Lessons From the First Two Weeks of Graduate School


The first two weeks of graduate school have been a whirlwind of classes, meeting people, reading, (lots and lots of reading), and exploring life as a Michigan student.  From these experiences, I’ve already learned several things both in and out of the classroom:


  • There’s a lot of reading assigned in graduate school, but you’re not expected to read it all (and your professors know it!)  Rather than read to read, read to get the main idea: learn what you’re supposed to learn and move on.
  • Try a variety of courses; one of my favorite classes is way outside of epidemiology but gives me a new perspective to look at public health.
  • Difficulty falling asleep?  Due to some late-night internet browsing of my own, I read that staring at a computer screen before going to bed results in problems falling asleep.  Random, but useful.
  • Get involved!  Join a student public health organization, start research with a professor, decide to complete a certificate program, make the most of your experience at UofM. Many people have encouraged the importance of this!
  • Exercise is a great stress reliever.  Nothing clears my head like a good run, and getting outside is refreshing after class all day.
  • Public health is not an isolated field; it has aspects in every part of our lives!  Just consider how all your classes are integrated: epidemiological studies create the data (analyzed using biostatistics) for comparing health systems in various countries, health education programs can improve living conditions, and global ties places it all in a worldwide view.  One of my favorite parts of the Public Health program here at Michigan is discovering these interactions between different areas of public health.

What else have you learned from your first experiences as a graduate student?  What has been exciting these past few weeks, and do you have any advice to share?

9 thoughts on “Lessons From the First Two Weeks of Graduate School

  1. Even as a second year student at U-M SPH, I can always use new advice and really appreciate yours here. I totally agree that taking classes in different areas of public health and even outside of the school is a great learning experience. I took a social work course last semester and while it was a long 3 hour class, it was so nice to get a fresh perspective on issues we discuss all the time at SPH. I would also advise that you should be open to meeting as many people as possible and even try to branch out to different departments or schools. Don’t be shy!

  2. Pingback: Great Public Health Links – 9-20-12 | MPHProgramsList.com

  3. Amanda, which class did you take that’s way outside of Epid? I’m still trying to find a course that really draws from another department/school, but there’s too much I want to take in HMP this semester.

    Here’s my bit of advice: Look for part time work that you can add to your resume, even if it’s only a volunteer position. Experience often counts more than great grades, so the time trade-off is worth it.

    • Actually, the class I’m taking is in HMP (it’s called Health Policy in High-Income Countries), so it may be the area you are already in. It’s very interesting to learn about how other countries structure their health systems though, and since I’ve had very little background in politics and economics, I feel like I’m learning a lot everyday!

  4. I agree. Find organizations that give you practical experience. Some will let you get first hand experience consulting for non-profits, working on advisory boards, developing health technology, lobbying, etc.

    My advice related to your last point –go completely outside of public health. Urban studies, Ross, Ford, etc are all doing amazing public health work.

    Good luck!

  5. Take advantage of joining group study session or what! It helps lessen the load especially with hard subjects. And you can learn a lot from this people, not just the academic aspect.

  6. I plan on applying to U of M in the fall of 2013 for the Epidemiology program as well. My biggest question is the application process and how it works? What ranges to they usually look at for GPA and GRE? Any pointers for the application process?

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