I'll start. I have things sorted into tiers (a top, middle, bottom) but ranking within those tiers feels challenging. I'd love opinions on that. (I kind of wrote a novel here, I'm sorry, it was very helpful just to write out my thoughts... I have a "tl;dr" at the end).
Things that are pro for me: I like a strong PD with a vision, someone I could look up to as a mentor. I like programs that value psychotherapy highly and will train me well in that regard. I like programs that provide me with good opportunities for access to an underserved or difficult population. Working in/at a VA is not a negative (my dad is a vietnam vet struggling with PTSD, I feel attracted to getting at least some experience working with that population), but the amount could make it a positive or negative. A few programs had "advocacy" rotations, and I found that to feel like a pro. Relative "prestige" is a small (very small) pro for me. I am very interested in CAP, pros to be had in relation to that ... but also kind of interested in addiction. That remains to be decided.
Things that are con for me: I'm pretty easy going so I find it challenging to look for/at cons. Work/life balance looked harder than it needed to be at a couple programs, that bumped some down. Terrible facilities bumped at least one program down. Being too large might be a small con. Being in a place with fewer opportunities for my husband is a con.
Of note - my husband is currently applying to law school (because this wasn't stressful enough, apparently). He is in at 4 of the top 25, and so he also has some significant say in this ... it's a negotiation... (I assume "happy wife, happy life" extends to husbands as well).
All of that said ... here's what I'm working with.
Programs in my top tier (ie liked the most) not in ranked order (because I haven't sorted that out) -
Northwestern - fantastic amazing PD, loved the residents, love Chicago, great opportunities in CAP. Light association with a VA (not too much, maybe too little? But I suppose that's what electives are for). Had the sense I'd work a little harder at this program (which is ok). Enjoyed interviews with faculty, had some interesting conversations.
Boston VA / Harvard South Shore - loved the PD, seemed very invested in residents succeeding as leaders. Lots of VA - slight negative for being so much. Love the Boston area. Liked the residents, everybody seemed cool. Liked the faculty I spoke with.
Brown - another fantastic PD, lots of research opportunities, definitely very strong CAP opportunities. Providence would mean a substantial commute to Boston for my husband, but he'd survive... and I found Providence quite charming. Great faculty.
Middle tier (I liked these and think I'd be happy with them) not in ranked order - this is the section I think I need the most help sorting out -
UIC - large program was kind of a con. Again love Chicago. Great reputation and undeniably great training. I liked the residents I met, and everyone seemed cool. Didn't feel "excited" walking away from all but 1 of the faculty interviews, maybe because it was late in the season.
Rush - I loved the faculty and had really engaging convos with each person I interviewed with ... but I didn't feel a connection to the residents, which felt disappointing. I loved the beautiful facilities. I liked that they were doing some cool telepsych stuff focused on veterans.
Loyola - I liked the faculty and residents a lot. But damn, it's out in the suburbs. And so VA-heavy. Some days I wanted to move this up a tier and some I wanted to move it down a tier. I still don't know how I feel about it. I think I'd be happy there, but I'm not sure it's the best I can do in terms of finding the right fit.
Henry Ford Detroit/Wayne State - I absolutely loved the PD, I liked the residents, I felt good about the program, but I got very bad vibes from a couple interviews, including one telling me that she didn't think I would rank their program highly. The two bad interviews sort of torpedoed my day, and combined with Detroit not being high on my list of "places to live" definitely kept this in my middle tier for ranking.
Lower tier (I have reservations about these, but will rank them because ultimately I can be happy).
SLU - I liked the PD a lot and had great interviewers, but multiple things gave me pause. One was the facilities, another was the workload (doubling beds but not increasing residents made me concerned), I really wasn't sure how to feel about the Chair at the department (seemed somewhat... polarizing). I wanted to like this program a lot, I really did.... but I think I just don't. Still, there's enough good that I will still rank it - which means I'll ultimately be happy if I match there.
Indiana - This is a great program that doesn't deserve to be this low on my list, but it is. Beautiful facilities, great residents, great faculty, an excellent academic center ... in Indiana. Sadly the opportunities for my husband are significantly less than elsewhere, and plus ... it's Indiana. I know Indianapolis is not like the rest of Indiana, but still... it's Indiana, and my husband and I do think (as two men) about the culture in a place, and ultimately that contributes to it being way low on my list. Again, this is a great program... it's just not the best fit for me. I'll be happy if I match there because it's a great program, but it feels right to try to match elsewhere.
Vanderbilt - Again a great program, but I just got terrible vibes on interview day. Maybe I just talked to the wrong residents, but I just did not gel. I didn't like the fellow applicants either, oddly enough. Maybe I was just being an dingus that day, who knows... but I just walked away feeling wrong, even though I know the place is very right for others.
So recap. tl;dr
Top: Northwestern, HSS, Brown
Middle: UIC, Rush, Loyola, Henry Ford (most confused about the order of these)
Bottom: SLU, Indiana, Vanderbilt
I would love any and all thoughts on my rankles within each of those "tiers." I'm sorry for writing a novel.