operationMD

Archive for March, 2010|Monthly archive page

First Second Look

In Finances, medical school, Rants on March 30, 2010 at 12:05 am

While my state school has had some events for us, I wouldn’t quite call them Second Looks. Now that I’ve officially attended my first Second Look, there are two points I want to discuss.

1) If I so much as hear another whisper about URMs stealing other applicants’ seats I’m going to snap. The Second Look I attended was at one of the largest medical schools in the nation. Do you know how many URMs were there?  Three Black females, maybe 1-2 Latinas, and no Black or Latino men…NONE!!! I kept looking around at my potential future class that was about 50/50 Asian and White, and I couldn’t help but think…really?!? Talk about feeling like you stick out like a sore thumb…  I love Love LOVE how all these schools repeatedly state how much they value diversity in their student body and it’s something they promote, however, physically it’s something I rarely see. Granted, I know race is only one element of a diversified class. I am well aware that diversity comes in many forms, from ethnic to socioeconomic to religious and to ideological diversity, and that all are important in forming a truly well-rounded class. I also know that clearly not every accepted student attended the Second Look. However, if the sample I saw is roughly representative of my possible future class, then that’s ~3% of the class is URM.  Wowsers. That’s incredibly low…especially for a big school in a major Northern city.  Seriously, I never want to hear that annoying argument again. Blows my mind every time. Clearly URM quite literally means underrepresented minority, so hush your mouths…there really aren’t enough people involved to make the effort of debate worthwhile…negligible impact on your chance of admittance, so hush!

2) Exactly what is Financial Aid?!? Giving a brief history, I was fortunate enough not to have to deal with financial aid stuff as an undergrad (someone close to me passed away and had left money for my education…which my undergrad institution gladly ate up).  Needless to say, I am unfamiliar with dealing with these offices.  I sat and listened to the long, depressing, anxiety-inducing financial aid presentation at Second Look. I glanced around the room to see that most of my peers had the same glazed-over look on their faces that read “Please make this stop! Purdy pleeeeease?!?” It’s never fun listening about going into roughly $200K worth of debt (+ interest)…NEVER!

Somewhere in my nervous trance I picked up that it appears that this office awards everyone the same thing – NOTHING.  I mean, they have a bunch of little scholarships that they give out to people ranging from $500-$5000, but that barely puts a dent in ~$36K/year they expect their students to cover with more non-federal loans. Which brings me back to the question of what is financial aid exactly?!? First off, it’s more like abuse than aid. I know I feel slightly beat down every time I discuss the issue, not helped in any manner. Secondly, is their sole role to act as a liaison between the students and the lenders, whether that be the Federal Government or private institutions? I mean, I guess when I always heard of “financial aid packets” I expected money to spring forth magically from these offices to partly subsidize the difference between what the government can cover and the actual, full cost of attendance.  Shoot, the government can’t even fully cover tuition… Once again, I just don’t understand!  How are you aiding me???  Perhaps I just have a strong imagination and hope my desires for minimal financial debt can be dreamt into existence. Or, maybe this school’s financial aid department is not its strong suit.  Maybe I’ll have much better packages from other schools that actually resemble aid…assistance in alleviating the costs.  Lord know that at this point, while I liked this school and was almost won over on Second Look, if other schools I am considering deliver better in this area, I’m dipping out and getting that refund back…I don’t like them that much.  If I did, then maybe I’d consider the HPSP (Health Professions Scholarship Program) offered through one of the armed forces. But, I’m not quite there yet.  I’m really just hoping that this school is lackluster in this area and other schools come up with something better. It will certainly make my final decision easier. Money, money, money, money…when you have none, people keep wanting more. Ugh!

Financial Aid Woes

In applying to med school, Finances, medical school on March 10, 2010 at 8:18 pm

Thanks to some pressing from my mom, I went ahead and filled out the much dreaded FAFSA last night.  Eyes got crossed a few times flipping through the pages of lines on the forms for my mom and me (yes, she makes me do hers instead of her filling it out).  Finished that sucker relatively fast (haven’t completed one in about 2 years, but I swear it took ages before to do) and submitted last night.  I’m happy to say that it’s already been processed and sent out to the designated schools – one step closer to becoming an official medical student 🙂

Then, something told me to go look at the financial aid websites for the designated schools to see what was due next.  Good thing I looked too, as some have forms due on the 15th (as in Monday!) if you want to be considered for need-based money…and who doesn’t want some of that?  So, I opened my Word document and created a nice little color-coordinated timeline (yes, I have a slight obsession with color-coordinated items) of what’s due for each school and when, with links included where pertinent.  Then, I started reviewing suggested budgets for each school. That’s right about the time I felt my heart sink a little, then stop completely, then rapidly recharge to a pulse far exceeding my normal resting rate.  The schools range in price from about $56k (in-state) to $70k (private). Personally, I feel swindled that our in-state price is that much, for a crappy and dangerous city to live in too. Why can’t we all be like Texas? What’s their tuition, like $8k per year – absolutely ridiculous and unfair…that needs to be regulated or mimicked. Seriously, what is that state doing so well that they can provide professional education for that price. Perhaps other states need to start modeling their system…

Anyways, back to my lovely little state.  Supposedly, state-wide budget cuts are hitting our state school system hard. Librarians are being fired, libraries are being “closed” and restructured into “media rooms” literally the size of a room. Rumor has it that the licensure people came around this week and weren’t too happy with what they saw.  Now, I will state that this is just hearsay and, as of yet, as no truth to it. However, I think it says something that this rumor has sustainability because of the status of the state and it’s medical schools.  Not a good look, Jersey…puts at least one little check under the cons column for your list in my book.

I went into this process stating that money would not be a consideration. In retrospect, maybe I went into this process a bit wide-eyed and bushy-tailed. I was all about “fit with the school” and “personality of the student body” rationalizing that since I lacked undergrad student loans, I had a little room for give in terms of financial aid. Now…as I stare down that long, dark, barrel of debt, I’m wavering a bit in my stance.  I don’t think it helps that somehow I am just now realizing how much my 12 month post-bacc program cost, smh. When I factor in the price of obtaining an MPH as well…I get slightly overwhelmed and start getting so nervous that I reach the point where I embrace debt and do not care anymore.  I pray that God will work a financial miracle in this situation.  I pray that the financial aid offices will take pity on my soul, and award me a very nice package. I would also love some scholarships – I know they’re hard to come by, but a girl can ask and pray, right?

Actually, when I started receiving acceptances, I prayed that God would show me the school he wants me at based on their financial aid offers. Now that the time is approaching for those packages to be unwrapped, all I can say is, “Yikes!!!” While I still stick by that, I am nervous and am anxiously waiting to see what happens in these upcoming weeks. Keep me in your prayers!