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Career Doubts: Please Help!!

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New Member
May 14, 2020
  1. Other Health Professions Student
Hi all! I will start an MSW with a therapeutic focus in fall 2020 at a highly-ranked program, but I'm having doubts that this is what I truly want. Or doubts that I'll be finished with my education after an MSW.

In undergrad, I started off in pre-med, but I was super unhappy with the classes and switched out to humanities and psychology. I ended up graduating early with majors in psychology and English. My GPA was 3.8. I also have extensive volunteering experiences and some interesting work experiences. Unfortunately, due to some traumatic experiences that happened in college, I was derailed in finding research experiences, and so was unable to consider a PhD in Clinical Psychology.

I absolutely LOVE the idea of becoming a therapist, but I also have a strong analytical, academic, writerly side to myself that I don't want to leave behind. Admittedly, some people have also made me feel ashamed of myself for choosing an MSW because they felt like I'm too smart for that and I'm wasting my potential. Those remarks have been getting under my skin, even though I wish they wouldn't.

I think that I'll go through with my MSW because there's absolutely no way that I'll be able to find other experiences to compensate for a lack of a research background amid the pandemic. I actually lost the opportunity to assist in research at the perfect place for me because of all of this. I also have nothing to do in the summer now because everything was cancelled.

What advice would you have for opening up opportunities for other degrees? Any advice for utilizing this time right now for something productive? Any advice would be wonderful in general!
Last edited:
May 26, 2019
  1. Pre-Physical Therapy
So what it sounds like is you're settling for a career because you don't believe you can do better, but everyone around you who knows you seems to have a different opinion of you. Why exactly can you not consider a PhD in Clinical Psychology? If it is a lack of experiences, why not consider experiences you can participate in online? There are opportunities out there both online and in-person for essential services.

If... just if... you did believe that you were capable of doing whatever career you wanted to do, what would you do? And if you, believing in your ability, had to choose your next steps, what would they be?
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Masters level clinician
5+ Year Member
Mar 19, 2016
  1. Non-Student
It’s a little confusing to read that you graduated early with a 3.8 and many volunteer/work experiences but “traumatic experiences” kept you from gaining research experience. You don’t have to explain here, but understand how that appears to others when you are trying to get advice or suggestions. You are correct in recognizing that without research experience your chances for admission into clinical psychology PhD are very very slim. You do have some options in the future. There are PhD programs in social work if you want to participate in academia once you complete your MSW. This could allow to use the analytical and writing skills you feel you have. There are also employment settings for MSWs that engage in research (VA, teaching hospitals known for research and clinical trials) and maybe you could ask to join a research team to build research experience. I think there was a MSW poster here who worked in the VA and volunteered on research over several years then got accepted into clinical Psychology PhD program.

Right now there are probably not opportunities to do research as it is not considered “essential” (with the exception of maybe clinical trials for some treatments) and several faculty on the psychology forum have shared their research is temporarily on hold during the pandemic. While waiting for fall classes to start, personally I would suggest enjoying your free time while you have it. Learn a new hobby or revisit an old one. But enjoy the time because grad school is very different than undergrad. Good luck!
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