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Hi there! I saw there was a Canadian thread started but not a US one so here goes! 

Applying a little more broadly this round (last year was Clinical + Counseling psych, this year I'm doing Counseling Psych PhDs, MPH, MSW, and one combo MSW/PhD program), and I'd really appreciate some insight on my odds for MPH! 

The good: 
3.986 GPA undergrad
Honors College Membership contingent upon maintaining 3.2 all semesters; extra classes required for graduation 
Chancellor's Scholarship undergrad - contingent upon maintaining 3.5, full ride to (public) uni 
Dean's List at summa cum laude every semester enrolled 
Provost's Certificate -- for maintaining 3.9 GPA every semester enrolled 
Independent Honors Thesis 
1 pub -- hoping to get another 2 out as first author before sending in apps (lofty goal, I know); on a couple of presentations  
Worked 20-40 hours a week between two research labs as an undergrad (one paid, one volunteer/one semester of credit) for two years, continue to volunteer in side lab
1 year of "full-time" research experience as lab manager (not like I was already doing full time hours between the two labs during undergrad but w/e...)
180 hour clinical internship working in a crisis stabilization unit + 8 months per diem work  
Gonna get three absolutely stellar letters of reccomendation 

The Meh: 
Went to public uni that's not always well-regarded (UMass Boston) 
I'm a baby by some people's standards (22) which my side-lab director mentioned was a huge turn-off for him because people fresh from undergrad don't know what they want to do with their lives and waste grant money if/when they drop out -- planning on addressing this directly because aside from changing my mind on BS vs BA I haven't at all wavered in what I've wanted to do with my life since senior year of high school - if nothing else I'm stubborn as hell and won't stop until I do what I came to do. 
Have a rare disability that manifested in middle school that wasn't treated properly until late HS (planning on highlighting this in my personal statement/statement of purpose because it's part of the reason why I'm so interested in adolescence & health psych). 

The Ugly: 
GRE scores... I did much worse this year than last (144 vs 142 Q, 158 vs 156 V, 4.5 vs 5.5A) but hit "send all scores" the day of. Likely the result of: a) extreme test anxiety because I know the GRE is really make-it-or-break-it for a lot of schools, I want to vomit every time I think of how much money I wasted on apps last year and how much I'll be paying for a non-terminal master's if I don't get into PhD this round; b ) My math skills outside of stats are absolutely abysmal because I had to literally teach myself math in high school (still managed to get nothing less than C's-- mostly A's and B's then) -- I'd miss months of school at a time and would get "home tutoring" from people who were just as lost as I was. 
Got a B+ in stats during undergrad -- because our prof gave everyone in the class the wrong directions for how to run SPSS so all of our labs were incorrect; half the class withdrew before the deadline and half of the remaining folks just stopped showing up; prof was an adjunct and was fired after that semester because of that class, but combined with the perception of "UMB's so easy you'd have to be really dumb to get less than an A" I can see why PIs would see this as a red flag combined with abysmal GRE scores. 

I'm applying to BU & Harvard... any thoughts on odds? 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well as far as gpa, and other experiences I think that it will boast well on your application, I can see where your GRE scores may have you concerned but I think its not the ONLY factor of your application. On the other-hand I am coming from a very bizarre background with a later in life decision to get an MPH so I am really hoping I can compete against everyone!

I have 161/162 ( don't remember which is which) and a 4.5 on my GRE but my Gpa is only about 3.5 but I have a BA in humanities and a BS in science and I had two jobs in school :( It definitely impacted my gpa. One of my jobs however is what drew me into public health  - I worked for a university gym and I was certified in various levels of first aid for 6 years and I had a lot of experience in responding to medical emergencies, as well as leading responses, training others etc. I have 2 years of research experience in inorganic chemistry and a publication - its not quite related but I hope that it at least helps! 

I have deans and presidents lists, etc, but also I studied abroad for a year, I speak 2.5 languages and I'm currently living overseas (it will be 2 years prior to matriculating) I applied to programs in epi with focuses on infectious disease and global health. I think my gpa and GRE are at the standards of most schools but I worry about my experiences - especially considering there are many MDs applying to these programs and career scientists returning from years of work. 

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Hi academicbirb and stothmonster! Good to see this thread here. I also feel good to see that other students with nontraditional backgrounds are going for it. I've become quite pessimistic about my chances, but I guess all I need is one school willing to take a chance. My overall GPA is average (3.4), but that's only because of failing to withdraw in time a couple of semesters (once from community college) when I had a great deal of family responsibility and a major death in the family. My last 2 years GPA is almost 4.0  from a well-regarded public university. I'm a social science major but with some public health coursework (i.e. introductory epidemiology). I've done qualitative health research for an honors thesis, and I've been published (but not for a health related topic). I'm also much older than the typical college student and I've worked almost full-time throughout my academic career. On the other hand, I take the GRE tomorrow and my Quantitative diagnostics are mediocre (155 average).

So what I see as the good:

Last two years GPA ~4.0
Strong recommendation letters
Strong personal statement with personal background marking me as atypical in a positive way
Undergraduate research experience/Honors thesis
GRE verbal score
Good grades (mostly As, one A-) in public health and math/stats courses
Dean's list for equivalent of 3 years (including last two)
Research scholarship recipient
 

Meh:

Recent non-public health publication
2-3 years spent abroad (though not doing health work), which influenced my career goals
Working for public health department (though admin work rather than research)
History of untreated mental health issues, which I will mention but not over-emphasize in my statement

Bad:

GRE quantitative score
GPA prior to last two years
Too many course withdrawals over academic career
Not enough math/science courses
 

academicbirb:

I don't have any sense about Harvard (they are also one my reach schools) as I don't know anyone who applied there. However, BU is also on my list and I do know someone who got in there who had much less experience than you do, no publications and a not nearly as strong GPA. His GREs were a bit higher than yours as he cracked 150 on the quantitative. He didn't get a great financial offer but my guess is that you will get into BU with a good financial package.

stothmonster: 

I also worry about experience given that I've had to work to support myself so I haven't been able to look for other types of experiences and, honestly, when I first looking for a job at the university, I didn't wait around for a research job and took the first one I got.

 

Looking at other sites, it seems somewhat unpredictable who gets in where. Obviously, perfect stats keep you in the running, but it also seems possible to overcome the less than perfect stats and less experience than other candidates. And, like I said, it just takes one school! Good luck to you both!

 

Edited by Jane Reacher
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  • 4 weeks later...

Hey, sorry it's been a hot minute since I've logged in! Thanks so much for the input!! <3 

stothmonster 
I think your language skills and experiences abroad will definitely help make you a competitive candidate for global epi programs!! Even though your research experience is from a slightly different field, it's still related and I think most programs are just looking to see that you'll be able to produce content to make the program look good. 

Jane 
IMO most schools care more about the last two years' GPA than the overall, especially when looking at people who only have a BA/BS; the expectation is that going into college can be a huge learning curve for people and lots of people change majors a few times if they see they don't like/aren't cut out for the one they originally went with. The fact that you have a pub (period, even though it's not related) shows you at least know what the process looks like/you're capable of putting out content. And IMO the fact that you're older will probably help more than hurt you because you'll automatically come off as more mature/sure of your career path, etc. 

Good luck!! Also, do MPH programs do interviews for applicants or just send out acceptance/rejection letters??? 

Side note: SOPHAS is the WORST. THING. EVER. They lost three of my transcripts in the mail/their P.O. Box so I've definitely missed Harvard's deadline & grace period because I had to re-send those and they only just arrived to be verified this week. Now I'm anxious that I'll miss BU's deadline too and have wasted $200... 

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@academicbirb Contact the schools directly if SOPHAS is being the worst. They will understand, but you need to be on their radar.

I had similar GRE scores to you the when I applied out of undergrad and I got into BU. I don't know much about Harvard, but I get the sense that most PH programs want to make sure you are actually interested in this work, which you seem to be. It's not necessarily about numbers, it's about passion and vision. 

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@|SDH|-|PhD| Thank you!! I've reached out to both and got an auto-response from Harvard essentially saying they know SOPHAS is trash and will review candidates even if they haven't been verified as long as the rest of the app is in before the Dec 1 deadline -- they sent an email not too long ago saying their grace period was until Dec 15 so that's why I was panicking. As long as SOPHAS has decent turnaround time I should be verified for BU's Jan 5 deadline but I'm still waiting to hear back about whether or not they review unverified apps. 

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On 12/16/2016 at 7:15 PM, academicbirb said:

Jane 

 

IMO most schools care more about the last two years' GPA than the overall, especially when looking at people who only have a BA/BS; the expectation is that going into college can be a huge learning curve for people and lots of people change majors a few times if they see they don't like/aren't cut out for the one they originally went with. The fact that you have a pub (period, even though it's not related) shows you at least know what the process looks like/you're capable of putting out content. And IMO the fact that you're older will probably help more than hurt you because you'll automatically come off as more mature/sure of your career path, etc. 

Good luck!! Also, do MPH programs do interviews for applicants or just send out acceptance/rejection letters??? 

Side note: SOPHAS is the WORST. THING. EVER. They lost three of my transcripts in the mail/their P.O. Box so I've definitely missed Harvard's deadline & grace period because I had to re-send those and they only just arrived to be verified this week. Now I'm anxious that I'll miss BU's deadline too and have wasted $200... 

Thanks for the positive words! I had been feeling more optimistic as I did a bit better on the GRE than I thought I would (159 Q) and this week, I got my first acceptance -- Tulane. I don't think most MPH programs do interviews. I read something about the UW liking applicants to seek out faculty for "discussions" but that's not the same as a formal interview.

Sorry about your SOPHAS woes. I had like 10 transcripts and I was sure something like that would happen to me. I think it will be fine. I can't imagine a school holding it against you when it was totally out of your hands.

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  • 1 month later...

Hey! So I've found myself always getting discouraged from forums like these so I decided to post to provide some hope out there for people in my situation.I always feel like all my stats are meh so I'll just give a overview of myself.

Overall GPA: 2.97 - I did dual enrollment in high school for you at a small school (Clayton State University) and then attended Georgia State University with a major in Biology after I graduated high school. I had a pretty rough time in school and ended up graduating with a 2.74 (Yikes, I know). I decided to return to Clayton State for three semesters to take some more science courses and retake a few other courses to improve my GPA. I ended up doing very well in my post bac (GPA was a 3.86) and my overall GPA rose to a 2.96 so I was very proud of myself.

GRE - First attempt (Q 156, V 147, W 3.0) & Second Attempt (Q 157, V 147, W 3.0) Obviously after paying $200 and taking the GRE a second time a year later and only scoring ONE point higher I knew that I wasn't going to bother taking it a third time.

Experience - Initially my plans were to go into PA. After trying for two cycles and failing both times I decided to look further into what I could pursue with the GRE. I was introduced to Epi during a Microbiology course at Clayton State. I absolutely loved math and figured that I would love to have a career in Epi.

I don't have any major accomplishments while I was in school. I only received Dean's List once.

After being rejected by so many PA schools at one point I lost so much hope. I applied at 9 different schools (All Epi) and the first response I got was a denial. Texas A&M denied me for my GPA for being too low. Their requirement was the typical 3.0, and remind you mines was a 2.97. Esteem booster, right? Then the acceptances started rolling in. Let me tell you I was crying tears of joy for a good 20 minutes straight. Like I stated I really just wanted to post to provide some type of hope to others who are going through the same things I went through.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Congrats on your acceptances JanayAlexis! I hope more good news has come in since you posted! And, you are right, perseverance and faith are key. I really didn't think I had a chance at the type of success I've had with MPH programs.

Congrats on BU, academicbirb! Harvard is a total mystery. I still have not heard back from them. I applied to a lot of schools due to also applying to law schools and have gotten accepted to Hopkins, Columbia, Univ of Washington, Berkeley, UCLA, Tulane, UIC, CUNY, NYU, GWU, Michigan, BU, and Emory. I start visiting schools in 2 weeks.

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  • 1 month later...
On 3/4/2017 at 11:29 PM, Jane Reacher said:

Congrats on your acceptances JanayAlexis! I hope more good news has come in since you posted! And, you are right, perseverance and faith are key. I really didn't think I had a chance at the type of success I've had with MPH programs.

Congrats on BU, academicbirb! Harvard is a total mystery. I still have not heard back from them. I applied to a lot of schools due to also applying to law schools and have gotten accepted to Hopkins, Columbia, Univ of Washington, Berkeley, UCLA, Tulane, UIC, CUNY, NYU, GWU, Michigan, BU, and Emory. I start visiting schools in 2 weeks.

Hi Jane Reacher! Congrats on your acceptances! How is CUNY's MPH program by the way? 

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On 2/11/2017 at 7:26 PM, JanayAlexis said:

Hey! So I've found myself always getting discouraged from forums like these so I decided to post to provide some hope out there for people in my situation.I always feel like all my stats are meh so I'll just give a overview of myself.

Overall GPA: 2.97 - I did dual enrollment in high school for you at a small school (Clayton State University) and then attended Georgia State University with a major in Biology after I graduated high school. I had a pretty rough time in school and ended up graduating with a 2.74 (Yikes, I know). I decided to return to Clayton State for three semesters to take some more science courses and retake a few other courses to improve my GPA. I ended up doing very well in my post bac (GPA was a 3.86) and my overall GPA rose to a 2.96 so I was very proud of myself.

GRE - First attempt (Q 156, V 147, W 3.0) & Second Attempt (Q 157, V 147, W 3.0) Obviously after paying $200 and taking the GRE a second time a year later and only scoring ONE point higher I knew that I wasn't going to bother taking it a third time.

Experience - Initially my plans were to go into PA. After trying for two cycles and failing both times I decided to look further into what I could pursue with the GRE. I was introduced to Epi during a Microbiology course at Clayton State. I absolutely loved math and figured that I would love to have a career in Epi.

I don't have any major accomplishments while I was in school. I only received Dean's List once.

After being rejected by so many PA schools at one point I lost so much hope. I applied at 9 different schools (All Epi) and the first response I got was a denial. Texas A&M denied me for my GPA for being too low. Their requirement was the typical 3.0, and remind you mines was a 2.97. Esteem booster, right? Then the acceptances started rolling in. Let me tell you I was crying tears of joy for a good 20 minutes straight. Like I stated I really just wanted to post to provide some type of hope to others who are going through the same things I went through.

JanayAlexis!! OUR STORIES are identical!! I submitted apps to 9 different PA schools last cycle. I only scored one interview to ended up waitlisted for months...only to end up at number 7 on the list when they classed up! I decided to submit to MPH programs this time around and then maybe one day to PA again. My undergrad is in Kinesiology and Health Science so I had a lot of exposure and always loved the thought of public health as well. So where have you been accepted??? PLEASE DO TELL! I have already been rejected from CUNY, Portland State and UT Austin. Waiting on Tulane, Emory, BU and LSU. My GPA is a 3.14. All those stupid science classes I didn't even end up needing now are weighing it down! GRE is is similar, a tad lower than yours...your post gives me hope! I was going to apply to Texas A&M too but my GPA isn't much higher than yours...I'm not wondering if maybe I shouldn't even bother? Hope to hear from you soon! Hope to hear from you soon. Congrats :-) 

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On 4/5/2017 at 10:54 AM, JohnSGrad95 said:

Hi Jane Reacher! Congrats on your acceptances! How is CUNY's MPH program by the way? 

Thanks! I don't actually know much about CUNY's program. I did not end up visiting there. I was mainly just applying because they are in NY and I thought there was a good chance I would end up going to law school there. Also, I know a lot of grads end up working for the NYC Dept of Health so that was a plus.

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1 minute ago, Jane Reacher said:

Thanks! I don't actually know much about CUNY's program. I did not end up visiting there. I was mainly just applying because they are in NY and I thought there was a good chance I would end up going to law school there. Also, I know a lot of grads end up working for the NYC Dept of Health so that was a plus.

Thanks! How did you find out where the graduates ended up working? Have you decided what MPH program you're going to? Thanks again! 

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