UCLA vs. Vanderbilt vs. Penn vs. CCLCM vs. NYU 3-Year

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UCLA vs. Vanderbilt vs. Penn vs. CCLCM


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CrunchyTeddy

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Thanks for the feedback everyone! Closing shop :)

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Congrats on the amazing success. Clearly you are a very strong student with some impressive schools to choose from.

To offer some help, you mentioned a bunch of different things that are important to you (location, cost, research, etc.). My question is, which of these factors is absolutely the MOST important if you had to pick one? I believe answering that question honestly with yourself will just about make your decision for you. You can't go wrong regardless though. Good luck!
 
Congrats on the amazing success. Clearly you are a very strong student with some impressive schools to choose from.

To offer some help, you mentioned a bunch of different things that are important to you (location, cost, research, etc.). My question is, which of these factors is absolutely the MOST important if you had to pick one? I believe answering that question honestly with yourself will just about make your decision for you. You can't go wrong regardless though. Good luck!

Thanks DrLacrosse! Hahah I think you just described the heart of my problem, as it's very difficult for me to prioritize among the cost, reputation, and curriculum at each school, and, of course, my family and SO. For me, it's always been a balancing act. If I had to pick, however, I would have to say that curriculum and cost are most important to me at the moment.
 
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A three year program will have you paying a year less of tuition and have you earning an attending's salary a year earlier. Is the three year program limited to primary care? What specialty are you interested in?
 
not familiar with this 3 yr program. i dont understand the comment regarding worrying about step1 or residency interviews. extrapolate plz
 
A three year program will have you paying a year less of tuition and have you earning an attending's salary a year earlier. Is the three year program limited to primary care? What specialty are you interested in?

True =) It's not limited to primary care. You can choose from pretty much any specialty. I sent a private msg with my specialty of choice.
 
not familiar with this 3 yr program. i dont understand the comment regarding worrying about step1 or residency interviews. extrapolate plz

No problem. NYU started a 3-year MD program last year, in which medical students apply to a residency of their choice at the NYU medical center. If they're admitted to the program, they can get their MD degrees in 3 years and are committed to completing their residencies at NYU. It's essentially designed for those who want to shorten their MD training by 1 year and who know what specialty they want to go into before starting medical school. That way, students don't have to stress as much about their Step 1 grades and residency apps, since they all know where they're going already.
 
No problem. NYU started a 3-year MD program last year, in which medical students apply to a residency of their choice at the NYU medical center. If they're admitted to the program, they can get their MD degrees in 3 years and are committed to completing their residencies at NYU. It's essentially designed for those who want to shorten their MD training by 1 year and who know what specialty they want to go into before starting medical school. That way, students don't have to stress as much about their Step 1 grades and residency apps, since they all know where they're going already.

ah. that being said, unless you 100% know what you want to do, i would avoid doing that. MANY people go/went into medical school thinking they wanted to do one thing FOR SURE (like me, wanting to do ortho) and then they do rotations and decide to do something completed different (medicine then GI for me). i wouldn't commit to a career until you've REALLY GENUINELY experienced it on rotations.

from the rest of your choices, Penn, UCLA, or Vandy. All will get you into top notch residencies. UCLA = best weather. Penn = best program. Vandy = fun town, good all around. if i had your list, i'd go Penn, UCLA, then Vandy. (many might disagree with me and put vandy above ucla though).
 
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No problem. NYU started a 3-year MD program last year, in which medical students apply to a residency of their choice at the NYU medical center. If they're admitted to the program, they can get their MD degrees in 3 years and are committed to completing their residencies at NYU. It's essentially designed for those who want to shorten their MD training by 1 year and who know what specialty they want to go into before starting medical school. That way, students don't have to stress as much about their Step 1 grades and residency apps, since they all know where they're going already.

How important is flexibility to you? This sounds like a great option for some, but you are also committing yourself to 1) a specialty, and 2) the residency location. Though you would save 1 year of tuition and time and save the stress of building a strong residency app, what you lose is not insignificant.

Also, I think you can start by choosing between CCLCM and Vanderbilt. Both of them are essentially offering you cost. CCLCM has a better cost, but with some extra factors to consider. At other schools, how likely is it that you would do a 5th research year anyway? And how do you feel about the small class size and heavy PBL curriculum of CCLCM?
 
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I might be biased because I'm a CA native but I think UCLA! I'm not sure if you have received your financial aid offer, but UCLA is known to be quite generous and you may qualify for certain aids and grants. All the schools you have listed are pretty much top notch and will get you amazing residencies. Personally, being close to my SO and family is huge for me. It definitely helps with the stresses of med school to have a solid support system. So you also have to take into account if you can stand moving away from your SO and family for at least 4 years, or if your SO can possibly relocate.
 
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In terms of a balancing act, I feel Vanderbilt has only the drawback of being away from your family. Half the price of Penn while having a better curriculum(according to your preferences) than CCLCM. I'm not clear about the rules surrounding the two years of electives but it would give you ample time to confirm your field of interest.
 
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Personally I'd go with UCLA, unless you love prestige and want to be an academic professor at MGH or something (in which case, go to Penn). Sounds like you'd be happiest there! Plus it might be easier to land a good CA residency and stay close to family for residency. UCLA has amazing hospitals and from what I hear the students and curriculum is very laid back (well, as laid back as med school can be).
 
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How important is flexibility to you? This sounds like a great option for some, but you are also committing yourself to 1) a specialty, and 2) the residency location. Though you would save 1 year of tuition and time and save the stress of building a strong residency app, what you lose is not insignificant.

Also, I think you can start by choosing between CCLCM and Vanderbilt. Both of them are essentially offering you cost. CCLCM has a better cost, but with some extra factors to consider. At other schools, how likely is it that you would do a 5th research year anyway? And how do you feel about the small class size and heavy PBL curriculum of CCLCM?

Thanks for the input =) @snowflakes and @jturkel both bring up good points about being sure about the specialty I've chosen. I've done a lot of shadowing in my chosen specialty over the past 2 years, and I can say with reasonable certainty that it's a good fit for my interests and personality. I have to admit that while I like NYC, I'm a bit more hesitant about the location due to personal considerations.

Although I'll definitely pursue research in med school, I highly doubt I'd do a 5th year (if I turn down CCLCM, of course). I guess my desire to start residency trumps my desire to publish more papers. I have to admit that the small class size and heavy PBL worries me. I'm mostly worried about the efficiency of learning through PBL, specifically with regards to board exam and clinical preparation. I also prefer more objective standards of evaluation, and I feel as though the portfolio system is a little more subjective than what I'm comfortable with. Just my personal preference =)

I might be biased because I'm a CA native but I think UCLA! I'm not sure if you have received your financial aid offer, but UCLA is known to be quite generous and you may qualify for certain aids and grants. All the schools you have listed are pretty much top notch and will get you amazing residencies. Personally, being close to my SO and family is huge for me. It definitely helps with the stresses of med school to have a solid support system. So you also have to take into account if you can stand moving away from your SO and family for at least 4 years, or if your SO can possibly relocate.

How much did my SO pay you to post this? Hahah it's certainly a big concern, and if I end up at UCLA in the end, it'll be a significant contributing factor =)

Unfortunately, my SO can't relocate in the next 4 years because he'll be going through residency himself (here in CA)
 
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I'd love to hear the input of my fellow SDNers when it comes to selecting a medical school =) I'm having a difficult time making up my mind, and as you can probably tell from the title, I'm being pulled in many different directions. I'm extremely, extremely grateful for these opportunities, but it sure doesn't make for an easy decision. So I'm going to lay it all out here, and if anyone wants to offer their two cents, please do!

A few things about me: I'm highly interested in academic medicine, so research during medical school is important to me. Since I'm a non-traditional applicant who took a few years between college and med school, the number of years spent in school is important as well (namely, I'd like to stay away from spending too many additional years in medical school). Other equally important factors… My family and significant other are both in California. Since I come from a relatively modest family, merit-based aid is an important part of my final decision. In terms of med school curriculum… I like lectures and more directed small-group learning, as opposed to more open-ended, self-directed PBL. While I like P/F in the pre-clinical years, I prefer to have H/HP/P/F (or some variation of that) during clinical years, since I understand that it's an important part of residency evals.

Option 1. UCLA--David Geffen: Great West coast school with a fairly traditional curriculum (which I like), cheaper than private schools because I pay in-state tuition, but still amounts to about $250k out of pocket. Although Geffen is awesome by its own merit, the major, major, major attractor (for me) is its location, as it places me with my family and significant other for the next 4 years.

Option 2. Vanderbilt: Another terrific school. Fairly new curriculum (Curriculum 2.0), which is a mixture of lecture and CBL (case-based learning, which from what I understand, is more directed than PBL) and consists of 1-year preclinical, 1-year core rotations, and 2 years of a lot of flexibility. I'm relatively neutral about Vanderbilt's curriculum, as I think it has both pros and cons. The major attractant here is a scholarship offer that reduces my total out of pocket to $140k or so for all 4 years.

Option 3. Penn: Undoubtedly a top-tier school. I like their curriculum (1.5 year pre-clinical, case-based learning and lectures), and Penn has a reputation for having friendly med students. I like University City in Philadelphia, and overall, I really have no criticisms about Penn. Costs aside, it is my dream school. But of course, $280k is a lot to shell out over 4 years.

Option 4. Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine: 5-year program (1 year research), heavily PBL-based in a class of 32, no grades at all--strictly P/F during all 5 years, major attractor is the fact that I'll pay only $20K out of pocket for all 5 years of education. As my dad pointed out, however, if you interpret the additional year as a year of lost income, it may not be the best deal (financially) after all. Disclaimer: I don't really see it that way, as I think the additional year is useful for someone who wants to go into academic medicine, but I'm including it because he still has a valid point. Just 2 sides of the same coin =) Oh as for the location… Cleveland is second only to Baltimore, haha

Option 5. NYU's 3-Year MD program is not set in stone, but it's potentially an option. I feel dedicated to the field I've chosen, and it would be very nice not to have to worry about USMLE Step 1 and residency interviews. I also like NYU's curriculum, which is similar to Penn's (but maybe with less case-based learning). The major attractor is, of course, the fact that it'll be 3 years to get a degree. But it does lock me into one location and program for the better part of the next decade. Total out of pocket for 3 years will be about $220k.

Disclaimer: At the moment, I have to admit that I'm leaning towards either Vanderbilt, UCLA, or Penn. But don't allow me to bias your opinions =)

Thanks for the input everyone! I've had a lot of great advice from several SDNers this application cycle, and I'd love to hear your two cents =)

I feel like a lot of people have been debating CCLCM vs. a host of other schools recently haha! Each time, I've been surprised that I've told people to give up the money CCLCM is offering because other schools have offered nice packages themselves and the individuals have truly seemed like they had a very negative impression (not just some concerns, which is natural) of PBL going in, which is one of the few things I think sets one up for failure in any setting.

In this case, though, I would go CCLCM in a heartbeat.

Personally, I totally think the worry about CCLCM's small class size/PBL/distance from SO/Location are totally warranted. But I would also keep in mind:

1) I don't think CCLCM will limit you professionally at all (including going into whatever academic medicine job you desire at whatever institution you desire), but with that said I think it's a wash because none of those schools would limit you (people on SDN love trying to find marginal differences between top institutions when in reality those marginal differences either don't exist or are a manifestation of student preferences not institutional factors).

2) PBL at CCLCM ~3 times per week for 2 hours for 2 years. Is it PBL-based, yes, but does it do away with lectures entirely and mandate you study in groups? No. While something to consider, I think only individuals going in with a negative mindset are doomed to fail in PBL, and curriculum differences beyond that are probably a bit overblown because there are only so many factors to look at when considering med school and we love to over analyze them :)

3) CCLCM consistently has good matches (defined as multiple specialities all around the country) and through 2012 I believe reported an average step 1 around 235 (based on a research poster they presented at a conference). No idea if that is the exact number anymore, but that is just to say I think CCLCM knows that it doesn't have grades, knows it doesn't have formal tests, and has figured out a system that clearly doesn't put its students at a disadvantage. In fact, throughout your time at CCLCM there are tests, they just aren't for formal grades, but you still get just as much feedback. Will the other schools put you at a disadvantage/is this a win for CCLCM? I think getting feedback without formal grades is a point in favor of CCLCM, but again it comes down to preference and I also think it's clear no school is going to put you at a disadvantage.

Location and distance from SO are clearly favoring UCLA. However, too many of the other variables (curriculum, professional prospects, even the amount of feedback you'll get so you can be prepared for step 1) are washes. So for me it comes down to UCLA or CCLCM. I say CCLCM because I don't know if I'd pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for a decision based on a significant other at this point, but clearly that is something you'll have to weigh for yourself.

At the end of the day though, I'd throw out everything that isn't UCLA or CCLCM. Why pay 140 at Vandy vs. 20 at CCLCM when both have the same major detractor (being in the East) and great everything else? Why pay almost 300 for Penn when most people (excpet perhaps SDN on a snarky day) will tell you all of these schools will open whatever doors through which you want to walk?

Good luck with the decision!
 
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I'll pay only $20K out of pocket for all 5 years of education. As my dad pointed out, however, if you interpret the additional year as a year of lost income, it may not be the best deal (financially) after all. Disclaimer: I don't really see it that way, as I think the additional year is useful for someone who wants to go into academic medicine, but I'm including it because he still has a valid point.

Just for the record on this point because a lot of people bring it up. And I'm rewriting this because my first attempt wasn't really clear at all…

Essentially every choice has an opportunity cost. For CCLCM, it is 1 year of salary. However, going to one of the other schools has opportunity costs as well.

1) Debt which continues accruing interest during residency that you would otherwise not have at CCLCM
OR
2) Debt that you begin to pay back during residency that you wouldn't otherwise have at CCLCM, which limits your ability to max out a 401k and takes up at least 10% of your pre-tax income

In the former situation, I think it's clear the opportunity cost of the other places is actually quite large, perhaps even larger than 1 year of salary (debt accruing interest over minimum 7 years). In the latter, I think it's also incredibly high, and probably higher than it would be at CCLCM (1) quality of life, or at least standard of living, as a resident will be impacted as you're giving up a large percentage of your income, and 2) long-term investments cannot be made very early in you career, aka the best time to make them as they have the most time to grow before they are needed for items like retirement, which arguably will be worth much more than 1 year of salary on its own).

As such, if you're going to talk about opportunity cost, it must be noted that it, in addition to the debt itself (the actual cost), is most likely higher at other institutions than it would be at CCLCM. Thus, including opportunity cost in the calculation often actually pushes the cost/benefit towards the cheaper option (assuming modest means and no major supplemental income), which in this case is CCLCM
 
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All this talk of how much you'll be making as a physician makes me question what EXACTLY you see yourself doing after residency. If you go the academic medicine route and focus heavily on research then you won't be making as much as your private practice colleagues who can pay off high loans more easily. That's where lower costs of med school are important, and I presume that's the goal of the CCLCM cost reduction.

All that said just go with your gut :)
 
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Go to Nasvhville, Stuff it in Miley Cyrus. Call it a day.
 
Before you make an decisions, you should wait until you receive the final financial aid letters from each school.

I would be very surprised if you had to pay full sticker price at Penn, especially if your family is not wealthy, since the majority of the students have some sort of aid.

That said, location is sometimes worth more than money if it means proximity to family and friends.
 
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I'm not entirely sure the one year loss of physician salary applies to your situation with CCLCM. Compared to your other schools, CCLCM will cost significantly less than your other options (though these aren't set in stone), with most of them having greater than a $200K difference. After residency, all of the debt you owe would easily become >$400K due to interest. So in your case, attending school for an extra year at CCLCM is essentially equal to, if not better than, your other options in terms of finances later on. However, you do say you come from a modest family, so I suspect that you'll get better financial aid than what you're projecting right now.

Like @darkjedi said, I'd probably wait until you receive your finalized financial aid packages before solidifying your decision.
 
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You might want to wait for financial aid packages before you make your final decision, but here is my input:

If you absolutely feel like you need to stay close to your family, go to UCLA. You might want to speak to the admissions office and let them know that you really want to go to there, but you have scholarship offers from other schools. They may be able to match the scholarship.

If cost is not an issue, go to Penn. It will probably prepare you the best for an academic residency, although all five schools are known for producing academic physicians.

If you want to do the extra research year, go to CCLM. A lot of people who want to go into academics (although probably not the majority) take an extra research year anyway, so keep that in mind. Your dad is right: the lost year of wages will essentially cancel out the cost difference between CCLM and Vanderbilt, so I wouldn't worry about the difference in sticker price between the two. CCLM is still a cheaper option than Penn and UCLA, of course.

If you don't want to do the extra research year, go to Vanderbilt. IMO, barring the considerations about staying close to your family and SO, Vanderbilt seems like the best option for you. It is the cheapest option and an excellent school.
 
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Vanderbilt or UCLA. You need to decide how much location matters to you. If it's a lesser factor, go to Vandy. Personally, I would have trouble turning down 100k.

Do you have any idea what specialty you are interested in?
 
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How much is living in California close to your SO and family worth to you for the next 4-12 years? There's your answer.

Med school is all about what residency you get because once you get your residency no one cares where you went to school. If you're trying for a very competitive residency and want to end up in California, go to UCLA. If you're going for IM you can get back to California no problem.

My advice: Don't pick CCLCM, the year lost is far too valuable. For the NYU 3 year deal do you have to go to NYU or do they just guarantee you a residency spot?
 
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If you want to marry your SO then choose UCLA. The relationship might fall apart if you choose a far-away school.
 
Thanks for the input everyone =)

Vanderbilt or UCLA. You need to decide how much location matters to you. If it's a lesser factor, go to Vandy. Personally, I would have trouble turning down 100k.

Do you have any idea what specialty you are interested in?

Yes I feel very good about the specialty I've chosen =) I agree with your assessment, and if nothing else really changes between now and May 15th, I will likely end up at Vanderbilt. Of course, I agree with @darkjedi and @nemo123 on holding off until knowing exactly what my financial aid package looks like. The figures I've cited are estimates.

All this talk of how much you'll be making as a physician makes me question what EXACTLY you see yourself doing after residency. If you go the academic medicine route and focus heavily on research then you won't be making as much as your private practice colleagues who can pay off high loans more easily. That's where lower costs of med school are important, and I presume that's the goal of the CCLCM cost reduction.

All that said just go with your gut :)

Regarding the extra year.... I didn't expect so much debate on the topic, but I appreciate hearing the different viewpoints on the cost/benefit analysis. @seeinghowitgoes I plan on avoiding loans, if at all possible. None of these options will really require taking out loans at the end of the day, so the interest accrual won't be a factor. In short, I am definitely interested in academic medicine, which is why I don't see in terms of lost income (quite as much as some). But it's still a year of my time, and I'd prefer to do research while in medical school, rather than taking an extra year out of school. Again, just a personal preference.

How much is living in California close to your SO and family worth to you for the next 4-12 years? There's your answer.

Med school is all about what residency you get because once you get your residency no one cares where you went to school. If you're trying for a very competitive residency and want to end up in California, go to UCLA. If you're going for IM you can get back to California no problem.

My advice: Don't pick CCLCM, the year lost is far too valuable. For the NYU 3 year deal do you have to go to NYU or do they just guarantee you a residency spot?

Good point about the CA residencies. And I should clarify about the NYU 3-yr deal… It guarantees you a residency in a select specialty at NYU, but doesn't necessarily lock you in. If you decide to go a different route, you can always complete 4 years of med school, then apply for residency like everyone else.
 
Yes I feel very good about the specialty I've chosen =) I agree with your assessment, and if nothing else really changes between now and May 15th, I will likely end up at Vanderbilt. Of course, I agree with @darkjedi and @nemo123 on holding off until knowing exactly what my financial aid package looks like. The figures I've cited are estimates.

Yay! Will I be seeing you at Second Look?
 
I will leave specific recommendations and detailed analysis to other posters but I would like to add OP that if I was in your position and considering schools x, y, and z with the goal of becoming an academic MD, I would look at the types of positions I would like to have in 20 years and see where the majority of people went to for medical school. So if I knew I wanted to an academic neurosurgeon at a New England institution in 20 years, I would look at neurosurgeons' bios at MGH, Upenn, Yale-New Haven, etc. and see where they completed their medical school education.
 
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