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Research position versus Ivy League

Discussion in 'hSDN' started by MomToResearcher, Aug 3, 2011.

  1. MomToResearcher

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    I have a daughter in eleventh grade who will be graduating a year early from high school with one year of college credit (dual-enrolled at a private university, not CC). She is looking at undergraduate college options with the goal of obtaining a DVM/PhD or MD/PhD to do research. She has been doing research at the state vet school for two years and is treated the same as the graduate students, including attending and presenting at a journal club. The professor she works with helped her apply and receive research grants for the past two summers and she was a poster presenter, as the first author, at an international conference. If she attends the state university affiliated with the vet school, she can continue to work in the same lab. The other option would be to try to go to an Ivy League school like Harvard, but she would still have to go four years (they won’t let you use your credits to graduate early) and wouldn’t be guaranteed a research position. Should she stick with the great opportunity she has which would give her a lot of research experience to go on her vet school/medical school application or would she be better off having an undergraduate degree from somewhere like Harvard? How hard would it be to get a similar research position in undergraduate school?
     
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  3. mud91

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    I would say the state school where she is at right now. People at big universities have difficulty finding research if they are undergrads. Even if they do find it, they will mostly get trained by the post-docs or graduate students and will be more closer to other people than the actual professor. Since you mentioned that she is close to her research professor now, I would say just continue with that. I go to a state in NC and I had some hard time finding a research mentor but now it's all good and I found a professor and have been working with him since last year. He also helped me write a proposal for research grant and I'm already a co-author of a publication. But I know people who go to Yale, UNC, and Princeton and they're having difficulties finding mentors just because they're undergrads. So, just to summarize, I would go with the state school.

    Sorry for a long post!:(
     
  4. I'm No Superman

    I'm No Superman Crushin' scones
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    What does she want to do? It is her life after all. You can't be certain that she would get into Harvard, or any other Ivy school for that matter. It sounds like your daughter has a great gig at home, and if she gets accepted into Harvard or Princeton and wants to go there, she should go there.
     
  5. voidlogin

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    I went to an Ivy and I would say there are positives and negatives.
    +: It's easy to find research and do research. Most universities have summer research fellowships set up and if you're interested, you'll have no problem finding research. (in my 2nd year, I just emailed professors and asked them if I could work with them.)

    Negatives: When it comes to med school app, they place a lot of emphasis on college grades. It's harder to get high grades in a good univ since everyone else is also smart and you're graded on a curve. It's better to have a 4.0 from small univ vs 3.0 from an Ivy.

    I agree with other poster about "what does she want?" For example, in NYC, there's 7 yr college-MD programs. But they have 50% dropout rate, since most students went there cause their parents pushed them.
     
  6. HH Holmes

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    Let her decide, and don't be an overbearing parent. Assuming that she is a part of the decision making process, continuing her research at a state school or applying to Ivy Leagues will not affect her admission chances into any DVM/MD/PhD programs. Like it has been said before on these boards, where a student went to undergrad has little to no effect on the admission decision at a school.

    Choose the best for your wallet, but more importantly what she feels comfortable doing.
     
  7. MomToResearcher

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    Thanks. I probably am an overbearing parent :), but since she is homeschooled, that leaves me in the position of also being her college counselor. She would like to go to Harvard, but I worry that she will not get the same kind of research position. Neither of us knows if the situation she has now is normal or highly unusual, since it is all she has been exposed to. I’m assuming it’s highly unusual and she is assuming that it is normal. How to pay for Harvard is also a definite problem. She would not get enough financial aid to make it anywhere close to the cost of a state school. I think she should save the money to graduate with less debt and she just knows she wants to go to Harvard. I think the somewhat easier school would be less pressure with more time for fun, but she just knows she wants to go to Harvard. I am encouraging her to read the forum questions and answers on the blog because ultimately it is her life and does have to be her decision, but when you are sixteen you do need some adult guidance. Thanks again for the help.
     
  8. ElCapone

    ElCapone Don't Lawyer Me
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    Agreed. They say that as we teens get older, the more we realize that our parents are right.
     
  9. I'm No Superman

    I'm No Superman Crushin' scones
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    I think that you should have your daughter research colleges more. I don't know how much thought she has put into choosing a college, but everyone wants to go to Harvard. Harvard was the only school I wanted to go to until I actually did research on it, and other colleges, and found out that Harvard wasn't the best fit for me. For instance, I'd choose Princeton over Harvard in a heartbeat, now that I know more about both colleges, but I'd pick University of Michigan over both of those schools, because it has amazing opportunities in the areas of study that interest me. Harvard is just a name, and after medical school/vet school, no one cares where you went to undergrad.

    Also, if shes 100% sure she wants to go to Harvard, and gets in, paying for it shouldn't be a problem. Yeah it'll cost more than a state college, but they have one of the best financial aid programs in the country.

     
  10. voidlogin

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    To be honest, when I was in HS, I didn't know what I wanted to be. Thank god my parents pushed me.

    I also think people care too much about the Ivy league name. Econ 101 was the same in my school as in every other school. You get the same education everywhere (except of course bottom of the barrel party schools). The only difference is if you want to do some cutting edge research, then go to a big univ.
     
    #9 voidlogin, Aug 4, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2011
  11. bucks2010

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    ^^^^ this.

    Honestly, if she has it in her mind that she would only be happy at Harvard -- you probably need to prepare her for a lesson in humility. As Gamma said... everyone wants to go to Harvard. I didn't apply to IL schools for undergrad, but if it's anything like medical school applications, it is a random and humbling process.

    Personally, I would take debt into serious consideration when making the final decision between undergraduate institutions (unless you are footing the bill for all of this and are OK with that). I went to a little-known (but not "directional") state school for undergrad and don't regret it at all. Should I have the choice of attending an expensive medical school (for which it is much more difficult to get a full-ride like in undergrad), I think being debt-free from undergrad will give me a little more peace of mind financially. My state school, though not prestigious at all, does send people to very well-reputed medical schools. If I do not get accepted to the most selective schools I applied to, it will be because I didn't take enough advantage of the resources my school provided, not because my school did not have the resources I needed.
     
  12. Dbate

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    I don't go to Harvard, but if it is anything like my school (Yale), it will be VERY, VERY, VERY easy for her to get a position like the one she has now.

    When you go to a good school, people assume you are very smart and therefore give you alot of autonomy. Your daughter would be making a very poor choice, if she decided not to even apply to Harvard because of a research position that is very common and extremely easy to come by.


    Make sure she applies and let her know that it is EXTREMELY easy to get research positions at top schools. From my experience (and the experiences of ALOT of others), you just email a professor and say you are interested in their work, then they let you work in their lab. I was even given my own research project and I had never worked in a formal research lab before. Your daughter will be fine.
     
  13. ElCapone

    ElCapone Don't Lawyer Me
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    +1. It's easier at the top schools because they flooded with research grant money. But going to a lower ranked school won't make it significantly harder. Just ask a lot of professors using the shotgun approach, interview with those you meet, ask for your independent project, and you're in.

    Yup. Did the same thing you did and I'm extremely happy I made the decision to go to an instate school and graduate debt free.
     

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