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non-traditional applicant (and those pesky GREs!)

Discussion in 'Public Health Degrees (Masters and Doctoral)' started by palindromes, Nov 18, 2005.

  1. palindromes

    palindromes New Member

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    I am a non-traditional applicant: I'm 31, have not majored in a health-related degree (undergrad or grad), and have been working largely in non-profit art institutions since my graduation year (97).

    That said, I have taken quite a number of math classes (calculus 1 and 2) and science classes (physics, chemistry, organic chem., biology all with labs) as an undergrad at Yale--and got descent grades (As/Bs).

    Specifically, I am interested in gaining admission to Columbia's PhD Sociomedical Sciences program. Since I would take half my classes in a social science department and I am currently finishing up an MPhil in the UK that heavily draws on sociological and anthropological theory, I think I have a good shot.

    I also think I will have very good recs and I have plenty of volunteer experience related to my interests in public heath (something I kept up while I have been working in museums).

    Here's the real catch: My problem is that though I am happy with my GRE Verbal (640) and Analytical (5) scores, I am a bit worried about my quantitative score (610). I don't think it's horrible, but given that my science/math classes were taken a decade ago, I'm worried that I need a stronger score to show my quantitative abilities. Also, I don't want to miss out on an internal fellowship opportunity within Columbia.

    Any words of advice (especially as it relates to Columbia's PhD program)? Obviously I'd rather not take the test again and none of you are in the minds of the admissions committee, but I would love some feedback nonetheless.

    Cheers!
     
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  3. vivs001

    vivs001 Junior Member

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    I went to the Columbia open house earlier this fall, and they made it sound like the PhD programs were much more selective than the master's programs. I think your GRE scores would be perfectly acceptable for master's tracks but weak for PhD. From speaking to lots of Columbia students, I get the sense that many many are doing the master's program first with the intention of applying for PhD program immediately afterward. It's sort of a "stepping stone" degree for anyone who did an unrelated major as an undergrad. On the other hand, you might be a special case because of your MPhil... The most important thing in PhD admissions is past research work (especially anything published) and recommendations from professors in the field (especially if those professors *know* profs at the school where you're applying and can make an introduction...) so you never know. If there are profs at Columbia doing research that interests you, you should contact them directly for sure. If you can impress one of them enough that they want you for an advisee, they can sort of shuttle your application through the admissions process, and GRE scores become moot.
     
  4. palindromes

    palindromes New Member

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    Thank you so much for your insight! I did email one of the profs I was interested in and they, too, mentioned that it might be wiser to go the MPH route on way to a PhD. He also pointed out that with an MPH I also have an opportunity to a DrPH which he felt might be more versatile.
     

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