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state school vs. ivy??

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by DrNo1, Mar 14, 2012.

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  1. DrNo1

    DrNo1 2+ Year Member

    Mar 14, 2012
    Ok, here's my issue:

    I am a freshman at a regionally renowned state school in NY (SUNY Geneseo), with the ultimate goal of becoming a doc. after undergrad. I also got accepted as a transfer to Cornell, meaning that I could continue studying there as a Biological Sciences/pre-med major starting next semester.

    Aside from the difference in price-tag of both schools, does the name really make a difference? Would it increase my chances of getting into med-school if I transferred to Cornell and got good grades there, as opposed to staying at the easier and less acknowledged school, Geneseo, and getting really good grades?

    I would appreciate it if you could share some insight and experience on this if you have it. I need to make a decision soon and I don't know what to do :(
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  3. Barcu

    Barcu 2+ Year Member

    Jul 17, 2010
    Good grades and MCAT score will do the trick no matter where you go to school.

    Sure, the name may help a bit. But also think about the opportunities. Do you like the location of the schools? The student body and size? The nearby hospitals, organizations, etc for volunteering? Research opportunities? It's not always about where you go, it's about what you do there.

    There are so many more considerations than just name. Name can be a benefit, but it really is pretty minor in the grand scheme of things.

    Having said all that, cheap is good, especially if you are taking out loans.
  4. torshi

    torshi Squirrel 5+ Year Member

    Oct 26, 2010
    Just score very high on the MCAT and good GPA, excellent EC's then you have the same or even better chances than kids at ivies
  5. Shmemifly

    Shmemifly 5+ Year Member

    May 21, 2011
    No matter how stellar a student you are, you almost certainly won't get as good of grades at Cornell as you will at SUNY Geneseo, AND Cornell will cost more. Consider that fact very, very closely.
  6. brahms11

    brahms11 7+ Year Member

    Jul 31, 2009
    Cornell will definitely open doors in many ways. Grade deflation is a fairly important issue there, though. That said, Cornell will provide a very different intellectual environment. Try to arrange a stay with a current student to see what life and classes there are like. IMHO go where you will be happiest and challenged best as long as the financial and practical considerations work out.
  7. gonnif

    gonnif Only 1140 Days Until Next Presidential Election Lifetime Donor 7+ Year Member

    Jul 26, 2009
    The Big Bad Apple
    The perceived importance of a school's prestige upon a student's application to medical school is significantly out of proportion with its actual influence. As previous posters have stated, doing well in GPA and MCAT is vitally more important. Additionally, there is something to be said for the benefit of being at a school where the intensity and competition are less than at a institution filled with "cut throat" premedical students. Being a top or near-top student from your current SUNY school would be much more impressive than say, a middle of the pack student from a more "prestigious" school. I would also suspect involvement in say the premed club, local volunteering, having access to professors, etc would be easier as well. And you might actually enjoy school more as well.
  8. sliceofbread136

    sliceofbread136 5+ Year Member

    Nov 5, 2011
    Any positive impact of the prestige of a school is vastly overshadowed by how happy you are with your school. Go where you want to be, success will follow!
  9. Stumpyman

    Stumpyman 5+ Year Member

    Jun 29, 2011
    I say go to Cornell if you like the environment there and feel you will get a better undergrad experience there. Don't do it just for the supposed "preference" for medical school admissions... Do keep in mind that Cornell also has some serious grade deflation, and keeping a GPA above even 3.5 is fairly tough.
  10. dartmed

    dartmed 7+ Year Member

    Jul 10, 2010
    Did you apply to other schools besides Cornell? Did you ever think about schools like University of Virginia or University of Georgia? The only reason why I mention these schools is because they are fairly reputable schools with "fair" grading systems with vast variety of opportunities. I chose similar schools like UVA and UGA in the Midwest...and boy, I have been milking the university for all it's worth. Even though my classes have been fairly demanding, I have been able to spend a great deal of time on my extracurriculars. For instance, I have four publications because I was able to devote that much time into research while maintaining a fairly decent GPA.

    At the end of the day, I think adcoms would rather choose someone with a 3.75+ with 34+ MCAT with amazing extracurriculars over someone with 3.4+ and 34+ MCAT from Cornell with very little ec.

    I would be extremely cautious if you were to eventually go to Cornell. For one, there is grade deflation. Performing well in pre-medical courses will be extremely difficult, which means you will be a heck of a lot of time studying in the library. This WILL cut into extracurricular time (i.e. research, leadership, non-clinic volunteering, clinical volunteering, etc.). There are a number of students out there that went to state schools that ended-up in top tier medical schools. And there are also a number of students who went to top-tier medical schools that got screwed because of grade deflation. Make sure you know what you are getting yourself into.
  11. byaaaaaaah23

    byaaaaaaah23 SDN Gold Donor Gold Donor 5+ Year Member

    Jul 31, 2011
    I was in your exact situation: I enrolled as a freshman at a large, reputable flagship public school in the Northeast and transferred to an Ivy after my freshman year.

    Ultimately, I would say go wherever you will be happier-- I was really miserable at my first school so the move was the right choice for me. My grades definitely took a bit of a hit (I had a 4.0 my first year and now my cumulative is down to ~3.8) but socially, academically, I am much happier. Sometimes I wonder if it would have been a better move (in terms of applications) to stay at my first school and get a 4.0, but the opportunities I have had at my new school just couldn't be matched at the state school. I think my application will be more impressive coming from my second school (and it doesn't hurt that the medical school associated with it takes a lot of its own students), but that alone isn't worth the move if it will make you miserable.

    Overall, it really won't matter too much where you graduate from, but you should look at the courses at Cornell and see how feasible it will be for you to take the classes you want and graduate on time (Luckily all of my courses transferred but I would have been in a sticky situation if not).

    edit: If financial aid is a consideration, then you should absolutely stay at Geneseo if it's cheaper. If my fin aid package had sucked, I would have stayed at my current school. I found that aid for transfer students was significantly limited at other schools I was accepted at compared to when I had applied as a freshman (I applied to similar schools, but not the same ones so this may also have been the reason there was such a disparity in the packages), except at my current institution, which is currently about the same price as I would have paid at my state school, even including a merit scholarship. I was very lucky on this front, but it could have just as easily go the other way.

    Make sure the environment at Cornell is what you want as well (people I know who go there say it is very isolated in winter and Greek life is pretty much what student life consists of).

    Good luck to you! Feel free to PM me if you want specifics/have more questions :)
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2012
  12. DrNo1

    DrNo1 2+ Year Member

    Mar 14, 2012
    No I didn't apply to other well known state schools. Cornell gave me a guaranteed transfer option my senior year in HS, which means that I had to maintain a 3.5 and take certain classes, before transferring there for fall 2012. Thanks for the advice! :)
  13. Signifier

    Signifier 7+ Year Member

    Apr 22, 2010
    Go to where you'll be a happier, more productive student. It doesn't matter where you go to school, it matters how well you do and how well you distinguish yourself. And Geneseo is a great school.

    Also, consider Ithaca's suicide rate.
  14. MossyFiber

    MossyFiber 2+ Year Member

    Feb 22, 2012
    I transferred from a very expensive, well known private college out of state to a smaller state school to save money. I'm glad I did. The only issues I'm having are finding classes that are challenging / high enough level for me. If you can't take the classes you want at your state U. or otherwise can't find the opportunities you want, then transferring makes sense. Otherwise, you probably want to stay where you are. Ivies are sorta overrated for undergrad work in my opinion / experience.
  15. RogueUnicorn

    RogueUnicorn rawr. 7+ Year Member

    Jul 15, 2009
    go to cornell. this is not even a question. seriously.
  16. dmf2682

    dmf2682 Banned 2+ Year Member

    May 29, 2011
    Rocket Scientist
    It pains me to say this because I despise Cornell, but they do have a very strong bio department. In addition I believe their life sciences/ag school is state subsidized. So if you think you can do well there, I'd say go.
  17. DrNo1

    DrNo1 2+ Year Member

    Mar 14, 2012
    thanks for the advice, lostintranscrip and everybody else!! It seems that the majority of people are suggesting that I go check it out and see what sort of opportunities they have there, and to see whether I like it.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2012
  18. TexasPhysician

    TexasPhysician SDN Moderator 7+ Year Member

    Sep 1, 2008
    Which school is cheaper? Getting into med school is all about what you accomplish - not where you accomplish it at.
  19. Megatron2016

    Megatron2016 5+ Year Member

    Jan 7, 2012
    I wouldn't agree with this 100%. I just went through the application process and fared much better than my best friend, who also just went through it. Our stats are nearly identical (his are very slightly better), we are the same race and sex, and our EC's are pretty comparable. The major difference is I went to a college that is considered more prestigious.

    You can get into med school from any decent college and having good stats and being a well rounded applicant are by far the most important things, but to think that prestige of undergrad school will not give you a leg up (other things being equal, of course) is wrong.

    I can't say whether or not to transfer. If you believe you'll do just as well or better at Cornell and are comfortable with the increase in price, go for it. But if you decide to stay at your current school, that will not stop you from becoming a doctor if you take care of business.
  20. ppfizenm

    ppfizenm 2+ Year Member

    Jul 2, 2010
    30 Rock
    don't go just for the prestige.
  21. notoriousmoops

    notoriousmoops Member 2+ Year Member

    Apr 5, 2009
    Greenwich, CT
    Check your inbox for a PM- I was in your shoes 3 years ago.

    Go Ivy and don't look back
  22. neurotroph

    neurotroph 5+ Year Member

    Aug 1, 2011
    If you know that you'll be happier at Cornell and the price tag won't be too much of an issue for you, definitely transfer. Prestige won't necessarily make the process better for you, but being in a more comfortable environment can.
  23. kpcrew

    kpcrew Banned Banned 2+ Year Member

    Apr 20, 2010
    going to a prestigious school is a selection identifier. people see the name "cornell" on your degree and can assume that you're an intelligent person. this doesn't happen with suny geneseo and it's a phenomenon that sticks with you for the rest of your life. it's less relevant as time goes on and as you achieve higher degrees but name value is far from worthless. chances are, the people you meet at an ivy league school are more likely to be motivated and successful in the future. then again, i hear the grades are relatively low and that's a rather important consideration for when medical school applications come around. it's not impossible but you will be competing against higher caliber students in all of your classes as well.
  24. Danbo1957

    Danbo1957 7+ Year Member

    Feb 17, 2008
    Austin, Texas
    There is no question here to be answered. :laugh:

    "Where in the Hell is Genesco?" That's what everyone else will be thinking. Getting a degree at Cornell is worth gold, just in itself-- and it will open doors for you for the rest of your life.
  25. ChristianTroy1


    Aug 8, 2011
    Isn't it a shame that the medical school game is now "Go to the worst school you get into to get the best GPA." It's really sad what medical school admissions are turning into these days. "Yeah I'm so smart, I go to a low-tier school and have a 3.96." Just keep telling yourself that low-level college people.

    Go to Cornell if you want to grow as a person and discover new things about yourself. Cornell is going to challenge the very core of your intellectual being, since you will be surrounded by a much higher educated group of students who all want the 4.0 GPA. Stay at your lower-level school if you want to get into medical school.

    This is coming from someone who transferred into one of the most competitive pre-med schools in the nation and whose GPA has suffered by .3 for it. I just realized the school I go to is in my location, so all school anonymity is gone. lol.
  26. searun

    searun 5+ Year Member

    Jul 31, 2006
    I don't think that the name, "Cornell", is going to blow anyone away. I would compare the proximity and quality of the local watering holes before you make your decision. Also factor into your decision, the quality of local pizza, and fried chicken. You would be surprised how much pizza and fried chicken will affect the quality of your life as a college student. Also consider how good the local tap water is - I hate drinking crappy tap water and it makes your coffee taste like crap in the morning and makes the whole wake up process miserable, even if you have good coffee to grind, also tea, if you are a tea afficionado. Water is very important.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2012
  27. Chops369

    Chops369 7+ Year Member

    Aug 18, 2009
    Isn't Cornell notorious for GPA deflation?
  28. StoicJosher

    StoicJosher Reality?? Check. Lifetime Donor 2+ Year Member

    May 17, 2011

  29. candav

    candav 5+ Year Member

    Oct 11, 2010
    Just to add a dissenting opinion here: for college, I had a choice between a very highly ranked private school in the US and a reputable public university in Canada. I chose the cheaper option. If you consider college to be only a stepping stone to medical school, then you might say that I made the right choice; I'm in. But I have many friends who went on to highly ranked American undergrads, and they've had experiences and opportunities that were never accessible to me at my massive, perpetually cash-strapped public school. And I think they've become better, stronger, more well-rounded people because of it.

    So, if you're interested in the journey and the intangibles, I'd suggest you carefully consider what opportunities you're looking for and which school would best meet these goals.

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