Things I Wish I Had Known 2 Years Ago

Janaiya Johnson

Janaiya Johnson

After many tests, papers, and presentations, I am finally done!  I have enjoyed my time in the program, and while it was challenging at times, I learned a lot both inside and out of the classroom. I sought the input of classmates to put together a list of tips and advice for incoming students that will hopefully assist in avoiding some of the challenges we experienced and help make the Class of 2012 MPH experience as great or better than ours.


“Don’t bother trying to study at starbucks. It is always full of undergrads and the internet is NOT free!”

During exam time, our lovely undergraduate neighbors decide to that SPH is the study place of choice. Therefore, one student advises “Don’t be afraid to walk up to freshmen and kick them out because they are using the glass rooms.  You don’t need security”.


“Get a graduate student after hours blue pass. It’s not that expensive and you can park in blue lots after 3:00pm on weekdays and at any time on the weekends. It is a lifesaver for all those weekend and nighttime meetings–oh, and it is even valid during special events so you don’t have to pay to park. I used to park for free in blue lots near the stadium (you have to be north of hill street) on football Saturdays!”


I strongly recommend taking classes outside the School of Public Health. One student states: “I didn’t know I could take classes outside SPH until my second year, I’ve really enjoyed classes at the Ford School (so much, I’m staying one moreyear!) and it would’ve been good to know at the beginning”. Public Policy, Business School and Social Work are good places to start.

If you have an opportunity, try to do an independent study project under the guidance of someone in the field. It is an excellent way to practically apply what you’ve learned in the classroom…And there is no purchasing of a coursepack involved. 🙂

In addition to taking courses outside the school, check into the dual degree programs. Some will allow you apply and enroll during your first semester.

If you are interested in a class and its only offered on Fridays, try to take it your first year! Friday classes can be a challenge the Winter semester when you’re trying to graduate.

You can NOT write a group paper the night before its due.  And the best tip is to assign someone to be the editor, so they don’t write, but are in charge of making the sections written by others cohesive. It helps a lot, provided you don’t try to do it the night before!


If you are interested in going abroad for your summer internship but are not sure how to fund it, there are an abundance of resources on campus to fund international research. Also, you can combine funding from various resources.


There a lot of departments that offer GSI appointments. While they can be competitive, look into positions in more specialized departments. You never, know, your one class in “Medieval Historic Art “ could land you a position!

Being a GSI is A LOT of work. It is definitely worth the work to have your tuition covered, but remember you’ll have to grade midterms and finals during your own exam time. Furthermore, undergraduate students have this notion that you are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week….So you’ll spend a lot of time responding to e-mails with subject lines similar to: “I know it’s the night before the test but I have questions about everything that has ever been covered in lecture”.


Color printing is 40 cents a page, no matter how many pages you fit on one page. That was probably the most expensive lesson I learned…

Additionally, you will need to develop a hierarchy of needs with regard to printing.  400 pages for black and white printing will sustain you for …two weeks – MAX.

Virtual Sites is a life saver when you need to use software in the computer lab but are too lazy to come to school. The website allows you to use software by signing onto computers remotely.

If you need to learn how to use media software (i.e. iMovie, Final Cut Pro, Dreamweaver, etc.) for a project, Digital Media Commons on North Campus offers workshops. Sign up early in the semester so you can become familiar with the software before your project is due. Also, even if it the list indicates the workshop is full, still attend as people usually sign-up but don’t go. The website for Digital Media Commons is:

Hopefully this is enough to get students started on the right track. If people have additional tips, I’d love to hear them!

3 thoughts on “Things I Wish I Had Known 2 Years Ago

  1. I am a prospective student for the SPH and I found this to be incredibly useful and insightful! Thanks so much for posting it! 🙂

  2. I am an admitted student for Fall 2010 and really looking forward to the program. Any tips on finding Research assistanships within the SPH and other departments?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s