What did you do to prepare for grad school? I spoke with a lot of professors at IC about grad school. I also emailed alumni who went to schools I was looking at or worked there to get a sense of what the schools were like. I had to fill out the SOPHAS application, which is like the Common App for graduate schools of public health. I had to write a personal statement, get references, take the GRE, and do a lot of research on the programs I was looking at. Once I got accepted, I visited the schools and spoke with faculty and staff in the department I was considering. Once I committed to a school, I had to brush up on my math skills, since my concentration is in epidemiology.
Describe your day-to-day life in your program? Most of my classes this semester have been in the morning, which is pretty typical for full-time MPH students at the University at Albany School of Public Health. Each day is different because of my class schedule. I am a Graduate Assistant at the School of Public Health, so on Mondays and Fridays I work because I don't have class. On Tuesdays, I have a statistics class at 8:45am and then an epidemiology class at 10:15am. Then I'll go to work after my classes are done. Wednesdays are nice because I only have a computer programming class from 9:20am - 12:10pm. Thursday mornings are the same as Tuesdays, except we have a stats quiz every week. Then I have break where I'll do homework on campus until my 2:45-5:35pm first-year seminar course.
Describe your day-to-day life outside of school? Outside of school, I mostly do homework. Grad school requires a lot of reading, so most of the time I am reading the textbook or studying for weekly stats quizzes. This semester, most of my classes were exam-based, so I've had very few papers to write, which has been nice. However, that means I have to study a lot to keep up with the material. I will often get together with friends in my program to do homework and study, since talking through the material really helps with comprehending it. Plus, it's a lot more fun to work with friends.
Is there anything that you wish you would have known before entering grad school? I knew it was going to be a lot of work, but I didn't realize how exhausting it would be. I wish I had known that you really have to make time to take care of yourself to ensure that you can do the best work possible. Don't get me wrong, I love the program I'm in and I know I made the right choice for myself, but you go through the material so much faster than undergrad, and if you don't consistently keep up, you'll fall really behind, and that can be very stressful.
Is there anything that you’d go back and do differently? I wouldn't stress as much about the application process. I was so nervous about not getting accepted anywhere, even after I submitted my applications and there was nothing left for me to do about it. As long as you can express your passion for public health in your application, you'll have nothing to worry about.