It’s Friday, and what better way to end the week than with a discussion that’s relevant to everyone? Today, a stressed-out lass from Maryland named Katie helps us explore the question of how much — if at all — the school you choose affects your future.
I’m guessing debate will rage on this on at a later date, when we can cover the topic more fully. Today, however, we’re going to stick to Katie’s situation and help her out. Feel free to hop in and add your two cents. Here’s Katie:
My name is Katie and I am contacting you in regards to the dilemma you had responded to about Nancy who is a student in the process of choosing between a full ride at UMD or partial scholarship at her dream school at JHU. I thank you for your input and felt your advice was golden and was hoping you may be able to shed some light on similar issue I am facing at the moment.
I’ll do my best.
Much like Nancy, I am in the process of choosing between schools, however, this is for my graduate education. I am interested in the field of public health with a concentration in global health. I have applied to some of the best schools for that major (Boston University and Tulane University) and been accepted
although the price of this education is huge and haven’t received any of the scholarship offers I was hoping for.
Yeah…that’s the downside. Hearing that a lot lately.
I love the specific programs that both Boston and particularly Tulane with the tropical medicine focus, although I am having nightmares about financing this degree.
I am a current resident of Maryland and I am having second thoughts thinking I should have applied to University of Maryland and considering applying for there for the spring instead of going to Tulane or Boston. The two main reasons I did not apply to UMD is because they do not offer a MPH with a global health concentration and UMD is also not accredited by the American Schools of Public Health ( they are only associate members).
In your professional opinion, should the accreditation matter in terms of future employment?
Well, unfortunately this is something that’s pretty industry-specific, and my expertise doesn’t lie in the public health arena. One piece of information that we need to know first is what you actually want to *do* when you get that MPH degree. I admit that I had heard of the master’s in public health degree, but that’s as far as my knowledge goes. Otherwise, I had no idea what people do with that degree.
However, I did some research and found that those with an MPH degree are qualified to work in a variety of settings, but a preponderance of jobs seem to be in government settings. The federal government especially, it seems, will be a destination for a lot of MPH graduates. I don’t know whether you want to work in an office or in rural clinics or in the jungle somewhere, but I’m just getting the lay of the land here in terms of what you might want to do with that degree.
Because that makes all the difference in the world in terms of how you go forward with your educational plans. By my pencil, the MPH at Tulane will put you back about $60,000 total. That’s before any aid is offered, of course. I don’t know what kind of assistantships and fellowships are available there that could possibly get your tuition waived, but I know those are relatively common at some schools. My grad-school tuition was covered by an assistantship the first year and the Pulitzer fellowship the second year. Granted, that was a journalism degree and the situations could be miles apart, but my point is to check out what’s available at both BU and Tulane concerning those kinds of opportunities. If you can find something like that, that $60k number gets slashed really fast, and then your nightmares may subside a little as it does.
The lack of the global health concentration at UMD is also unfortunate although I have a hunch that if I work hard toward a general MPH degree and choose to seek out jobs and experience in global public health, I can make that happen on my own without necessarily needing the specific global MPH degree.
Despite my earlier-stated lack of expertise (or, to be honest, any preexisting knowledge of this subject whatsoever), I feel pretty comfortable saying that those cool-sounding “concentrations” that lots of schools use to entice you into the program are NOT prerequisites for any job.
They may be cool and interesting, but the more unique they are, the less *required* they are. I’m going to take a wild stab and guess that Tulane’s the only university in the discussion here who has “Tropical Medicine” in the name of the actual public-health college. Now, go around to the tropics of the world, find the public-health professionals who are working there, and then ask them where they went to school. Some may have gone to Tulane; most probably did not.
Am I off for thinking this about pursuing a degree at UMD or should I jump at the chance to go to one of the best schools for the major I am most passionate about? I dont have any student loans to pay off from my undergraduate education so I am tempted by the offers to attend Boston and Tulane. Any suggestions you may have would be truly helpful and much appreciated!
Well, to be honest with you, I don’t really find in your story any compelling reason to get on your case about spending too much money in student loans and try to get you to consider a cheaper public school. If you have zero student loan debt now, then you’re in a rare good spot from which it’s much more palatable to take out some now — especially if we’re talking about an elite program in a career you love and are passionate about.
Yeah, there’s the issue of money, and repaying your loans. That issue never goes away, so get comfy with it. And again, I don’t know exactly what you want to do with the degree, but I just get a sense that you should have some pretty well-paying options if you go to a great school and keep your options open. Even if you’ve got a lot of student debt, a federal-government gig is pretty sweet money- and benefits-wise.
Plus, public health is one of the few fields that you can confidently say is going to grow constantly for a very long time. Sickness, death, suffering, disease — these things have been with us since the beginning of time and always will be.
So yeah, if I were you, I’d go for it at Tulane or BU. Good luck!
That’s all for today. It’s a busy weekend coming up here in Rapid City, South Dakota. Selling off as much junk as I can tomorrow at our yard sale, then helping host an open house Sunday at Children’s House Montessori, where my kids go to school. A wonderful place to send your kids if you happen to live in our tiny corner of western South Dakota.
Have a great weekend, everyone! Oh yeah, and if you’re on Facebook and are so inclined, please become my fan. I’m in a friendly competition with my buddy Big Robbo from MamasFallenAngels.com about who can get more FB fans, and he’s kicking my butt right now.