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Just looking for any insight.
 
I am currently accepted into 3 PA programs and am having a hard time choosing between programs. Below are what my options look like. I am wondering what factors I should focus my attention towards.
Currently, I am leaning toward SUNY Upstate because of the graduation rate (98.4) and the attrition rate (2.2%). Next is DeSales with a grad rate of (93 to 95%) and attrition rate (6.7%). 

 

Here is the table!

 
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1. Should I weigh the attrition rate very strongly when choosing? I will be away from my fiancé as she completes her own PA program and have a feeling that I should choose a program that won’t dismiss me if I have a slight setback.
 
2. I graduate undergrad May 14th from New Mexico. Should my start date be a major factor? With Quinnipiac, I would have a short time to get my affairs in order. While with Desales, I have a few months.
 
3. SUNY tries to put all clinical rotations in 1 semi-rural facility. Each student has their own facility. Should this be looked at as a negative trait, or does 1 site allow me to do more around the facility? Would this lack of different sites hurt me from finding jobs across the nation?
 
 ​4. I am a young African American male. Are there areas in these communities I should avoid? This is a silly question due to the fact that your personality determines who you are and how people treat you, but I am just keeping an open mind.
 
I know this seems kind of ridiculous to ask on a forum and should be a personal choice, but I just want as many perspectives as possible from those who are familiar with the career. My goal is to simply become a great provider for my patients and not go crazy trying to make this choice.  This community has helped me so much throughout my academic career. Any insight helps. Thank you!
 
P.S. If you see any incorrect information on this table, feel free to correct me! No offense information about PA programs please. If there is a severely negative aspect, you can email me because I still want to hear it J

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DeSales has lower estimated cost and higher PANCE pass rates.  That would sell me.  

 

You don't know why the attrition rates are they way they are - did people leave at will or fail? That matters.  I personally wouldn't want to do all my rotations at one site.  But that's me.  Everything else is personal preference.

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DeSales has lower estimated cost and higher PANCE pass rates.  That would sell me.  

 

You don't know why the attrition rates are they way they are - did people leave at will or fail? That matters.  I personally wouldn't want to do all my rotations at one site.  But that's me.  Everything else is personal preference.

 

Well at Desales, the attrition contributed to mostly dismissals....And also worry that 1 clinical site at SUNY can hinder my chances of employment if I look out of state. 

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I would prioritize tuition and cost of living in a particular area, with PANCE pass rate as a close 2nd. I would not let attrition rates influence you. One or two people leaving a program can really drop those percentages due to small class sizes. And people that fail out of a program USUALLY have no one to blame but themselves. If you are willing to put in the study time outside of class and seek help if you need it, you will be fine in any program.

 

One pro of having all of your rotations at one facility is that you will not likely have to spend a ton of time learning a new EHR/EMR or how things are run at a particular facility for each new rotation. This may allow you to focus more on your clinical learning experience.

 

Regarding start dates, don't stress about that either. If you plan ahead now the start date should not be too stressful. My PA program start date was before my last semester of undergrad was scheduled to end. I coordinated with my professors to take my finals early and made the move in time. You will find that almost all professors are accommodating to this if you don't spring it on them at the last minute. Also, by planning ahead I was able to find someone to take over my apartment lease and avoid a penalty. If this applies to your situation, I would start looking into that now.

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A few thoughts from looking at your comparison chart (I don't know anything about the programs for the validity of information).

1) Why is the cost of attendance so much higher at SUNY than DeSales when tuition cost is similar?

2) There are 2 more rotations at SUNY than at the other 2.  Where does that break down come in?   How long are the rotations?  To me the additional rotations, along with access to amazing sites was a huge factor in my decision.

3) Do you have any idea where you want to live when you're done?  What type of location do you prefer? (urban/ rural)

4) What are your feelings about class size?  There is a HUGE difference between being in a class of 35 vs. 80

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Syracuse is diverse, home to many institutions of higher ed, has a cheap cost of living,  many urban and suburban areas, a decent airport, also a major medical center and school for teaching.  You really can't go wrong with a SUNY.     More time on clinical rotations is always good.  If the tuition is lower I cannot believe it would cost you more to live there than the area around DeSales or No. Conn.  .  No. Conn is very expensive as is Quinnipiac and it is a great school, cannot go wrong with the education but the environment might not be as welcoming.  If you got into three PA schools from New Mexico you obviously are a superior student so I would not worry about flunking out or not passing your boards.  The finances (debt) and your personal satisfaction are probably paramount. 

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Oh, and really consider this.....the law in NYS is that you can establish residency for tuition purposes after you live there for one year.  That would essentially mean that your last 15 months would be at an instate rate.  I know this from some colleagues who teach at Stoneybrook's program, it is a common reason for going there from out of state.  Double check with their office but that was true as of last summer. 

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I don't know where your choices fall in the "popularity" contest of rankings, but consider the rankings IF there is a big disparity.  It is a popularity contest in its own way, but the people voting on the limited categories in the survey are the other educators -- they do have insights into other programs that it can be hard to find out on your own, especially since some of them have moved around.  Since pretty much no one goes through more than one program, graduates can't compare from experience.  :)  A big disparity in rankings could indicate a big difference in your educational experience.  

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Residency....it is indeed true.  Rent for a year, get a drivers license, vote there, and then file the form.   Here are the guidelines.   You need to have the thought in your mind that NY will be your permanent domicile while you are there and after graduation, but there is no requirement that you do so. 

 

http://www.upstate.edu/currentstudents/financial_resources/accounts/residency.php 

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A few thoughts from looking at your comparison chart (I don't know anything about the programs for the validity of information).

1) Why is the cost of attendance so much higher at SUNY than DeSales when tuition cost is similar?

2) There are 2 more rotations at SUNY than at the other 2.  Where does that break down come in?   How long are the rotations?  To me the additional rotations, along with access to amazing sites was a huge factor in my decision.

3) Do you have any idea where you want to live when you're done?  What type of location do you prefer? (urban/ rural)

4) What are your feelings about class size?  There is a HUGE difference between being in a class of 35 vs. 80

1. SUNY's cost of attendance is higher due parking fees, professional fee, and cost of living.

2. Each rotation is 4 weeks. They are in medically-underserved communities in Upstate NY.

3. After I graduate, I plan on living in a rural to suburban area. No idea where, maybe the Midwest. But I'm young, have no kids, and have a beautiful woman, so I have options!

4. I believe that a smaller class size is a little better for me. I can stay close to my faculty and my cohort. I know that without a strong cohort there for you, it is close to impossible to get through by yourself. In a large class, I fear that I would be just a number.

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1. SUNY's cost of attendance is higher due parking fees, professional fee, and cost of living.

2. Each rotation is 4 weeks. They are in medically-underserved communities in Upstate NY.

3. After I graduate, I plan on living in a rural to suburban area. No idea where, maybe the Midwest. But I'm young, have no kids, and have a beautiful woman, so I have options!

4. I believe that a smaller class size is a little better for me. I can stay close to my faculty and my cohort. I know that without a strong cohort there for you, it is close to impossible to get through by yourself. In a large class, I fear that I would be just a number.

Regarding cohort - not necessarily true.  More people is more knowledge to pull from, a potentially wider array of backgrounds to help each other, and more people to potentially click with.  Our cohort is on the larger side but everyone has found a study group/niche that works for them.  In a class size of 30-40, that might not have been true.  We may not ALL work super closely together, but we do WORK together.

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1. SUNY's cost of attendance is higher due parking fees, professional fee, and cost of living.

2. Each rotation is 4 weeks. They are in medically-underserved communities in Upstate NY.

3. After I graduate, I plan on living in a rural to suburban area. No idea where, maybe the Midwest. But I'm young, have no kids, and have a beautiful woman, so I have options!

4. I believe that a smaller class size is a little better for me. I can stay close to my faculty and my cohort. I know that without a strong cohort there for you, it is close to impossible to get through by yourself. In a large class, I fear that I would be just a number.

 

Did you calculate the cost of attendance, or pull it from the school's website?  Not saying that it isn't accurate, but it's hard to believe the additional expenses are such a drastic difference (unless Syracuse is an expensive town, which I didn't think it was).    

 

4 week rotations seems rather short.  As far as all being at one facility, if you don't want to live in any of the areas you'll be attending school, I don't know that having greater variety of sites would made too much difference for the job hunt.   Take my opinion here with a grain of salt though, I haven't even begun clinical rotations yet!  

 

 

Regarding cohort - not necessarily true.  More people is more knowledge to pull from, a potentially wider array of backgrounds to help each other, and more people to potentially click with.  Our cohort is on the larger side but everyone has found a study group/niche that works for them.  In a class size of 30-40, that might not have been true.  We may not ALL work super closely together, but we do WORK together.

 

Once again I find myself on the opposite spectrum of MT2PA, I prefer smaller class sizes.   But that's the great thing about having so many PA programs out there.  As cliched as it sounds, it really is all about finding the right fit for YOU :-)  

 

My program has 54 students, and while I was a bit apprehensive about so many people at first, it has worked out well.  When I was applying I favored the smaller programs, just so happened all the ones I got into had class sizes around 50.   I like being in environments where I can really get to know everyone.   With my class size, we all know one another, but definitely have our groups that we generally spend more time with, but that would occur in any size class.  The difference between 35 and 50 may be negligible, but 35 to 80 is huge.  

 

Another thing I just read on your chart; the attrition rate, with SUNY having a deceleration vs DeSales dismissals...  Personally when I was applying to schools I asked them what they do to prevent attrition, and it was a huge factor.  One of the schools I ended up not liking as much after the interview said "some students just aren't cut out to make it through."  That attitude scared me; we have all worked hard to get into PA school, and with so many applicants you'd assume the people they are choosing are capable of finishing.  At the school I ended up choosing, I was told "It's like the mafia here, hard to get in, but once you're in, we keep you."  Basically they work with you when you're struggling and do everything they can to prevent the attrition (though deceleration happens).  

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Did you calculate the cost of attendance, or pull it from the school's website?  Not saying that it isn't accurate, but it's hard to believe the additional expenses are such a drastic difference (unless Syracuse is an expensive town, which I didn't think it was).    

 

4 week rotations seems rather short.  As far as all being at one facility, if you don't want to live in any of the areas you'll be attending school, I don't know that having greater variety of sites would made too much difference for the job hunt.   Take my opinion here with a grain of salt though, I haven't even begun clinical rotations yet!  

 

 

 

Once again I find myself on the opposite spectrum of MT2PA, I prefer smaller class sizes.   But that's the great thing about having so many PA programs out there.  As cliched as it sounds, it really is all about finding the right fit for YOU :-)  

 

My program has 54 students, and while I was a bit apprehensive about so many people at first, it has worked out well.  When I was applying I favored the smaller programs, just so happened all the ones I got into had class sizes around 50.   I like being in environments where I can really get to know everyone.   With my class size, we all know one another, but definitely have our groups that we generally spend more time with, but that would occur in any size class.  The difference between 35 and 50 may be negligible, but 35 to 80 is huge.  

 

Another thing I just read on your chart; the attrition rate, with SUNY having a deceleration vs DeSales dismissals...  Personally when I was applying to schools I asked them what they do to prevent attrition, and it was a huge factor.  One of the schools I ended up not liking as much after the interview said "some students just aren't cut out to make it through."  That attitude scared me; we have all worked hard to get into PA school, and with so many applicants you'd assume the people they are choosing are capable of finishing.  At the school I ended up choosing, I was told "It's like the mafia here, hard to get in, but once you're in, we keep you."  Basically they work with you when you're struggling and do everything they can to prevent the attrition (though deceleration happens).  

Agreed- it's all about finding the right fit!  (And it's good to hear both sides of the story! Between you and I, we've got the spread covered for the newbies :) )

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