By: Nicole Willens, Class of 2018
For full disclosure, I went to Northwestern University for undergraduate school in addition to graduate school, so my purple pride runs deep. Yet, despite my history with the university, it was not an automatic decision for me to pursue my masters at Northwestern. Rather, once I began to look into graduate school options, I started to prioritize certain aspects of schools and programs. Looking back, three main reasons stand out as to why I chose the Master of Science in Health Communication at Northwestern University.
1. Subject Matter
As an undergraduate, I studied communications, psychology and marketing. I was first exposed to the field of health communication through my junior year communications seminar: Persuasion in Public Health. I was instantly intrigued by the unique and complex nature of the field. I then went on to focus my Senior Honor Thesis on health communication on college campuses, examining the use of Twitter by health services to communicate with students. After graduation, I pursued a more general marketing research program, rather than a position focused on healthcare. When I decided to go back to school, my top priority was finding a degree that would help me make the transition into healthcare. Thus, I began looking at various Master of Public Health programs. However, I kept coming back to the intersection of healthcare and communication, rather than a broader approach.
2. Program Flexibility
My second priority in deciding to pursue Northwestern’s Master of Science in Health Communication was the flexibility it afforded me as a Saturday program. For obvious reasons, this was the most financially sound option for me so I could work full time and continue to earn an income as I attended class. Additionally, I had started to look for jobs in the healthcare sector and I was beginning to comprehend the importance of gaining experience in a healthcare setting. I found that a Saturday program was crucial to building my academic and hands-on experience simultaneously.
3. Location, Location, Location
Location can impact anything from restaurant profits to apartment prices to school decisions. After I graduated from Northwestern in 2015, I moved downtown to the Old Town neighborhood of Chicago. I had absolutely fallen in love with Chicago as a city – it had the excitement of a big city with the neighborhood feel of a small town. I had grown accustomed to enjoying North Avenue Beach in the summer and Zoo Lights in the winter. I had discovered my favorite restaurants and happy hour spots across the city. In other words, I was not looking to move. To me, a school within the Chicagoland area was essential.
When I found that Northwestern had combined a focus on health communication with a Saturday program with a downtown campus location, I knew I found an ideal fit. Now, in the middle of winter quarter, I am enjoying classes while gaining real-life experience in my favorite city. I could not be happier with my decision and I have Northwestern to thank for striking the perfect balance.