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Stanford vs Columbia - Biosciences


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I have narrowed down my list to two programs: Stanford Biosciences and Columbia Biological Sciences.

Both programs are excellent and well-respected in my field and have a selection of great faculty that I would love to rotate and work with. 

Apart from that, the two programs are very different and I think that's why I'm having such a hard time deciding between them.

Obviously there's the west coast/ east coast switch - I am on the West coast now so it would be quite a big move to go to NYC, but that in itself is not a limiting factor. NYC and Palo Alto are also VERY different cities in pretty much every way: I really liked NYC itself (but interviews were my first visit) and don't like Palo Alto nearly as much. On the other hand the Stanford campus itself is a little more vibrant than Columbia (and certainly better weather). 

The direct program I would be in at Stanford is also significantly smaller and more focused than Columbia's. This has the benefit of getting lots of faculty attention and a big focus on the kinds of research I want to do, but I worry about that sort of small-program environment that puts you under the microscope at all times and makes things a little more high-pressure. 

TL;DR Give me some perspective on deciding between these two. I am currently leaning towards Stanford because the program fit is just slightly better, but I worry about living in the Palo Alto bubble for six years and am torn about how highly the city I will be living in should rank on my comparisons here.

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