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More prestige and stress, or less prestige and more relaxed?


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Specifically, I am deciding between UCSF's DSCB program vs. UCSD's BMS.


UCSF's program is amazing. Brilliant professors; a true incubator of academic talent. But I got the overwhelming feeling of an elitist environment. I could tell speaking to the grad students that the place is very academically rigorous, and I can't help but fear that I won't be able to keep up with them.


On the other hand, UCSD was completely laid back, and the grad students there were relaxed and happy. But I worry that the name-recognition won't be as good, and I might get distracted by the weather and the more laid-back/partying atmosphere.


I am equally interested in the research at both places.


I'm stuck, and the deadline is next week! Help!

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You can't really look at grad school as competition always between other students. Think it more as a collaboration (will you be able to interact with them?). The fear of not being able to keep up with them...well I've had that feeling and I found that it is really just baseless. Two reasons why: you would not have applied to the program if you wanted an easy ride, and two they accepted you, so the committee thinks you are definitely capable of succeeding.


So ask yourself a few questions: 


Why are you applying to grad school, and why did you apply to either of those schools? You must taken the rigorous nature of the schools in mind and the fact that you can do it.


Then ask yourself: Do you want to excel in your field and surround yourself with people who push that bar higher for you? If so, then which school do you think provides that for you?


And do you really apply to grad school so you can party or care others party like you did in undergrad? Cause really, whatever school you choose, that shouldn't even be a concern. 


Regarding schools, they are both really good for BME..So don't doubt that one program is necessarily harder than the other. They will both be tough.  Where do you think you fit in? Where do you feel comfortable? Where do you think you will succeed? Where can you see yourself attending?


Regarding name brand: I err on the side of name brand usually, but in this case, they are both top schools for BME, so I probably wouldn't worry about the name too much. 


And finally: which one, if you did not have a choice, did you absolutely not want to get rejected from? I think the answer to that question is usually a good indicator of where your gut is telling you to go.  

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Thanks, awesome advice!


Very true, both schools are great. I did feel that I fit in more at SD, but maybe that's just because of the subsection of students I met at either school.


Tough to say; I wasn't expecting to get into UCSF in the first place because they only accept 8 of 40 interviewees. I didn't want to get rejected from UCSD, but that was mostly because I felt like I could make it in (umbrella program- they accept the majority of their interviewees).

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