Help me choose! (Duke, Emory, University of Pittsburgh, University of Maryland - College Park)

So at this point, my serious contenders are Duke, Emory, Pitt, and UMD for Public Health on the pre-med track. Please help me! I want to save money but if I can miraculously negotiate for better aid, everyone’s thoughts will help on this matter.

PITT (25k/yr)


  • Medical school on campus, so internship opportunities + research
  • Accepted to Honors College
  • Cheapest option
  • Many ways for me to customize my education (certificates + minors)


  • I can’t major in Public Health directly. The closest major is Health Services, which I’m not hearing super great things about
  • Not too sure about Pittsburgh?

Granted, I need to learn more about Pitt.

UMD (27k/yr)


  • Second cheapest option
  • T20 Public Health school
  • Close to home
  • Possible options to intern/with research because of proximity to D.C and JHU.


  • Close to home. I’m really trying to get out of state. Like that was my #1 thing going in to this was to get OUT.
  • I’m afraid it’s going to feel like high school 2.0 with just the sheer amount of people who are also going from my high school

EMORY (39k/yr)


  • Right next to the CDC!!
  • In Atlanta, which is a city I’m excited to explore
  • Great and strong Human Health program
  • I can apply for scholarships as a sophomore


  • EXPENSIVE. Idk if they will budge on finances
  • Not sure how many resources/cultural centers there would be for me
  • Expensive 🥲

DUKE (45k/yr)


  • My top choice this entire time
  • Got in with a likely letter, was semifinalist for Robertson
  • So many ways to customize my education. I’d probably do Sociology with a co-major in Global Health
  • Many cultural centers
  • Made a lot of connections there already
  • Robust Global Health Institute and other similar opportunities like FOCUS and Baldwin Scholars


  • EXPENSIVE!!! The most expensive school by far. I can’t believe it
  • Durham, NC seems dry
  • Very expensive

Evidently, I am still doing research on these schools. PLEASE help! Also please give advice about negotiating aid… I need it

I hear HS 2.0 a lot. My S20 and S21 say it. If you go to UMD it won’t be that way. There’s 30k undergrads there from all states and many countries. Plus you’re close to DC. You pick your friends in college. Also, not a bad thing to be a car drive from home. Every now and then it’s nice to go home for a good meal, comfy bed, and a clean shower, especially after mid-terms.

If med-school is on the table then minimize costs. If you’re going into Public Health admin you’ll need an advanced degree which can be expensive.

Pitt is a great choice for anything medical. Look at other medical programs in the school if you don’t hear good things about about Health Services. There’s always multiple paths to reach your end destination. I’m a Pitt grad and currently live here.

I don’t know much about Duke other than we like Raleigh. If you can get Emory to offer more money that would be a great option. Beautiful campus with a med school and tons of research. It’s urban-ish but in a wealthy residential area outside of Atlanta. S20 goes to Georgia Tech and goes over there to eat and walk.

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In some ways, kind of need to view it as “in for a Penny, in for a Pound”. Was in a similar situation where I had a state school option that was effectively free. Took the debt at Duke (was about $25k per) and couldn’t be happier with the decision. Opportunities coming out of Duke are second to none. I’d throw out Emory as the cost delta isn’t enough to justify in my mind (see quote above). If you are 100% convinced you’re going to grad school, would be a toss up, but if you think there’s even a chance you never go back, I’d pay the extra $ and go to Duke. For a lot of the best jobs coming out of school, you effectively need a stamp of approval (it’s not fair and speaks to income inequality in this country, but is true). If you’re going to get one at the grad level then that’s fine, but if you’re thinking you might not, would definitely go to Duke. Plus it seems like you really like the school. Biased obviously but throwing it out there