As interview season rolled around, I became nostalgic looking through the interview reviews. It occurred to me that you can conceptualize the big NYC residencies as undergraduate archetypes. Of course, stereotypes are not the absolute truth, but they can still be fun. Columbia, the Ivy (think Harvard, Stanford and uh... Columbia): despite all the things we tell ourselves about finding the “best fit” and “going with our gut,” deep down beneath the veneer is a greedy gunner that just wants that juicy diploma that brings fear, envy and respect from all of our relatives that you wish would stop talking to you at family events. Like going to an Ivy undergrad, you benefit from learning alongside some of the brightest peers you can find, wonderful colleagues who will fill you with the constant, all consuming fear that you can never rest on your laurels lest you fall hopelessly behind. Also like the Ivy undergrad, there are some of the biggest names in the field working in your very institution, although they probably have their own bathrooms and cafe because you don’t ever really see them that often (especially after Eric Kandel blocked you on Instagram). Whatever direction you pursue, the Ivy has the resources and pull to get you there, which is clearly not an issue for that guy sitting next to you who is finishing his third research grant while simultaneously interviewing. Cornell, the Liberal Arts College (think Amherst, Williams or some other similarly British sounding school): like the elite liberal arts schools, the name loses some of its luster once you leave the northeast, but why would you want to leave the northeast? Sure, Cornell is in a little bit of a bubble, but as long as you stay in that bubble everything is good. Like liberal arts, you get to spend time contemplating philosophical constructs that may or may not have any relation to reality, although you will still have to work your ass off doing it. Initially, the intimacy of the liberal arts school sounds appealing, but is followed by intense claustrophobia, then followed by indoctrination, then followed by cocktails, then you can start billing at $500/hour for psychotherapy (again, within the bubble). NYU, the Elite State (think UC, UVA, Michigan, but DON’T think about friggin Ohio State): the large, sprawling institution, with tons of resources and opportunities if you could just figure where your classroom is. There’s national name recognition even if it’s not for the best reason (everyone knows Bellevue, just like everyone knows where Arizona State ranks on Maxim’s list of “colleges your mom doesn’t want you to know about”). And... uh... good exposure to substance use? I dunno, I guess I thought I would get more mileage out of this metaphor. Mount Sinai, the Alternative School (think Brown, Bowdoin, or any school that has done away with SATs, let’s you choose your own major/class/instructor species type): you know it’s a good place, smart people seem to be there, and you appreciate how hard they’re trying to let you be you but... why are they trying so hard? Like I mentioned, everyone is bright and accomplished, but in an alternative way (for example, maybe they started a successful silkworm production plant in Brooklyn in their free time, with all proceeds going to cure daschund obesity research). Montefiore, the King of the North (think McGill, University of Toronto): like the college that lets you drink legally at 18, everyone here seems to be friendly and at ease, with a decent education behind them. And yet, it seems so far away. Finally, the most important part of the analogy: your college experience won’t be determined by the reputation or stereotype, but the relationships you form and what you bring. While a big name and connected mentor won’t hurt, success is possible coming out of anywhere.