September 30, 2009

For Dual Degree Students, The New School Year Means a New School

[Post by Lauren Ferris, MBA/MPH Class of 2010]

As you may know, I am in the second year of my MBA/MPH dual degree program. While I have been very impressed with the coordination of the program, as a student who is enrolled in two different schools within the University, life can sometimes be a series of explanations, clarifications, and duplication.

Last year nearly all of my classes were in the School of Management and I spent hours upon hours in the SMG building attending classes, team meetings, and social events. A few months into my first semester I had learned where the lost-and-found, quiet library rooms, and comfortable reading chairs were located. I had also learned that it was important to speak up in class and to argue with other students if you disagreed with their opinion on a case. By the end of the school year, the School of Management was like a second home and I had adopted the lifestyle and personality of an MBA student. (For those of prospective students who may be unnerved to read that a school building could feel like a second home, don’t worry, if you get your MBA, you will understand and it won’t be so bad… most of the time)

This year almost all of my classes are at the School of Public Health on BU’s medical campus in the South End of Boston. While I am very excited to be learning more about public health and earning my MPH, I found that I have underestimated the culture shock I would go through switching schools. I know culture shock might sound a bit dramatic, but there are significant differences between the two schools. Library and computer systems are different and I am still looking for the place to get coffee. The biggest differences however are usually in the classes themselves, for example, it turns out that speaking up to argue with another student’s opinion while wearing a business suit during class is not so common among MPH students. In fact, it is a little like wearing three scarlet letters that spell “MBA.”

While I do find the differences between the School of Management and the School of Public Health to be confusing, humbling, and at times, frustrating, I have realized it is a good learning opportunity. In the real world, business and especially healthcare is filled with different types of people with different backgrounds, and it is critical that all of these people communicate with each other in order to get things done. Having the ability to work within the MBA and MPH sphere is one of the major benefits to having both degrees so hopefully by the end of the year the School of Public Health will feel like a third home.

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