State vs. private school

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Ken Young

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Aug 6, 2000
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?lrightee SDNers!

My question is, would you go to a state school (not top 50 but money is completely taken care of), or would you go to a private university (in the top 30 but would have to come out of pocket with the $$)?

public vs. private?


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I personally chose a state school over several great private schools solely on $. Almost every physician said that it doesn't really matter about school as much as Board Scores, Grades, and Reccommendations.

If you can save 80K by going to a state school I would really look at it before chosing to go private (unless you can afford to spend an extra $20k a year).

Just my opinion
Easy...I would go state. If it were law school or business school or some other type of graduate education that we were talking about then I would go to the private school and come out of pocket.
Reason being is that in med school no matter where you go you have the capacity to demonstrate to residency directors that you are the equal or the superior to someone who has attended a more prestigious medical school through the boards. With law school and business school you really dont have that opportunity and therefore it would make sense to come out of pocket since so much it riding on the reputation of the school that you attend.
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State school: I've read a other similar posts that talked about getting a good residency. They all stressed doing well on the USMLE's and LOR's, not the school attended. A state tuition for me would be about $13,000 where Case runs about $30,000.
Sorry for piggybacking on your post, but this is relevent. Here's a twist and please no ugly MD/DO battles: state DO school vs private MD school? Is the MD worth the extra $ if one is not inclinded toward primary care? Please, be civil!
I hope I don't get flammed big time for this, but I'd go with the private MD if you're certain you don't want to do primary care. I have a lot of respect for DO's and I think they're educated just as well (at least here in Michigan) but I'm lazy and would go with the path of least resistance. Taking both sets of boards, the rigors of trying to get into a competitive residency in your specialty. It can be done and is done, but it's a lot harder. If you want primary care, then I think it would be an advantage to be a DO actually.
looks like "state school" is a winner. Any argument at all for private? :confused:
I would go to any US & MD school that accepts me, private or state
Definately state. Except my state doesn't have a state med school (Delaware). We do have a sort of partnership with Jefferson so that they accept 20 Delaware residents per year, but those seats are highly competitive and I believe they're also shared with a special Universtity of Delaware program that takes one out of the standard applications process if you lock yourself into Jeff. Furthermore, unless you pledge to go into some underrepesented specialty, there's no price break, and Jeff is a fairly pricy private school.

*grumble* This is one of my factors for choosing MD/PhD. I guess I could do MD only but I would have no help from my parents and would have to finance the entire thing. I've been poor most of my life, I'm tired of worrying about money.
•••quote:•••Originally posted by hawkeyes:
•looks like "state school" is a winner. Any argument at all for private? :confused: •••••yes. the question really should be: where do you think you would be the happiest? if you're miserable all through med school, then no amount of money will let you buy four years of your life back--happiness is priceless :) . you don't make any mention of which school you have a better gut feeling about. if you honestly could go either way and be equally happy based on your impression of the school, then go where you can save the money. but personally i think where you think you'd be the better fit matters a hell of a lot more. i'm turning down my state school for an expensive private school where i know i'll be way happier.
wow, everyone voted for state?

i'd go private.
yea, i'm kinda freaking out about my sucky financial aid package and the HUGE debt that i will have at the end of my 4 years, but!!

especially if there is a discrepancy in the ranking.
i.e. private in top 30 vs. state not in top 50
(that's what was being debated originally, right?)

if want to get into a super competitive residency, the private school will not only help you make good connections but the name's weight will not mean nothing. sorry about the double negative.

i interviewed at one of my state schools and it just came off as really impersonal, while private schools are usually more fostering. that's what i'm all about.
one thing ive discovered is that schools do a pretty good show of putting on a veil for prospective students.....
If the private was top TWENTY vs. state, I'd go private and bear the costs...looking on the residency board, name recognition seems to make a difference, IMHO.

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I think you said from your earlier posts that you really wanted to go to Rochester. $80 is going to be half of one year's salary. It really isn't that much

Go were you want to go

Plus if you need to get into a difficult residency maybe this private school can get you in over the state school.

Good Luck

If you will be happy at a state school and think that its worth the money saved, then i say that you should do that. However, even if you save the money and aren't entirely happy, then maybe its not worth it. I would chose the private school if it was a better learning environment and if i knew that i would have a much better time there.
down the road, money won't be that much of a problem. every doctor will have the money they need to pay them off, sooner or later.
Thanks for your opinions everyone!

I am still going mad trying to decide between Univ of Rochester and SUNY Stony Brook. Both schools I think are great. Rochester is a innovative program, although it is in upstate NY (which I?m not such a big fan of, but I can deal with it). Stony Brook would be cheaper, but not much difference really. I do want to go into a specialty so I think I should lean towards rochester. I do like the climate, location, and price a bit more at Stony Brook.

For those of you who have decided already....did you just wake up one morning and know that you wanted to go to school X instead of Y?
ken, some people do wake up one day and just KNOW.

but i think the final decision's kinda random.
bc how will we REALLY know what school is better for us and what school we'll be happier at, until we actually GO there?
I think the problem comes when you wake up one day and want to go to School X, but then the next day, it's school Y, then back to X, and so on and so forth, ad nauseum.
Don't be misled by thinking that "I make 120K, so I'll be able pay off the 60k difference really easy"

In reality your 60K will probably be around 100K by the time you get to paying it back. If you are making 120K a year, 39% of that will go to federal taxes, leaving you with 73k to work with. Of that 73K you will spend about 15k on a mortgage, 10k in retirement, 25+ for insurance, and the rest, around 20-25K will be left for living expenses and loan repayment.

So if you pay every penny you can afford at 20K a year, paying back that loan you are looking at around 5 years additional work for the original 60k difference.

If you think that a 3-5 year extension of work, just too pay a bank is worth it, then go for it. Personally I would rather see that time and effort go towards something better. Especially if your state school was okay, or even third tier.

This is based off of a 120K/yr salary, of course NeuroSurg is going to pay more, but the loan will accrue (and compound) more interest.
•••quote:•••Originally posted by Coalboy:
•I think the problem comes when you wake up one day and want to go to School X, but then the next day, it's school Y, then back to X, and so on and so forth, ad nauseum.•••••Thats me.... I think I am getting an ulcer stressing about picking the "right" place w/o knowing how much it will cost, whether I will like it there as much as I think I would, and what impact it will have on residency.
I hear you, Jessica. I'm convinced that no matter where I choose, it will end up being the "right" place. No looking back, once I make the decision. :)

Unfortunately, to complicate matters, I got a letter from one school today saying that the needed more financial aid info from me. They required that my 2001 Tax return be signed, but I filed electronically. Ughh. I'm trying to clear it up, but there isn't a whole lot of time left.
I am not one of those people who woke up one morning knowing where to go. It varies almost daily now. I was leaning toward private forever and a half, and then this week I had a long conversation with a friend who went private and will be paying it back over 30 years. NO KIDDING. And that is 1K/month for 30 years. Granted, perhaps you can pay more quickly. But there are factors like getting married, buying a home, kids, car. You dont' want to put off all that until your 40 years old, you know. And who wants to pay debt until you're 50? Sorry- don't mean to scare everyone, but it did scare me a bit. The question def. should include "where will be I most happy." But it is also complicated by the question that many of us in privates will ask "was it *really* worth it, since either way, I woudl have become a doctor." Now, I guess it doesn't really apply as much to those seeking competitive residencies. Just my $.02
I'd like to add my $.02 to the thread :)
I think the question is: "do you want to be happy now? or do you want to be happy 4-5yrs down the road?" I think I'll rather be happy 4-5yrs from now with a lighter debt load and dont have to stress too much over money problem. But that's just me! :)
so does that mean DAVIS for you, Cong? :D LOL!
If I wanted to live in FL, I'd go to a state school in a second. One of my top choices is a state school...though not my state. Unfortunately I do not want to go back to FL, so I will either go to a private school (Jefferson) or a state school as an out-of-stater (Maryland)
That is what I'm doing. I am a Utah resident (rejected), but was accepted at Cinci, a state school. So for the first year I pay around 25k, then for years 2,3,4, I pay in state (around 15K).

It sucks that I will have to pay that one year, but in the end I will save around 40-50k by going "in-state" even though I am from Utah.

I did have several private schools, but why pay so much for the same end?
I too change my mind daily...hourly sometimes. It?s a really hard decision to make since it will affect so much. However, I think that I am leaning more towards my state school for the same debt 4 years from now! My only worry is about getting into a good residency program for a competitive sub speciality. Rochester (#29) vs. SUNY Stony Brook (not in top 50)? ARRG!
Hey TSpoon

I think they prevent med students from changing residency during med school I think you might have to pay the full price. That is most states. Maybe it is different in Ohio. I doubt it though. That would piss off the taxpayer that are paying your tuition.

Your should check on that

Yeah Ken that is a tought decision

But man I would love to go to a school like Rochester.

Good Luck with the decision

I did check on it and I will be good for years 2,3,4 if I stay in state over the summer and take my loans out from a state lender.

This is actually one of Cinci's selling points for out-of-staters. When you get the acceptance letter there is another form that has in huge letters "Want to Save $40,000?" and then proceeds to tell you what you need to do to get in state.

Ohio is really easy to get in state compared to others. Utah you have to live in for 2 years, and even then you have to prove that you were working the whole time. Ohio you just have to prove that you lived there and that your income comes from Ohio (including loans)
There are definitely merits to both state schools and private school. When the consensus is that you end med school from a state school on the same level as someone from a private school, it is difficult to ignore the tuition difference. State schools have an incentive to provide the best education as those they educate will most likely stick around and practice in that area. The facilities which I saw at UVA and Maryland were by far better than those in provate schools. They were brand new and the students had everything that they wanted. There is something to be said for not walking around in run-down buildings like at many of the private, strapped for cash schools. I also think that given this financial difference, many of the mid-range private schools will have difficulty attracting quality students like they have done in the past. Schools like Tufts, BU, Tulane, etc which are rediculously expensive and seem to give little aid are bound to fall in the rankings and in their caliber. A perfect example of this is georgetown, and I only see the other schools following this fate. Go state schools!
What about a state school in the top 20 vs. a private school in the top 20 when the in-state tuition difference is only about $7000 a year?
•••quote:•••Originally posted by Doc AdamK in 2006:
•Hey TSpoon

I think they prevent med students from changing residency during med school I think you might have to pay the full price. That is most states. Maybe it is different in Ohio. I doubt it though. That would piss off the taxpayer that are paying your tuition.

Your should check on that

AK•••••UAB is the same way - pay out of state in year 1, and 2,3,4 are golden - pay our obscenely cheap in state tuition of $7,500/year... like in Ohio, this is a big selling point for out of staters. All of you applying this year should check out which states allow you to do this!
Doc 2006, why would you love to go to a school like rochester? I?d love to hear your opinions!

lyle, if both schools are in the top 20, i?d say definetly go with the public school and save. You don?t even need to worry about residency since they are both on the same caliber.
So you pay in-state tuition in Ohio and Alabama after your first year? I've heard that Texas does the same if you buy property in the state. Does anyone know of other states who do something similar?
Hey, I too am in the same boat with the state vs. private and i have settled on Rochester over Upstate (which on top of being cheaper offered me an alumni scholarship for 4,000 a about waking up one morning and changing your mind...ugh). Some things to consider for the NY state schools...the state gov't just approved another $2000 increase in state tuition this year (as they did last year) and will most likely do this again for the next two years...essentially meaning that instead of the $11,000 price tag on two years ago, we'll be paying 18-19,000...they won't tell you that though...the admissions people at upstate tried to make is seem like it wouldn't happen...but it has already.

I called Rochester last week and told them my situation...i TOLD them that i thought i'd get the same education either place and i needed some proof that what they had would be worth the extra money (taking into account the rankings)...once i did that i felt much better about things because i have been sitting up for the last three weeks at night bouncing the money vs. ranking wild card around in my brain...and by telling Rochester (who gave me almost nothing in scholarship but lots of loans) how i really felt it was up to them to show me. I spent about 8 hours there on Friday talking to deans, students, doctors and it was enough to convince me that the debt is worth it for ME. The number of resources is incredible, they just added tons of new research space and are recruiting heavily for quality PhD's and MD's to fill the space. The Children's hospital just got $14,000,000 from some rich guy and they are building a new pediatric ICU on top of the new three floor wing (so it would be the fourth floor). Most importantly, the students i spoke to who complained about the costs, said that even though it is a lot to spend, they see their money come back into their programs every day.

Some people, including an advisory dean, did tell me that if I would be as happy at a state school...go for it. For me, I knew that the desire for the state school was 100% financially driven and that i would succeed only where I was most happy. Four years ago, I chose SUNY over Cornell not based on money but on where i felt most comfortable and even though some said i'd have a harder time getting into med school, i got into a bunch...but that was becasue i was happy and this goes to show you, that if you really want to be in LI, and you really aren't so sure about PBL, go to Stony Brook, and you'll get wherever you want to go in the long run.

I found this quote by Freud and it is something i have been clinging to for a few weeks, "When making a decision of minor importance, I have always found it advantageous to consider all the pros and cons. In vital matters, however, such as the choice of a mate or a profession, the decision should come from the unconscious, from somewhere within ourselves. In the important decisions of personal life, we should be governed, I think, by the deep inner needs of our nature"

Although I've done the math and I know i'll be paying out my ears for a long time, and maybe the list of pros for Upstate is just as long as the list at Rochester, i wasn't able to shake my desire to go to Rochester, and i'm sure that either choice would have been the right one...

that's all for my ramblings...hope you find peace with a decision soon. BingGirl
Wow, I am in the minority here. I chose a non-ranked private school over my (also unranked) state school. Their were many reasons, but the most important one was the curriculum style. I just felt that I would do much better in one over the other.
I chose an unranked state school over a top-20 private school. It was an agonizing decision at the time- I changed my mind several times a day and quite honestly, doubted my decision for several months afterward. Once school started in August, though, I was finally able to let it go. It was largely a financial decision, but not entirely- I also wasn't 100% thrilled with the location of the private school and I had family reasons to choose the state school as well. Unfortunately, my state school raised its tuition by $2000 and it looks like that trend will continue- there is very little grant aid, in contrast to the private school. I'll still come out with less debt than I would have had I chosen to go private, but the difference won't be quite as striking.
As a born pessimist, I think what sealed it for me was picturing the worst case scenario at each school. I pictured myself uprooting my husband from his family, moving 1200 miles to this other school, taking out tons of loans to go there- and if things went wrong- like if we hated the area- it would be a disaster and I would forever regret having given up the state school. Conversely, at my state school, we could save money, stay closer to family, and I would still come out an MD. The worst case scenario here was that the curriculum might not be as innovative or enticing, the research opportunities lacking, the matchlist not as impressive- but those weren't important enough to me personally to justify the extra cost.
What I've since realized is that any medical school has good and bad points and it's all in what YOU make of it. There are some things about my school I find annoying, but there are other things that are absolutely amazing. My suggestion is to try to pick out what kinds of things are important to YOU and use those criteria to help make your decision.
So many private schools are *hurting* financially: Columbia and Georgetown are having major cash problems just to name a few.

Clearly, I think the best schools you could go to would be: UCSF, Univ of Mich, UNC, UT-Southwestern, etc.

The reputation of those state schools will get you interviews at any residency given the proper grades - and save you a pile of cash to boot!