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Ejohns20

GWU vs NAU

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Yesterday I received an acceptance that I had never anticipated, and so I'd like some insight in this big decision. I, of course, have already pondered quite a bit and talked to loved ones but outside perspectives would be nice too 🙂 

I've narrowed my choices to George Washington University's combined PA/MPH program and Northern Arizona University's PA program. I know that at first, GWU is quite striking but I do have some concerns

GWU: 

3 years, ~$140k tuition and fees

#3 program in the country, affiliation with notable healthcare systems

Opportunity for connections with strong alumni base

Class of 15 or less

Staff with prestigious positions and accolades

Located in DC - I do have an interest in healthcare policy

 

NAU:

2 years, ~$64k tuition and fees

New program, I believe I will be in the 7th class

Class of 50

Located in Phoenix; rotations are placed all over the state, many of them being rural which interests me

 

Thoughts - with NAU I'd be able to stay living where I'm living (10-15min commute), paying $800 in rent vs upwards of $2k in DC. I'd suspect other living costs would be significantly cheaper as well. I interviewed last year at NAU as well and have kept connections. I really feel at home there - LOVE the campus, resources, and culture. It concerns me that it is a new program; I really don't know how much "reputation," plays a part in hiring process post-graduation. 

Turning down acceptance to such a renowned program, GWU, is hard for me to stomach though. It is outside of my comfort zone, but I am not ignorant to the amazing opportunity. However, I do have concerns about how much an MPH will really help me post-graduation. I would like to get one eventually though, certainly, as the material would be of great interest to me personally. The sheer cost of doing so right now though, plus drastically increased living costs, weighs heavy. 

Sorry for the novel. Thoughts?

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To me this seems like a no brainer.

Unless you’re really, really interested in getting an MPH, go to NAU. You’d save over $100k after factoring in cost of living. 

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Congratulations on your acceptances! Seems like a good problem to have.

Frankly, rankings don't matter, the "-C" after your PA credentials does. The #3 ranking for GWU is basically a popularity contest. That's not to say it's not a great program, it is, but those rankings aren't exactly conducted in the most scientific way. The upside to a more established program is, like you mentioned, more connections and better rotations so there would likely be more opportunity for you from that standpoint. And although the PA/MPH incoming class is 15 or less, remember that you will be joining the PA students in your second year, at which point it will be a class of ~60 people so it won't always be a smaller class size. 

Just from reading your descriptions of the two schools, it seems like you're really leaning towards NAU. Even if you take the cost factor out, there's something to be said about being comfortable in the program you're attending and having established relationships there. If I were you, I'd pick NAU. You seem to really prefer their program overall, and like the previous poster said, you'll be saving quite a bit of money. 

Best of luck in your decision!

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There are a very few instances where the MPH is helpful upon graduation.  Very few.  You may or may not fall into those instances.

Keep in mind your total cost for GWU will likely be double that (honestly, you're looking at $250k at graduation before interest) due to the high cost of living.  Unless you have outside help I urge you to use the student loan repayment calculator to understand how high your monthly payments will be (nearly $3k...and on an average PA salary, let's say $100k, your monthly income after taxes is....maybe $5k?  $6k if you're lucky?).  That's hard math to ignore.

You have to spend 2 (or 3) years in school.  Your only compelling reason for GWU is the name...with NAU you seem to promote a variety of positives all of which will affect your day to day life.

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It doesn't matter how prestigious your school is or how highly they are ranked. All that matters is passing your boards. Avoid the huge debt burden and go to NAU. You will thank yourself later. 🙂

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