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State Schools vs. Private Schools

Discussion in 'Pre-Veterinary' started by cyrille104, Mar 4, 2007.

  1. cyrille104

    cyrille104 2+ Year Member

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    I'm opening this thread on sundoggie's suggestion - I would like to get people's opinions on whether or not the reputation of a private vet schools makes a difference. Certainly there are many fields within veterinary medicine, and in some fields it may matter more. Also, opinions on where in the country it matters more (East Coast only?).

    This thread is not to talk about the quality of the programs, as it varies depending on the school, not whether it is private.

    I believe that going to the name schools Penn, Cornell, or Tufts holds weight. Not in every area, but certainly research. Just some responses from the other thread:


    I'm not discounting the quality of anyone's program - that's not my argument. What I'm saying is that the reputation of a school holds weight, whether you acknowledge or not, whether you're on the east coast, in the midwest, or in California. Penn and Cornell are ivy league schools - they are recognized as top-notch.

    I posted this once before, but Linda Dow (of Dow chemicals) herself said that they pay more to vets who come from name schools, and they get funded more easily.


    As a side note, I'm not just picking a fight here. I have to choose between Penn and Illinois (and maybe Tufts?), and I haven't completely made up my mind yet, so I'm looking for both sides of the argument.
     
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  3. hoodle

    hoodle UC-Davis DVM/PhD 2+ Year Member

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    I think the issue revolves around what field you'll be going into. Here's how I see it. If you are planning on being a standard dog/cat vet, or even a farm vet (horse, or large animal) - but you're planning on working locally, with clients who are normal people with pets, I don't think where you go makes a lot of difference.

    In fact, I've heard that in my home state of Washington, vets who do NOT graduate from WSU have a harder time getting a "standard" job. There's an alumni connection, a "you're one of us" connection that can't be beat, if the focus of the job you're trying to get is NOT bringing in grant money (research) or doing anything on the federal/state side (food supply, CDC stuff, etc). As far as that goes, I think if someone's goal is to be a local vet interacting directly with local clients, go to the state school! You'll save money, and their networking abilities is targeted to people like yourself. Our small animal vet, for example, out of 10 vets employed, 8 went to WSU, 1 to Davis, and 1 to Michigan. Clearly, going to WSU will not hold you back.

    Flip side of that: if you're planning on being involved in veterinary medicine above the level of local animal practice, I think national reputation of the school does matter, in part because, by definition, you will be interacting with NON-LOCAL (ie, national) personel. Academia similarly transcends state-affiliation, mostly because it relies on funding from places like NIH, etc, which will be looking at grants from every state.

    Punch line: go to the school that best represents your interest. Kansas state will teach you how to doctor animals in Kansas the best, and will also put you in contact with a vast network of local vets who will be useful. Also, clients will be familiar with Kansas - maybe someone sent confusingly lame horse there to get worked up - and be happy to know that you are one of them, that you fit in their world. Cornell, by contrast, seems very far away! But, if you want to be involved in academia, Cornell is Ivy League. Cornell is near the best in many fields. It's up to you!

    Addendum: UC-Davis is in the interesting position, I think, in that it's both "local" and "intellectual", in part because California is such a big and wealthy state and Davis is historically the hub of veterninary medicine for the whole of the West Coast, plus WSU (but Davis manages to be more impressive). Two schools monopolizing a whole coast! Maybe 20 years from now, with OSU and Western, reputations will change a bit.
     
  4. ri23

    ri23 OSU CVM Class of 2011 7+ Year Member

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    I think that it is more dependent on the quality of the programs. Penn and Cornell are looked highly upon because they have fantastic vet programs, not because they are private schools. Though Tufts is a good vet school, it's usually not ranked as highly as Penn/Cornell vet programs, while several state schools are ranked higher. I don't think that a Tufts graduate would be considered more marketable than one of those state school graduates just because they went to a private, "big name" school.

    As for research, it is not my area of interest, so I really don't know that my opinion should hold much weight. I imagine that name recognition might give a slight boost, but I firmly believe it is up to the individual. I feel that an ambitious, hard working person will be successful no matter where they go. I'm not saying that if you say you graduated from Penn people won't be impressed, I just think that the people who are giving out research grants and internships are intelligent enough to look beyond a big name, and focus their interest on the applicant/proposal.

    I think that the private vs. state school debate isn't as big in vet school as it is in law school and medical school partly because of the state residency factor. Because most schools fill the majority of their class from their state, I don't see how someone that was hiring/deciding on research money etc. could reasonably say that someone that has lived in Pennsylvania or New York and therefore went to UPenn or Cornell would be a better recipient for a job or research money than someone who happened to grow up in a state with a state vet school. Hopefully my little rant makes sense, they so rarely do ;) .
     
  5. silverelf

    silverelf Tufts Class of 2011 2+ Year Member

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    i think the quality of the program and your interests are what really matter. You might get Penn, one of the "big name" schools...but if you walked out of Penn a wildlife vet with no caseload experience, your future employers would laugh at you and hire someone from a state school with *actual* experience
     
  6. kate_g

    kate_g Senior Member 2+ Year Member

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    So... I think to some extent you may be confusing "big-name" with "private".

    Would you get more funding and better research jobs coming out of Western than Davis? Davis is a public university, but I believe is pretty consistently #1 out of all the vet schools in terms of research funding brought in by their faculty. Other qualifications and experience being equal, I really can't imagine that anyone coming out of Davis has any kind of disadvantage in comparison to graduates of Cornell, Penn, and Tufts - unless, perhaps, it's a well-entrenched northeasterner doing the hiring.

    I think part of the situation you're seeing - where people put a lot of stock in the private schools being better - might be geographic. It just so happens that the three vet schools on the east coast north of the Mason-Dixon Line are private, two of them are located at Ivy League universities, and they're all pretty high on the "big-name" list (based on general reputation, not US News ranking). It is therefore probably true, since people tend to stay pretty local once they're settled, that a majority of vets currenlty practicing in the northeast went to a school that is both big-name and private. No wonder there's an assumption in that region that they're better than the public schools. :)

    Oh, and by the way, actually... Penn's web site says that there are three private vet schools in the country. They're one of them, and Western is another. Tufts' web site (on a press release from 2002, before Western existed) says they're one of two. So Cornell must not count as private as far as either of them are concerned.

    Does that eliminate Cornell as a big-name school in your opinion? :smuggrin:
     
  7. 4theanimals

    4theanimals 2+ Year Member

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    Here is what I find intersting about your comments on Western and Davis - Davis has more money than Westerm so it's research opportunities are better. Your probably right about the money part. But perhaps since Western is a smaller pond (so to speak) you actually get more hands on opportunities to do research. I have no idea if this is true, but it was what immediately came to mind. And if you conduct ground breaking research I don't think it will matter where you did it.

    An equine vet I worked with graduated from Ross. She ended up getting a prestigious equine surgery internship on the east coast. She felt her Ross schooling offered some challenges but nothing that would stop her.

    Now, maybe it's the part of the country etc. and the fact that I'm involved in small animal. But I've NEVER had a potential client call and ask where the DVM graduated from. Nor do I think the average client would even have any idea how schools compare. If you want to practice in CA going to another school definitely doesn't hold you back. Davis can't pump out the numer of vets we need here and a good portion of the vets I run into were educated somewhere else.

    I guess bottom line - if prestige matters to you, than choose who you think is prestigious. But I definitely wouldn't go to a school just because of their name. It can be the best school in the world, but if your not happy then it's the worst. And that would reflect in your grades, experiences, etc.
     
  8. cyrille104

    cyrille104 2+ Year Member

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    Sorry, I wasn't considering Western. I was using big-name and private interchangeably because Tufts, Cornell, and Penn are both big names and private schools. Also, there's obviously a discrepancy between Penn and Tuft's versions of the story. Now that I think about it, I'm not really talking about private schools here per se - I'm more talking about going to a school that has an exceptional reputation. You're right that Davis also has an excellent reputation, as do all UC schools. The same goes for UW Madison. And Cornell might not be private for all I know...but it certainly is an ivy league school.

    I'm not really looking for the exceptions to the rule, the public schools that also have good reputations. I'm more talking about things like my case: Penn, an ivy league school vs. Illinois, also a good school but not really well known outside of Illinois.
     
  9. Tsuki

    Tsuki UTK CVM Class of 2011 2+ Year Member

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    Most people don't know this but 4 colleges at Cornell are part of the SUNY (State University of New York) system. The CVM just happens to one of those schools. So, technically, it is a state school :)
     
  10. kate_g

    kate_g Senior Member 2+ Year Member

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    4theanimals, I think you may have confused me with someone who thinks that school prestige is important. :) My Western/Davis comparison was purely an argument against "private is inherently better." I didn't want to replicate all my comments from the other thread, but over there I had said that in academics and research (which is Cyrille's stated interest), who you've worked with and what you've done easily trump where you did it. And there are *lots* of cases of otherwise mediocre universities with one really stellar department - if that's your field, then its status elsewhere doesn't matter. However... There *is* a correlation between great research and the overall big-name, well-funded schools. Those schools can recruit the top faculty, and those faculty pull in further funding for the school...

    (In my experience the "smaller pond, better access for the little fish" theory holds for very early research experiences - getting your fins wet, as it were. But once you've got extensive experience, as Cyrille would seem to, going to the place with the best faculty works more in your favor as far as future job prospects go.)

    I totally agree that where you went makes no difference to (almost all of) your clients in private practice. Could make some difference to the person hiring you, but *hopefully* your demonstrated performance would far outweigh having gone to a "non-prestigious" school - as with your colleague from Ross.
     
  11. cyrille104

    cyrille104 2+ Year Member

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    Come on...haven't you ever moved someplace new, needed a doctor or specialist, looked online, and chosen the doctor with the best pedigree? I have, and I know other people do it, too...at least in NJ :p
     
  12. dvm'08

    dvm'08 Member 7+ Year Member

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    i think the school you graduate from is irrelevant. what's going to determine your post graduate opportunities are your letters of reference, and the quality of your work. full stop. Residency positions are determined by your internship year, not your undergraduate work. In my opinion, you should go to the school where you're going to have the most fun for your 4 years of vet school... it'll make a potentially miserable experience much more enjoyable!
     
  13. kate_g

    kate_g Senior Member 2+ Year Member

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    Nope. Not even when I lived in NJ. ;) Mostly I've chosen them based on convenient location and the fact that they take my (always dirt-cheap HMO-style) health insurance. But I *have* chosen the one with the best recommendations on a university-run (non-commercial, bad reviews not censored) recommendation and review site. I say that's worth more than a pedigree any day.
     
  14. kate_g

    kate_g Senior Member 2+ Year Member

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    See, I think this has to be one of those "depends on the field" things. Illinois (the university as a whole) is huge, and there are fields in which it has a reputation at least as good as Penn's, and probably some where it's better.

    But the fact that that's true for some fields doesn't make it relevant to you. If in your field, the two schools have very different qualities of reputation, then going to the "better" school in your field can't hurt, and could help. But that's not a public/private issue or an Ivy League/Big Ten issue or even a decision based on some overall perception of prestige. It's just a matter of which school is better for your chosen field.

    In your case, it sounds like the school that happens to be more prestigious overall is also the one that's better in your field of research. Seems like an easy enough decision. The reverse would be worse, where you'd know you were doing the right thing for your career but all your relatives would wonder why you didn't go to the "better" school...
     
  15. cyrille104

    cyrille104 2+ Year Member

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    well-said :D
     
  16. ri23

    ri23 OSU CVM Class of 2011 7+ Year Member

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    Also well said. I'm surprised you're even debating cyrille. From your posts it seems that you have a real affinity for Penn, and they are good in your area of interest. What about the schools are you still debating about, or are you waiting to hear from other schools?
     
  17. cyrille104

    cyrille104 2+ Year Member

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    I am interested in conservation medicine, which is a strong point for Illinois. Penn does research with emerging infectious diseases, but nothing really with wildlife or the interdisciplinary aspect of it (as far as I know). I guess I'll know tomorrow if I've been accepted to Tufts, which has a great program with wildlife and conservation medicine, but I don't really like the area as much...but that's a different story, and who knows if I'll get in :confused:
     
  18. texlaevis

    texlaevis 2+ Year Member

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    --and in that case, Illinois has that fantabulous *volunteer at the wildlife clinic in your first year* thing going for it! too bad they didn't want me :(
     
  19. 4theanimals

    4theanimals 2+ Year Member

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    Hey Kate_G - I didn't at all mean for anything to be aimed at you. Your thoughts just triggered more thoughts for me. The internet is a useful tool but sometimes the facelessness of it causes amibuities. I'll try to be clearer next time.:love:
     
  20. Bill59

    Bill59 Member 10+ Year Member

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    I agree 100%.

    The only people I know who pay any attention to "rankings" or "prestige" of veterinary schools are students applying to vet schools. That's not to say different school don't have strengths and weaknesses but overall ranking and prestige are meaningless.

    You might could make a case for residencies or PhD where the field of training is more narrow, but for vet. school? No.

    Now you will find individual employers who favor graduates from a particular school, usually because that's where they went or because they have a previous graduate who they really like. But you can't predict that.

    So if you're fortunate to be accepted to more than one school, base your decision on the individual curriculum, facilities, how friendly they are, tuition/fees, cost of living, how fun the city is, how good looking the guys/girls are, how good the cafeteria is, whatever ... all those are way more important than anybody's ranking or idea of reputation.
     
  21. cyrille104

    cyrille104 2+ Year Member

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    hahahaha

    I say we rank the schools by student hotness. On facebook CSU vet students claim to be the hottest...
     
  22. KittenKiller

    KittenKiller chop suey 7+ Year Member

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    I would almost agree with that but I think reputation does have a place in that list, albeit a smaller one for vet school than maybe other professional schools. I know in undergrad if you want to go into business youre better off at an ivy league school than a random state school, because thats where businesses recruit. In law school, some big law firms really only consider candidates at top schools. It might be similar in vet school, especially in more competitive fields. As someone pointed out earlier, going to WSU helps you get a job in Washington. That certainly falls under reputation to some extent.

    However, reputation, in theory, represents the school's underlying quality. Of course this isnt always true, but it can be used as one benchmark among many. When there are so many complicated factors in deciding which school to go to, reputation may be helpful. Suppose you are on the fence between two places because youre interested in wildlife and they both seem to have similar programs but one has a better reputation. Choose the one with a better reputation if all other things are equal: it may reflect something you did not get to see in your brief visit to the school. However, its important not to choose based on reputation alone, but use it as a tool in your exploration of schools rather than the be all and end all.
     
  23. wildfocus

    wildfocus DVM/PhD student 5+ Year Member

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    cyrille - if it is research you want to do, then you have to get a phd - honestly doesn't matter where you get your dvm as long as you get good recs and grades. yes, where you get your phd might matter for where you will get your postdoc, but your mentor actually matters more. get your dvm in a place where you can get the animal experience best for your field of interest, then apply to the top conservation medicine phd programs (or residencies - for which experience really will matter). if you don't want to do reserach per se, then look at prestige if you think your post-dvm employers will care.

    what specific type of work do you want to do anyway? do you want to work with someone/an organization specifically? if yes, call them and ask. since we will be in a similar field (wildlife diseases and how they affect populations), feel free to pm me if you want to brainstorm on folks to contact.
     

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