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Would I be crazy for choosing the more expensive program?

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I am having trouble deciding between two PA programs.

School A:

Great location

New program (My cohort would be the second class, but the school has another location in a different city that has been around for years so it is modeled exactly the same as their established program and not entirely new)

No cadaver lab and uses a virtual anatomy program instead (I was wary of this at first, but I have warmed up to the idea)

Overall, I loved the feel of it- the faculty were awesome and I connected with my interviewers well, and the facilities are amazing.

This was my only acceptance at the time and I excitedly put my deposit down a few weeks ago. Then, this week I found out that I was also accepted into a second program.

School B:

Not as interesting of a location

More established program- continued accred.

Nice cadaver lab, also really good facilities.

Also had a nice feel, but I didn't think I really connected with the faculty


The big difference: School B is $50,000 less in total tuition than School A. That is an incredibly significant tuition difference; I'm very fortunate that my family can afford either one so I won't have student loans to worry about, but I just think I would feel like an idiot for going to a much more expensive school just because I love the location and the people I met. I know that I won't have much time to be spending out exploring the fun city anyway, and with either school I will still end up as a PA and can move to that area if I really want to.  I would be a little sad giving up my seat at School A, but I think that's because I've had weeks now of getting excited to attend there and making plans in my head for moving to that city. Frankly, School B is much better on paper anyway- it has the cadaver lab and likely higher quality clinical rotations/overall education because it has been around longer to work out the kinks. If I went to school A and there were bumps in the road due to how new it is, I don't want to regret not choosing the more reliable School B. I won't be disappointed to attend School B, as I know that it is probably the right decision, I think I just need some time to come to terms with the fact that the first school I loved isn't necessarily the best choice for me. I feel like I already know what my answer is, but a part of me still really wants to go to School A, and I don't even know exactly why. Just looking for anyone to weigh in on what you think, or if you have had a similar experience/decision.

Edited by jbird66
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A friend gave me this advice and I'd thought I would pass it along.

Your will be  a Grad student.   No one will care where you went, or your GPA.  Just pass the PANCE and that's all they will care about.

With that advice - I would not be able to pass up a school 50K less unless I just wanted to throw money away.  Besides it appears that school (on paper) is better.  As long as it feels like a match, I'd go with B.

Good luck.

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You state that the money isn't a concern, but if it will stress you to spend that much more then, it really is a concern.  If you can put that concern aside, which program will allow you to flourish?  This will be one of the most stressful times, which program will give you the support you need to succeed?  Sometimes it isn't just about the facts and numbers.  You will need a place to be comfortable when you are most vulnerable mentally.

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Unpopular opinion here, go to school A.

You're more excited about it.  As long as they have established good clinical rotations (I'm hoping so if the more established location has been around for a while) I'm less concerned about your specific site being new.  Again assuming they are well connected to the established location.

We always say go to the cheaper program here because loans SUCK.  But if you won't have loans either way....not so much a factor for you.

There is a lot to be said about liking the program and faculty.  And frankly, you'll have more time to be exploring the city than you realize.  You are not chained to a desk for 2 years.  You will still have time for a life; if it's important to you to have reasonable social outlets near by, you should consider that.  You NEED  to be able to step away from school for your sanity.

Being happy does a lot for you during school.  If you're stressed about school AND hate your time away from school it will be a long 2 years.

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MT - Great point with the being able to step away from school and the city has things to do for sanity.... You will need it!

Another good point MT brought up was clinical locations.  I just declined a school for another with better clinical opportunities.  Most PA's will receive their first offer from their clinical rotations.  So please consider that in your evaluations. 


Bottom line - its is YOUR choice.  Do what YOU feel best about - just make sure you list all Pro and Cons of each program, school, faculty, living environment, etc.   Once you make your decision - EMBRACE it and make it work for you.   Don't second guess...


Good Luck!

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Yes you'd be crazy to spend an extra $50,000 for a PA education when you don't need to.  Once you get out no one is going to care about what program you went to.   Whether you "connected"  with the staff during your interviews makes no difference at all.   The location won't really matter because you aren't going to have much time to do anything else anyway.  The fact that it's already accredited is very important.  the already established program will probably have better clinical rotations.  You can have fun and go someplace more exciting after you graduate. Congratulations on getting into two programs!



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Only you can make the right decision for you. That being said, I would focus mostly on finances and school reputation. Location will make some difference - but more on travel accessibility, cost of living, and closeness to home than your actual experience living there. You will be studying a lot. I actually talked to a PA who trained in Chicago and said that they loved the city but were frustrated because they did not have the freedom to take full advantage of it.

I would go for a more established program any day. But that's what I value - I needed to go to the best possible school I could get in to. I would think carefully about how much you really love School A compared to School B. Do you really truly know enough about the faculty/student from one or two days of interviewing to know it was an awesome fit? Maybe it's worth revisiting both programs if you have the time - just a thought. Because if you do choose School A, and finances suddenly become an issue, or the program has issues they are still working out, or you don't like the environment - will you be left wondering if School B would have been the right choice with a lower price tag?

Just my 2 cents.

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