Q&A with Dartmouth Institute Admissions Team

Together, Marc Aquila and Courtney Theroux lead The Dartmouth Institute admissions team. While Courtney has been with the Institute for 5 years in her role as director of recruitment and admissions, Marc recently joined The Dartmouth Institute as senior director of recruiting. Marc and Courtney spend numerous (not countless because technically they could be counted) hours traveling around the country and talking with potential students about the Institute’s educational programs, which include the Master of Public Health (MPH), Master of Science (MS) and PhD degree programs. These days they also are busy recruiting for the new online Master of Public Health degree program which will admit its first class in the fall of 2016. The reasons they love their jobs and their advice for anyone interested in pursuing a degree at The Dartmouth Institute are as follows:

Courtney Theroux and Marc Aquila lead The Dartmouth Institute admissions team.1. Marc, being fairly new in your role, tell us a little bit about what attracted you to The Dartmouth Institute?
a. [MA] I got my MBA degree from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, and I loved my time here as a graduate student. I got to know each of my classmates, their spouses, children and pets. The same environment exists at The Dartmouth Institute, and I am excited to have the opportunity to help other students experience the energy and tight-knit learning community that runs throughout the campus. This is a very exciting time to be at Dartmouth and involved in health care, and, at The Dartmouth Institute, we are committed to finding people who want to lead change in health care for patients around the world.

2. Tell us a little bit more about what you both like about working in admissions?
a.  [CT] I enjoy getting to know potential students, discovering the drivers behind their applications and how our program is going to help them to be successful in the future. I try to make the application process enjoyable for each applicant, paying attention to their needs and responding to their inquiries as soon as possible.
[MA] For me, it is the chance to counsel and coach students and prospective students and, hopefully, to help them achieve their goals.  Courtney and I have both been in the shoes of applicants who are looking to improve themselves and find a meaningful career.  We know we have a great program here, and it is up to us to find the students who are a good fit for us.

3. How do people evaluate what educational program may be right for them?
a. [MA] Personally, I’d start with a goal-setting exercise. What do you want to do with your MPH degree? Then do some research to see what people in similar roles have done. See if you can connect with these people and ask if you can shadow them for a day. This will help you with your goal setting, as well as your personal statement when completing an application.  I primarily use LinkedIn for this, but there are a lot of ways to find biographies of people in leadership roles in health care.
Once you have a good idea of how you want to achieve your goals, look around for a program that will give you the tools to do that. Then, I strongly encourage you to find someone affiliated with the program — a student, alum, faculty member or administrator. Talk to them about your plans. You’ll collect a lot of data in your search, but it is up to you to match that data with what your gut tells you is the right place for you to be. That is how I define fit.
[CT] I would add that we are happy to answer any questions you may have and we invite you to ask them. No question is too big or too small; they are all equally important and worth asking. The more information you have, the more likely you are to choose the right program for you and to get the most out of your time in that program.

4. What was the catalyst behind the launch of the online MPH program? Why now?
a. [MA,CT] In recent years, Dartmouth has had success combining an online educational platform with brief periods of residential learning. Two good examples are the Master of Health Care Delivery Science (MHCDS) and Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning (DCAL) programs. We thought there was a real opportunity with the MPH degree program to expand the reach of The Dartmouth Institute to students who are interested in health care and public health but who may not be able to attend a traditional residential program. Like the MHCDS, this program will also incorporate online learning with several week-long residential periods of study throughout the year. We decided the MPH degree was a great fit for this model for a few reasons:
i. We knew we could do it.
ii. We had potential students asking for it.
iii. It enables us to increase the reach of our program, training more people to make system-level changes in health care.
That last point is very much in line with The Dartmouth Institute’s values. We train people to affect real change in patient care and in health care systems.  With over 1,000 alumni around the world, we’ve made a great start, but to achieve our goals we need help. If you think you are up to the challenge of improving public health and patient care at the systems level, send us a note. We’d love to talk to you.

5. You bring up a good point. What should someone do if they are interested in learning more about or applying to either the residential or online MPH programs?
a. [MA] Here is how I would go about it:
i. First, review our website and those of other MPH programs to make sure you get as much information as you can. There is a lot of information on the web so you can do your early primary research pretty quickly and understand how we are different from other MPH programs. 
ii. If you think we are a good fit for you, please try to come visit us!  You can sit in on a class, meet students and talk to someone on the admissions committee.  We speak to every single candidate who applies and are more than happy to have a conversation, or several conversations, about your professional  interests and career goals. 
iii. If you can’t make it to Hanover, New Hampshire, in person, we understand and hope you can visit us on the road. http://tdi.dartmouth.edu/education/degree-programs/admissions/tdi-on-the-road
iv. We also offer online information sessions and application workshops where we walk you through an application.  http://tdi-dartmouth.adobeconnect.com/studentinfosession/
v. Finally, throw your hat in the ring and apply!  Our application is online at SOPHAS.org.

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