By: Emma Butturini – Global Epidemiology
I am an indecisive person by nature, and highly prone to “buyer’s remorse,” once I do finally make a decision, so you can imagine how daunting choosing an MPH program felt for me at this time last year. I was in the second semester of my senior year of undergrad and staring down the hazy road of post-grad life, with a lot more questions than answers. I was not entirely certain if I wanted to continue on with school immediately or give the working world a shot for a year or two before going back to grad school. I waited until April 15th, the last possible day, to put down my deposit for Rollins (and there was a glitch at the last minute, so I might not recommend waiting that long), but thanks to some very patient friends who let me talk their ears off about the pros and cons of each program, and the thoughtful advice shared by mentors that I was able to make a choice in the nick of time and I, happily, haven’t given it a second thought since then.
In the midst of making your decision, you’re probably getting a lot of advice (both solicited and unsolicited) on what factors you should base your choice off of, or where exactly you should pursue an MPH. While it can be difficult to parse out all of these suggestions and figure out what makes a particular place the “best fit” for you, here are the four pieces of advice I found most helpful in my decision making process.
- Grad school is all about building skills and gaining practical experiences, make sure to choose a program that values these and provides plenty of opportunities to obtain skills through those practical experiences. Think about the unique opportunities each school has to offer also, whether it is their specific partnerships, research, travel, or work opportunities and which of those types of opportunities mean the most to you and your career goals.
- Look up the faculty in the programs, look through their research, publications, and the types of classes they teach. Find the people whose career paths excite and inspire you, the types of people “you want to be when you grow up,” and that may lead you to the best program for you.
- If you feel like the programs you’re choosing between are fairly similar in opportunities and in rankings, then think about where you would like to live most; whether staying close to family is important, or there is a particular city you have always wanted to live in, think about how the location will impact your quality of life and which place you can choose that would maximize it.
- Pick the place that feels like the best environment for you! This one is hard to describe but if you got the chance to visit or talk to current students, think about which place had the best “feel”: where did students seemed happiest, if relationships between students seemed more collegial or competitive, which program seemed to be the most supportive for students, and which school is it easiest for you to see yourself as a part of the student body and walking around campus day to day.
Remember there is no wrong choice, reflect on your goals and priorities for your graduate education, then choose with confidence and own your choice! Once you have decided on your program, you can move forward to the even more exciting stages of getting ready for the next amazing two years of growth and learning. Best of luck in making your decision and I hope you find the MPH program that is best for you!