indecision

MPH Epidemiology - Columbia University versus University of Toronto

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I have been agonizing over this decision for the past few months, and I'm completely torn apart and exhausted. I've received offers of admission from U of T's Dalla Lana School of Public Health and Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health for the MPH in Epidemiology program, but I cannot decide between the two. 

Columbia PROS- brand name, ivy league, amazing network, living in nyc, better job opportunities (?) if i choose to pursue a career right after my degree, better support from career services, program has a thesis project which will be good if i choose to pursue a phd afterwards, independence/learning how to live by myself

Columbia CONS- costs $150k CAD over two years including living expenses, the exchange rate USD/CAD is horrible so everything will be more expensive, higher cost of living, being away from home, cost of plane tickets to and from parents' place, no $$$ left to enjoy nyc after spending money on tuition, no $$$ left if i want to do law afterwards (i've recently been attracted to law because i've been paying more attention to my options), new country and school system will take time to get used to, program has  only one practicum 

U of T PROS- costs 50k canadian, close to home, family support, easy to get used to because i did my undergrad at uoft too, saving $$$ so will be able to do unpaid internships and pursue law afterwards, program has an option to do one practicum or two practica, best mph program in canada

U of T CONS- did my undergrad at uoft too, no master's thesis project (bad if i wanna do a phd afterwards), fewer support services from university, worse job opportunities (?) upon graduation, the thought that i might regret turning down columbia for the rest of my life

I'm not sure which program will open more doors for me, or provide better job prospects upon graduation, and I don't know if I'm using the right metrics to judge the two schools, and regardless of the aforementioned issue, I'm not sure which to pick. HELP?!

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Go to the University of Toronto.

I went to Columbia Mailman for graduate school. It is an excellent school, and the program's reputation does mean a lot both in the NYC region and across the U.S. Career services is great and living in NYC is a blast.

However, UT is also an excellent school, and the program is literally $100,000 cheaper than Columbia's. Public health is not a field that pays a whole lot of money, and if you can minimize your debt at an excellent program you absolutely should. Toronto is a great city (may seem less so to you since you live there), and UT has a really good program. Even if Columbia does provide slightly better professional opportunities, those opportunities are not going to be worth $100,000 in debt, nor will the salaries be higher to the point that repayment would become more possible.

This is especially true if you want to get a PhD afterwards, because where you go for a master's doesn't really matter for a PhD (particularly in public health). You could always go to Columbia for your PhD later, for example, except it'd be funded. Even if there's no required master's thesis at UT, I'm sure you can do an independent research project under the supervision of a professor.

And you probably won't regret turning Columbia down "for the rest of your life." Once you graduate and get started in your career, you will barely think about graduate school. After your first 1-2 jobs in the field your graduate education starts to matter less anyway, and your experience becomes more important.

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I second everything that Jullietmercredi said. You can still have independence, good job prospects, research opportunities, and fun exciting stuff in Toronto. And with all the money you're saving, you could even go to NYC, do fun stuff, and make connections there all for less than going to Columbia.

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