meaningful is looking at averages. The average grad from the class of 2005 from Brown is making 175k today. Show me a state school with that average earnings by the time of the ten year reunion (or even 107k as was argued to be the average for Columbia).

                                                                            And, I have friends that went to Columbia and they said the school helped them get into med school (secondhand). I can say this without a shadow of doubt that definitely applies to Brown. They care a lot about their students and will offer you any assistance to get into med school. 81% of students get into med school on their first try and over 90% by their second: https://www.brown.edu/academics/college/advising/health-careers/medical-admission-data-snapshot. From my class, I only know of one person that applied two cycles and didn't get into med school. Everyone else was admitted.

                                                                            Before you make a decision please read Malcolm Gladwell's David and Goliath. There's a chapter in the book about a woman who loved science and chose to go to Brown over the University of Maryland. She always understood the readings and the lectures in her science courses at Brown, but the exams were a nightmare. She just couldn't hang with the other science students at Brown. She ended up changing majors but believes that if she had gone to Maryland she'd still be in science.

                                                                            Finally, recent studies have shown that people who get accepted at Ivy League institutions but choose to attend their local state school are just as successful as the people who go to Ivy League schools.
                                                                            http://www.cbsnews.com/news/why-ivy-league-rejects-earn-more-money/

                                                                            Good luck.
                                                                             
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                                                                            WedgeDawg

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                                                                              OK, I'll give WedgeDawg and GrapesofRath the benefit of the doubt. I suppose they are sincere but they are still wrong. I have four degrees including an MBA and a law degree. I am a member of the bar and I'm a CPA. I've stared at medical school admissions data for years because my daughter is now a licensed physician and I have an interest in medical workforce issues in my home state. Please note my daughter never flunked a shelf exam or a step exam in med school. She was perfectly competitive with a bunch of Ivy League twerps.

                                                                              I greatly respect your credentials, experience, and knowledge, but I would like to point out a few things. Having never flunked a shelf exam or a step exam isn't unusual in med school - it's the norm. If you get in, you are likely to be able to handle it. That has nothing to do with what school you're coming from. Heck, at my school, I have plenty of state school colleagues who are kicking my Ivy League twerp ass back and forth. They got in, I got in, we're all prepared to handle medical school here.

                                                                              When my daughter chose an undergraduate college she turned down a "public Ivy" in her home state and went to a private college in another state with a student body largely composed of students who had chosen not to attend the "public Ivy" in their home state. My daughter's decision was as dumb as carrots.

                                                                              One distinction I would like to make here is that Ivy League =/= random no-name private out of state school. I agree that in that this situation, I would have chosen the state school. However, we are explicitly talking about Columbia, which is widely acknowledged as one of the best schools in the world. It's the school our president graduated from (regardless of what you think of his presidency - not the point here).

                                                                              Additionally, "public Ivy" is a nebulous term. I assume you mean a school like UVA/UCLA/Berkeley/Michigan etc. Again, I agree that in many cases, the public school is the right choice when up against a random private school.

                                                                              She scored above the average for accepted medical students on the MCAT but she had to apply to 31 MD schools and 7 DO schools. Although her MCAT score was higher than the average for accepted medical students at her state school and for allopathic students in general, she couldn't even get an interview there because her GPA was slightly under a 3.5. She got into a new MD school in another state through a remarkable chain of lucky events.

                                                                              I'm glad she ended up getting in. Let me give you an anecdote counter to yours. I have a very close friend in college whose GPA was about a 3.4 and his sGPA was lower (he had a few Cs in core science classes). He didn't have any big fancy ECs - some research, some shadowing, a bit of volunteering, that's it. His essays weren't at all bad, but they weren't blow your pants away amazing. No connections anywhere. He got a balanced 36 on his MCAT which is good, but not stellar. So all in all, his stat profile (3.4/3.3/36) was not great. It was below average for our school and nationally with a slightly higher than average MCAT (for our school - a good deal higher for the nation). He ended up getting several interviews and got into his top choice, a solid mid-tier school in California, by December and started turning down other interviews.

                                                                              Here's another example:

                                                                              I have a friend who graduate from a public Ivy. Very smart guy, but got off to a rocky start in college and graduated with ~3.5. However he killed his MCAT and got a 40+. He also had all the regular ECs that you would need. Unfortunately, he ended up only with one interview, a low tier state school, which ended in a waitlist, and finally, in early summer, an acceptance. Had he come from my school, I have no doubt that he would have been more successful as an applicant.

                                                                              That being said, I have another friend at the same school as the above person. Ended up with a slightly lower (but still very high) MCAT but a much better GPA (3.9). He had multiple top interviews and is now at a top 10 school.

                                                                              Another example:

                                                                              Friend from college had a 3.6-3.7 GPA. Mid-high 30s MCAT, all the regular ECs. Also at a top 10 school.

                                                                              I can provide you with example after example but that won't prove anything.

                                                                              I can, however, identify a trend. If you go to any school and have a high GPA and MCAT, you're going to do very well. If you go to a state school and have a middling GPA but a great MCAT, you might be okay, but you might not. If that MCAT is mediocre, you're in trouble. At the Ivy, you can have a middling (3.5-3.6) GPA and still be okay as long as you have an okay (not even great) MCAT. Neither the Ivy or the state school will save you from a poor GPA, MCAT, or both.

                                                                              Long after she went to medical school I talked to the dean of admissions at our local state medical school and was told they did nothing to normalize college transcripts to account for the varying rigor of undergraduate colleges and majors. The reason they do nothing is that they don't know how to normalize transcripts.

                                                                              State schools, as per @efle's chart, don't really factor in prestige of undergrad while private schools do. That's why schools like Hofstra are filled with low GPA Ivy League grads while these students might not have been able to get into their state schools.

                                                                              Also schools do know how to normalize transcripts to an extent. Not all do it, but the schools that do are familiar with the notoriously grade deflated schools (usually Princeton and MIT and maybe a couple others). However, this is never something you can or should count on as an applicant. Fortunately, Columbia doesn't have this issue.

                                                                              The reason medical school aspirants need to fixate on their home state medical school is that's where they have the best chance of being admitted.

                                                                              This is generally true, yes, but "fixating" on them isn't necessarily a good idea. If you're a marginal applicant, then yeah, your best shot is absolutely at your state school. If you're a decent to strong applicant, you will still have a good shot at your state school, but you also have the opportunity to look elsewhere. A lot of applicants, for whatever reason, really want to go to very prestigious or research intensive medical schools, and it's easier to do that coming from a prestigious undergrad (though the prestigious undergrad is not necessary - just excellence).

                                                                              My daughter was asked by a friend of a friend at the local "public Ivy" to go over this friend's midterm in organic chemistry. My daughter fought back laughter and tears because the exam was so easy. The exam basically required the students to regurgitate the text book. My daughter's typical undergraduate science exam was an endless stream of knuckle balls.

                                                                              Yes, some schools give laughably easy exams. One of my state schools gives multiple choice organic chemistry exams. My organic chemistry exams were brutal. But medical school exams are brutal too. If you asked my to list my top 10 hardest exams, it would be a laundry list of my medical school exams with maybe a couple organic chemistry or biology exams cracking the list from undergrad. I feel like I was more prepared for the intensity of medical school because I took exams in undergrad that were "an endless stream of knuckle balls". Is it necessary to do this? No, but it can be helpful.

                                                                              You also need to understand that Columbia will not give a damn that you don't get into medical school. If you want proof, look at their physics courses. Columbia does not offer a year long sequence in algebra based physics. If Columbia cared about their students getting into medical school, they'd offer an algebra based sequence.

                                                                              This isn't true. One of the selling points that Ivy Leagues like to use to attract applicants is their high rate of admissions to medical school. The statistic is on the website for almost all of them (I compiled them sometime last year if you want to look through my post history) and they all (with the possible exception of Cornell who has "only" a 67% success rate) have very impressive metrics. Not offering a yearlong sequence of algebra based physics doesn't mean that they don't care about whether or not you get into medical school. In fact, the premed advising at Ivy Leagues is generally strong, whereas they're generally weaker at state schools.

                                                                              Before you make a decision please read Malcolm Gladwell's David and Goliath. There's a chapter in the book about a woman who loved science and chose to go to Brown over the University of Maryland. She always understood the readings and the lectures in her science courses at Brown, but the exams were a nightmare. She just couldn't hang with the other science students at Brown. She ended up changing majors but believes that if she had gone to Maryland she'd still be in science.

                                                                              Brown is notorious for grade inflation policies (see above posts), so I don't really know how much water this holds. You could find a similar story at any school. This doesn't say anything about whether or not a particular person or even most people can handle or not handle the courseload at Brown.

                                                                              Additionally, if you want to read into this vignette a little more, it implies that the "rest" of the science students at Brown were doing fine and the problem was limited to this particular person. This person also has no basis to say that she would have still been in science had she gone to Maryland. So I don't think that's particularly helpful.

                                                                              Finally, recent studies have shown that people who get accepted at Ivy League institutions but choose to attend their local state school are just as successful as the people who go to Ivy League schools.
                                                                              http://www.cbsnews.com/news/why-ivy-league-rejects-earn-more-money/

                                                                              Perhaps. I don't have time currently to read into the study in depth and I don't really trust the reporting itself, so I won't comment on it further and will assume it is true.

                                                                              Sorry that this was so long and convoluted. I feel strongly that turning down Columbia would be a mistake here unless you are a) 150% sure you want to be a doctor and b) are totally fine attending your state school for medical school. However, I was both when I was going into undergrad, and I still chose my school over my flagship state school.

                                                                              I think this discussion would be more pertinent if you were paying full sticker price for Columbia, but since Columbia is cheaper, I think it is the better option.

                                                                              OP, you've been given multiple different perspectives on the issue that have brought up good points on both sides. You have a lot of information and are certainly capable of making an informed decision at this point. The last thing I will say is that you can become a phenomenal doctor coming from either school.

                                                                              I will also give you the same advice I was given when choosing a college. It might not be good advice, but it was what I was given and helped me make my decision. This may very well be your only chance to get an Ivy League education. If that is something that is important to you, it is something to take into account.

                                                                              I echo the good luck given by my colleagues here, and I'm sure any of us would be willing to offer our perspectives on any specific questions you might have.
                                                                               
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                                                                              Obnoxious Dad

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                                                                                I greatly respect your credentials, experience, and knowledge, but I would like to point out a few things. Having never flunked a shelf exam or a step exam isn't unusual in med school - it's the norm. If you get in, you are likely to be able to handle it. That has nothing to do with what school you're coming from. Heck, at my school, I have plenty of state school colleagues who are kicking my Ivy League twerp ass back and forth. They got in, I got in, we're all prepared to handle medical school here.



                                                                                One distinction I would like to make here is that Ivy League =/= random no-name private out of state school. I agree that in that this situation, I would have chosen the state school. However, we are explicitly talking about Columbia, which is widely acknowledged as one of the best schools in the world. It's the school our president graduated from (regardless of what you think of his presidency - not the point here).

                                                                                Additionally, "public Ivy" is a nebulous term. I assume you mean a school like UVA/UCLA/Berkeley/Michigan etc. Again, I agree that in many cases, the public school is the right choice when up against a random private school.



                                                                                I'm glad she ended up getting in. Let me give you an anecdote counter to yours. I have a very close friend in college whose GPA was about a 3.4 and his sGPA was lower (he had a few Cs in core science classes). He didn't have any big fancy ECs - some research, some shadowing, a bit of volunteering, that's it. His essays weren't at all bad, but they weren't blow your pants away amazing. No connections anywhere. He got a balanced 36 on his MCAT which is good, but not stellar. So all in all, his stat profile (3.4/3.3/36) was not great. It was below average for our school and nationally with a slightly higher than average MCAT (for our school - a good deal higher for the nation). He ended up getting several interviews and got into his top choice, a solid mid-tier school in California, by December and started turning down other interviews.

                                                                                Here's another example:

                                                                                I have a friend who graduate from a public Ivy. Very smart guy, but got off to a rocky start in college and graduated with ~3.5. However he killed his MCAT and got a 40+. He also had all the regular ECs that you would need. Unfortunately, he ended up only with one interview, a low tier state school, which ended in a waitlist, and finally, in early summer, an acceptance. Had he come from my school, I have no doubt that he would have been more successful as an applicant.

                                                                                That being said, I have another friend at the same school as the above person. Ended up with a slightly lower (but still very high) MCAT but a much better GPA (3.9). He had multiple top interviews and is now at a top 10 school.

                                                                                Another example:

                                                                                Friend from college had a 3.6-3.7 GPA. Mid-high 30s MCAT, all the regular ECs. Also at a top 10 school.

                                                                                I can provide you with example after example but that won't prove anything.

                                                                                I can, however, identify a trend. If you go to any school and have a high GPA and MCAT, you're going to do very well. If you go to a state school and have a middling GPA but a great MCAT, you might be okay, but you might not. If that MCAT is mediocre, you're in trouble. At the Ivy, you can have a middling (3.5-3.6) GPA and still be okay as long as you have an okay (not even great) MCAT. Neither the Ivy or the state school will save you from a poor GPA, MCAT, or both.



                                                                                State schools, as per @efle's chart, don't really factor in prestige of undergrad while private schools do. That's why schools like Hofstra are filled with low GPA Ivy League grads while these students might not have been able to get into their state schools.

                                                                                Also schools do know how to normalize transcripts to an extent. Not all do it, but the schools that do are familiar with the notoriously grade deflated schools (usually Princeton and MIT and maybe a couple others). However, this is never something you can or should count on as an applicant. Fortunately, Columbia doesn't have this issue.



                                                                                This is generally true, yes, but "fixating" on them isn't necessarily a good idea. If you're a marginal applicant, then yeah, your best shot is absolutely at your state school. If you're a decent to strong applicant, you will still have a good shot at your state school, but you also have the opportunity to look elsewhere. A lot of applicants, for whatever reason, really want to go to very prestigious or research intensive medical schools, and it's easier to do that coming from a prestigious undergrad (though the prestigious undergrad is not necessary - just excellence).



                                                                                Yes, some schools give laughably easy exams. One of my state schools gives multiple choice organic chemistry exams. My organic chemistry exams were brutal. But medical school exams are brutal too. If you asked my to list my top 10 hardest exams, it would be a laundry list of my medical school exams with maybe a couple organic chemistry or biology exams cracking the list from undergrad. I feel like I was more prepared for the intensity of medical school because I took exams in undergrad that were "an endless stream of knuckle balls". Is it necessary to do this? No, but it can be helpful.



                                                                                This isn't true. One of the selling points that Ivy Leagues like to use to attract applicants is their high rate of admissions to medical school. The statistic is on the website for almost all of them (I compiled them sometime last year if you want to look through my post history) and they all (with the possible exception of Cornell who has "only" a 67% success rate) have very impressive metrics. Not offering a yearlong sequence of algebra based physics doesn't mean that they don't care about whether or not you get into medical school. In fact, the premed advising at Ivy Leagues is generally strong, whereas they're generally weaker at state schools.



                                                                                Brown is notorious for grade inflation policies (see above posts), so I don't really know how much water this holds. You could find a similar story at any school. This doesn't say anything about whether or not a particular person or even most people can handle or not handle the courseload at Brown.

                                                                                Additionally, if you want to read into this vignette a little more, it implies that the "rest" of the science students at Brown were doing fine and the problem was limited to this particular person. This person also has no basis to say that she would have still been in science had she gone to Maryland. So I don't think that's particularly helpful.



                                                                                Perhaps. I don't have time currently to read into the study in depth and I don't really trust the reporting itself, so I won't comment on it further and will assume it is true.

                                                                                Sorry that this was so long and convoluted. I feel strongly that turning down Columbia would be a mistake here unless you are a) 150% sure you want to be a doctor and b) are totally fine attending your state school for medical school. However, I was both when I was going into undergrad, and I still chose my school over my flagship state school.

                                                                                I think this discussion would be more pertinent if you were paying full sticker price for Columbia, but since Columbia is cheaper, I think it is the better option.

                                                                                OP, you've been given multiple different perspectives on the issue that have brought up good points on both sides. You have a lot of information and are certainly capable of making an informed decision at this point. The last thing I will say is that you can become a phenomenal doctor coming from either school.

                                                                                I will also give you the same advice I was given when choosing a college. It might not be good advice, but it was what I was given and helped me make my decision. This may very well be your only chance to get an Ivy League education. If that is something that is important to you, it is something to take into account.

                                                                                I echo the good luck given by my colleagues here, and I'm sure any of us would be willing to offer our perspectives on any specific questions you might have.

                                                                                I'm sorry but if you think a 36 on the MCAT is not stellar, you don't have a clue. A 35 on the MCAT is at the 95th percentile. See the link:
                                                                                https://www.bing.com/images/search?...9a8106cf99da3f63d16a525da9c7358ao0&ajaxhist=0

                                                                                I am telling the OP and you that at state medical schools, which account for approximately 65% of the allopathic seats in the US, that there is no normalization of transcripts. Furthermore, the studies that have been done comparing top students at public institutions have been conducted by people who have a little more statistical expertise than you have. Finally, the overwhelming majority of medical schools do not require calculus. They used to require calc in the 1960s but not anymore. Please refer to the undergraduate course requirements at various schools in the MSAR and specifically identify those institutions that require calculus in your next post.
                                                                                 
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