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Toughest Decision of My Life: UCSF vs Penn

Baker2010

Full Member
Apr 28, 2011
278
8
  1. Dental Student
    Hi guys,
    I would like to hear your feelings and experiences with these schools and which you would pick overall.
    I have been talking to people who are not in dentistry and they have been of little help.
    I figure since most of you guys actually know what your talking about and many have interviewed at one if not both places, that your input could really help.
    Im very torn between the two and I plan on taking the next few months to decide.
    Any help would be appreciated very much!

    I am OSS for UCSF also.
     

    DentalGunner

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    Oct 30, 2011
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      Hi guys,
      I would like to hear your feelings and experiences with these schools and which you would pick overall.
      I have been talking to people who are not in dentistry and they have been of little help.
      I figure since most of you guys actually know what your talking about and many have interviewed at one if not both places, that your input could really help.
      Im very torn between the two and I plan on taking the next few months to decide.
      Any help would be appreciated very much!

      I am OSS for UCSF also.

      Might help to revisit both schools, if you have the cash money. Both are great schools, so I think you can go with your gut on this one. Out of all the California schools I interviewed at, I wasn't that impressed with UCSF. If you have UCLA on the table, I would pit that against Penn way before UCSF vs. Penn.
       

      Baker2010

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      Apr 28, 2011
      278
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      1. Dental Student
        Unfortunately I live in the northeast and am pretty much broke now (still have to pay deposits) so a revisit to UCSF isn't something I will be able to easily.
        Although, I do plan on revisiting Penn for sure.
        UCLA isn't on the table, I never heard back from them.
        I did get offered a scholarship at UCSF if that helps
         
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        DentalGunner

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        Oct 30, 2011
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          Unfortunately I live in the northeast and am pretty much broke now (still have to pay deposits) so a revisit to UCSF isn't something I will be able to easily.
          Although, I do plan on revisiting Penn for sure.
          UCLA isn't on the table, I never heard back from them.
          I did get offered a scholarship at UCSF if that helps

          If you're broke, then that scholarship/tuition should definitely be a deciding factor. You might be able to live a little more luxuriously at UCSF. Although, might be cheaper to train/bus/fly back home for breaks, if you're at Penn. You should join the facebook groups and talk to some of your future potential classmates. See who you jive with better.
           

          757sharp

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          May 23, 2011
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          1. Pre-Dental
            between those two, i would probably choose ucsf. for one, theres that scholarship. secondly, they have p/f/honors which should take a load off the stress of dental school. probably biased, but i also think the surrounding area in sf is generally better. i liked penn: good school, good faciliies, fun area and happy students. but that price tag and letter grades were a big turn off for me

            dental gunnerrrr, do you mind sharing with me why you weren't impressed with ucsf and why ucla was that much better to you?
             

            Baker2010

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            Apr 28, 2011
            278
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            1. Dental Student
              I suggest you reach out to the current dental students at each school. I think at the interview they gave you a sheet of student contacts? Alot of dental students don't use SDN..

              Thanks a lot. I definitely think I am going to strt by talking to as many students from each school to see what their views are.

              It's a tough one. I felt so good about both of them.
              Although, it seems as though I see many people on here turning down penn for UCSF?
              Any guesses as to why?
               

              DentalGunner

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                between those two, i would probably choose ucsf. for one, theres that scholarship. secondly, they have p/f/honors which should take a load off the stress of dental school. probably biased, but i also think the surrounding area in sf is generally better. i liked penn: good school, good faciliies, fun area and happy students. but that price tag and letter grades were a big turn off for me

                dental gunnerrrr, do you mind sharing with me why you weren't impressed with ucsf and why ucla was that much better to you?

                Penn uses a ranking system for their top 10, anyway. Everyone else is #11, so I think that's a more effective system than p/f/h...especially since class rank will probably be one of the deciding factors for specializing. I wasn't a fan of the UCSF campus. I want a school with a student life (sports teams, clubs, etc.). I thought UCLA had more of that feel that I was looking for. I also thought the students seemed happier and spoke more highly at UCLA (and Penn) vs. UCSF, but that could have just been my interview day. The reputation of UCLA is much stronger, I find. Unless you're from the area or in the health care field, I find that it's rare that people have heard of UCSF(at least among my friends/family when I told them about my invite).
                 

                mc719

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                Sep 19, 2010
                295
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                1. Pre-Dental
                  Like others have said, a scholarship at any dental school is awesome! It makes the school cheaper and it looks good on a resume ;). It seems to be a pretty general consensus among dentists that cost is one of the most, if not the most, important factor. Also, the sf area is absolutely beautiful. I've lived in both places, philly area and sf area. They both have different things to offer. So after considering the cost difference, the only other factor would probably be where you would enjoy your 4 years the most.
                   

                  Lane138

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                  Jun 1, 2010
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                    I wasn't that impressed with the UCSF campus either.... whereas I thought the UPenn was awesome, especially when you take into account the rest of the University campus. Upenn also really impressed me with the school philosophy of encouraging you to becoming something more than just being a plain tooth-puller, which I think is important. I would definitely go with Penn. (and I am, lol)
                     

                    bluepills

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                      I wasn't that impressed with the UCSF campus either.... whereas I thought the UPenn was awesome, especially when you take into account the rest of the University campus. Upenn also really impressed me with the school philosophy of encouraging you to becoming something more than just being a plain tooth-puller, which I think is important. I would definitely go with Penn. (and I am, lol)

                      Samesies. I'm also a big fan of being in clinic for all four years. It'll be great experience as a DAU/EFDA, and then having assistants for our third/fourth year.
                      You might have seen Killacam's post on the school-specific discussion about the advantages of Penn, but if not here it is:

                      I was in the same situation as you are last year and I decided to go with Penn rather than Marylandfor the following reasons:

                      1.) Stronger academic curriculum: they are very medically-oriented even though we will not take classes with the med students. If you are thinking of OMFS, you know that you now have to take the NBME and dental school will not prepare you for this! Take whatever medically-oriented curriculum you can because it will only help (for even all specialties actually...)


                      2.) Specialization: They take Part 1 boards after 2nd year as opposed to 1st year in Maryland. Also, because I am heavily leaning towards specializing I know that they do a fantastic job of putting people in a great position to do so. Now that it is P/F not sure if you care when you take it


                      3.) Selectives Program: I thought this was very unique of UPenn and can be useful for learning about unique aspects of dentistry that we could not get elsewhere.


                      4.) I liked Philly a little more than Baltimore. B-more wasn't as bad as some report, but I liked how Penn was on the undergrad campus, a big cool historic place that I never got to experience in Idaho. Now that I am at UCLA, I like how there are things going on around campus that aren't always just DS related. For me, it is good for my short breaks from studying.......


                      5.) Clinic: I know Maryland are very good at this too but I liked how I will become a dental assistant in my first year at Penn. This will allow for great exposure to the "real" aspects of clinical dentistry as I will be helping out with patients and allow me to learn things from the older students. Maryland has better facilities though......


                      6.) Required externships: the 4-week long externships will make me go to places that i might be interested in specializing. This will undoubtedly only help expand my experiences in whatever specializing field I decide to go into. Both apparently have them......


                      I have lots more but it really didn't take me long to weigh out that Penn would push me beyond what I might get at Maryland. Again, this is all from my perspective and my limited experiences at the interviews.


                      Feel free to PM me if you want more info or to discuss more specifics....congrats and good luck!!
                       
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                      dantemac

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                      Jan 16, 2011
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                      1. Dental Student
                        BluePills, selectives aren't unique to Penn. Maryland had them too.

                        OP, you are from the east coast. There is no reason to travel to San Francisco to have something you have right here. I would argue Penn is just as great of a school.
                         

                        dentalgirl7979

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                        Aug 12, 2011
                        52
                        0
                        1. Pre-Dental
                          Well I am from California and just location wise nothing can beat San Francisco. UCSF was my top school, but unfortunately they hate me and gave me a flat out rejection. However, after interviewing at UPenn and researching the school, the program is just absolutely amazing. I was planning on staying in California for dental school if I got accepted, but now I am really considering going to UPenn!

                          My decisions probably going to be between UOP and UPenn.
                           

                          Baker2010

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                          Apr 28, 2011
                          278
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                          1. Dental Student
                            BluePills, selectives aren't unique to Penn. Maryland had them too.

                            OP, you are from the east coast. There is no reason to travel to San Francisco to have something you have right here. I would argue Penn is just as great of a school.

                            Yea, I believe they are big very good.

                            Ultimately I think I am going to keep in mind everyones comments in addition to completely reevalulating each curriculum, revisiting, and talking to several students from each place.

                            Thanks for all the input guys!
                             

                            poki

                            Full Member
                            Jan 18, 2011
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                            4
                            1. Dental Student
                              OP, I wouldnt consider UCLA out of reach just yet...they dont send out the majority of their interview invites until after Dec 1st...I didnt get an interview invite from them until January, before that I had interviewed at UCSF and Penn...
                              personally of those two schools I would have picked UCSF for the cheaper tuition, P/NP curriculum and location, but Penn was definitely a very impressive school...cant go wrong w either one
                               

                              evanyou

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                              Jan 26, 2010
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                              1. Dentist
                                Congrats. Just out of curiosity, did u have a good amount of research experience? a scholarship? good job!

                                I just want to let u know u can pay in state tuition at Ucsf after first year. Good luck on choosing a school. You won't go wrong with any of those.
                                 

                                Baker2010

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                                Apr 28, 2011
                                278
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                                1. Dental Student
                                  Congrats. Just out of curiosity, did u have a good amount of research experience? a scholarship? good job!

                                  I just want to let u know u can pay in state tuition at Ucsf after first year. Good luck on choosing a school. You won't go wrong with any of those.

                                  Hey Evanyou,
                                  Thanks a lot and yes, I did lab research for about 3 years while in college and I have been working in research for the last year and a half since I graduated.
                                  The scholarship takes off a little over 50K over four years. I'm pretty happy about that! lol
                                   

                                  wwuviking

                                  MOTIVATED
                                  May 5, 2010
                                  70
                                  0
                                  1. Pre-Dental
                                    my .02; both obviously great schools..when you graduate from either of them you will be a dentist...i love San Fran...its an awesome place. you have lived in the northeast all your life??? why not try something new?? i think its obvious that i'd go with ucsf. Congrats on both acceptances!
                                     

                                    LaFleur

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                                    Jul 19, 2009
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                                      The scholarship takes off a little over 50K over four years. I'm pretty happy about that! lol

                                      That's a considerable amount of money, IMO, keeping in mind what you'd be paying back with the interest.


                                      But really, congrats on the acceptances! They are both amazing institutions, and I'm sure you'll be able to make the best choice for you!
                                       

                                      cytos

                                      New Member
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                                      Jun 1, 2011
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                                      1. Pre-Dental
                                        If you don't care about the cities and feel pretty much the same for both programs, I would go with UPenn. Both programs have great reputations in medical/dental fields, but most likely your patients (especially new ones who dunno much about your skills and service) would be highly impressed by your UPenn diploma. Seriously, don't make fun of me, but I didn't know about UCSF's reputation until I started looking into advance degree programs...maybe because I am a TX hillbilly : )

                                        In general, I'm more impressed with someone who went to an IVY than someone who went to an up and coming liberal arts college who called themselves the new IVY. If you went to Kenyon or Reed College, you would have to seriously impressed me for me to believe your education is just as good as Harvard.
                                         
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                                        a2ndragoon89

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                                        Mar 2, 2009
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                                        1. Dental Student
                                          it doesn't really matter where you get your DDS. If you're considering a specialty, UCSF and UPENN are great choices. I personally loved philly, the atmosphere and everything! Also, got a rejection from ucsf so i'm a little bitter (jk! :D). But yeah, i say UPENN!
                                           

                                          mc719

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                                          Sep 19, 2010
                                          295
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                                            If you don't care about the cities and feel pretty much the same for both programs, I would go with UPenn. Both programs have great reputations in medical/dental fields, but most likely your patients (especially new ones who dunno much about your skills and service) would be highly impressed by your UPenn diploma. Seriously, don't make fun of me, but I didn't know about UCSF's reputation until I started looking into advance degree programs...maybe because I am a TX hillbilly : )

                                            In general, I'm more impressed with someone who went to an IVY than someone who went to an up and coming liberal arts college who called themselves the new IVY. If you went to Kenyon or Reed College, you would have to seriously impressed me for me to believe your education is just as good as Harvard.


                                            I've lost track of people asking me why I'm still applying to Penn after the Sandusky thing...
                                             

                                            Baker2010

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                                            Apr 28, 2011
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                                            1. Dental Student
                                              Also keep in mind that you can apply for state residency and pay in state tuition for d2-d4 yrs!
                                              :thumbup:

                                              Yea cost is starting to become a factor now. Penn didn't give me anything. So i think it works out to be 250K or so at UCSF vs 400K at Penn.
                                              Its a weird call because I felt better about the curriculum at Penn. I am really attracted to the 1 exam/ week thing and many other facets of their program but UCSF's is still really good and the lifestyle of San Francisco is priceless. Im much more of an outdoors person too which is why I get a little depressed during the 8-9 months of bad weather on we experience every year here in the north east.
                                              In sum,
                                              these past couple days, I have been thinking about San Fran a lot!
                                               

                                              orthosm2021

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                                              Dec 31, 2009
                                              54
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                                                OP, Which school did you end up going? would you mind sharing? I saw so many people in the same UCSF vs. penn predicament and turning down upenn for ucsf eventually. I am in the same ucsf vs. upenn boat but I think Im choosing upenn.

                                                I am currently holding my seats at both, and I will drop one most likely today/tomorrow. I have the dean's scholarship at upenn and a small 1K scholarship at ucsf (OOS). I am very intersted in specializing, so upenn sounds better in that regard and it's cheaper, but honestly I feel like I will be happier in San Francisco with so many things the city offers and with the p/f/h grading system.... Then again, with the scholarship, I think I am settling on upenn with deans but I am never going to be sure if I made the right decision.

                                                Would you mind sharing with me which you chose and why? Thanks!
                                                 

                                                Baker2010

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                                                Apr 28, 2011
                                                278
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                                                1. Dental Student
                                                  OP, Which school did you end up going? would you mind sharing? I saw so many people in the same UCSF vs. penn predicament and turning down upenn for ucsf eventually. I am in the same ucsf vs. upenn boat but I think Im choosing upenn.

                                                  I am currently holding my seats at both, and I will drop one most likely today/tomorrow. I have the dean's scholarship at upenn and a small 1K scholarship at ucsf (OOS). I am very intersted in specializing, so upenn sounds better in that regard and it's cheaper, but honestly I feel like I will be happier in San Francisco with so many things the city offers and with the p/f/h grading system.... Then again, with the scholarship, I think I am settling on upenn with deans but I am never going to be sure if I made the right decision.

                                                  Would you mind sharing with me which you chose and why? Thanks!

                                                  Hey,
                                                  I PM'd you with my decision and why. Goodluck
                                                   
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                                                  samdig

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                                                  Jun 20, 2010
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                                                    The two most important factors to consider are affordability and clinical experience. I believe UCSF is without a doubt the best choice. I believe Penn is private (correct me if I'm wrong) so you are going to pay the same (if not more) there as you would OOS at UCSF. UCSF has a great clinic. It's well established and in a metropolitan area. You are going to see a huge range of cases.

                                                    Another thing to consider is that at UCSF you will be exposed to a wide range of specialties. Some pre-dental students look at this as a bad thing but this is actually a great thing. Only cases too advanced are referred to specialty students. If you can handle the special cases as a dental student you will get the patient. Patients who need all sorts of help will be going to your clinic and you will get first stab at them.

                                                    Finally, if you are interested in research (and even if you are not), UCSF gets more funding for their dental research than any other dental school in the country. If you are interested in contributing there will be a lot of opportunities for you and even if you aren't interested in that, you are going to a university where you are on the forefront of the cutting edge. You are at the place where this new research is being conducted and you will be among the first to benefit from it.

                                                    I say go to UCSF UNLESS I'm wrong and your tuition at Penn would be much less expensive. The reputation of the school and the experience you will get (and getting to live in SF for 4 years) make this a clear cut favorite out of the two to me.
                                                     

                                                    samdig

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                                                      Unfortunately I live in the northeast and am pretty much broke now (still have to pay deposits) so a revisit to UCSF isn't something I will be able to easily.
                                                      Although, I do plan on revisiting Penn for sure.
                                                      UCLA isn't on the table, I never heard back from them.
                                                      I did get offered a scholarship at UCSF if that helps

                                                      Dude if you got a scholarship there then this shouldn't be such a difficult decision. Think about your loans once you get out. Save as much as you can so that you can live the type of lifestyle you want as soon as you graduate.
                                                       
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