Johns Hopkins ($0 Debt) vs WashU ($0 Debt) vs Duke (Will Have to Take out ~45k/Per Year in Loans)

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FinancialBagel

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As the 04/30 deadline approaches, I become increasingly torn between these three schools. I’m leaning more toward Hopkins, and I’ll explain why below. In terms of specialty I would like to pursue, I’m still undecided, but I feel like I want to look into internal medicine, emergency medicine, psychiatry, or anesthesiology. Throughout medical school, residency, and my physician career, I want to be able to have a good amount of time to spend with my aging parents and my loved ones.

For me, this is what is most important (in no particular ranking): being close to my support system, being in a place with the least amount of stress and competition, and having a vast amount of opportunities in things like research and advocacy. Being as debt-free as possible is also nice, as it adds less stress to what specialty I can pursue.

Hopkins:
Pros:
  • It is the closest school to my friends, family, and partner by quite a lot (I’m on the East Coast). Being near my support system ranks highly for me. It is still an Amtrak train ride away, however.
  • P/F for pre-clinical and core clerkship (but this may change)
  • Will graduate with no debt
  • I feel like this school has the most networking opportunities, research opportunities, etc. Although, I will acknowledge that the other two schools are not far behind. Please correct me if I’m wrong.
  • Great opportunity to learn about health disparities and to serve a diverse patient population, which I am passionate about
  • Great mentorship through the molecule system and CAPS program
  • I believe no AOA until after the match and no internal ranking
  • Hopkins is well-known in medicine
Cons:
  • H/HP/P/F for clinical electives, advanced clerkships, and clinical sub-internships. Clerkships are currently P/F but MAY BECOME H/HP/P/F. This con is what is making me the most hesitant toward Hopkins, because I feel it breeds stress and competition. Aside from staying close to family and graduating without debt, being as stress-free as possible is also very important to me.
  • Out of the three schools, this one may have the most gunners? I could be 100% wrong with this. Regardless, it is definitely not fun having to be in competition with peers.
  • I think the curriculum changed such that the pre-clinical is now one year and the summer break is shortened. Not sure how this will affect the incoming class
  • I didn’t absolutely love the campus and area; however, I’m not picky about where I live. This is only a very slight negative, as it’s offset by how close I am to my support system.

WashU:
Pros:
  • Will graduate with no debt
  • I’m not sure how heavily I should weigh this, but WashU has been my absolute favorite school during the application process. The dean hand-wrote personalized notes for everyone, and they covered basically everything for Second Look Weekend
  • The campus and surrounding area are beautiful.
  • P/F for pre-clinical and clerkship (BUT distinctions can be awarded in certain areas like patient care). This pro is what is driving me to maybe consider WashU over Hopkins. Not sure how heavily I should weigh this
  • Great coaching system, I believe they meet with their coach about once a week
  • Amazing research opportunities and time dedicated toward research; they really emphasized being #2 in NIH funding
  • No AOA or internal ranking
Cons:
  • It is the farthest from my family, friends, and partner. It would be stressful and expensive having to fly often.
  • I may want to match back on the East Coast, and I feel that although WashU won’t completely stop me from matching back here, it would make it slightly harder
  • Although clerkships are generally pass/fail, there are distinctions available in certain longitudinal areas (patient care, interpersonal communication, systems-based practice, etc). This doesn’t seem as bad as the H/HP/P/F system, but I’m worried it’ll still cause stress.

Duke:
Pros:
  • It is the second closest to my family, friends, and partner. But it is still a stressful plane ride away.
  • An entire year dedicated to research (might help if I want to pursue something like anesthesiology)
  • I believe no AOA, and true P/F for everything. This is the biggest pro for me for Duke.
  • May have an easier time matching back to the East Coast
Cons:
  • I didn’t go to Second Look Weekend because they did not cover anything for it. Therefore, not sure what the campus is like. I say this as a con because I’m a bit salty they didn’t cover anything haha.
  • Currently, with just need-based aid, I will have to pay ~45k per year aka $180,000 for all four years (which I will have to take out loans for). I haven’t completely eliminated Duke because it seems they haven’t released all the merit-based aid yet, and so I’m holding out hope that I could also get my entire tuition and COA covered. But I could be wrong
  • I hear the one-year condensed pre-clinical means that Duke students don’t get a good grasp of pre-clinical materials, or are more stressed studying it all in one year

Summary: I am currently learning toward Hopkins because of its close proximity to my support system, the Hopkins name, and its large quantity of opportunities. However, the fact that their clerkship can be changed to H/HP/P/F does worry me a bit.

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Take Duke out of the equation. It just doesn’t make sense for you from a location standpoint or a financial standpoint. You can do research at any of the other schools and don’t need a year dedicated to it.

My vote is Hopkins over WashU. I think proximity to family and friends and your SO are pretty important in med school. I don’t know anything about the grading system, but I’m sure you’re going to find the gunners anywhere you look
 
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Knock your acceptances down to two. To me it sounds like you're coin-flipping Hopkins and WashU.

In medicine, WashU is the Hopkins of the midwest (or Hopkins is the WashU of the East Coast). Both have outstanding research and clinical resources. It's up to you whether Amtrak is cheaper than flights out of STL, but you will have no problem matching anywhere if you succeed in either program. Sure, do your homework on the clinicals. Figure out if you like WashU's support system or think it's just too filled with check-ins with your student dean/coach vs. being a little more independent at Hopkins.

Yeah, I can see that Hopkins Hospital isn't in the greatest neighborhood, but that's how East Coast schools generally are. WashU is in a little better neighborhood.

The issue that may be unsaid: any concern with state politics? How is each school handling DEI, especially given that WashU is in red-state Missouri and Hopkins in blue-state Maryland? Do you feel concerned about any "politicization" of your education or interference from anti-DEI forces? How is the relationship between students and faculty and the university admins (or even clinical admins)? How does each community handle hot-button situations, such as the Gaza situation (Israel-Palestine)? Reproductive health opportunities/training? How would you deal with patients whose worldview is starkly different from your own, and how do the schools help you prepare for those confrontations?
 
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As the 04/30 deadline approaches, I become increasingly torn between these three schools. I’m leaning more toward Hopkins, and I’ll explain why below. In terms of specialty I would like to pursue, I’m still undecided, but I feel like I want to look into internal medicine, emergency medicine, psychiatry, or anesthesiology. Throughout medical school, residency, and my physician career, I want to be able to have a good amount of time to spend with my aging parents and my loved ones.

For me, this is what is most important (in no particular ranking): being close to my support system, being in a place with the least amount of stress and competition, and having a vast amount of opportunities in things like research and advocacy. Being as debt-free as possible is also nice, as it adds less stress to what specialty I can pursue.

Hopkins:
Pros:
  • It is the closest school to my friends, family, and partner by quite a lot (I’m on the East Coast). Being near my support system ranks highly for me. It is still an Amtrak train ride away, however.
  • P/F for pre-clinical and core clerkship (but this may change)
  • Will graduate with no debt
  • I feel like this school has the most networking opportunities, research opportunities, etc. Although, I will acknowledge that the other two schools are not far behind. Please correct me if I’m wrong.
  • Great opportunity to learn about health disparities and to serve a diverse patient population, which I am passionate about
  • Great mentorship through the molecule system and CAPS program
  • I believe no AOA until after the match and no internal ranking
  • Hopkins is well-known in medicine
Cons:
  • H/HP/P/F for clinical electives, advanced clerkships, and clinical sub-internships. Clerkships are currently P/F but MAY BECOME H/HP/P/F. This con is what is making me the most hesitant toward Hopkins, because I feel it breeds stress and competition. Aside from staying close to family and graduating without debt, being as stress-free as possible is also very important to me.
  • Out of the three schools, this one may have the most gunners? I could be 100% wrong with this. Regardless, it is definitely not fun having to be in competition with peers.
  • I think the curriculum changed such that the pre-clinical is now one year and the summer break is shortened. Not sure how this will affect the incoming class
  • I didn’t absolutely love the campus and area; however, I’m not picky about where I live. This is only a very slight negative, as it’s offset by how close I am to my support system.

WashU:
Pros:
  • Will graduate with no debt
  • I’m not sure how heavily I should weigh this, but WashU has been my absolute favorite school during the application process. The dean hand-wrote personalized notes for everyone, and they covered basically everything for Second Look Weekend
  • The campus and surrounding area are beautiful.
  • P/F for pre-clinical and clerkship (BUT distinctions can be awarded in certain areas like patient care). This pro is what is driving me to maybe consider WashU over Hopkins. Not sure how heavily I should weigh this
  • Great coaching system, I believe they meet with their coach about once a week
  • Amazing research opportunities and time dedicated toward research; they really emphasized being #2 in NIH funding
  • No AOA or internal ranking
Cons:
  • It is the farthest from my family, friends, and partner. It would be stressful and expensive having to fly often.
  • I may want to match back on the East Coast, and I feel that although WashU won’t completely stop me from matching back here, it would make it slightly harder
  • Although clerkships are generally pass/fail, there are distinctions available in certain longitudinal areas (patient care, interpersonal communication, systems-based practice, etc). This doesn’t seem as bad as the H/HP/P/F system, but I’m worried it’ll still cause stress.

Duke:
Pros:
  • It is the second closest to my family, friends, and partner. But it is still a stressful plane ride away.
  • An entire year dedicated to research (might help if I want to pursue something like anesthesiology)
  • I believe no AOA, and true P/F for everything. This is the biggest pro for me for Duke.
  • May have an easier time matching back to the East Coast
Cons:
  • I didn’t go to Second Look Weekend because they did not cover anything for it. Therefore, not sure what the campus is like. I say this as a con because I’m a bit salty they didn’t cover anything haha.
  • Currently, with just need-based aid, I will have to pay ~45k per year aka $180,000 for all four years (which I will have to take out loans for). I haven’t completely eliminated Duke because it seems they haven’t released all the merit-based aid yet, and so I’m holding out hope that I could also get my entire tuition and COA covered. But I could be wrong
  • I hear the one-year condensed pre-clinical means that Duke students don’t get a good grasp of pre-clinical materials, or are more stressed studying it all in one year

Summary: I am currently learning toward Hopkins because of its close proximity to my support system, the Hopkins name, and its large quantity of opportunities. However, the fact that their clerkship can be changed to H/HP/P/F does worry me a bit.
Not to hijack the thread, but did they tell you when merit aid would come out at the latest? Thanks!
 
I think it's impossible to make a bad choice between Hopkins and WashU, but I will add to the chorus of voices saying that it would be ludicrous to even consider Duke here
 
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Being as debt-free as possible is also nice, as it adds less stress to what specialty I can pursue.
You will be out of debt no matter what if you graduate medical school and go on to finish residency. Trust me. This shouldn't factor into your decision. ;)
 
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Hopkins or WashU and it's not even debatable

I leave it to others to help you choose between those two
 
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You will be out of debt no matter what if you graduate medical school and go on to finish residency. Trust me. This shouldn't factor into your decision. ;)
It would be different if they were talking a free ride to a caribbean school or a DO or something, but it's a free ride to Hopkins dude
 
Isn't every school graded Sub-Is? I dont know how this is a con tbh
Oh are they? Sorry I didn't know haha. I thought that for schools that pride themselves in being true P/F (like Duke), that everything was P/F. It is good to hear every school has graded Sub-Is.
 
Oh are they? Sorry I didn't know haha. I thought that for schools that pride themselves in being true P/F (like Duke), that everything was P/F. It is good to hear every school has graded Sub-Is.
Sub-I’s are also where you sort of want and need a grade. In most cases, your sub I is in the specialty you’re pursuing, so you want an objective metric of how well you did (for residency apps) since letters of rec are often homogeneously positive and hard to differentiate applicants by.
 
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Easily Hopkins or WashU. Eliminate Duke. You mentioned support system being important for you, so I would give Hopkins the edge but it's really up to personal preference at this point. Both schools are amazing.
 
Hopkins. It's the most prestigious out of the three and is closest to your support system. This is honestly a no brainer
 
Thank you all for the great advice :) Definitely leaning 99% toward JHU.
 
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