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Tips for preparing for graduate study

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by cakeyshmo, Mar 6, 2012.

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  1. cakeyshmo

    cakeyshmo

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    I just accepted an offer to a PhD program in counseling psychology. I am SO excited, but wondering if anyone has any advice on things to read or wish they had known to do before starting their program. Any insight is appreciated!
  2. PsychPhDStudent

    PsychPhDStudent

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    Relax while you can!!!!!
  3. busybusybusy

    busybusybusy

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    No seriously, relax until August, because you won't again for years.
  4. sportpsychcop

    sportpsychcop

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    Hah, wow so you guys are saying plan on being stressed out for the next 4 or 5 years?
  5. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychology Fellow Moderator

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    I tend to be a very low-anxiety individual (i.e., I'm the person you'll hear about in the "too low" end when you start covering anxiety and how certain amounts of it are adaptive), and can thus say I've spent most of my graduate career relatively unstressed.

    However, there are two key words in that previous sentence: most and relatively. There have definitely been times of significantly-heightened anxiety, particularly as major deadlines approach (e.g., thesis and dissertation defenses, general exams), that have surpassed anything I'd encountered prior to grad school. There's also a near-constant undercurrent of essentially baseline worry, as there's always something you could/should be doing. The key is to develop a healthy work/life balance, and learn when to both "shut off" school, and accept when something is "good enough" to meet the project goals without necessarily going above and beyond (something that can be difficult to grasp for many grad students, who tend to be super-overachievers).

    Ultimately, though, heed what the others have said and enjoy the time remaining before grad school. I've quite honestly very much enjoyed my time in school, but I've also occasionally missed the more "carefree" pre-doctoral days.
  6. sportpsychcop

    sportpsychcop

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    Nice perspective. I have another year in a MS program and will be applying to PhDs next winter, but Im much older and if its pure hell and misery for 4 or 5 years that is not encouraging. This is my second MS degree, one I did many years ago right after undergrad. It was an intensive MS but I went to very difficult undergrad schools and was not as stressed as others who did not have the excessive workload I did in undergrad (plus I was an athlete which say what you wish, at Division 1 level thats another 30 hours a week of "work" other students are not doing).

    If a PhD is pure hell and folks find it difficult to balance academics with life outside of class, I might have to avoid other students! hah If everything goes as planned I will be 38 or 39 entering a PhD program and life is far too precious to be miserable for 5 years if that is how it really is for many. I also do not know how badly my age will hurt me, as one of my professors said it could be an unspoken ding in my application because PhDs may prefer young folks who can be gophers. Me being someone with more applied life experience not fitting the academic mold might hurt too was also something a prof said to me. Oh well I will see where the dance goes :)
  7. PsychPhDStudent

    PsychPhDStudent

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    I wouldn't say I'm miserable, and I'm arguably at one of the hardest points in a PhD program. I'm really happy here. But you won't get any "carefree" time again -- relax while you can easily do so! Please? :D
  8. Psychadelic2012

    Psychadelic2012 PhD Student

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    :highfive:
    I am SO glad to see this post! I, too, am an older student (mid-thirties) entering a PhD program in the fall. I am finishing a masters that took 4 years and also involved unpaid research, multiple part-time jobs, and intensive practicums, so I can't see how a PhD program could possibly be any worse than this!! I'm looking forward to it as a bit of a break, actually! Classes, lighter practicum, assistantship, guaranteed income from work on a M-F schedule? Yes, please.

    I also totally relate to the bias against older people in the admissions process! Isn't it horrible??? My main consolation is that I will likely be going to a program that has more non-traditional and independent students, although it sucks because I want more research training--just can't get into those programs, even with my extensive research experience and credentials. I know it's because I'm too old and have too much applied work experience. That seems to only makes people like us suitable for less-competitive programs. :rolleyes:
  9. Duck Duck Goose

    Duck Duck Goose Senior Lurker

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    The ONE thing I wish someone had told me before I started my program was that you do not need a doctoral degree to be a highly qualified, competent, successful therapist. If therapy is your primary/major goal, even if you want to do private practice, do not go for the doctorate. Get your MSW, get licensed, go into private practice, and call it a day/career.

    Also, there's a thread called something like I wish someone had told me... so that has some similar info. :)
  10. Rivi

    Rivi

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    Congrats!!

    My advice: Do not prepare. Do not do anything psychology related.

    Enjoy your time off. Relax, have fun, and save money.
  11. Doctor Eliza

    Doctor Eliza

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    Oh honey, way longer than that! :laugh:

    Enjoy this time and a big congrats!

    Dr. E
  12. sportpsychcop

    sportpsychcop

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    Nice to read this response. Yea I actually was a little baffled, seeing that in counseling folks I know I would prefer someone with a little life experience, I thought why wouldnt the programs too? I have 8 years as a police officer, patrol in the ghetto dealing with everything you can imagine, Peer Support/Critical Incident (bridge between the cops who see the worst stuff and mental health staff), SWAT on a major team, and full time police academy instructor for fitness and officer survival training thousands of cops. I also have 8 years as a Division One strength coach at an Ivy school and a Patriot League/Big East school, in addition to running athletic ministries for the student athletes. My undergrads were super competitive and reviewing students at some of the programs I am looking at their undergrads are average, and I also have an MS in a different field that is well regarded. The current MS I am in is well regarded too...BUT I have been told recently that it might not matter with my age, and that I do not have enough research experience...so some 21 year old kid out of an average undergrad who did some RA work can beat me out for a slot hah...I guess I just need to accept if that is how the ball bounces I will roll with it and figure out whatever path I have to. A trusted friend in the field told me to just go to one of the generic professional psychology schools and punch the ticket and get licensed, but Im not paying out of pocket for a substandard education (again at this age going in debt even more is not wise as I do not have the time the folks in their 20s do to recoup the costs).

    All very interesting. The MSW thing I have seen pop up more than once on this forum as well, and not one of my friends or professors have suggested that to me. They talk about worst case go to a masters program that allows you to be licensed as an LPC I think? Social work is a lot different than one on one counseling, at least from my exposure to different folks in the mental health field as a police officer and a number of friends who are either MFTs, therapists, or psychologists. I know MSWs ended up doing court ordered family counseling in the hood, nothing that I would be interested in! hah

    I hope if I continue to get a 4.0 in this masters, do a good job on my thesis, that the age and applied experience will not hurt as much...but who knows, and I gurantee no one at any school I apply to will be able to say that to me as a reason for possibly not getting in...but apparently someone has hinted at the age thing with you too? I guess for research and being a gopher for people my own age or even younger possibly who never had a real job, maybe these factors do hurt. Maybe I would want some young person that could grind out work and not some old salty dog like me :) At least in the academic world...when it comes to the "real world" I imagine some people might prefer a guy like me to talk to who has been around the block a little and not spent their life in a classroom before hanging a shingle.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2012
  13. Psychadelic2012

    Psychadelic2012 PhD Student

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    Yeah, it's not fair that older people are the ones who seem to go to the professional schools, based on the fact that PhD programs are just not welcoming to older folks in many ways.

    If you want to do therapy exclusively, a masters is the way to go--many older people do this. It's a welcoming path. That's the path I'm on, but I want to go further because I want to teach and do research. I know MSWs who are in private practice and/or do a variety of different clinical positions. Maybe because of your professional experience you have seen this path only, but there are many options with that degree.

    I was told my research interests were "too clinical" by an experimental (research-only) program, when I know they only got that from my CV and never bothered to ask about it at the interview. I want research training, that's why I applied, and had a great match there. I did the clinical training so that I would have options if someday I needed to work!! Now I'm branded as a "clinical" person. It's ridiculous.

    Otherwise, I do think it's a complicated thing. Many places don't want people with a masters degree (who are naturally older and/or who will likely have applied experience). The reason for this depends on who you talk to, and ranges from research fellowships not being available to those with a masters (and therefore make you less desirable since you can't get that funding) to the fact that academics themselves frown upon life experience because they themselves are straight out of school who never really existed in the real world and they prefer people like them.

    I know that when I am a professor, I will most definitely only look at students with life experience, maturity, and masters degrees!
  14. cakeyshmo

    cakeyshmo

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    Thanks! I just graduated in December and have been working and trying to save as much money as possible. I appreciate the advice to relax as I feel sort of guilty for not being as engaged in activities as I am used to being (I moved to a different state right after I graduated), and feel very driven to gain as much knowledge as I can in the coming months. On the other hand, I do understand and appreciate that this is the last time I will have a significant amount of time to just relax and do what I want to do.
  15. 2525

    2525

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    Regarding the age issue -- I can only speak about my own personal experience as an older (late 30s) student who just went through the PhD application process. I applied to both clinical and non-clinical programs, received a number of interview invites, ultimately received a number of acceptances, and never noticed an age bias. If anything, the professors and DCTs I met really liked the fact that I was older, had life experience, really thought about my decision to change careers and apply to PhD programs, etc. And a few mentioned the fact that my "life experience" could be really helpful in therapy. Just wanted to chime in to let you know it's definitely not a hopeless situation! Some tips -- I enrolled in a masters program to add psych coursework, made sure to get some research experience before I applied, took a lot of time to research places where my background/experience would be an asset or would make me a more unique candidate, and only applied to places where I had a good research fit. Oh, and I also made it a point to be really personable & outgoing with the students I met during interviews, to counter any concerns that I might be too "old" or "boring" to hang with them. :)
  16. Duck Duck Goose

    Duck Duck Goose Senior Lurker

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    For therapy, as far as I've seen, an MSW can do anything a psychologist with a doctorate can do in a clinical area - including independent/private practice. This is the ONE THING I wish someone had told me before I started my program, no kidding. Like you, I'd never heard of it. I thought psychologists had an exclusive claim on the therapy one-on-one thing. But that is just not the case at all. An MSW can get you licensed and eligible for private practice in 4 years (minimum) - 2 of classes, 2 for licensure hours, pretty common timeframe for what I've seen-, while any doctoral degree in psych will take 6-7 years absolute minimum (3 for classes, 1 for internship AND dissertation, 2 for licensure... very unlikely). The salaries are comparable, especially when you consider the student loan debt many psych students get into during the course of their training...

    So - really - if you want to be a therapist, look into an MSW at your local university before you uproot your life multiple times in pursuit of a doctoral degree in psychology. If necessary, contact the licensing board in your state to find out what degree you need to practice therapy independently. I wish I had known about my options before starting my program 5 years ago (and I have no debt, unlike my PsyD colleagues who average 120k of debt by the time they apply for internship... I don't know how they do it...).
  17. sportpsychcop

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    Amen :) I did think I wanted to be a professor as well, but being back in grad school and hearing about all the politics, headaches, red tape, and ass kissing that goes on to get tenure, I am getting turned off. I love teaching and coaching, but I have other avenues I could feed that itch.
  18. Rivi

    Rivi

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    Counseling psychology programs tend to take older applicants (at least my program does). I would rather have you as a classmate, therapist, applicant, etc. than some A+ 22-24 year old student that is fresh out of undergrad. Life experience is definitely something I would want in a therapist.
  19. sportpsychcop

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    Thanks Rivi.

    I guess I really need to do my homework on programs then. I have to read some of these threads explaining the difference between counseling, counseling psych, and clinical doctorates. I appreciate your vote of confidence. What is your program maybe I should apply! :)
  20. greenis4growth

    greenis4growth

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    Don't loss hope! I think it is wonderful that you've decided to follow a passion you discovered...most people would not be brave enough to start over at something new. I think age is a strength...and I think it's kinda ironic when I hear people saying they're worried about their age hurting their chances because I always feel like my YOUTH hurts my chances!!! lol I constantly trying to compensate for the fact the I'm young and look even younger...the young-ins don't have it so easy when you have to work extra hard just for people to take you seriously and not treat you're hitting' a kegger after your interview lol...it's not my fault I knew which path I wanted to pursuit younger than most...I still worked like a dog and spent the past 5 years working at gaining the credentials to make myself a competitive doctoral applicant...In some ways I wish it took me longer to figure it out cause I really wasn't able to do all the things the other "kids" my age were doing - I was too busy working 70 hour work weeks, picking up any research experience I could find, and getting perfect grades. At the end of the day, this is a competitive field. My hard work doesn't make me special - it makes me typical...that's what we all have to do to get into a good program. No one gets into a clinical doctoral program on accident...and even if they did, the jokes on them cause if it's overwhelming for the people who are used to being over-worked, I can't even imagine someone who got into a program without building up the stamina that you in the process.

    We have to realize that those things that make us stand out (maturity, youth, whatever) can be played as a strength when we appear insightful and aware of them and they can be a weakness when we ignore them and try to play someone else's game. Diversity should be celebrated, and it generally is encouraged in this field.

  21. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychology Fellow Moderator

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    There's one caveat I'll make--remember, everyone, that age bias goes both ways. Referring to 21-24 year-olds as "kids" and making generalizations about the amounts and types of life experiences they've had is highly off-putting, and isn't necessarily a productive or accurate way to approach the situation. Neither is referring to professors who've "never had a real job;" funny, I thought essentially anything that paid you for your time was a job? There's certainly something to be said for added life experience, and it can definitely enrich the training experience not only of yourself but of your fellow students, but it's neither necessary nor sufficient for being a successful doctoral student or therapist.

    Not attempting to nit-pick, and I personally don't have a horse in the race (I fall between the two age ranges being discussed), but keep in mind that the thoughts being expressed above may also be coming out in interviews and personal statements, and that very well might be a ding against any application. After all, one of the most important things people will learn in the course of their clinical work is how to admit to themselves the myriad assumptions they're making about ALL of their clients, and how to combat these assumptions in an effort to effect substantive change. The same occurs in research--overcoming assumptions is often the first hurdle to developing an objective and useful hypothesis.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2012
  22. Pragma

    Pragma

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    The advice I got was to relax and read a trashy novel. It was good advice.

    Whoever maded the comment that a PhD is not going to be rough coompared to a masters "plus" experience, LOL. I worked no less than 80 hours a week until I got to internship. Those didn't always fall M-F :smuggrin:
  23. paramour

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    +1. I went through a master's "plus" unpaid research +part-time gigs +teaching +extra this +extra that. It was a frakkin' cakewalk in comparison. I was relatively stress-free, and I was quite happy in my master's program. I absolutely loved it! :love:

    With my PhD, I'm ready to . . . well, I will keep those thoughts to myself. They're not very happy thoughts. :smuggrin:

    But, like Pragma, I routinely work a crapload of hours on a weekly basis, and it certainly doesn't restrict itself to during the week. My "paid" work through the university (back before I started declining it) routinely took up 30, 40, 50, 60 hours of my time per week--oh, but it's "only a 20-hour assistantship." Uh, huh, suuure. And that's before you start adding the practicum and coursework and research and everything else. But, yeah, it's a walk in the park. :laugh:
  24. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychology Fellow Moderator

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    One other important thing to note is that, at least with respect to my program, there's a large amount of autonomy on the part of the students. We receive excellent clinical supervision, and will have our one or two research lab meetings/week, but our advisors are largely hands-off beyond that. So in most instances, you have to be your own task master; no one's going to be looking over your shoulder every day to be sure you're doing your work, so if you don't learn to be internally-driven and productive, you can quickly and easily fall behind.

    I personally don't remember consistently working more than probably 40-50 hours/week at any point, although I also do a horrible job of tracking things I accomplish at home (e.g., reading articles, working on research) as opposed to on campus. Also, this was a personal choice I made, and resulted in me taking an extra couple years to finish everything up. Those who've made it through my program in the more typical 4 or 5 years pre-internship fit in many more late nights than did I, although even I had more than a few near-all-nighters at various points.
  25. RTB

    RTB

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    Thank you for saying this. I'm on the older side of the "kids" range entering a program in the fall, and don't assume to know anything about the life experiences of anyone who will be in my cohort. I hope that we will all be mature and able to learn from each other, but just because I am 24 doesn't mean I'm straight from undergrad with no life/work experience or hardship.

  26. Pragma

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    Yes, there are some people I knew who did not want to work as much and were willing to put in more years. If you didn't mind taking longer to graduate, the program could be much more manageable.

    I didn't want to take any longer than the minimum of 5 years it takes to graduate. But to accomplish that, it took 80 hour weeks, mostly independently driven.
  27. sportpsychcop

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    Point well taken. Also good point to make sure to not come off like that even if it is not spoken, as I do not express these views outwardly in my MS program but it is how I feel at times for sure (and in meeting many doctoral students at events it doesnt seem much different, young folks who like theorizing on matters they have never experienced nor had close exposure to-but Ive met only a limited number of current doctoral students so I should not generalize so easily). It is easy to be loose with words on an internet forum. I would not want to offend or alienate anyone in person if we were sitting face to face over coffee. Everyone has a story to learn from. Plus to be honest looking back if I knew exactly what I wanted to do, hitting the ground running into a doctorate program might not have been a bad thing despite not having "real world" life experience. Mind you, I have friends who did this route and I am very close to them so I am not about slaying academics. As one tends to get older there are lots of other responsibilities, relationships (whether it be a significant other, your parents aging, friends going through more issues like divorce/disease/death), financial concerns, etc. There could be more to juggle in your 30s with a doctorate program than in your 20s.

    And one more point...I really do think life experience provides a comfort when going to a therapist, friend, family member, whomever for support...but Im not saying one has to be an ex coke addict, alcoholic, child abuse victim, fill in the blank of bad things that happen to people, in order to counsel and love on them for that particular situation. God knows Ive seen some bad stuff as a cop, and I also have seen cops with nothing more than a high school diploma that could run circles around therapists for how they handle and comfort people immediately after crisis. Of course long term they would need professional care...but I gotta go! There is probably a plethora of things that make a wonderful therapist, its not purely going to be life experience, or education, personality, etc...
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2012
  28. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychology Fellow Moderator

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    Agreed on all counts. It's definitely important for all of us to remember that we're never going to have been able to experience every situation or type of adversity. While we don't need to have undergone such events ourselves to help others with them and/or to theorize about them, we do need to realize that everyone's experience is going to be unique, and we can certainly get ourselves into trouble by overgeneralizing (whether that be attempting to fit a client into the mold espoused by a particular theory, attempting to generalize from past clients' experiences to current clients, or even attempting to generalize our own experiences with an event onto our clients).

    And yes, everyone should cherish their own life experiences, and we should do our best to never make anyone (including co-workers/peers in the field) feel embarassed or self-conscious about their personal histories.
  29. sportpsychcop

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    You are a good person, I appreciate your posts. Thanks for keeping me in check.
  30. Comealongpond

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    I also got accepted into a PhD program, and my plan for the summer is just to rot my brain out with television, reading fun books that have nothing to do with psychology, and just generally relaxing and enjoying life/my time with friends before we all go our separate ways.
    I plan to make the most of this summer!
  31. Psychadelic2012

    Psychadelic2012 PhD Student

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    One can say all they want about "my masters program was a cakewalk!" or "younger people have it rough too!" but if you can seriously say that you can rot your brain out for an entire summer, then you are on a different plane than what I'm talking about. I can't even imagine what that would be like. Um, bills, anyone? This is clearly a reflection of youth. Am I jealous? Heck yeah. That's my point.

    I'm not expecting a PhD program to be easy, but I literally go months without a day off so I am not exaggerating when I say my current masters program is a truckload--both are equally loaded with work, in my case. Except the PhD program comes with built-in support (cohort, adviser), a guaranteed income (even if small, my income is small now, but I literally hustle for it), health insurance, etc.
  32. Comealongpond

    Comealongpond

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    "One can say all they want about "my masters program was a cakewalk!" or "younger people have it rough too!" but if you can seriously say that you can rot your brain out for an entire summer, then you are on a different plane than what I'm talking about. I can't even imagine what that would be like. Um, bills, anyone? This is clearly a reflection of youth. Am I jealous? Heck yeah. That's my point."

    Well I am currently enrolled in school full time, working on a thesis, I work part time (20 hours a week) in a non psych related job, and 15 hours in a research lab, and another 10 in another research lab.
    I've worked Monday-Sunday basically without breaks for the past 3 years. I have very few friendships because of my schedule, and have broken off/been broken up with because of my schedule.

    No, I don't have a family or any kind of obligations besides my education and I am thankful for that... the last 3 years have been rough (dealing with all this while my father had a stroke and my mother breast cancer).

    This summer is just a break from life, because if all these things have happened in just 3 years, I don't want to imagine what will happen in the next 7. So, I am definitely looking forward from stepping back from life for 2 months, and enjoying the fact that I can.
  33. PsychPhDStudent

    PsychPhDStudent

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    Just as a perspective-builder, I am jealous of my older friends who have made enough money to have savings and take time off, whereas being the younger person I am, I have to work my butt off constantly for the same reasons you mention. It's not an age thing.
  34. syzergy

    syzergy

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    I have $22 in my bank account. I'm looking forward to graduate school so I have finally get some freaking job stability.
  35. sportpsychcop

    sportpsychcop

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    "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle"

    Im sure some of the younger folks have their share of life stress and I am so sorry to hear about the parental health issues, my heart totally goes out to you on that as I have been there.

    I hope regardless of where everyone is coming from on here, you all do well. I do hope next year during my applications I at least get a sniff despite my age, thats all Im asking for :)

    Another thing I thought of today while on campus that might be impacting some of my emotions on this subject, is that I have a rookie prof right now teaching a hard mandatory course. This professor is struggling to communicate anything on a level other than their comprehension, has lines for office hours because everyone is stressed out and confused, and rumor is they might get the boot they are so bad at the end of the semester. I do not care if I get a A or a C, I am already keeping a journal and email records of exchanges with this prof being unable to assist me despite going to every office hour asking for help...clueless...someone who is not called to be in a role instructing others, at least not at this stage of their career...and certainly not a mandatory course we cannot drop and still stay in the program...so some of my emotions about that could influence some of the "kid" comments above, as the prof is younger than me and not impressing me at all. I pay a lot for school, I expect to be taught just a little bit hah.

    And please anyone spare any lectures if they cross your mind on "you have to deal with poor teaching" etc....Ive had horrific professors, hard professors, crappy bosses, idiot coaches, you name it I have seen a lot of poor examples of leadership and those in some sort of authority or instructional position....this prof takes the cake, and maybe I am a little more hostile about the money I spend as I get older, not to mention I want to learn.

    For those worried about debt, have faith. If you know what your calling is and want it bad enough, you will figure out the financial aspect. By no means was I wealthy being a police officer and a college coach, but I paid back $30k of my first masters, all while still renting in high cost of living areas, owning solid vehicles, etc. If you are smart with your money you can work things out, especially for those of you who do not live in a major city with sky high cost of living. Do your time in school, if you are passionate you will find a way to make some cash and pay back your loans in time or put money in the bank. I feel ya though, hang in there. During grad school (the first time around) I was still driving the old truck I had since I was 16 years old, rotting, knocking engine, total beater. It eventually got towed as a public safety hazard (not kidding!) from leaking too much gas and oil in a parking lot. I lived off cans of tuna and whatever free food any friend or neighbor would give me hah. I thought it was so horrific living like that at times excited to be established and financially cozy down the road, but look back with appreciation and a smile. Gotta enjoy the grind sometimes!
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2012
  36. paramour

    paramour

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    Built-in support systems? Guaranteed income? Job stability?

    :laugh:

    You hope.

    A "support system" isn't guaranteed by your program. You can certainly hope they will support you. You can hope that you will find people there who will support you. It doesn't always happen.

    Income may be contracted when you enter into the program. But even that may come to an end dependent upon your department's funding issues. They may have to cut someone, somewhere, at some point. Or you may decide that their "funding" isn't worth it for what they're offering.


    An applicant approached me during this year's interview day, "Someone told me you were the old student here." :laugh:

    I initially thought maybe this particular applicant was merely nervous. <insert foot into mouth> Then I had additional applicants come up later in the day with variations of basically the same thing, so I haven't the slightest what numskull in the program was sending them my way with such introductions. :p

    I'm not quite ancient. Not even close. I swear.

    G'luck! :luck:
  37. sportpsychcop

    sportpsychcop

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    Hah! Cute message

    Well I already look as old or older than profs in this masters...so if I get to a PhD it will be fairly obvious as well who the old student is in the program. Grey hair, full grey go-tee, I cannot even come close to looking like a 20 something or even early 30s student!

    A nice thing if I do get into a PhD, is that I already have a pension. Thankfully I will not have to stress about money as long as I can get into a funded program. I have full medical, dental, vision for life, and a decent tax free disability pension. I am not looking to go into any further debt than what I owe for my first masters, and what I will owe for loans to do this masters, but I am in a good position financially. Somedays I do wonder if I am asking for it, if I already have a pension why on earth am I in a second masters program and wanting to apply to a PhD? :)
  38. paramour

    paramour

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    Meh, I wouldn't fret too much about it.

    Although no pension (and no 401k anymore! :(), I (and some of the others around here) left some high-paying positions to "go back to school," spend what little money we have on grad school, and make next to nothing in comparison.

    I know a guy who decided to go to medical school because he had "always wanted to be a doctor." He made this decision after he retired from being a lawyer for umpteen years and then some. He certainly did not need the money, but he wanted to pursue it... So he did.

    If this is what you want, so be it.
  39. sportpsychcop

    sportpsychcop

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    Amen...Im a life long learner, and always have had a helping heart. Ironically one of the reasons I did not try to go into a counseling program right after my first masters, is that I wanted to be sure about what I wanted before I did anymore school. I think I was 23 or 24 finishing my first masters degree, and down the road I felt like I was called to be either a man of the cloth (ie ministry) or a therapist of some sort. However I still wanted to get some action, adrenaline, and my hands dirty. I felt like if I was going to end up in ministry full time or as a counselor someday, it would be good to get some real world experience. I grew up in an amazing home, went to top tier undergrads, never really saw much "bad" in my life. So part of my reasoning for being a street cop was to experience and understand some of life's problems from more in the trenches. I thought I would do that until I was 40 or so, and in my early 30s before a major injury I was going to start a part time MS in pastoral counseling. So I got retired way early and despite having the pension, I still want to learn about a few things in order to understand myself and others better, and hopefully be able to help people a little bit again but in a different venue.
  40. greenis4growth

    greenis4growth

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    Well said!
  41. Duck Duck Goose

    Duck Duck Goose Senior Lurker

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    Not to stress anyone out but just to add some perspective, the average (median... mean is a little higher) loan debt for a PsyD student applying for internship last year - just debt from grad study in psych, not any other debt - is 120k. And for PhDs, the median is 40k and the mean is 53k. (Reference for stats: http://appic.org/Match/MatchStatistics/ApplicantSurvey2011Part3.aspx) This is the amount of debt of people who, in the best situation, have a year and a half before graduating.

    If you want a job as a psychologist in private practice, you're probably going to get the most business in urban areas, where the cost of living is higher. (Other job settings for psychologists also tend to be where there are more people/clients to serve.) Meanwhile, average salary for psychologists is 65k (reference: http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos056.htm#earnings).

    So please, once again, consider whether you're about to make a huge financial mistake because you still have time to make other plans. :luck:

    (Once you make the decision, relax, either way. Just know what you're getting into and that there are other options.)
  42. sportpsychcop

    sportpsychcop

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    Wow, are those stats for people in funded programs with a stipend?
  43. Duck Duck Goose

    Duck Duck Goose Senior Lurker

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    Those stats are for a sampling of students applying for internship. I think the funding details are in the APPIC.org link that I posted but maybe not. If you read the threads here, you'll hear that a lot of students at funded programs still take out lots of loans to live better than your average grad student and still wind up with tons of debt. :(

    3% of people in PhD programs applying for internship apparently had more than $200,000 in debt from just graduate study of psychology alone. (17% of PsyD students have that kind of debt.)

    So yeah, just my plea, once more (I'll do it again, if asked ... and probably if not asked, too :laugh: ), to really consider all the options that you have to get you to your goal. Is a doctoral degree necessary or beneficial to you? What else can get you what you want? (An MSW would have completely met my needs/wants.) Keeping in mind that my goal was to be a therapist, the PsyD was not the best choice to get me there. (I'm still not at that goal but I did meet my husband while at grad school, so good things can still come of truly bad/ill-informed decisions.)
  44. sportpsychcop

    sportpsychcop

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    Im in the middle of mid terms now, but still am confused why so many people on this forum suggest an MSW to a PhD or PsyD if you just want to do therapy? Why not a masters in counseling (LPC) over an MSW? I looked at the coursework for MSWs and it seems yucky with all the social justice stuff...
  45. Psychadelic2012

    Psychadelic2012 PhD Student

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    I think it's just a generic way to say "masters degree," to be honest. This being a forum for doctoral-level students and practitioners, those who comment will tend to comment on what they have either heard or what they see directly (which may just be MSWs, and I think they may be more numerous, actually).
  46. Ettevi05

    Ettevi05

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    Wow I even bought myself an SPSS book in order to be more prepared before I go to school in August...:oops:.
  47. emily621

    emily621 PhD Student

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    :laugh: I plan on doing this as well, I need to do some serious brushing up.
  48. sportpsychcop

    sportpsychcop

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    Speaking of that, I can tell you there are disadvantages to being older. Im in stats now, and when I took stats in undergrad (a LONG LONG TIME AGO) there was no SPSS, nor Blackboard, Titanium, or a bunch of other online applications or forums you need to go in order to participate in discussions, find class notes, turn in homework assignments, etc...hah...I had a culture shock the first semester back trying to adjust to the new "technology", plus no longer MLA now APA which seems to change often, etc.

    What ever happened to buying the books you need, the prof handing out "dittos" for articles and other secondary reading, and the professor giving good notes on the overhead or board that you copy down as you go? hah....

    As for the masters degrees, I will look into more of them over the summer. The primary PhD I want to apply to is a PhD in sport psych with concurrent masters in counseling, funded with a stipend. If I do not get in, I might spend a year doing internships trying to get my 700 supervised hours for AASP (sports psych consultant cert), and look into masters programs to apply to for the following year. MSW courses do not look interesting to me at all (lots of stuff that involves problems in low socio/econ communities and a focus on group intervention for those areas), but a few counseling programs I browsed had decent looking course plan.

    The more I read this board I will think long and hard before applying to a clinical or counseling PhD if it truly could be 8 years from the start to being licensed. Heck Id be late 40s by then depending on when I started the PhD hah....

    Maybe this isnt good to ask here as it doesnt relate to the thread topic, but just curious how much good learning can take place from seminars and conferences? Say getting a masters in counseling, and if one did not feel like it was enough but they were not going to do a doctorate, could attending conferences, seminars, etc are there other avenues to gain good knowledge and grow? I almost feel like masters degrees are just introductions to a subject and never thorough enough to get into the nitty gritty of really doing the work. Im in my second masters in a different field and both of them at respected schools for the subject area, and neither of these masters has done enough coursework or applied work to send anyone off into the real world with decent skills to practice. Almost feels more like rubber stamps just to try to get you a job or get you into a PhD, giving you a little foundation to build upon.
  49. Duck Duck Goose

    Duck Duck Goose Senior Lurker

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    Kind of, kind of not. I'm from the northeast and an MSW can get licensed to do private practice in all states in my area (check out Maine for restrictive licensing laws). LPCs aren't always referred to as that (NH = LMHC, for example, while ME has a two tier system, apparently) and can't always do independent private practice. I don't know what it's like in the rest of the country but there's much more flexibility with the MSW than the other Masters level degrees in my neck of the woods.

    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Licensed_professional_counselor had some interesting info.)
  50. Idealist64

    Idealist64

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    Those who attend R1 research-heavy programs and are RAs: is it usually expected that you will stay on campus over all breaks (including winter), or are you given some time off around the holidays/allowed to work from home?

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