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Studying Medicine: Otago or Auckland

I'm having a similar problem to Avo^ about deciding between the two unis too and would love some advice! :)

I received offers for a schol at Auckland and Otago (though Auckland offers 2k more than Otago). I've been trying to weigh up the pros and cons, and currently I'm leaning towards otago, though I'm scared to make a complete decision. I live in Christchurch, so either way, I'd have to spend money on accommodation. I've also never been to Auckland before, so I can't really make fair opinion on whether I'd like it or not.

Pros of going to Otago and not Auckland:
  • No interview (I'm terrible at interviews), so probs slightly bigger chance of getting into med through Otago
  • I've been to the town several times before and temporarily stayed at 2 of their halls of accommodation, so I'm more familiar with the place.
  • I love the friendly and cosy vibes I get from the town and how it's so focused on students
  • On the long run, say IF i get into med, I can come back to Chch after 3rd year, which would save on money.
  • Idk if it's just a stereotype, but I've heard that Auckland health sci students are a lot more competitive than Otago ones.
  • Apparently Auckland has a higher crime rate than Otago?
  • Otago has halls of residence that accept returners.
Pros of going to Auckland and not Otago:
  • I'm trying something new
  • Slightly more money offered than Otago in the schol
  • Unlike Otago, they're not cutting down on lectures next year (or at least not that I've heard of)
About a third or quarter of my school year group are all going to Otago next year to do health sci. Not sure if that's a good or bad thing, because either way, I was hoping to meet some new people, but also don't really mind who I end up being friends with next year.

Although it might look like there are wayy more pros in going to Otago, some of the pros of going to Auckland (i.e. trying something new, and Auckland not cutting down on lectures) are rather important to me. I'm scared to make a hasty decision because in the end, which uni I go to will def impact my future.

Cheers
 

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Stuart

Administrator
Emeritus Staff
Hi there,

I understand your delimma and I don't think there will be one right solution. I think it's true that your decision will have a massive impact on your life, but I don't believe either one would be particularly negative in comparison. In the end, you won't know for sure until you see things fold out.

I would personally suggest considering financial and logistic issues first, then choose the one that you will be most comfortable with (studying at) and will have the most support. I would rather focus on the big stuff than smaller details such as lectures. In the end, you will adapt to those things one way or another. It is usually harder for people to adapt to, say, not having the support (e.g. family).

Good luck!
 

Kyla

Lurker
I just finished my first year at UoA and went through the biomedical science pathway. I definitely agree on picking a university where you think you'll have the most social support. The first year at university is stressful. For me I thought it'd be relatively chill, but in reality you are surrounded by about 1000 other students all trying to get into their second year course of choice. I understand not everyone is going for medicine or the other highly competitive courses, but when you see your class contains 1400+ people and all you hear about is grades and GPAs, you kinda just get sucked into this mentality of everything is a competition, and it can be really hard at times to manage your stress and wellbeing. I'm not sure if you've seen the UoA confession page, but I often see it on my newsfeed and see posts about first year biomed/health sci students burning out, feeling depressed, etc. Without a support network, I think it's very easy to fall into that hole. You'll make great friends in either university, but if there's a point in time where you really just need a break and need to go home or see other friends outside of your university, make sure that option is still open.

I think another major thing to consider is where are your strong points. It's probably been mentioned in here before, but there are too many pages and I'm not going to read them all haha. Basically at Otago your overall 'rank' is based off 67% your grades and 33% your weighted UCAT. For Auckland it's based off 60% of your grades, 15% of your raw UCAT and 25% your interview. I guess the first think I'll talk about is grades. For Otago, all 7 papers you do contribute to this, while in Auckland you do 8 papers, but only 4 of those count towards your grade. So essentially if you go down the Auckland route, you can focus on absolutely smashing the 4 core papers, and only doing the bare minimum in the other 4. That being said, to be eligble for an interview at Auckland, you do need a GPA of at least 6.0 across all your papers, but if you play it smart you can purposely spend less time on other papers as they aren't necessary. I also think there's a bit more to your grades as well. I haven't talked to many of my friends from high school that went to Otago to do HSFY, but from my understanding (someone might need to back me up on this) the tests you do in each paper are worth a lot less than your exam. This can be in or out of favour for you, depending on how you like being assessed. One of the core papers you do in Auckland is CHEM110. The 2 tests are collectively worth 30% and the exam is 45%. The online quizzes, online modules and labs make up the final 25%. Basically if you screw up a test, that doesn't necessarily mean you have to say bye to your 9.0 GPA in that paper. You have other things that can act as a buffer.

UCAT (formerly UMAT though) plays a much bigger role in your rank at Otago than Auckland. If you want the truth, Auckland supposedly doesn't even like the UCAT, but they need to keep it in for other reasons. UCAT is supposedly the last thing the people at Auckland check when determining if someone gets into a programme. For example, if two people have identical grades and interview scores, only then they will look at their UCAT scores. Another thing which I already kinda hinted earlier was your weighted UCAT score counting at Otago, while it's only your raw score in Auckland. I think this is a really significant thing to consider. Most people get very similar raw scores on the UCAT, however even just a slight point difference can greatly change your weighted score. Otago also placed more importance on the first two sections of UMAT, but I'm not sure what the new weightings will be for UCAT. There have been people in Auckland who have literally been in the 0% percentile, but were still accepted into medicine. Let that sink in. Of course those people probably have a perfect GPA and good interviews, but it again shows that UCAT has a very low importance in Auckland. If you don't think UCAT will be your strong point, I'd definitely lean more towards Auckland.

A lot of people are scared about the interview, and I know that's why a decent chunk of my friends in high school chose Otago over Auckland. Having now done the interview and been giving and offer for both optometry and medicine (still haven't decided to be honest!), I can say with confidence that it isn't too hard to do well in the interview. You don't have to pay for expensive courses on it either. There are many free resources provided and all you really need to do it practice. Most people who come out of the interview actually say they enjoyed the experience and it was more like having a good yarn with the interviewer. You aren't expected to talk for 6 minutes straight! The interviewer guides you and as long as your thoughts are genuine, you'll be good. I only start preparing for the interview about 2 weeks prior and even so, I thought it went smoothly.

I know I probably was quite bias towards Auckland, but I still hope this will help you a bit and make your decision easier! ^^
 

Sebzy

Member
Could we get some discussion going regarding the pros/cons of the two separate medical schools? (i.e why you would choose one over the other).
Aspects that come to mind are lifestyle, university rank, cost of living/transport, placement options, educational content and ultimately the quality of doctors produced.

Any insight would be greatly appreciated!
 

Cathay

🚂Train Driver🚆
Emeritus Staff
I don't think "university rank", "educational content" or "quality of doctors produced" really factor into it - or at least they shouldn't, because there's not really much difference there. If you go to either med school, you will (subject to passing exams etc to be deemed safe and competent) likely come out with a MBChB (taught on a curriculum approved by regulatory bodies) and likely become a junior doctor; beyond that, your "quality" (however you choose to measure that - a "good doctor" is a vague and nebulous concept!) depends less on which university you went to and more on yourself.

I think it's generally lifestyle, cost of living, and placement options (which go into where you live which goes into lifestyle and cost of living). At Otago we spend the first 3 years in Dunedin, and then have a choice between Dunedin, Christchurch, and Wellington for the second half. I don't know what Auckland's arrangements are, but I believe they are all North Island based (with the main campus, surprisingly enough, in Auckland).

Feel free to read the existing thread, "Otago or Auckland", where a similar discussion was first started in 2009 or earlier. Otago or Auckland? (the oldest few posts probably won't make much sense as the thread was spun off from another thread)
 

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drum99

Regular Member
Hi Everyone. Just wanted to put something out there and would appreciate any comments if possible - so I'm a mature student (32 years young LOL), I'm married and have two young kids (4 and 1). I've received an offer to Otago med through Alternative Entry - and have to do HSFY provisional next year (2021). I've also just interviewed at Auckland Uni through Graduate Entry pathway - I'm not sure whether this will eventuate in an offer but my GPA was 9.0 and I thought the interview went relatively well. My UCAT was trash though, so that might be the thorn in my side.

Anyways - as a family we are really stuck between deciding to move down to Dunedin and have a family adventure, live somewhere different vs. staying in Auckland (if I were to get an offer). Honestly staying in Auckland would be SO much easier in terms of staying in the same city as my wider family and having their support, friends, work that I can do a bit of part time etc. But also Otago and living in Dunedin is quite alluring and could be really fun for us.....

So just trying to work out - is there much actual difference between the two programmes? I've heard Otago has a better student culture overall and possibly more support? Also as I'm a mature student, because of the Alternative entry it sounds like there will be more oldies like me studying at Otago so it might be easier for me to fit in as such. I'm not sure whether there are many 'supergrads' at Auckland as such.

Anyways just wanted to put it out there to the forum for anyone's 5cents of feedback!

Cheers
 

LMG!

MBBS IV
Administrator
Hi Everyone. Just wanted to put something out there and would appreciate any comments if possible - so I'm a mature student (32 years young LOL), I'm married and have two young kids (4 and 1). I've received an offer to Otago med through Alternative Entry - and have to do HSFY provisional next year (2021). I've also just interviewed at Auckland Uni through Graduate Entry pathway - I'm not sure whether this will eventuate in an offer but my GPA was 9.0 and I thought the interview went relatively well. My UCAT was trash though, so that might be the thorn in my side.

Anyways - as a family we are really stuck between deciding to move down to Dunedin and have a family adventure, live somewhere different vs. staying in Auckland (if I were to get an offer). Honestly staying in Auckland would be SO much easier in terms of staying in the same city as my wider family and having their support, friends, work that I can do a bit of part time etc. But also Otago and living in Dunedin is quite alluring and could be really fun for us.....

So just trying to work out - is there much actual difference between the two programmes? I've heard Otago has a better student culture overall and possibly more support? Also as I'm a mature student, because of the Alternative entry it sounds like there will be more oldies like me studying at Otago so it might be easier for me to fit in as such. I'm not sure whether there are many 'supergrads' at Auckland as such.

Anyways just wanted to put it out there to the forum for anyone's 5cents of feedback!

Cheers

Given your wider situation (particularly the having two young kids part) I’d heavily be factoring in the wishes/support network locations etc of your partner as, regardless of your intentions, they are going to heavily take the parenting load at various points through the years of your degree and post-graduate training.

A ‘family adventure’ sounds very romantic and, to be honest, pretty far removed from the reality of studying medicine (in my experience).

ETA: I’m not at all wanting to discourage you from moving. Just wanting to ensure you’re being realistic and considered (both short and long term) when making decisions.

ETA2: I say this, as you know, as a fellow 30+ Med student with significant responsibilities outside of studying.
 
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drum99

Regular Member
Given your wider situation (particularly the having two young kids part) I’d heavily be factoring in the wishes/support network locations etc of your partner as, regardless of your intentions, they are going to heavily take the parenting load at various points through the years of your degree and post-graduate training.

A ‘family adventure’ sounds very romantic and, to be honest, pretty far removed from the reality of studying medicine (in my experience).

ETA: I’m not at all wanting to discourage you from moving. Just wanting to ensure you’re being realistic and considered (both short and long term) when making decisions.

ETA2: I say this, as you know, as a fellow 30+ Med student with significant responsibilities outside of studying.
Thanks so much LMG! Your wisdom is always profound :-D

Yes to be honest, I've heavily romanticised the notion of 'moving away' - living in the South Island, having different life experiences etc. But in the cold light of what it takes to commit to a medical degree, I seriously doubt we're going to have the time, finances, or energy to just 'enjoy' the South Island and to be honest, as it's become a reality it's felt more and more daunting!

I agree - the longer term of the next 5+ years of family help, support, friend networks, job networks and stuff would be hugely beneficial and I think would outweigh the 'novelty' of moving to Dunedin in the long run.....gosh now I'm getting my hopes up for UoA though, uh oh!
 

LMG!

MBBS IV
Administrator
Thanks so much LMG! Your wisdom is always profound :-D

Yes to be honest, I've heavily romanticised the notion of 'moving away' - living in the South Island, having different life experiences etc. But in the cold light of what it takes to commit to a medical degree, I seriously doubt we're going to have the time, finances, or energy to just 'enjoy' the South Island and to be honest, as it's become a reality it's felt more and more daunting!

I agree - the longer term of the next 5+ years of family help, support, friend networks, job networks and stuff would be hugely beneficial and I think would outweigh the 'novelty' of moving to Dunedin in the long run.....gosh now I'm getting my hopes up for UoA though, uh oh!

Good luck for Auckland! But also, a realistic approach to moving South is no doubt doable. Maybe just dial down the romanticism and have frank conversations with your partner that consider the logistics of what you’re entering into. It’s pretty cold and calculated, I know, but will serve you better in the long run, I think, and ensure any Otago move is grounded in reality and not in heli-skiing getaways and boozy vineyard tours ;)

(eta: they can be added bonuses, rather than expectations :D )
 

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drum99

Regular Member
Good luck for Auckland! But also, a realistic approach to moving South is no doubt doable. Maybe just dial down the romanticism and have frank conversations with your partner that consider the logistics of what you’re entering into. It’s pretty cold and calculated, I know, but will serve you better in the long run, I think, and ensure any Otago move is grounded in reality and not in heli-skiing getaways and boozy vineyard tours ;)

(eta: they can be added bonuses, rather than expectations :D )
Hahahaha - Heli-Skiing and boozy vineyard tours....LOVE IT !
 

rustyedges

Moderator
Moderator
So just trying to work out - is there much actual difference between the two programmes? I've heard Otago has a better student culture overall and possibly more support? Also as I'm a mature student, because of the Alternative entry it sounds like there will be more oldies like me studying at Otago so it might be easier for me to fit in as such. I'm not sure whether there are many 'supergrads' at Auckland as such.

In terms of the actual course, they are pretty similar (in fact you can swap between them in your final year if you find a one-to-one swap). Otago probably does have more student culture, given that a lot of Auckland students are from Auckland, whereas most of the Otago students are from outside of Otago. How this might affect you as a Supergrad with a family, I can't say.

Base your decision on where you want to live for the next ~6 years. Know that if you study in Auckland you could be spending time in the later years in any of the upper North Island centres, and Otago you could be spending time in Wellington/Christchurch/Dunedin for the clinical years.

As LMG! says, having a support network is pretty important, and sounds like that side of things might be better for you in Auckland.
 

drum99

Regular Member
In terms of the actual course, they are pretty similar (in fact you can swap between them in your final year if you find a one-to-one swap). Otago probably does have more student culture, given that a lot of Auckland students are from Auckland, whereas most of the Otago students are from outside of Otago. How this might affect you as a Supergrad with a family, I can't say.

Base your decision on where you want to live for the next ~6 years. Know that if you study in Auckland you could be spending time in the later years in any of the upper North Island centres, and Otago you could be spending time in Wellington/Christchurch/Dunedin for the clinical years.

As LMG! says, having a support network is pretty important, and sounds like that side of things might be better for you in Auckland.
Thanks very much Rustyedges! Yes I've heard the student culture is fantastic down in Otago - and I've also wondered if I would get more support from the university overall down there compared to Auckland.....I'm not sure......

Also does anyone know regarding the clinical placements at Auckland Uni - I've heard it is possible to do them at the different DHBs in Auckland rather than move outside of Auckland, can anyone confirm this? I wonder if there's any dispensation for students with dependants etc....I know apparently at Otago you can elect to stay in Dunedin for clinical years and they will prioritise you if you have dependants I'm pretty sure.....
 

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