To UPENN and BUFFALO students! Opinions greatly appreciated!

Discussion in 'Dental' started by I'mFillingFine, Dec 17, 2005.

  1. I'mFillingFine

    I'mFillingFine Pulptastic
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    Hello! I've only posted in the Pre-Dental forums until now, so sorry if you get this question a lot or if it has been discussed to death in another thread (in that case, I'd love a link!)

    My decision for the class of 2010 is down to Penn versus Buffalo. I was wondering if I might hear from students at both schools to get an honest and thorough idea of student life.

    I'm especially interested in just that - student LIFE. Of course, cost is an issue as well, but I think that the basic environment of the school and amongst students is the one thing I can't get from visiting the schools. Basically....

    1. How do students balance academics, rest, play, and professional lives?

    2. What do students do for fun? (Both specific activities and just how they joke around with each other)

    3. Is the general feel of the school more academic, healthcare institutional, family-oriented, professional....?

    4. What are the student-student and student-faculty dynamics like?

    5. How are the faculty?

    6. How is the rest of the campus (everything together for Penn, having the other grad schools around for Buffalo)?

    7. How do you like your city?


    I was also accepted to UConn and Tufts and after visiting the schools again, it's down to these two I'm asking about....I still can't get a good idea of what it's like to LIVE at the schools. Of course, cost is a HUGE issue, too! SUCH a difference!

    ANY advice is greatly appreciated - THANKS!! :D
     
  2. superchris147

    superchris147 Senior Member
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    well i'm at buffalo and you've probably heard from me more than you want, but oh well

    1. As a first year, you study, there is no balancing. You study, eat, sleep, study. Everyone manages just fine. Its easy to pass and very difficult to get As.

    2. A lot of people drink and go out. But dental classes are small, so people make friends/cliques very fast. You do what your clique does when you arn't studying. At buffalo there are lots of things to do: drink, ski/snowboard, go to the movies, go to the canadian side of niagara falls, go to the casino, practice doing doghnuts in the parking lot cuz there's a lot of snow on the ground (i've never lived in the snow so this might not be fun for you). But seriously, you'll be so busy at any school that just doing nothing will be a break from studying.

    3. As a first year I have no idea and I can't imagine it being very different at other schools since you mainly take basic sciences. We put sealants on each other and do lots of waxups, but other than that its just books.

    4. This is just going to be on a personal basis and really has nothing to do with what school you go to. Some students don't like each other for their own personal reasons. Everyone is friendly to each other though and its fine.

    To be honest with you, i can't see any of these things being different at either school. It really has more to do with who randomly ends up in your class and who you make friends with. If you have any specific questions I can try to answer them, but other than that you really just need to make the decision on your personal needs.
     
  3. I'mFillingFine

    I'mFillingFine Pulptastic
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    I know that there are basic things that are similar among all schools; the stress, drama, cliques, getting wasted....I'm asking because I have noticed differences in the way students answer this.

    In my opinion, the academics are going to be more similar from school to school than the dynamic amongst students. Some have told me that they ONLY study but that they're WAY more prepared than grads from other schools, some have said that some years are so relaxing that they play more than they study while other years are not, some say that they can compact everything dental into the mornings, and some say that some people are stressed beyond beleif while their classmates are breezing by. Perhaps in reality there is no difference, but each person seems to have his/her own opinion.

    But thanks for the info!!! :) Truly appreciated!
     
  4. gryffindor

    Dentist 10+ Year Member

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    I was looking at this same decision a few years ago (Penn vs. Buffalo). I have since graduated from Buffalo and never regretted choosing it over Penn. The cost is a big issue, like you said. I am returning back to school to specialize and the amount of money it cost me to attend Buffalo & specialize is still less than what I would have paid for 4 years at Penn. I got a lot out of my education at Buffalo, I was involved in lots of activities, ASDA, research and had lots of chances to travel through my involvement. I also studied like crazy but I learned a thing or two and my clinical knowledge has definitely been helpful in private practice now.

    But as for your other questions -

    1) The first two years balance was not really an option. There is just way too much studying and labwork to be done. When you get a break, you do normal things like rent a movie, go out to school social events, sleep. Third and fourth years there is still work to be done, but you have more time - even if you are still gunning for grades you still have more time than in the first two years. Similar to what superchris said, passing requires effort, but to get an A is hard.

    2) I used to catch up on sleep, watch a lot of TV and hang out with my dental school friends - we'd go out to eat a lot, Canada, downtown to the clubs & bars, party, just hang out and talk, the mall, the supermarket, Krisy Kreme, and so on. We also used to attend most of the social events organized by the students (ASDA used to have lots of happy hours and parties).

    3) I can't classify Buffalo into just 1 category like that. It was a professional school, there were a lot of rules to follow (dress code, instrument return, lab work specifications, etc.) but I think you'll get rules everywhere you go. It was academic because you are there to learn dentistry and the consequences of failing are really bad (having to remediate or even repeat a year!), so you will get yourself into gear and learn. I don't know about the family-oriented part, most students didn't have families. There were a few family-oriented activities (like things you can bring your kids to) organized by ASDA, the school had some like the Talent Show, International Night, Welcome Picnic, etc. We are not part of a hospital so maybe "healthcare institution" doesn't apply to us, but you do plenty of hospital rotations in third and fourth year so you do get the experience.

    4) Again, this is what you make of it. Most of the students were friendly with each other, there are always a few that make you wonder. You find yourself a clique and you pretty much hang out with them in your free time. In school you will be rearranged into lots of groups so you will interact with the other classmates and get to know them really well too. The faculty were usually willing to help you, if you went and asked them. The school will try to support you too if they notice you are failing - tutors, extra help, etc. - but it is also up to your own initiative to better your efforts so you don't fail anything.

    5) The faculty - there are great teachers and not-so-great teachers. Some students hated a professor, others thought that teacher was the best. I dont think there were any faculty who were out to get you; although some had tests and grading standards that were real difficult. This is a very subjective question.

    6) You really never have a reason to go over to the North Campus unless you go to the libraries there to study, or go to some event. On the South campus, we had the Med School, nursing, OT/PT students. Some of us had friends from the med school since we took some classes with them, At lunch time, the cafeteria is mostly dental students since the med school is now on the 8 - 12 schedule so their students never stick around after 12.

    7) Buffalo is a small city with suburbs, I lived there for a long time. It is not a growing city. It is isolated from almost everything except for Toronto which is 2 hours away. There is cultural stuff to do in Buffalo, you have to look for it. It's a great place to raise kids since everything is nearby and cost of living is cheap. IMO, it's not a happening city for a young person, but it was a good place for an education because there were fewer distractions. Winter is long but they are really good about cleaning the snow on the roads, just get some good snow tires for your car. You must have a car, public transportation is practically non-existent, esp. in the suburbs where most students live.

    FWIW, my Buffalo classmate is now a clinical instructor at Penn and having seen how both schools work and the education you will get, he too would still choose Buffalo.
     
  5. I'mFillingFine

    I'mFillingFine Pulptastic
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    griffin04, thanks SO much for your response! It's great to hear a really positive account of Buffalo.
     
  6. ncalcate

    ncalcate Senior Member
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    I think SuperChris and Griffin hit the highlights of Buffalo. So I won't repeat them. But I thought I would add that I have yet to encounter a "backstabbing evil gunner" type of student here. There are lots of competitive students in our class, but if you ask any of them a question, they'll be more than happy to help you. No one is out there trying to screw you over to ensure that they're number 1 (at least I haven't seen it). When I know something and someone asks me a question, I go out of my way to answer it. And vice versa. Everyone has old tests and old labs - and we all share them. It definitely feels like we're all being tortured together, but we all pitch in to help everyone else out.

    I'm not sure if this exists at Penn or not. All I know about Penn is what I've read on SDN, which can be biased, so I won't speculate.

    And as Griffin said and as you mentioned, cost is a big factor. Don't let anyone tell you that the extra $150K you might spend at UPenn is not a big deal. After you graduate and you're making good money, putting an extra $150K of after-tax money towards your loans is still a large amount of money, regardless of the duration of your loan repayment

    Good luck in your decision.
     
  7. kerrydds06

    kerrydds06 Senior Member
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    Go to UB, you won't regret it, I don't think anyone in my class does. That I know of. Attitude is everything, stay positive. the $avings and the clinical experience will be worth the winters.
     
  8. Audio

    Audio Senior Member
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    Wow, no Penn students on here sticking up for their school!
     
  9. I'mFillingFine

    I'mFillingFine Pulptastic
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    I know, really! All I've heard on the subject involving Penn students were that they'd overall support a Buffalo education, and some regret the bill after they graduated (though they wouldn't have traded it).

    And Audio, if you do hear favorably from Buffalo, do you think you'd change your mind (and signature)?
     
  10. Audio

    Audio Senior Member
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    I think that Buffalo is a good fit for me because I know it's a good school that will let me come out and practice after 4 years. The cost is pretty good for me, esp. compared to UPenn...and, most importantly, it's so close to Toronto so I could even go home every weekend if I wanted. I have a lot of ties to Toronto, specifically my family and my lovely, amazing, wonderful girlfriend of 3 years (Jan. 6 anniversary :) ) So yeah, I probably would pick Buffalo.

    BUT..if I was single and money wasn't an issue at all, I think I'd try out Penn. I was so impressed with the school and it just seemed larger than life in many ways. It would certainly be an adventure!
     
  11. Sprgrover

    Sprgrover Pulped out Moderator
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    1. How do students balance academics, rest, play, and professional lives?

    There isn't much of a balance: studying consumes most of your time at Penn during your first two years. After the first couple of months most students, myself included, hit their stride, figure out what study methods work best, are better able to determine when they can an evening off and not regret it later on, etc.

    2. What do students do for fun? (Both specific activities and just how they joke around with each other)

    There are many things to do at Penn or around Philly for relaxation and play. My group of friends and I go out to movies, eat out, dine in, go to an occasional party, and so on. Beyond that Penn has a very well organized graduate student organization (GAPSA) and they are hosting events all the time, such as catered parties at one of the museums downtown, midnight ice skating, mixers between the various schools - there is always something going on with them and occasionally I'll take them up on an offer and attend an event.

    3. Is the general feel of the school more academic, healthcare institutional, family-oriented, professional....?

    Penn is very academic, but they are also very healthcare/patient oriented as well. I wouldn't classify them as being entirely one or the other. Penn is well suited to address a lot of needs for students: for example, if you want to go into research and academics they have some stellar research opportunities for students (and if you are not interested in that at all, the school does not push anyone into research - it's there if you want to be a part of it), if you want to gain a second degree you have the rest of the university open to you (e.g., MPH, MEd, etc.).

    4. What are the student-student and student-faculty dynamics like?

    Very good. I can honestly say that the faculty at Penn make themselves readily available to students and many will bend over backwards to help you. The faculty are very approachable and treat us like colleagues (which is a nice turn around from the days of undergrad).

    5. How are the faculty?

    Almost all of them are cool, but, like every other place, you'll find a couple that you wonder how long they have been living under a rock. The biochem department, for example, has two 'practicals' which consist of them bringing in beer, soda, and snacks into the lab room and mixing with the students. So yes, on the whole, the faculty are great.

    6. How is the rest of the campus (everything together for Penn, having the other grad schools around for Buffalo)?

    I like the Penn's campus. They have some amazing libraries, resources, and buildings and I don't have a problem with it at all (although I do wish that there was a Panera Bread or an Einstein Bagel Bros. nearby).

    7. How do you like your city?

    Philly is great. It's a big city, so you're going to have some big city problems (vagrants, for example), but it does have big city benefits, such as exhibits, culture, and events. There is certainly enough to do and see that it can keep you occupied on your days off. It is also nice to have NYC and D.C. close by
     
  12. I'mFillingFine

    I'mFillingFine Pulptastic
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    sprgrover, thanks so much for your lengthy response!!! It's truly helpful.
     
  13. Sprgrover

    Sprgrover Pulped out Moderator
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    You're welcome! It was a welcome distraction from studying!
     
  14. kerrydds06

    kerrydds06 Senior Member
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    It really doesn't matter where you go so much as what you do with it.

    What are your goals?

    what is your budget?

    where do you see yourself in 5,10,20.30 years?

    What do you want from your school for all the $ you will be spending?

    Value for money, UB is better hands down, but what do you want to do in school, in life? Consider the answers to these questions and you will see that it is an EASY decision. you're not the first and you won't be the last.
     

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