Plane ticket from SLC to NC: $250
Medical degree from private medical school: $Lots
Live experience from those four years: Priceless
I had an interesting discussion with a physician in clinic a bit ago. He is a very intelligent, very well respected physician here, and he and I have discussed our families before. He was talking about convincing his college age children to choose state schools over private institutions.
His main talking point was financial. And he brings up a very good point. My wife and I both went to a state university, graduated with (in my opinion at least) great educations, and with absolutely no educational debt. That last part was a huge blessing.
When it came time for medical school, I had a similar choice. I could have stayed close to home and gone to the University of Utah. It is a good medical school and the tuition certainly would have been less. The competing option was Duke. After some serious reflection, discussion and prayer, we chose Duke.
Due to that choice, I have, to be quite honest, sizable educational debt. That debt would have been much less had we chosen otherwise. And my education would have been comparable (no matter what the Dukies may say).
But the experience would not have been the same.
Of course, I am just guessing. Perhaps I am rationalizing to ease the pain of the student loans. This I know: had we stayed at the University of Utah, we would have relied heavily on family. I love our families. They are wonderful. But I think that, as a family, we are stronger than we would have been because we have been without them.
In North Carolina, our church group became our family. We had to build strong friendships and learn to rely on ourselves and our friends, rather than being able to run to family. That growth is something I just don't think you can put a price tag on.
Ultimately, I also don't think I would be where I am at this time. I had very different plans when I started medical school as to what I wanted to do professionally. The change really was due to people I met at Duke. You just can't discount that.
In the end, money is just that: money. But experience, well, that you can take with you.