Mr. Obsessive said:
I interviewed in mid-April and got the same feeling. The implicit message from all of the students was, "This is our school and its OK." I tried to overlook this and view the school based on everything else, but I couldn't get past it. In the end, I think it would suck to be surrounded by a bunch of people who are not that enthusiastic about there school. I also think the class size is way too big. Not that you would probably notice because I sat in on a lecture and there were only about 20 or so stundents attending. Best of luck with your decision. Remember, these are only my opinions, take from them what you want.
I would be careful basing your opinions on having visited a school once. For all you know the students were in the middle of exams- it would be quite hard to find a cheery student during such a time. Also, attendance is most likely poor at both schools. Class attendance is a good way to rate the curriculum (if attendance is high that most likely means the faculty are not wasting the time of the students when they are lecturing), however, attendance is most likely poor at many of the lower tier schools (I should know since I attend one of them). Additionally, the OPTION of attending class is so much more important in determining what school you choose. Personally, I would never choose a school that made attendance mandatory since I need to be able to learn in my own style (which is not auditory). I don't know if either school has a mandatory attendance policy. If I remember correctly neither did, but NYMC expected you to go to class but they didn't enforce attendance.
Anyhow, I interviewed at both schools two years ago. I hated Downstate due to the following: the students were miserable, the place was rundown, the administration seemed to be elitist (the woman who brought me to my interviewer was telling me about how they had so many people interviewing from harvard, hopkins, yadayadayada. She then asked me what undergrad I attended and she shut up quickly after I told her CUNY Lehman college
), and I had the most miserable interview possible (more stuffy elitism). Also, students were not miserable b/c they in the middle of exams- they were quite open about the administration being non-supportive of the students and the poor quality of teaching during the first two years.
I actually really liked NYMC. The school had a pleasant enviornment and the students were happy overall. The students are worked very hard at this school since they take shelf exams after every course (and these things are freakin hard for the most part). All I remember is that they are heavily tested (shelfs, finals, etc..). Keep in mind though, that this is not a bad thing as evidenced by their step I scores. I also had a great interview with a phd there. They also had very nice housing available to the students, which is not the case at Downstate.
I ultimately chose SUNY Stony Brook since I knew I'd be happiest there. What really attracted me to my school was that I was told over and over again that the administration is supportive of the students (not completely true but not completely false, and that is a topic for another thread) and that the student body is cohesive and a great mix of people (very true). Plus, I liked the fact that the curriculum did not seem as rigid as NYMC.
Anyhow, you will get the same education at Downstate and NYMC. The difference lies in where you would be happier, and this depends on variables that are important to you (i.e. tuition, area, curricular differences, living conditions, etc...). If I did not have the choice of SB, I probably would have went for NYMC since I liked it better there since my experience there was way more positive than my experience at Downstate.