Penn v. UCSF v. Columbia

  • Penn

    Votes: 22 23.7%
  • UCSF

    Votes: 54 58.1%
  • Columbia

    Votes: 17 18.3%

  • Total voters
    93
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I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to choose between these wonderful schools. However, I am torn between location, feel, prestige (yea, please forgive me) and curriculum. I am currently thinking about Neuro. I am really interested to see what people would decide if placed in my situation and why they would come to that conclusion. Thank you in advanced for your help.
 

BubbaChuck3

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I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to choose between these wonderful schools. However, I am torn between location, feel, prestige (yea, please forgive me) and curriculum. I am currently thinking about Neuro. I am really interested to see what people would decide if placed in my situation and why they would come to that conclusion. Thank you in advanced for your help.
I think the real decision is between Penn and UCSF and that decision I would base on financial aid/cost and preference of location. They are both a wash in term of prestige. You should also keep in mind where you would ultimately like to practice as their is a bias where you land depending in which coast you choose. Although you won't be limited with any of these three choices.Happy choosing.
 

JasonE

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ucsf has one of the best neuro programs in the country, at least for grad school. im guessing there is crossover? even that aside, CA wins
 

mdeast

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If you're really interested in neuro....keep Columbia in mind. They have practically the best neurosurgery and neurology programs in the US....they're match list is ridiculous for neuro/neurosurgery (they had something like 7 people match this year for surgery, which is utterly insane). But also keep in mind, your specialty choice is likely (well..almost definitely likely) to change while in medical school.

Otherwise, I'd personally chose UCSF. It was my first choice going in (but i was rejected pre-interview). It's highly ranked, has great research, a great curriculum, high prestige/ranking, great name on the West Coast. After one year you get IS tuition...so it saves you money. You get to live in SF, quite possibly one of the best cities in the US. Penn is awesome (as is Philly). If you want the university atmosphere and interdisciplinary opportunities then you might want to choose Penn. But, it's difficult to turn down 20k IS tuition vs. 45k at Penn over at least your last 3 years (That's 75K + interest). Your debt load will be way less at the end, and considering they are extremely comparable institutions in fun cities, I'd personally chose the cheaper if I was in your situation.

Personal note: I was waitlisted at Penn and Columbia, but I gave your assessment without any personal bias towards my situation.

Good luck!
 

StIGMA

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This question is really about where you want to live (and what your tuition will cost). Prestige is a wash, and curriculum is not very important compared to living in a place where you will be more happy. Columbia has a new curriculum that is cutting-edge, and UCSF and Penn are great schools as well (disclaimer: I am a first year P&S student). To whoever put the decision between Penn and UCSF - where are you from (oh, Pennsylvania!)? Most people, given the choice, would consider Columbia the more prestigious (or at least equally prestigious) program. Point is, each school will take you where you want to go.

Come to each school's revisit and see where you fit in. The revisit will give you a good feel for the program and will allow you to meet potential classmates (the impact of your classmates on your schooling experience cannot be underestimated).

If you want to live in Cali, this is a no brainer (as the voters for UCSF think). If you want to live on the East coast, see which school/city feels better to you.
 

jbz24

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Reputation-wise, it's UCSF>Penn>Columbia. However, the difference is so minimal that it's not even worth thinking about. The bigger question is location, cost, and happiness, and that is largely a personal decision that you will have to make on your own.
 
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this thread's been open for half an hour and mmmcdowe hasn't commented yet. weird.

ucsf is significantly cheaper, this is no contest
 

mdeast

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This question is really about where you want to live (and what your tuition will cost). Prestige is a wash, and curriculum is not very important compared to living in a place where you will be more happy. Columbia has a new curriculum that is cutting-edge, and UCSF and Penn are great schools as well (disclaimer: I am a first year P&S student). To whoever put the decision between Penn and UCSF - where are you from (oh, Pennsylvania!)? Most people, given the choice, would consider Columbia the more prestigious (or at least equally prestigious) program. Point is, each school will take you where you want to go.

Come to each school's revisit and see where you fit in. The revisit will give you a good feel for the program and will allow you to meet potential classmates (the impact of your classmates on your schooling experience cannot be underestimated).

If you want to live in Cali, this is a no brainer (as the voters for UCSF think). If you want to live on the East coast, see which school/city feels better to you.
Just a note: all three schools have roughly the same curriculum. Columbia just switched to 1.5 year pre-clinical (it isn't "cutting edge" per se)...Penn's been doing that for 10 years and UCSF also recently switched.

To me this is a location, personal fit and cost issue. You can debate the semantics of going to the #3 vs. #5 vs. #10 school, but in all honesty they're all Top 10 with practically the same opportunities.
 

StIGMA

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Just a note: all three schools have roughly the same curriculum. Columbia just switched to 1.5 year pre-clinical (it isn't "cutting edge" per se)...Penn's been doing that for 10 years and UCSF also recently switched.
I agree - fact is most schools do not have these curricula. Columbia finishes the preclinical and "3rd year" in 2.5 years, after which step I is taken. A handful of other school's do this as well, from which Columbia modeled because of their successes.

Agreed on personal fit vs location vs cost.
 

Question123

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While still cheaper, UCSF isn't that much cheaper than other schools (its 30k IS, not 20K)... plus there is a high chance it will increase over the years. Not saying its not a tremendous school (and I may very well go there), but I think you should be cautious if looking at it strictly for financial reasons. source: http://finaid.ucsf.edu/application-process/student-budget
 

bookfreak89

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I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to choose between these wonderful schools. However, I am torn between location, feel, prestige (yea, please forgive me) and curriculum. I am currently thinking about Neuro. I am really interested to see what people would decide if placed in my situation and why they would come to that conclusion. Thank you in advanced for your help.
Why do people always tag on all this apologetic stuff after the word prestige? If you are considering prestige, there is no reason to apologize for it, just say it. Just because the SDN atmosphere is "anti-prestige"/"all about fit"/etc. doesn't mean it isn't a factor that most people do consider.

Anyways, all 3 of those schools are awesome and I would be hard-pressed to choose one. They are all my favorites. :oops:
 

chickensandwich

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3 amazing programs in 3 amazing locations, i really don't think you can go wrong here. for me, personally, it'd be ucsf>columbia>penn, but that translates directly into cali>ny>philly for me. assuming the money is comparable (which i think it will be -- i have a feeling fin aid at columbia and penn will bring it to ~sf price), go with the location you like most!
 

mdeast

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Why do people always tag on all this apologetic stuff after the word prestige? If you are considering prestige, there is no reason to apologize for it, just say it. Just because the SDN atmosphere is "anti-prestige"/"all about fit"/etc. doesn't mean it isn't a factor that most people do consider.

Anyways, all 3 of those schools are awesome and I would be hard-pressed to choose one. They are all my favorites. :oops:
I think people are anti-prestige here for good reasons... Particularly when you have choices between schools with basically undeniably equal opportunities. At that point, "prestige" can cloud judgement in swaying a candidate to pick a school they may be less happy at (for geographical, cost, 'fit' or "people" issues) or regret choosing down the road when they realize that the added prestige really didn't affect much besides their bragging rights. If this really is that important to you (to know you go to a prestigious institution), I understand and acknowledge that should be a part of your decision making process. Everyone does have different things that make them happy.

I think the relative prestige of your medical school (to a small extent) can affect perceptions during residency applications. But, just as in undergrad, students who attend prestigious medical institutions attend prestigious residency programs probably less because of the influence of their own institution and more so because of their personal motivation and drive. Top institutions see a higher number of students at top programs because they have already selected a small group of highly motivated individuals. These students would have achieved the same results at any other less prestigious institution, given the institutions offered similar opportunities (research, travel abroad, etc.).

I'm sure you can argue that point, but from my personal experience...I've met a fair amount residents/fellows at the #1 pediatric institution in America (where I work). Some attended medical school at Harvard, some attended NYMC. I honestly couldn't tell the difference. They were all motivated, smart people and got here because of that.
 
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mmmcdowe

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this thread's been open for half an hour and mmmcdowe hasn't commented yet. weird.

ucsf is significantly cheaper, this is no contest
:laugh:

I'm a big believer in going where you are happy. There is no one perfect school. I'm here to inform about Columbia, but I try not to indoctrinate. It was my top choice, but I try to keep an open mind that SOMEONE out there might not think Columbia is their top choice (I'm getting dizzy just thinking about it). If OP is seriously considering all three schools, the best thing for him or her is to attend second look.
 
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jbz24

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I think people are anti-prestige here for good reasons... Particularly when you have choices between schools with basically undeniably equal opportunities. At that point, "prestige" can cloud judgement in swaying a candidate to pick a school they may be less happy at (for geographical, cost, 'fit' or "people" issues) or regret choosing down the road when they realize that the added prestige really didn't affect much besides their bragging rights. If this really is that important to you (to know you go to a prestigious institution), I understand and acknowledge that should be a part of your decision making process. Everyone does have different things that make them happy.

I think the relative prestige of your medical school (to a small extent) can affect perceptions during residency applications. But, just as in undergrad, students who attend prestigious medical institutions attend prestigious residency programs probably less because of the influence of their own institution and more so because of their personal motivation and drive. Top institutions see a higher number of students at top programs because they have already selected a small group of highly motivated individuals. These students would have achieved the same results at any other less prestigious institution, given the institutions offered similar opportunities (research, travel abroad, etc.).

I'm sure you can argue that point, but from my personal experience...I've met a fair amount residents/fellows at the #1 pediatric institution in America (where I work). Some attended medical school at Harvard, some attended NYMC. I honestly couldn't tell the difference. They were all motivated, smart people and got here because of that.
I think this sums it up pretty well. I just wanted to add that it is fine to take prestige into account. However, if you're comparing such a diverse group of schools (UCSF, Penn, and Columbia are in such different locations), that it is important to take a step back and figure out what environment you will be most happy at and succeed in.
 

bookfreak89

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I think people are anti-prestige here for good reasons... Particularly when you have choices between schools with basically undeniably equal opportunities. At that point, "prestige" can cloud judgement in swaying a candidate to pick a school they may be less happy at (for geographical, cost, 'fit' or "people" issues) or regret choosing down the road when they realize that the added prestige really didn't affect much besides their bragging rights. If this really is that important to you (to know you go to a prestigious institution), I understand and acknowledge that should be a part of your decision making process. Everyone does have different things that make them happy.

I think the relative prestige of your medical school (to a small extent) can affect perceptions during residency applications. But, just as in undergrad, students who attend prestigious medical institutions attend prestigious residency programs probably less because of the influence of their own institution and more so because of their personal motivation and drive. Top institutions see a higher number of students at top programs because they have already selected a small group of highly motivated individuals. These students would have achieved the same results at any other less prestigious institution, given the institutions offered similar opportunities (research, travel abroad, etc.).

I'm sure you can argue that point, but from my personal experience...I've met a fair amount residents/fellows at the #1 pediatric institution in America (where I work). Some attended medical school at Harvard, some attended NYMC. I honestly couldn't tell the difference. They were all motivated, smart people and got here because of that.
I agree with your post and that in this case, prestige doesn't matter. I am not stating that prestige is the end all be all of medical school decisions. Just saying people who post these types of questions shouldn't apologize for considering prestige just to placate the SDN masses. That is all. :D
 

mmmcdowe

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Also, I would like to point out that people are throwing prestige around very loosely. You must really consider what you mean by prestige. Are you talking about layman prestige? Nationally or on a given coast? If you are talking about this kind of national prestige on average I think you are going to find that Ivy overshadows UCSF hands down. If you are talking Columbia vs Penn, it would probably be very close. The small number of people who are familiar with US News rankings and live by them or are big fans of the Penn State UPenn rivalry might say otherwise, but overall I believe you are going to find that most people are going to be relatively ambivalent about it. Given Columbia University's past status of being a HYP contender, there might even be some old guard tilt in that direction. Now, maybe you are talking about prestige in the medical profession. If that is the case, then saying one medical school is more prestigious than another is extremely relative. Like residency programs, medical schools have different specialties that they are well known for producing top candidates for, and even this will be only the opinion of a very limited number of residencies who feed off their residents because of good past experiences. It's all so relative and complicated that I would recommend that everyone simply be satisfied that going to any of these schools is not going to hold you back. Trying to get an edge would require you to know what specialty and residency you want to go into and the strengths of each school and the opinion of each school by that residency.
 

alibai3ah

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Also, I would like to point out that people are throwing prestige around very loosely. You must really consider what you mean by prestige. Are you talking about layman prestige? Nationally or on a given coast? If you are talking about this kind of national prestige on average I think you are going to find that Ivy overshadows UCSF hands down. If you are talking Columbia vs Penn, it would probably be very close. The small number of people who are familiar with US News rankings and live by them or are big fans of the Penn State UPenn rivalry might say otherwise, but overall I believe you are going to find that most people are going to be relatively ambivalent about it. Given Columbia University's past status of being a HYP contender, there might even be some old guard tilt in that direction. Now, maybe you are talking about prestige in the medical profession. If that is the case, then saying one medical school is more prestigious than another is extremely relative. Like residency programs, medical schools have different specialties that they are well known for producing top candidates for, and even this will be only the opinion of a very limited number of residencies who feed off their residents because of good past experiences. It's all so relative and complicated that I would recommend that everyone simply be satisfied that going to any of these schools is not going to hold you back. Trying to get an edge would require you to know what specialty and residency you want to go into and the strengths of each school and the opinion of each school by that residency.
Not true.... In every regard (layman or medical community), UCSF beats the other two in the prestige category. And Penn and Columbia to be quite honest are considered the "lesser" of the ivies. They don't carry as much ivy league respect like the big three (yale, harvard, princeton).

I would pick UCSF in a heartbeat over the other three. Prestige, cost, research, and it's San Francisco!

Although I agree with the rest of your post.
 

guyski79

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Not true.... In every regard (layman or medical community), UCSF beats the other two in the prestige category. And Penn and Columbia to be quite honest are considered the "lesser" of the ivies. They don't carry as much ivy league respect like the big three (yale, harvard, princeton).

I would pick UCSF in a heartbeat over the other three. Prestige, cost, research, and it's San Francisco!

Although I agree with the rest of your post.
I'm going to agree with mmmcdowe.

In my own experience with people outside of the medical field, Columbia has gotten much more of a wow response than UCSF. I base this on my interactions with friends and family members while going through the application process.

The ivy prestige just resonates with a wider range of people IMO.
 

alibai3ah

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I'm going to agree with mmmcdowe.

In my own experience with people outside of the medical field, Columbia has gotten much more of a wow response than UCSF. I base this on my interactions with friends and family members while going through the application process.

The ivy prestige just resonates with a wider range of people IMO.
Hmm...interesting. I'm surprised to hear this. I thought every knew about UCSF, but that might be b/c I'm californian so I might be a bit biased.
 

JohnnyExtra

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Yeah, everyone out here knows UCSF is the king of medicine, king of research, and king of pancrase all in one.
 

MiniMoo

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I'm going to agree with mmmcdowe.

In my own experience with people outside of the medical field, Columbia has gotten much more of a wow response than UCSF. I base this on my interactions with friends and family members while going through the application process.

The ivy prestige just resonates with a wider range of people IMO.
I agree with the bolded. The daughter of family friends is thinking about medicine. Her parents, in response to my observation that CA schools can be a challenge to get into, stated: "Oh well she can also apply to that one UC up north... UCSF? That one isn't that hard to get into is it?"

:rolleyes:
 

mmmcdowe

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In my experience non-medical folk have trouble keeping UCSF and UCSD separate in their heads. Most people who don't know much about universities are going to focus on the overall name of the institution. UCSF is lacking in this department regardless of its strength in the medical circle. Don't give the population as a whole that much credit in the time they spend thinking about this sort of thing. "Lesser Ivy" is something almost entirely exclusive to F. Scott Fitzgerald and those embroiled in the education system. It would not surprise me in the least if, when polled, the second most known Ivy League was Cornell solely due to The Office.
 

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Note: I might be slightly biased :)

To me it only matters what the residency directors think about a school. If you look at the US News rankings, UCSF is the only program in the country in the top five. A big portion of the rankings comes from residency director views of the programs. I think of the three schools, UCSF is the most balanced in their strengths. Penn is close behind, and Columbia third.

Just choose what city you will be happiest and go there. All three of these are amazing.
 

jbz24

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Note: I might be slightly biased :)

To me it only matters what the residency directors think about a school. If you look at the US News rankings, UCSF is the only program in the country in the top five. A big portion of the rankings comes from residency director views of the programs. I think of the three schools, UCSF is the most balanced in their strengths. Penn is close behind, and Columbia third.

Just choose what city you will be happiest and go there. All three of these are amazing.
Except Penn is ranked higher... :confused:
 

mmmcdowe

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Note: I might be slightly biased :)

To me it only matters what the residency directors think about a school. If you look at the US News rankings, UCSF is the only program in the country in the top five. A big portion of the rankings comes from residency director views of the programs. I think of the three schools, UCSF is the most balanced in their strengths. Penn is close behind, and Columbia third.

Just choose what city you will be happiest and go there. All three of these are amazing.
Columbia, Penn, and UCSF all have 4.4 rankings by residency directors for research, so UCSF's higher research ranking can't be claimed to be from that. Primary care rankings are a total wash, but it is true that UCSF does have a higher primary care rating by residency director than Penn's. Columbia, being the uber specialized haven that it is, is not listed but I imagine that it is also true. Honestly though, the primary care rankings are a weird and ultra variable deal.
 
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JasonE

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you guys are debating a lexus vs mercedes vs bmw. theres really no point. plus the rankings arent even static
 
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Columbia, Penn, and UCSF all have 4.4 rankings by residency directors for research, so UCSF's higher research ranking can't be claimed to be from that. Primary care rankings are a total wash, but it is true that UCSF does have a higher primary care rating by residency director than Penn's. Columbia, being the uber specialized haven that it is, is not listed but I imagine that it is also true. Honestly though, the primary care rankings are a weird and ultra variable deal.

where are you guys getting these statistics?
 

mmmcdowe

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Hmm...interesting. I'm surprised to hear this. I thought every knew about UCSF, but that might be b/c I'm californian so I might be a bit biased.
Well I agree with alibai. The people I know give UCSF way more WOW than Columbia.

But then again...all the people I know are Californians.
I still think in terms of prestige (at least among the educated laymen), UCSF has the crown.

In the end, we're talking about top tier schools brimming with prestige. Does it really matter?
 
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