Quick update before I go back to frantically studying thermodynamics:
I still have to hear back from UCSF and Princeton. However! I have been accepted everywhere else! Hooray for me!
My choice, it seems, is coming down to Stanford versus MIT. They are both absolutely stellar programs, they both focus on actively promoting interactions between disciplines, they both seem like great places to live and be (with great cities nearby if not next door). What I consider to be the differences:
1) At MIT, you do not start research until halfway through your first year, whereas at Stanford you dive right in to rotations. At MIT, this allows them to require a "core biology" cirriculum and inundate you with classes your first semester. At Stanford this allows you to get a sense of projects during rotations.
2) At MIT, wackiness seems to be smiled upon, while people at Stanford seem more laid back and traditionally "cool" (if you can actually say that about graduate students). I might be able to find wackiness, or bring wackiness, to Stanford. As a city, San Francisco is much, much cooler (and probably wackier) than Boston. However, MIT is much closer to Boston than Stanford is to San Francisco.
3) MIT seems very post-doc heavy, as in there are tons of amazing post doctoral opportunities there. Stanford seems more focused towards Graduate students, which would be good for graduate students.
4) Stanford has much, much better weather.
5) In neither place would I be able to assistant coach diving. In Boston there would be more high schools with potential openings for me to do that. In San Francisco, there would be circus arts for me to do, but that would be a 30 minute commute.
6) Stanford is about 3.5-4 hours drive from Kevin, but to get home to DC would take the whole day and to get to Chicago would take most of the day. Boston is more generally accessible, but I would probably want to get on an airplane to see any member of my family (or my college friends).
7) Mango might go to MIT, but he might not. He won't go to Stanford. PCBio people are going to Stanford.
8) Stanford's campus is drop-dead gorgeous. MIT's campus is kind of... ugly.
After some research, Yale appears to have a program very much like Stanford's, but it is a brand new umbrella and might therefore not facilitate cross-talk as well during my prospective tenure. Plus it's in a rather ugly town (sorry Easha and Ryan), an uncomfortable distance from airports or family members or large cities, with fewer coaching opportunities and no circus stuff that I know of.
Back to thermodynamics!