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Urgent advice: UC San Diego or UC Davis?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by ahelix, May 29, 2008.

  1. ahelix

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    I have been leaning towards UCSD for a couple weeks and have to decide by the end of the day tomorrow. I just wanted to post here because I was having some last minute doubts.

    Here are the major attractors to SD for me:
    • Lots of great research opportunities
    • Educational support (e.g. tutoring)
    • Stronger reputation
    • Strong residency match record
    Disadvantages:
    • H/P/F grading for all 4 years
    • Traditional, lecture heavy curriculum
    And the pros for Davis:
    • Relaxed atmosphere
    • P/F grading first 2 years
    • Proximity to lots of good hiking
    • Within easy driving distance from home
    The main disadvantages:
    • Relatively limited research opportunities
    • Not as strong of a match record
    • Lesser known reputation
    It seems like I'd be a little happier at Davis but could have more flexibility career-wise at SD. I am not set on research, but think I might like to combine clinical practice with some research, which is why I'm leaning towards SD. Especially since I'm interested in learning more about stem cell and regenerative medicine research. I think I am more sure that I would like to specialize in some field (not sure what yet) rather than do primary care.

    I've been talking to LOTS of students from both schools and they have all recommend going where I think I'd be happiest. But I think I'd only be marginally happier at Davis than SD. A lot of the Davis students remind me that going there won't close any doors, their match list just reflects a stronger preference for primary care careers among the student body, students can gain really meaningful research experience (just with a limited number of choices), and that most students there are very happy. The sort of "family" feel of Davis is making me second guess myself. Most SD students say they enjoy the excellent research opportunities, but admit that the curriculum really needs to be revamped.

    Any advice would be most welcome! Thanks so much!

    (I know there's another thread like this, but I think my situation is sufficiently different that I just made a new one.)
     
  2. rawr88

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    facing a similar situation with two different UCs. gotta admit that it sounds like you should go to UCD based on the fact that it's closer to home for you and your instincts make you feel you might be happier there. p/f can make a huge difference in your stress level and make room for doing research without worrying about grade tiers. the community feel of UCD is incredibly attractive and i believe they provide their med students with lots of support and guidance.
     
  3. lord_jeebus

    lord_jeebus 和魂洋才
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    As a soon-to-graduate UCSD MS4, I think the only time H/P/F was stressful (or even something that influenced my study habits) was 3rd year, when almost every school has it.

    I think there are many good reasons to pick any med school, but I don't think preclinical H/P/F should be a very significant factor for anyone. Preclinical grades have no long term significance. Because of Step I, people who work really hard are going to work really hard anywhere. I don't believe that the option of "Honors" is going to transform friendly, cooperative people into cutthroat gunners.
     
  4. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California
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    I have to say, ahelix, that for all of these A vs. B threads, you seem to be better informed than most. I was expecting to hear Davis described as a primary care school in cow country and SD described as a research-obsessed stress factory. I think your pros and cons are pretty right on.

    SD is a more traditional school in terms of curriculum and student body (age, background, etc.) though the latter can probably change from year to year. If this is important to you, that's good to keep in mind.

    SD will kick Davis's a$$ six ways to Sunday in terms of research. If you're interested in lots of research opportunities and funding, SD is very hard to beat by most med schools nationally. That said, if you're just looking at doing some side research with your medical studies, that's done at Davis as well (like most UCs). But your odds of rubbing shoulders with nobel laureates is reduced.

    Davis is very big on diversity in all senses of the word. Of all the UCs, I think we tend to have the funkiest, widest variety in our student body. Folks of all ages from all walks of life are the norm here, rather than the exception. You list concern about older students a couple times on this list. If you're looking for a predominantly white/asian 22 year old bio major campus, this is probably not your best bet.

    Davis is also known as having one of the most collaborative/cooperative schools, encouraged by the administration, curriculum, grading, and lack of class rank (this is absolutely key. P/F is nice, but if you're still ranked against your fellow students it reduces collaboration). That said, the UCSD reputation of being cutthroat competitive and whatnot is a reputation they either didn't deserve or is now hopelessly out of date.

    UCSD and UCD are very different culturally, but also geographically. Davis is the prototypical Northern California medical school and SD is the prototypical Southern California medical school. They've got the beach, we've got the mountains. They're close to LA and Mexico, we're close to SF and Tahoe. SoCal and NorCal really couldn't be more different. Your decision would be a lot harder if the schools were next door.
    Question why you think you'd be happier at Davis. You might very well be just as happy at SD. As for specializing, Davis won't limit you there. We have a lot of primary care folks, but that's what Davis attracts. It's not that there is something in the water up here. Look at our match list in terms of what we specialize in and where we place. That said, if you know that you're going to be going into a particularly research-heavy field, research opportunities at UCSD should win out.
    The family feel at Davis and the curriculum were two big draws for me up here. That said, be happy that even though you feel SD's curriculum needs to be revamped that they're not doing it now. Do not attend a school who is rolling out a brand spanking new curriculum. It's an exercise in pain.

    You seem pretty in the know. Let us know what you end up deciding. Feel free to PM me if you have more Davis specific questions. You're looking at two great schools and realistically you'd probably be quite happy at either.
     
  5. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California
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    I'm with lord-jeebus on this one. Residency directors care very little about preclinical grades. Medical students being medical students, I'm sure that haivng H/P/F makes everyone more stressed in attempts to pull in that Honors, but it's self-induced stress. You can avoid a lot of that added stress by simply not buying into it.
     
  6. ahelix

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    Thanks for all the really helpful posts!

    I should clarify that Davis is about a 3 hour drive and SD is about a 5-6 hour drive from my home, so neither are very close.

    The comments on not letting H/P/F be a significant factor are particularly useful. I think that was the primary reason I recently began doubting my inclination towards SD. I've talked with students at SD who say they just don't worry about getting preclinical honors since it's so relatively unimportant (when compared to 3rd and 4th year).

    As far as research, I think I'd be OK at either school. Though I might be more likely to find a better match for my particular interests at SD. SD would also be preferable in this respect if I find myself leaning towards a research-heavy specialty (which I haven't ruled out).

    Any other thoughts or followup advice would be much appreciated!!!
     
  7. zod4321

    zod4321 Medical Student
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    UCSD has a MUCH better reputation which should be important to you. Nobody knows davis outside of california, but san diego is known nation-wide. With this stronger reputation comes the opportunity to be more competitive for residencies across the nation. At SD you become competitive for both top notch cali residencies and non cali residencies. Davis opens the door mostly to only cali residencies as it's residency director rating isn't very high.
     
  8. zod4321

    zod4321 Medical Student
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    UCSD's match list is AMAZING!

    It's traditional curriculum may be painful, but it definitely yields results.
     
  9. inkare

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    UCSD is definitely more prestigious, it's a world-class institution. If I had to make this decision, it would be really hard not to go with UCSD. However, I do know a MS3 at UCSD, and he absolutely hated his experience. He said it was way too competitive and that he would have had a better time elsewhere. He also said he felt if he went somewhere else, like UCLA, he would have done much better on Step I. Apparently, they don't give you enough time to study for it at UCSD.

    My sister's friend is a first year med at UCSD, and my sister tells me she cries because its too stressful there. She was a top student at UCLA. Now these are some impressions I've got from people who have attended UCSD, I'm not trying to degrade the quality of the institution or the education there.

    All this said, I'd probably pick UCSD and convince myself I can handle the academic rigor there and suck it up and try to do the best I can do there, study my ass off, get honors and study for the boards from day 1, lol. But so will all the other med students making this same decision. Good luck on your decision. You cannot go wrong with either school.
     
  10. Pinkertinkle

    Pinkertinkle 2003 Member
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    It's called USMLE Step I and it's what really opens doors to residencies.
     
  11. EpiPEN

    EpiPEN Aegis of Immortality
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    Agree with previous posts pretty much. Be prepared to work your butt off anywhere I go I suppose. I'd take SD though just because I've liked the environment here.
     
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  12. ahelix

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    i've finally managed to talk to some faculty who have really helped convince me that reputation isn't all that important. as soon as i got over that, i really saw how i could be quite a bit happier at davis. i also think the better curriculum at davis is pretty significant. having a better curriculum means spending less time teaching yourself outside of class and more time for things like volunteering and research. i'm not going for an intensely research-heavy career so i'm sure i could still find meaningful research opportunities at davis. i'm definitely leaning towards ucd and feeling pretty good about it. the smaller things like being close to home/family, a really friendly, diverse class, proximity to the sierras, etc. would actually make a big difference. i just kept downplaying the pros for SD because the reputation was so important to me.
     
  13. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California
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    Curious where you're getting this from? Davis and SD both tend to match very heavily in California. That's because Californians tend to want to stay in California. Our OOS matches were at strong programs.

    Anyway, if you're basing a decision based on USN&WR rankings, definitely go with UCSD. No argument there. But I haven't heard of problems with Davis folks matching due to Davis's reputation.

    As to a med student's ability to match outside of California, it's pretty moot for most UC students. Whether it's UCSD or UCD, most students are Californian and tend to want to stay in state. I don't think either school forces it's alumni to stay in state: its a preference.
     
  14. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California
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    The reputation difference between UCSD and UCD could be relevant if you're gunning to be the youngest cardiothoracic surgeon on the eastern seaboard. But for most specialties, your Step 1 is going to be a lot more important than the reputation of the school you attend. If you think Davis has an environment in which you could learn better, you're probably better off.
    I think the happiness factor is the probably the 2nd most important criteria for choosing a medical school. The first, obviously, is money. If the two tuitions are comparable, it's hard to beat going where you'd be happiest.
    It's a solid curriculum and getting better each year. They're not afraid to make revisions to it based on student input. And we're not constantly in lectures, which can be a drag.
    Research opportunities are the biggest pro for SD over Davis. But you can definitely find research opportunities at Davis as well, just not the same callibre (or competition, to view it in a more positive light). They'll discuss this some at orientation. If you don't hear what you're looking for, PM me and I'll put you in touch with folks doing research right now (I am happily not one).
    Talk to med students and alumni. I've heard a lot of folks unhappy with their choice of medical school, wondering if they made the right choice. But I've never met someone who chose the school they thought they'd be happiest with who later said, "Man, I should have gone for the USN&WR ranking".

    Lots of folks wish they went to the cheaper school. But if tuitions are the same, it's hard to miss following your heart. Best of luck...
     
  15. ahelix

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    just fyi: ended up going with davis and feel really good about it! it was hard to get past sd's prestigious (research) reputation, but i think i'll do much better at davis with the better curriculum and more supportive environment.
     
  16. Pinkertinkle

    Pinkertinkle 2003 Member
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    Don't worry about it too much, the Davis P/NP second year is really good for research. I spent a lot of time during MS2 doing research that I probably wouldn't have if was shooting for honors. In any case UC Davis med students publish good papers every year. Pm me for real world examples if you'd like.
     
  17. loganhayes

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    UCSD has a better reputation than UC Davis. UCSD also has a better location than Davis. I would pick UCSD over Davis.
     
  18. zod4321

    zod4321 Medical Student
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    seriously, davis doesn't even compare with ucsd. Location, prestige, reputation, match list, research, weather, rank: san diego wins without question.

    If you feel that you fit more at davis, then going there is the right choice. But along the conventional terms by which we measure schools, san diego is MUCH better and in an entirely different league. It's like comparing berkeley with stanford for undergrad. Berkeley people always compare the two but in reality, berkeley doesn't even compare to stanford even though it may be a better fit for some people.
     
  19. SiR99

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    lol i realized that too, the first time i heard a berkely student say it was a rival against Standford I was like "wtf, are you sure? you know your comparing a school thats ranked 4th in the nation to one that ranked 21 right?"

    anyways I can understand why the OP would pick Davis. Didnt you guys see the post about the depression rate at UCSD, (i know its a problem at other schools too, but it seems really bad at SD).

    Why would you sacrafice your happyness and health just for a higher ranked school.
     
  20. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California
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    Ah, this is why I love these threads...

    Comparing schools by "conventional terms" can not be done. It's like asking "Which is better: chocolate or strawberry ice cream?" There just isn't a good answer, because it's entirely dependent on the individual.

    Same with med school. Same with undergrad. Same with so many things in life. When folks talk about one school simply being better than another, they're betraying an ignorance. It's very user-dependent.

    What's helpful on these forums is to bother to read a thread, find what a poster is looking for in a school, then use your familiarity with said school to suggest whether or not the school might be the right choice.

    Just jumping up and saying "Strawberry is better" is pretty much a "Here I am!" post.
     

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