I am a current SAHM of a 6yo and 8yo who are in school 9-3. I graduated with a BA in Psych 14 years ago with decent but not great marks, like 79% average in last 2 yrs, and then worked for several years before staying home after DS was born 6yrs ago. I have looked into multiple programs at different universities and have set my sights on applying for a Masters in Public Health for Sept 2014 at three universities that offer mostly online courses with a few mandatory on campus courses. I feel this would work best for our family, as DH works long hours and I am responsible for the household and all things kid related. My kids have multiple food allergies and at risk for anaphylaxis, so it's extra work dealing with the school, bday parties, making food from scratch, etc.
All the programs require 2 or 3 references, preferably at least 1 or 2 academic and others professional. I spoke to a former prof from 1997 who said he is willing to write one, but thinks it wouldn't be ideal as the course was so long ago so suggested taking another course to get a reference. I do have some volunteer experience in the field, and while non of it is very formal, I think I could get two professional references based on this work.
I am going to take a course in January, but not sure which one yet, and am contemplating daytime, evening and online courses at my former university and other colleges around town. I don't really know what to expect from online courses, other than it would give me freedom to look after kids who are home sick and attend field trips. I can get child care if I attend a class at night, and would try to schedule daytime classes for during the time the kids are at school.
I have registered for a 2nd yr health/culture Anthro course at my former university in the evening. The other options are 1st yr courses in Leisure/Health, Women's Health or Health/Nutrition, or various Psych courses that I haven't already taken.
Based on how the MPH programs calculate GPA, any new class you take will bump the earliest third yr class off your transcript for the marks they look at. The first one to be bumped off is an 86% in a 3rd yr psych course.
1. Would you risk bumping off an 86% mark? One option for the Anthro course is to take it as normal, but request the grade show up as pass/fail on my transcript. The prof wouldn't know so could still write a reference letter, and then it doesn't bump off the 86%
2. Would you try getting a reference from a prof for an online course? I know it's not ideal, but I feel like I would come across better in online discussions over in class discussions (I don't 'think on my feet' very well in fast paced live discussions).
3. Do think taking a 3rd yr level course in say Psych would look better to the admissions committee than a 1st yr course in a more relevant Health Sciences area for reference letter purposes?
Any other advice is welcome! My DH is sick of hearing me talk about all this and over-analyze, but I'm a planner/researcher and like to research everything in advance! Thanks for reading this very long post : )