• SDN Site Updates

    Hey everyone! The site will be down for approximately 2 hours on Thursday, August 5th for site updates.

Where should I go?

  • UCLA/Caltech

    Votes: 4 13.3%
  • Stanford

    Votes: 17 56.7%
  • Yale

    Votes: 9 30.0%

  • Total voters
    30

meowkat444

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Mar 10, 2007
599
0
Status (Visible)
  1. MD/PhD Student
Yep, I'm posting one of these--I am fortunate to be in this position and partially it's due to the wonderful advice and support of y'all, so I'm choosing to pay you back by demanding even more! I'm possibly one of the least decisive people in the universe, and I have no idea how I'm going to decide where to go by May 15. I won't make my decision solely based on feedback from here, but i sure appreciate it! (Especially if you justify your vote--maybe I'm missing something about these schools!)

About me: interested in vision science, cognitive neuroscience, and secondarily autism research right now. I would probably be looking at an fMRI lab for thesis work or *maybe* a primate neurophys recording lab. I would probably be in a small, supportive lab than a huge unsupportive one. I consider myself a bit more oriented towards research than clinical practice, but I"m certainly getting the MD for a reason. I'm considering lots of things for residency: psychiatry, neurology, ophthalmology, neurosurg, peds, these all could intersect with neuroscience research (clearly lots of differences there but that's what med school clinics will be for). I'm a big social justice activist and like to be authentically involved in my community, and want to be able to at least volunteer clinically during phd years. I want to live somewhere where I can get to school without driving but still have some things to walk to from my house. I'm a fiddle player and spend most of my non-science time playing music. Geography is no issue as my parents live in WV and I'm sure not going back there. I live in LA right now but have mixed feelings about it, so I have no great need to stay nor leave.

This is probably not comprehensive, but here are good and bad things about each school I am considering as I see it (UCLA/Caltech, Stanford, Yale).

UCLA/Caltech
PROS:
-opportunity to join powerhouse labs at Caltech
-in an urban area
-amazing role model of a woman director
-get to stay with current musical groups (sounds trivial but I have lived in other places and had much less success finding people to play my fiddle with)
-solid clinical programs in neurology, psychiatry (fields I am interested in possibly)
-new hospital
-diversity of patient population
-between UCLA and Caltech, lots and lots of possible labs (although lots at UCLA I'm considering are non-tenured profs)


CONS:
-cost of living
-phd at Caltech notoriously takes forever (mean of 5 years for phd alone)
-labs at Caltech and Caltech in general intimidate me
-less "prestigious" academic reputation at UCLA, although certainly comparable quality (don't yell at me for saying this, it's not meant to be offensive)
-not a lot of integration of md/phd programs, although from discussion with director I may be able to build clinical experience into phd
-I have a lot of emotional baggage in LA right now and kind of want a fresh start
-little clinical experience during phd or opportunities to continue clinical experience during phd

Stanford:
PROS:
-p/f all four years
-northern cali = good food, weather, liberal, access to everything
-other students often do research and take 5 years (i.e. I won't be the lone mstp weirdo)
-very highly regarded neuroscience program
-seems to be a really amazing group of students

CONS:
-evil suburbia-land, would either have to live in it or commute from san fran or something
-everything is EXPENSIVE
-less diverse patient population and opportunities for community involvement
-the one prof who works in the imaging area I'm interested in apparently isn't a great advisor, although there are others that do somewhat similar things who are
-little clinical experience before phd or opportunities to continue clinical experience during phd


Yale:
PROS:
-a few rotations before phd
-better integration of clinical/research
-other students often do research and take 5 years (i.e. I won't be the lone mstp weirdo)
-I like New Haven (no, really) and gritty urban areas in general, and the yale environment is amazing
-cost of living
-I absolutely love one of the advisors I am considering and know that he is a fantastic mentor etc
-the professors in my field are very supportive, collaborative, and smart
-happy students, no grades

CONS:
-I've already been there (academic incest?) even though I wouldn't work with the exact same PI
-not as many labs I would be interested in here -- 3 or 4 maybe, although I'm sure the great one I mentioned above will be there, and my interests are somewhat flexible
-I never fit into the music scene when I lived there before
-it's COLD
 
Jan 1, 2004
2,922
6
43
Hershey, PA
Status (Visible)
  1. Attending Physician
I wouldn't be intimidated by Caltech, it's a very friendly place in its own way. PM me if you have any questions about it although I wasn't MSTP there. Who are you thinking of working for there? One thing about Caltech is that it's such a tiny department that there aren't usually a lot of overlapping people, and I think all the fMRI folks are new.

I voted Yale, just because that was my second choice for grad school and I always wondered what might have been :)

Honestly, if I were you I'd probably pick based on weather (and therefore go to Stanford). My perception is that Stanford also has the most egghead group of med students out of those three, plus it's really cush there.
 

Hurricane

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Aug 14, 2005
977
4
The Metroplex
blue-hurricane.livejournal.com
Status (Visible)
  1. Resident [Any Field]
Don't choose assuming you're going to work with a specific mentor. People move around in academia all the time, and there's no guarantee a particular mentor will still be there in the 2+ years between now and when you're ready to start your research. Also, your interests may change in that time. So pick a place you'd still want to go to even if that specific person weren't there.

Good luck :)
 
About the Ads

j-weezy

MS1
10+ Year Member
Aug 9, 2006
1,183
1
Status (Visible)
  1. MD/PhD Student
Isn't Caltech like second to none in terms of some areas of neuroscience?
 
Jan 1, 2004
2,922
6
43
Hershey, PA
Status (Visible)
  1. Attending Physician
Isn't Caltech like second to none in terms of some areas of neuroscience?

Well, that's a vague enough statement that it's hard to really dispute, I suppose. I think they have some truly great scientists in and out of neuroscience, but as I said it's also a small department so you don't have the choices you would elsewhere.

I also really object to the notion of ranking departments or labs...within certain fields there may be tiers, to an extent, but you can't really say that any one place is "best" or "second to none." Especially as a prospective graduate student where the important thing is the training you will receive, and that may well be better in a smaller lab that doesn't publish in Nature every other day or have a Nobel Laureate running it. Or not.

But yeah, there are some great labs at Caltech, big and small.
 

MSTPbound

student
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Oct 1, 2006
520
0
Status (Visible)
  1. Post Doc
Meowkat,

IMHO, if you really believe that you would be equally happy at any of the three institutions, then I would choose primarily based on geography. When you commit yourself to a place for the better part of a decade, I think it's smart to give a lot of thought to the surroundings where you'd prefer to start this next phase of your life, and potentially a family (if this is in the cards for you).

Based on your list, that would make Yale the best place for you (neighborhood + cost of living considered).

That said, I voted for Stanford in the above poll - putting myself in your shoes; not to split hairs here, but for sheer prestige in not just neuroscience, but medicine and biology in general, Stanford screams loudest at me from your list - but that's just me.

Good :luck:, and CONGRATULATIONS on such a FANTASTIC application season!



:clap::bow::biglove::banana::banana::biglove::bow::clap:
 

gbwillner

Pastafarian
Moderator Emeritus
15+ Year Member
Jan 30, 2006
2,564
764
You've got the Touch- You've got the Power!
Status (Visible)
  1. Attending Physician
Yep, I'm posting one of these--I am fortunate to be in this position and partially it's due to the wonderful advice and support of y'all, so I'm choosing to pay you back by demanding even more! I'm possibly one of the least decisive people in the universe, and I have no idea how I'm going to decide where to go by May 15. I won't make my decision solely based on feedback from here, but i sure appreciate it! (Especially if you justify your vote--maybe I'm missing something about these schools!)

All are great places, and I agree that you really can't go wrong. I never did understand the "geography" argument- anywhere you go you will appreciate what is there and learn to like/hate certain things about it.

I recommend you go to the place that has the most amount of research that interests you. I think it's most important to commit to the strongest overall department in your field of interest. Inevitably you will find that some of the PIs you were considering are jerks and others you never heard of will be your ideal mentor- and going to a large department in your area of interest affords you the most opportunity.

I wouldn't worry about your residency tendencies- you are sure to change your mind many times over the next 7-10 years. I also got a chuckle out of your desire to "volunteer" clinically during your PhD... good luck with that!:laugh:
 

meowkat444

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Mar 10, 2007
599
0
Status (Visible)
  1. MD/PhD Student
I wouldn't worry about your residency tendencies- you are sure to change your mind many times over the next 7-10 years. I also got a chuckle out of your desire to "volunteer" clinically during your PhD... good luck with that!:laugh:

I will NEVER EVER stop being a naive idealist ;) YOU CAN'T MAKE ME!

Thanks all for the input.
 

MSTPbound

student
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Oct 1, 2006
520
0
Status (Visible)
  1. Post Doc
I never did understand the "geography" argument- anywhere you go you will appreciate what is there and learn to like/hate certain things about it.

Eh... maybe I'm just showing my age? Different strokes for different folks I guess.
 

meowkat444

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Mar 10, 2007
599
0
Status (Visible)
  1. MD/PhD Student
if you are showing your age, then i am too--i've been out of college for a few years, and lifestyle IS important to me.
 

meowkat444

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Mar 10, 2007
599
0
Status (Visible)
  1. MD/PhD Student
i didn't add that i've been wanting ot live in the bay area since college. it's just that when i said that, i pictured san fran or berkeley...
 

gbwillner

Pastafarian
Moderator Emeritus
15+ Year Member
Jan 30, 2006
2,564
764
You've got the Touch- You've got the Power!
Status (Visible)
  1. Attending Physician
if you are showing your age, then i am too--i've been out of college for a few years, and lifestyle IS important to me.

That's really not my point. Lifestyle is probably important to everybody. But in reality you don't know what a place offers until you live there. Not only that, but over the next 7-10 years your interests will surely change significantly, as well as what you consider relevant to your "lifestyle".

I have lived in the West Coast, East Coast, and now Texas. I've always loved how people often speak badly of places they've never even been to. Everywhere I've been life has been good, albeit at times in slightly different ways. No matter where you go, you will (hopefully) make friends and find things to do/places to hang out. In my opinion this is almost always a wash at best. Let me explain with an example-
If you go to Stanford you will be CLOSE TO (but not in) SF, which is a great city. You will find lots of interesting things to do and see there. Life will be very expensive and you will finish your training as broke as when you started.
If you go to UCLA you will live in a very large city with tons of things to do and see. Traffic will drive you crazy. I was driven crazy by the people, since the entire city is driven by "the industry". You will chuckle as all your hot waitresses with fake boobs are really actresses waiting for their "big break". The city is so expensive you will be just as broke as when you started.
If you go to New Haven you will be in a small city that still has a lot of charm (mostly around Yale campus). However, you will be a short trip from both Boston or NYC. It is relatively inexpensive and you may even be able to afford to buy a small condo (maybe). Your options in terms of clubs may be more limited, but that doesn't mean you'll be bored. Life may even be easier for you.

Now which one has the best lifestyle? Probably when you're 22 you may want to experience LA.. but let's say you find someone and get married- you may wish you were anywhere else.
 

Jorje286

Member
10+ Year Member
Jul 19, 2004
637
75
Status (Visible)
Since weather is an extremely important criteria for me, and all of those programs are top notch, I voted Stanford.
 
About the Ads
This thread is more than 13 years old.

Your message may be considered spam for the following reasons:

  1. Your new thread title is very short, and likely is unhelpful.
  2. Your reply is very short and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  3. Your reply is very long and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  4. It is very likely that it does not need any further discussion and thus bumping it serves no purpose.
  5. Your message is mostly quotes or spoilers.
  6. Your reply has occurred very quickly after a previous reply and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  7. This thread is locked.