Help me sound like the perfect applicant to schools of public health
October 9, 2008 4:33 PM   Subscribe

I am an anthropology senior, and I'm applying to various schools of public health. How do I make my graduate school application the perfect application?

Some facts about me:

My GPA at my current university is 3.95 and will likely hover around that level until I graduate. (Stupid A- in Urban Studies, grr...) My major GPA is 4.0.

However, they want transcripts from all previous institutions, which in my case includes a university I dropped out of with quite low grades, and my first two years of community wherein I also received low grades. Obviously, I've turned that wacky boat around, but still.

I'm taking the GRE in November and I test quite well - I got a 32 on my ACT, so I'm not terribly worried about my score.

I'm currently working as a research assistant on an epidemiology research program, which I assume carries some value and definitely has exposed me to a lot of the nuts and bolts of conducting research.

I belong to two professional associations: American Anthropologists Association, and American Public Health Association.

I have applied for no scholarships, but I have received a couple from my university, although I think these were more of a reward for my GPA than anything special.

My first choice is Tulane, because 1) they are associated with the MI program in the Peace Corps, and 2) they offer what sounds to me like the coolest degree ever - MPH&TM (Master's of Public Health and Tropical Medicine). I am also applying to Johns Hopkins and University of Michigan.

I've got three letters of recommendation from professors within my department.

I speak, read and write French conversationally, and speak abysmal Russian.

Wow, this is long. How do I package this all together and polish it up to make me sound like the most perfect person in the world? How weighted are my old transcripts when my current grades are exemplary? Are there other things I'm missing that I should try to squeeze in to my life before I send in the application? How specific should I be when they ask my career goals or the general why I'm applying questions? (If you haven't noticed, I can get quite specific.) Should I mention papers that I've written that relate to my desired field of study?
posted by palindromic to Education (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
LiveJournal's applyingtograd community is the PERFECT place for this question.
posted by k8t at 4:59 PM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


BTW - the GRE is an entirely different animal from the ACT. You may want to take a practice exam before getting TOO confident.

And, what's your TOTAL GPA? Your GPA at your current university means nothing. They'll calculate it all.
posted by k8t at 5:00 PM on October 9, 2008


k8t - total GPA is difficult to calculate because some classes I retook and got a 4.0 in, some I was given a weird withdrawal mark that I'm not sure how will be calculated, and some courses I thought I had retaken were reassessed by my current institution as not being the same course. I think overall my GPA would be in the 3.4-3.6 range, but I don't know beyond that. I do know without a doubt that my major GPA is a 4.0.

As far as GRE being completely different from the ACT - this I have heard and I do plan on investing in some flash cards and practicing some, but my overall skills in math, writing and vocabulary are pretty strong, and I don't believe that stressing out will be beneficial to me.

But man, I was really hoping that the admissions board would look at my transcripts and say to themselves 'Ah, this girl *did* get her act together after a rocky start.' Ah well.
posted by palindromic at 5:11 PM on October 9, 2008


I'd still take a practice computerized GRE. You never know and it is free.

Calculate your GPA worst case and best case scenario, so you know the possibilities.
posted by k8t at 5:14 PM on October 9, 2008


Not answering your question at all, but I just started at Tulane in the MSPH&TM program and LOVE it. Coolest degree ever. I love learning about parasites!
posted by pedstel at 6:28 PM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


How weighted are my old transcripts when my current grades are exemplary?

Your current grades matter far more than old transcripts, especially with a 3.5 GPA. Don't worry another second about this.

Are there other things I'm missing that I should try to squeeze in to my life before I send in the application?

If you intend to go straight to grad school, no. You're already doing the right stuff. I'm a big advocate of taking a year or two off between undergrad and grad school, for a variety of reasons, and advise you to do so. During that time, you could do some sort of public health or international development-oriented program, which would give you a bit more 'real world' experience. But its not a necessity.

The only other thing that you might consider doing is identifying specific professors that you might want to work with, and even contacting them directly. If you are applying to an MPH program, this isn't too important; it is much more important if you are considering a DrPH or PhD.

How specific should I be when they ask my career goals or the general why I'm applying questions?

Be as specific as you can be: it indicates that you are motivated and directed, and it also allows them to determine whether you are a good fit for their program, and vice-versa.

Should I mention papers that I've written that relate to my desired field of study?

If they have been published, yes. If not, its only value-added to mention them if you can work them naturally into an essay.

How do I package this all together and polish it up to make me sound like the most perfect person in the world?

Applying to grad school is different from applying to undergrad. You don't have to prove that you're the best, most well-rounded student ever. You just have to prove that you are (a) smart, motivated, and directed enough to complete the program; (b) a good fit with the program - e.g., your interests and theirs match up well; and (c) have a relatively clear idea of why you want to get an MPH (or DrPH), and what you will do with it.
posted by googly at 8:00 PM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oops...should read 3.95 GPA, not 3.5.
posted by googly at 9:02 AM on October 10, 2008


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