Student Perspectives: Narrowing Down MHA Programs

The post below is a new series we are introducing to our website.  A current student has been gracious enough to blog about her experience embarking on a career in health administration.  We will be titling these posts “Student Perspective.”  Should you be interested in blogging about your own experiences, please feel free to contact us.  We hope you enjoy the journey this student takes us on during her senior year in college and beyond!

I officially completed the GRE, and I could not be more ecstatic!  A huge, standardized test weight has been lifted off of my shoulders, and I am relieved to finally be done with it all.  Now, on to the next task- applications.

I have always been a person that struggles with selecting potential schools. I never want to set myself up for failure by selecting only the top-notch institutions, but I also don’t want to sell myself too short.  If you’re like me, then I highly suggest that you talk to as many mentors or professors that you are close with and get an honest perspective from them.  Chances are, they will be willing to be honest with you and can attest to where they realistically think you are capable of getting in.  Those conversations have truly helped me understand more about myself and my potential.

Another thing to keep in mind, specifically if you are applying to MHA program like me, is that the GRE may not be the most important part of your application.  As I have been researching different programs, I have noticed that there is no official list of the GRE scores required to get into a particular school of interest (whereas with law schools, there is an official list that shows each law school by rank with the range of LSAT score and GPA right next to it).  What MHA programs are more interested in is your experience.  How many years of healthcare experience have you had, and what role did you have?  Were you a volunteer at a hospital, or did you actually deal with the administrative aspects of running the operation?  For people coming straight out of undergraduate education like me, this particular prerequisite may put us at a disadvantage.  Unfortunately, my only direct administrative healthcare experience was a summer internship just this past year, and this reality has prompted me to consider applying for administrative roles in addition to MHA programs.  It’s very important to assess your resume against what different programs are looking for as you go through the selection process, as you don’t want to put all of your eggs in one basket and be left with no prospects at the end of all application processes.  Please do your homework, and take that seriously!

Now that I have rambled on about the important aspects of talking to other people about how great you are and whether or not you have the required experience of different MHA programs, I can get to the main point of this blog post, which is how I am going about selecting different programs suited to my interests.  My first starting point was actually this website, www.mhaguide.com, which was a one-stop shop for me to learn about the higher ranked programs in the nation.  After looking through each of the schools preliminary descriptions on the MHA Guide website, I then went to their websites and looked at their programs more in depth.

Aside from how well-ranked the institutions are, I also considered the curriculum of each of the different programs and how they tailored to my interests.  I am interested in public policy as a future, more long-term goal, so I wanted to have that as part of my curriculum and be in locations such as Washington D.C., where I may have the opportunity to try my hand at real world, healthcare-related public policy experience.  Additionally, I am interested in non-profit administration focused on quality assurance, and there are programs with those two aspects as a specific focus, so that helped me decide on which programs were more holistic in their interpretation of healthcare administration.  Finally, my main interest all along has been long-term care administration and working with older adults, so it has been very important for me to understand which programs have a long-term care focus or certificates in nursing home administration, so that I can learn all about the different aspects of balancing advocacy with the regulations of the skilled nursing industry.

Given everything I outlined- your realistic abilities, your level of experience, and your specific interests- I have chosen 10 programs that suit me.  From here, I just need to road map the application requirements (fees, essays, transcripts, letters of recommendation) and make a timeline for applying by each of their priority deadlines. The application process is officially underway!  If you are on the same track as me, then the best of luck to you!

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