bigbadbruin

10+ Year Member
Apr 30, 2008
1
0
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
hello im new to this forum. i had a question about what kind of extracurriculars y'all have had. i am an undergraduate looking to apply to mph program next year. what kind of research and or jobs pertain to mph programs? also, if my gpa is not that great, what is recommended? THANks!
 

dreamer40

10+ Year Member
Mar 4, 2008
30
0
Status
Pre-Medical
Hey, look at that thread, but also I can give advice on how to overcome a sub-3.0 GPA in the MPH admissions game. Okay, so in my case, I'm currently an undergrad senior going straight into an MPH this coming fall. I applied to 6 schools total, 2 reach (two top 10 PH schools), 2 match, and 2 "safe bets". In the end, I received admits from both of my reach schools, a rejection from a match, an admit from a safety, and then no response from one match and one safety school.

The point is, I got in, with a (oh, I'm not ashamed now...) 2.65 cumulative GPA, and a 3.0 GPA in my major. Here's how:

1. I must admit first I do attend a Top 25 university, but assuming from your screen name, you might go to UCLA, which is known as an amazing school for undergrad. Even if you don't go to UCLA, my advice still applies.

2. See, I started off college as a pre-med, but by the middle of my sophomore year, I realized my that public health was more appropriate in terms of population health. So, my grades from those early years aren't completely great.:oops:

3. Anyway, as soon as I realized the power of public health, I immediately looked for internships or summer opportunities in public health. For about a year and a half, I worked as a research assistant for postdoctoral scholars who had differing projects in social epidemiology. This work experience helped me understand the field better the field of public health, by allowing me to work side by side with active researchers in the field. So, if you are a rising senior or junior, there's still time. Look for opportunities this summer or next fall for undergrads to work in your local health department, or if there's a local public health school or program, send your resume to them. Also, MonsterTrak on my school's website helped me find the very on-campus job as an RA I just mentioned. So, on your campus, there could very well be public health opportunities, just work with your school's career office for help. Another route is to simply volunteer in a public health setting; however, some MPH programs require at least a year of work experience, so keep that in mind.

4. In terms of extracurriculars, I have done community service with the same program for a few years, so that probably helped. I've also been involved with various student groups on my campus since being a sophomore, and some of these clubs were public health or medicine-focused. At my school, we have an undergraduate public health club, and a pre-med one. So, I became active in these.

5. But the really important thing is the personal statement. Explain who you are, why PH, and where you hope to be post-MPH. Note a sentence or two about your GPA, but don't make excuses for yourself...be honest about why you may not have the hottest grades. In my case, I made clear my transition from pre-med to pre-public health, my 3.0 GPA in my major, and classes I've taken to help me prepare for public health coursework (like intro stats). I suggest if your school has a grad school in public health, or if there's a local one, seriously find out if undergrads can enroll in certain seminars; I put my enrollment in a grad-level PH class in my personal statement.

6. Also, of course letters of rec. are important. Get two from faculty members who taught you, and then one from a supervisor at the job or volunteer position in PH you soon shall get;).

I hope none of this sounds vague or repetitive, but the whole MPH admissions process is exciting at times, and frustrating, like any grad school application. In the end, it's worth it. I'll end by saying to really get ready for the GRE. Don't do like me and wait til the middle of senior year. Take it no later than August 31 of year when you become a first semester senior, please!!! And, I think my GRE scores offset my cumulative GPA, since I scored 60th percentile Verbal, 63rd percentile Math, and 88th percentile Writing. Most PH schools only require 50th percentile in all sections, so go above and beyond:) Good luck, and it's good you're taking time to learn about this process now, while you still have time to finish your ugrad. year(s) on a good note, and really prepare yourself well to apply to MPH programs.
 

dreamer40

10+ Year Member
Mar 4, 2008
30
0
Status
Pre-Medical
Also, it wouldn't hurt to be a member of some national academic organizations; this looks good on your CV, and connects you to your ugrad. major better. For example, I'm a women's studies major, and I joined the National Women's Studies Association, since they do some work in health. Also, I got a research fellowship, and was able to do a summer of research, and later present my findings at national undergraduate research conferences. This also is a plus, and shows your interest in public health and/or your major. My research project happened to deal with women's public health, so if you have time to do a senior thesis or individual (maybe supervised by a professor) summer project related to PH, by all means do it. I have no doubt that presenting research and showing true passion in your undergrad major help the admissions process in your favor, regardless of GPA issues.:)