It is mid-February!
How does this happen? Around this time last year, I was actually trying to figure out housing situations, funding, etc. for the next year– my first in SPH. I cannot believe this year is going so fast. As a first year, I am beginning to think about what comes next. However, I want to take some time to ask you prospective students out there what it is you want to know– about the school, Ann Arbor, the people, anything. I am going to comment briefly on a few topics I was concerned with, but please feel free to jump in and either
a) comment on your experience if you are a current or past student (advice, what you wish you would have known, etc.)
b) ask a question if you are a prospective student.
Ann Arbor, Michigan: Very cute, kind of hippie. I love the Farmer’s Market (which runs through the winter), the music venues, and the little shops and coffee houses. SPH is further from the downtown area. There is also a section called Kerrytown, which is where the Farmer’s Market is located– this is kind of an artsy location. Cobblestones, etc, this is the historical area.
SPH: There is SPH 1 and SPH 2, which is actually connected by an overpass, which is nice in winter if you don’t want to walk the 20 feet into the cold to get across buildings. SPH1 is definitely newer, and pretty impressive looking. It has a cafe, which can be good or bad depending on how bad your caffeine addiction is….! It is pretty, and is full of glass windows (Glasshouse Cafe is it’s name, aptly). SPH1 is my favorite of the two buildings, and it has a couple different quiet study areas, and some rooms you can reserve for groups to study. SPH has a library in this building, but it has been closed since I got here. SPH2 is a little less shiny and new, but this is where the computer lab is located as well as lockers SPH students can reserve, which is handy for storing food-stuffs and winter gear.
Faculty: I personally have had a great experience with most of the faculty at SPH. I definitely choose classes based on not only the material, but whether or not I can learn from the professor. I think we are in an enviable position at Michigan where the faculty are both incredible in their field, but also maintain a passion for teaching. This combination is really why I love Michigan. In the smaller courses I took, I feel like I was able to better get to know faculty.
Adviser: I am not sure how your undergraduate experience was, but I basically planned everything, saw a different adviser each time, and had them sign off on my schedule. I have been so pleasantly surprised with the extent that my adviser cares about my personal goals, and is helping me carve out a class schedule that caters to them.
Funding: … is difficult to obtain. Since public health is not an undergraduate major, it is different than going into a grad program where you can GSI for the mirroring undergraduate department. That being said, I do know some people (usually second years or U of M grads) who hold GSI positions. Unfortunately, they are few. However, U of M does offer scholarships for excellence in education, and this has greatly helped me personally and quite a few students I have talked to. Also, since public health is a service field, there may be possibilities of student-loan forgiveness programs.
People/Students: Something I have found is that everyone right away is craving friendships. I was a little intimidated (okay, a lot intimidated) by moving 12 hours from my home-town. I came a couple weeks before school orientation, and there were some pros and cons to this. I had a chance to explore a little and get settled before scrambling into school-mode; but I was concerned about not having enough to do. You will have enough to do. You know how you have that crazy interest that you like to nerd out about, and peoples’ eyes start to glaze over after a few minutes? Imagine a whole class full of people who care/enjoy/talk about the same things– but from completely different angles and backgrounds! Everyone, I mean everyone, in SPH is there for a reason. I have been here since August 2010, and still have found that I wish I had the time to completely invest in knowing all the amazing people that go to this school. That being said, it is difficult to meet people outside of SPH if you don’t make an active effort early on to join U of M organizations, and just explore outside of SPH.
Housing: I lived alone this year because I didn’t want a random roommate. However, many of my friends found random houses and have really enjoyed their experience! It is also personal preference, but the further you move away from campus, the cheaper housing is. You can find covered parking, but parking in general costs more usually. I would recommend really seeing what is included utility-wise, check with other students, and e-mailing new and current students about living together.
Courses: Courses depend entirely upon your concentration, but whatever your specific interest, you should be able to find a way to make your courses relevant. For example, I am interested in Global Health, and am taking courses to meet the Global Health Certificate requirements. You can take courses in all departments of SPH, and any grad level course in different programs.
I hope this is at least mildly helpful for anyone getting their acceptances, and like I said, please pitch in if anyone has a comment, question, or suggestion!