UNC or Texas A&M??


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Feb 6, 2016
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I've narrowed it down to two schools, but could use some advice on what may or may not be better based on the experience of others. I loved both schools and they were my top choices after interviewing! That's why it is such a hard choice...I'll list what I see as pro's and con's to both schools:

Texas A&M
  • Cheap tuition (65k for all 4 years)
  • Well-known university, but fairly new medical school
    • I believe that A&M will continue to improve in rankings/recognition as a med school based on their future plans etc.
  • 18 month pre-clinical
  • Take Step 1 6+ months after starting rotations
    • Is this a benefit? I worry about keeping up on pre-clinical coursework for Step 1 while trying to also do well in clinicals
  • Close to family
    • I'm married and see this as a great thing for my wife
  • Classes from 8 AM to 4 PM three to four days a week
    • I'm a self-directed learner and worry about spending so much time in class v. using afternoons to study on my own
  • Shorter breaks (4 weeks between years 1 & 2)
  • Low cost of living/more conservative community
  • Impressive facilities across 5 different campuses
    • We will be moving after the first year to a campus other than College Station..possible negative if moving becomes a hassle
  • I have above average GPA & MCAT scores for A&M
    • Potentially be higher in class rankings...big fish in a small pond?? I know this is hypothetical on how well I do at the school, but if it happens is that significant?
  • Multiple courses at one time taken over longer periods of time
    • A lot like what I am used to from undergrad...tests overlapping etc.
University of North Carolina
  • Often ranked in top 20 for med schools depending on the ranking
  • Cheap tuition, but double Texas A&M (130k for all 4 years)
  • 18 month pre-clinical
  • Take Step 1 right after pre-clinicals before starting rotations
    • Does clinical experience in rotations help on Step 1??
  • No family within a 3 to 4 hour plane ride
  • Classes 8 AM to 1 PM most days with afternoon labs 1 to 2 days a week
    • More time for self-directed study??
  • 2.5 month break between year 1 & 2
  • Relatively low cost of living/more liberal community
  • Impressive facilities close to the school
    • Stay in 1 place all 4 years, possibly buy a home to save on rent
  • I am straight average when it comes to average GPA & MCAT for the school
    • If I am average in class rankings is that negative? Average at better school, or above average at lower ranked school? What is better?
  • Well established med school
  • Classes are taught in blocks (Usually 4 to 5 weeks in duration with a midterm and final)
    • Focus on one subject at a time before moving on to the next. Is this good or bad??
Thank you for any insights into some of the points I have listed!
 

Dermpire

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UNC is a really good school, and would probably be my pick. As for class rankings, I doubt you would do that much better at A&M over UNC for it to matter, they aren't that far apart in MCAT and if you really want to focus on rank, AOA is going to be what matters. Many ranks end up as just an adjective in your Dean's letter. For example: great, superb, exceptional, fantastic, etc for each quartile of the class.

Honestly, there are a lot of pros and cons to both schools and only you know the answer. What type of schedule and teaching environment do you prefer (this will be very important)? Do you like the hospitals you will be rotating at? Will you be able to form good relationships with faculty? Does that school have your dream specialty as a residency program. You really can't go wrong with either though!
 

navigator

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Would you rather spend all 4 years in one place or have to move around twice (initially, then for clinicals)? Which school offers better rotations? Would you be content with not having your first choice rotation site at A&M (it happens!). Will you need the support of family or would you be happier with a more independent life? Are the match lists relatively equal or is one slightly better?

How are you financing your education?
Do you plan on going into academic medicine?

It's heavily documented that there's no positive correlation between MCAT and increased medical school performance after 27/45. It will be hard to predict performance and the kids in any medical school class will likely humble you! You're obviously a great student though and will do great at either school.

Just putting these questions out there. If this was UTSW/BCM vs UNC, I'd obviously suggest for you to stay in-state, but from what I hear there's a tangible benefit from being at a Top 25 institution (Vandy, UTSW, UNC, Michigan, UCLA, Yale, Mt Sinai, etc.).
 
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Nysor_bttw

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Just wanted to clear up that classes are not 8-4 at A&M, and that you have the opportunity to take step directly following the 18 month pre clinical curriculum. Classes are much like what you describe for UNC, and there is a great deal of opportunity time for self study. Hope that helps in your decision making!
 

sshah92

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I had the option between UT Houston and Columbia and think I made the best possible option. Being in the TMC would've been great (and is also possible thru A&M), but the quality of clinical training, research, and faculty mentors you'd get at a T20 institution seriously cannot be understated. Pedigree matters in the academic world and in the long run, you'll make up the money lost from staying in Texas.

That said, A&M is a decent option. I have friends from undergrad that go there who couldn't be happier. Like undergrad, it's really about how you use the resources at your disposal wherever you end up. Making a list of pros and cons was what tipped the scale for me to one end instead of the other. Good luck and congrats on your acceptances!
 

CrimsonKing

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As a Texan who still intends to come back for residency and beyond, I still recommend UNC, if for nothing else than to broaden your horizons and maybe take advantages of the opportunities that will be offered at a top 20 institution.
 

girl.gone.medical

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I wouldn't limit yourself by going to a school you have above average scores for, if you have the opportunity to push yourself at UNC. I would say UNC.
 
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