Pitt vs Cornell

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Jul 28, 2023
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Hi everyone, I have been really stuck deciding between Pitt and Cornell. I’m extremely grateful for getting where I am, and I know I would be happy/successful at both of these schools. They both hit the big trends of research in diverse NE cities with a curriculum that supports time for both independent research and peer based collaboration. Yes, I know there is no such thing as the perfect school, but the further I compare these schools (research and talking to students), the further I feel lost.

Currently, ortho, immunology, neurology, and IM are all paths I could see myself pursuing.

Please let me know if you have any advice, thoughts, or experiences with either of these schools or in general! I would truly appreciate it. Thank you!



  • Great research opportunities (Easier for external funding and internal funding b/c UPMC is king in that area) !!
  • Good vibe of accepted and current students at second look
  • Nice new facilities (materialistic lol)
  • Undergrad campus and community is nice to have (comes with better facilities)
  • Flex weeks = break weeks for self-driven learning or vacation
  • Enjoy new structure of small group learning but also seems like it could be a lot
  • No ranking / aoa at all → seems much more laid back, collaborative, and chill in comparison
  • I don’t fully hate Pittsburgh, but definitely not as great as a city as NYC, rains a lot, somewhat far from east coast/family/SO
  • Mandatory In person team based learning every single day and lots of prework (8-12 generally) → seems like it could lead to burnout
  • Other miscellaneous things like CAP that are not really helpful



  • NYC!! Awesome city
    • from NJ → friends, family, SO in NYC/NJ area
    • Enjoy idea of being able to take a train ride home
    • UES is chill in comparison to rest of NYC
  • Great research opportunities (Tri-I, MSK, HSS) !!
  • Associated with specialty oriented institutions (considering ortho but not completely sure)
  • Balance of mandatory in person and non mandatory lecture stuff → seems easier for me since my sleep schedule varies occasionally and I’ve gotten used to 2-3x speed lectures
  • Subsidized housing (but honestly not excited about Olin hall)
  • Most diverse, urban patient population in NYC (but I’d have to make an effort to rotate outside of just the affluent UES)
  • Weekly p/f quizzes (not always on Fridays) to hold me accountable ?
  • Crowded city → not as many open fields / greenery / no real campus (enjoyed this aspect of Pitt)
  • Can be quite competitive for external funding (lots of nyc med students for limited spots)
  • some internal ranking / AOA
  • Some students seemed more stressed and or competitive
  • Weekly p/f quizzes (not always on Fridays) could take up weekends for studying
Neutral: Couldn’t make it to Cornell second look → apparently there's a decent vibe ?

  • No financial aid from either
  • Considering taking a research year (into computational biomedicine research)
  • Feel like I may more of a work hard play hard person that aligns well with hustle bustle of NYC

Summary: I think I’ll enjoy life outside of school more at Cornell with SO/family/friends being in NJ/NYC and of course the city. I’m not entirely sure about in-school though. Weekly exams and AOA made it seem like Cornell students were more stressed while Pitt was more laid back and chill. Please let me know what you think! Thank you!

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Disclaimer is I am on WL and Cornell and A at Pitt -- but am going to commit to a third school and withdraw from both. I was super drawn to the culture at Pitt. All of the current students I talked to will extremely relaxed, well rounded, non-gunner type of people. On the other hand, the Cornell students I have interacted with seem to be significantly more stressed due to the testing schedule. My takeaway was that it would be difficult to enjoy the perks of NYC and I personally preferred the more laid back Pitt environment ! Plus, Pitt med students are definitely big fish in a smaller pond, and are competing with a lot fewer people for research opportunities, which stuck out to me
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Pitt. I liked second look at Pitt a lot and will definitely miss UPMC.

(A at Pitt and did not apply to Cornell but turning down Pitt for another school)
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I think Cornell will be a bit more stressful given the weekly exams, AOA, etc. but I think it could also be worth it to be close your support system in exchange!