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Do I have the right idea?

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by jabenson, Jan 5, 2018.

  1. jabenson

    jabenson

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    Jan 4, 2018
    Hey there y’all,

    I graduated back in 2015 with a degree in film and no intention of going to grad school. After being in the workforce for a couple of years now (post production), I find myself wanting to pursue a PhD in psychology.

    I am undecided on the specific field (debating between clinical and cognitive), but want to begin preparing as soon as possible. I graduated with a 3.43 GPA from a very good school but my only psych and stats classes were taken at the community college I transferred from.

    My current plan is to enroll in psychology classes at my local CC to gain a clearer picture of the area I’d like to pursue in addition to possibly finding research opportunities. Since I am also working full time, I’d like to save up enough money eventually to apply to a formal Post-Bacc program to further solidify my understanding and increase my competitiveness. The Berkeley Extension Program seems like a very attractive choice due to the reasonable cost and reputation, but the lack of integrated research opportunities makes me consider taking the Post-Bacc Program through the Psychology department instead.

    Does this all sound right? I never thought I’d be applying to grad school so I’ve been trying my best to learn as I go. If I were able to secure solid research experience while attending CC, could I forego the Post-Bacc program and apply directly for my PhD or are CC credits perceived as disreputable? Any and all insight is greatly appreciated. Thank you!
     
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  3. bellezza1994

    bellezza1994

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    Jan 5, 2018
    Hello! How exciting that you have decided a career change. Well first off I know for a fact you will need atleast 15 psychology credits, a few good years as an assistant in a research lab, time To build relationships with professors so that you can have great letters of recommendation. And lastly time to study for your Gre and maybe the psychology Gre subject since you did not major in psychology. So, overall I believe that a post bacc program would be a better option. Only so you can have time to build on your applications.
     
  4. Feelings Doctor

    Feelings Doctor

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    Dec 1, 2016
    Why the change? :) I did post-production work as a way to earn income during undergrad and loved it, but my goals were always psych-related. It would help to know what your ultimate goal in pursuing a Ph.D. is - are you hoping to become a researcher, academic, educator, or work with people (child or family or couple's or what therapy, behavior intervention)? And what KIND of researcher, academic, educator, therapist, etc.? After knowing that, then we could steer you to what kind of programs are best, etc. Also, it's important to know what you want to do because you may be able to accomplish the same things with a Master's level degree, and really no one should have to experience the torture of a Ph.D. unless truly necessary. ;)
     
  5. bellezza1994

    bellezza1994

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    Jan 5, 2018
    Great advice!! Many people do not realize they can practice at the masters level!
     
  6. jabenson

    jabenson

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    Jan 4, 2018
    Thank you for taking the time to respond!

    I have been leaning toward the Post-Bacc option pretty heavily. What is the general path for gaining a research position? Do I approach professors who's work interests me and ask to join on?

    I would love to fulfill the psychology credit requirement and other pertinent training through the Berkeley Extension program since I am based in CA, but don't know how difficult it would be to sniff out research opportunities on my own. Is the official Psychology Post-Bacc program on main campus worth the extra money? If anyone has any personal experience deciding between the Extension Program and the official Psychology Post-Bacc program, that would be amazing.

    Does two years sound like a reasonable amount of time (essentially starting from scratch) to gain research experience, complete the necessary prerequisite classes, score well on the GRE, and begin applying to PhD programs?
     
  7. jabenson

    jabenson

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    Jan 4, 2018

    Greetings and thank you for the response! I do post production for TV shows right now, which is pretty mindless and soul sucking. I would much rather dedicate my life to becoming a source of knowledge and teaching others while also conducting valuable research. However, I will be using my post-production experience as a means of supporting myself through this arduous process.

    My ultimate goal is to become a cognitive psychology professor at a university, so unfortunately I think a PhD is going to be necessary. Creative writing has been my passion since attending film school, so any career where I can utilize that would be ideal.
     
  8. Feelings Doctor

    Feelings Doctor

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    Dec 1, 2016
    It sounds like you're going to be applying to experimental psych programs rather than applied programs, which are designed to set you up for a career in academia and do not have a practice component. If that's the case, then the CC courses (or Berkeley Extension) + research experience is the best way to go. I do know several people who succeeded in getting straight into Ph.D. programs with non-psych undergrad degrees without doing more coursework, so it's not like it's impossible (math, bio, physics, theater degrees are the anecdotes I have). It is just about being able to convince your potential faculty that you're committed to and interested in a particular area of research, along with being capable of completing a Ph.D. I think without the research experience and/or more coursework in psych, it can be difficult for you to really even identify a narrow enough area of research you'd be interested in doing. It'd be best if you could somehow volunteer as an RA for a professor whose work seems interesting to you - start looking at local profs and contact them directly to see what kind of opportunities there could be. You don't have to be committed to a specific study when applying for grad school, but should be able to identify a particular research interest. Building these partnerships with the psych profs will also help you because you will need LORs from them (better psych profs than profs from unrelated fields) for your grad school applications.

    Not to discourage you, but as someone who also enjoys creative writing, academic research writing is nowhere close to this and kills my creative soul. Your writing skill is definitely going to help you throughout your career but I wouldn't expect to be exercising much of your creative muscles while getting through grad school and/or writing your own research manuscripts later on. Just food for thought.
     
  9. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist Psychologist 7+ Year Member

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    Feb 15, 2009
    Somewhere
    Oh man, I don't know. Scientific writing killed whatever creative writing skill I ever had from my writing/journalism days. You'll be able to utilize the writing, just not the creative part of it.
     
    psych.meout and Feelings Doctor like this.

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