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Getting paid to go to Harvard

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Getting paid to go to Harvard

  1. 1. Getting paid to go to Harvard I eat Coco pops for breakfast, my cat has been known to wear a Christmas jumper, I enjoyed Frozen morethan any adult should, and last year I got paid to go Harvard. If I can, so can you. At the very least you should ask. About two years ago I realised that it was about time I got my Master of Public Health degree- its absence was holding back my career, and being a total public health nerd I was excited by the prospectof spending a year learning and geeking out. I began scouring the Internetfor information on public health schools in the UK, only to experience a sharp intake of breath on discovering the current price tag of a Master’s. So my schoolsearch was rapidly followed by a mission to hunt down and acquire a scholarship. After severalweeks I began to feel morelike a kid rifling through the local tip in hope of finding the golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s chocolatefactory. Until the wedding. Around this time I went to a wedding and got speaking to a friend fromuniversity I hadn’tseen in years. Shewas just back from the States having completed a Master’s degree with a Fulbrightscholarship. This little bit of news blew my tiny mind. I had known that such scholarships existed but thought they were reserved for demi-gods or at the very least people who got 80% of the questions on University Challenge correct (actually that might be a tautology…) Now my friend was smartand had bag loads of initiative and talent, but she wasn’ta demi-god. Perhaps I didn’tneed to be either? I knew that there were somefantastic schools in the States, and the prospectof studying health policy during the roll out of the Affordable Care Act was exciting. So I identified schools to apply to, found some scholarships thatwould cover fees and living costs, and set about perfecting my hoop jumping skills. Itwasn’teasy. I had academic achievement on my side, but I had to find a way to market myself well enough to get into a university AND secure a scholarship. Therewere essay applications to writeand the exquisitely dull GraduateRecord Examinations (GRE) to study for. The GRE is a numeracy and verbal exam, which has all the pain of med schoolexams without the pleasure of being vaguely interesting or practical. At one point I had offers from Harvard, Yale, Columbia and Johns Hopkins, butzero scholarships. Then
  2. 2. eventually, justas I began giving up hope, I was awarded a Frank Knox Scholarship to study at Harvard Schoolof Public Health. The year I spentthere was one of the best of my life, and I nearly didn’t apply. If I hadn’tmet someone who made it seem feasible I wouldn’t have given it ago. So, in the interest of paying it forward I’mtelling you: don’t take yourself outof the running. If, likeme, you are a boundless geek with a desire to study at one of the best universities in the world, but don’t happen to have$50k in tuition in your back pocket then at least apply. You might not be successful- Fulbrightturned me down- but don’t let your own mindset be the thing that limits you. PS- If this has made you think about applying and you’d like to know more about how to find scholarships, apply to US universities as a grad student etc then leave a comment below or drop me a messagewith your thoughts and questions and I’ll happily write a follow-up blog!

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