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MPH Public Health School Culture (including Emory MPH)

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ATLMPH

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So I graduated from undergrad a few years ago, have worked in some unrelated fields, and am headed to Emory's MPH HPM program in a month.

I was just wondering if someone could shed some light on the "culture" of public health school?
Is the social scene more like undergrad or is there more of a professional atmosphere?
Is there a level of professional distance between students or is there still a similar hookup scene like undergrad?
Do most people hang out a lot together after classes and go to bars, weekend events, etc?
Is there a good amount of social interaction between the public health departments?
Do people hang out in grad school housing or does everyone do their own thing?
Any tips, suggestions, or advice before attending orientation and classes in a few weeks?

I know that I'm generalizing, but I hear that
-there is more camaraderie, rather than competition between public health students
-students are fairly socially liberal in the beliefs (almost obviously)
-students are fairly social and attend happy hours together
-many students come in with serious relationships
-many older students (although not so much at Emory)

I know that every school is different and that everyone is different, but I'd like to hear about some of your experiences. Thanks, everyone!
 

themmases

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I am starting at UIC in the fall but am already here working full-time on a public health project, and my experiences here are similar to what you heard. The age spread on my project (research assistants and full-time staff with MPHs) is 24-35. I've read that it's common for MPH classes to be about 50% people straight from undergrad, 50% older/with work experience. We went out for happy hour our first week together, which was nothing crazy but we did go around and each tell a story about how we met our partner/a crazy ex/a crazy roommate.

My very first conversations with people on the project included: asking me for advice on lit reviews and giving me advice on course selection; cats; band; giving me advice about where to live. I'd say if you've worked or have friends who worked in a professional environment where everyone is on the young side, it is very much like that. People can be silly but it is more about becoming friends than not being professional.

Whether people use grad student housing depends a lot on the campus. In some cities, it's a great deal or the best way to be really close to campus. In other cities, it can be more expensive or restrictive than the market housing and it's less popular. It also depends whether people already have partners and families. UIC doesn't have much where you could move in with your partner, and I think what they do have is for parents. On other campuses, the university may own apartments that are more normal.
 

ATLMPH

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makes sense. i hope some others have some of their own stories, advice, tips, and suggestions to share!
 

Fedaykin

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It's relevant to note that I live in the middle of a major party town, so that probably colors the type of interactions that me and my friends have. I imagine that people at Vanderbilt may have different social lives than those of us just outside the French Quarter.

Is the social scene more like undergrad or is there more of a professional atmosphere?

A little bit of both. On the clock everyone's very professional. Off the clock we're just normal people. The fact that most of us have lived a bit since undergrad means that people are more mature. That's not to say we don't have the same kind of fun as undergrads, but there's a good amount less fratboy doucheyness around.

Is there a level of professional distance between students or is there still a similar hookup scene like undergrad?

People are friends but your classmates are also your co-workers and colleagues. We have a lot of close friendships and the usual amount of kiss-and-tell between friends, but in general people don't **** where they eat.

Do most people hang out a lot together after classes and go to bars, weekend events, etc?

A lot, but here it took about one semester for everyone to really start coming out and opening up more.

Is there a good amount of social interaction between the public health departments?

This one I can't really comment on- my department is infectious disease and microbiology, so what we do is a lot different from other departments in the school and in turn we keep to ourselves a bit. In general, it's going to be like undergraduate. The people you'll be friends with are the people in your lab and classes. The people in your lab and classes will generally be in the same department as you. I have a few friends from other departments here but in general, every such person I know I sort of ran into in a chance/fluke encounter. There aren't many mechanisms to meet people in other departments unless you go out of your way to do so, and people in other departments do the same.

Do people hang out in grad school housing or does everyone do their own thing?

Graduate student housing isn't like a dormitory. People have their own apartments and do their own thing. If I want to see friends, I'll usually go out with them. That's not to say that I've never had people to my apartment, but we don't live communally like undergrads do.

-there is more camaraderie, rather than competition between public health students

The friends I have in this program are the closest friends I've ever had in my life. Period. It bugs me quite a lot that most my friends are MS students who'll all be gone in a year.

-students are fairly socially liberal in the beliefs (almost obviously)

This is true. Public health tends to attract people who are drawn to social justice. Topics like abortion, prostitution, and gun violence are discussed purely as public health and medical issues rather than moral issues or social ills. There are also a lot of economic liberals for the same reason- topics like economic development and social services/safety nets work their way into that too. Even the conservatives tend to have liberal tendencies with strong beliefs in things like public service and community organizing.

-students are fairly social and attend happy hours together

And faculty. My department actually has a trivia team that goes out to bars. Students/faculty/administrators. There are also periodic department happy hours at nearby bars, and it's not unusual to do after-hour discussions about class work at the local watering holes.

-many students come in with serious relationships

Many? Yes. Most? Not really. A lot of students have done some living before graduate school and as such have picked up long-term relationships. I'm 29 and came in engaged.

-many older students (although not so much at Emory)

In my cadre of friends, most people are around 24-26. The youngest is 22. The oldest is 34. I'm 29. Me and 34 are at the older end of the range.
 
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ATLMPH

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this gives a lot of insight! thanks to everyone who responded so far!
 
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