Sep 13, 2020
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Hi everyone! I'm unsure if anyone asked a similar question as I hadn't seen any, and wanted to ask for advice.

So, I attended grad school right after I earned my Bachelor's in Psych. Long story short, due to the workload/health issue (at that time), I couldn't keep up, which resulted in low grades that eventually led the school to dismiss me.
Since then, I've been taking courses at my local community college, but I keep failing my math classes. I wonder if going back to grad school is even possible for me. I want to become a clinical neuropsychologist, which I know requires me to get my Ph.D. I'm willing to do all that it takes, but I wonder if it's even possible at this point. It's even more stressful for me as the pandemic's left me without a job, and I'm not taking classes at the moment since I can't pay for it. I wish I were eligible for financial aid, but I won't be since I'm a non-degree seeking student. I thought I'd be done and already be in the process of applying for grad schools. Staying in community college wasn't part of the plan, and it's already been a year. My parents have been wondering how long it's going to take until I can go back, which adds to the stress, and I'm worried I won't be able to get my Master's.

Has anyone here been in this situation and overcome this? I'm unsure as to what I can do, if anything, and would like some guidance, please.
 

MAClinician

Masters level clinician
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Mar 19, 2016
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Did you take stats for your BA in psychology? Most undergrad students take an intro course to stats during their psych major, and if so how did you do?

Have you ever been diagnosed with a math disability in school? What is causing the failures in math classes at community college? In a PhD program you will typically need to take several classes in statistics and for neuropsych it is very important to have a sound foundation of statistical concepts (from what I’ve read on this board). So you will need to identify what is contributing to your difficulty in math before you can develop a plan to move forward.
 
Sep 13, 2020
3
0
Did you take stats for your BA in psychology? Most undergrad students take an intro course to stats during their psych major, and if so how did you do?

Have you ever been diagnosed with a math disability in school? What is causing the failures in math classes at community college? In a PhD program you will typically need to take several classes in statistics and for neuropsych it is very important to have a sound foundation of statistical concepts (from what I’ve read on this board). So you will need to identify what is contributing to your difficulty in math before you can develop a plan to move forward.
I did take stats during undergrad and I hadn't done too well. And speaking of disabilities, I have ADD, so I tend to miss a lot of small steps sometimes when doing math problems.
 
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MamaPhD

Psychologist, Academic Medical Center
10+ Year Member
Aug 2, 2010
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I'm not clear on a few things. We can probably give you more applicable advice if you shared a little more:

1. Was your previous graduate program in psychology or in another field?
2. Were you enrolled in a master's or doctoral program? How many semesters did you complete?
3. What is the purpose of the undergraduate courses you're taking right now? (I don't understand why you would re-take undergrad math if your previous undergrad grades were sufficient to get into grad school.)
 
Sep 13, 2020
3
0
I'm not clear on a few things. We can probably give you more applicable advice if you shared a little more:

1. Was your previous graduate program in psychology or in another field?
2. Were you enrolled in a master's or doctoral program? How many semesters did you complete?
3. What is the purpose of the undergraduate courses you're taking right now? (I don't understand why you would re-take undergrad math if your previous undergrad grades were sufficient to get into grad school.)
Excuse the confusion; I'll clarify:

1. I was enrolled in an applied psychology program.
2. It was a master's program and I completed 3 semesters, including summer.
3. The main reason for being in community college was that I did poorly in math (and other courses) back in undergrad. When I got into grad school, it was at the same college. I wanted to show my proficiency in those subjects to grad programs, especially since I graduated with a 2 point something GPA (I did earn As and Bs during the last couple semesters, which may've been a factor...?). I do have past experience working in the psych field, though only for 6 months (business shut down). I feel that along with my grades would keep me from getting into grad school.

In the meantime, I'm currently studying for the GRE (both general and psychology). I'm also looking for jobs within the psych field to gain more experience.
 

MamaPhD

Psychologist, Academic Medical Center
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Aug 2, 2010
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Thank you for clarifying.

This is going to be a long road. The reasons that people complete a master's degree before applying to doctoral programs are to improve their academic records, gain research experience, and demonstrate that they are able to perform well in graduate-level coursework. Because you did not achieve these goals, you really need to explore what went wrong and what you need to do to prevent it from happening again.

You referred to some health-related issues that interfered with your master's program. Are these resolved or stable? If not, your health needs to be a priority. What else didn't go well?

IMO you should be done with undergraduate courses. Taking more undergrad courses is just not a winning strategy and you seem to be losing ground in doing so. Admission to a master's program will be more difficult now than the first time, but if you were given a mechanism to re-enter your previous master's program that would be a reasonable place to start. But perhaps not right now.

Your circumstances are requiring you to take a step back right now and re-assess. This is timely. My advice is to pause your formal education until you've mapped out a new strategy that will lead to success. Focus on finding a job in the field, preferably as a research coordinator/RA or similar. Take care of yourself. Focus on your health, your personal development, your work habits, your relationships. Spend some time growing in other areas of your life. You can come back to this.
 

summerbabe

2+ Year Member
Nov 22, 2016
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Agreed with everything that @MamaPhD posted. Rushing too quickly back into school (and perhaps because it's one of the constants you've known and it sounds like there's some family beliefs around grad school = future success) without better understanding and treating/fixing/changing what led to poor previous outcomes is likely to hurt you, rather than help you.

Applying to another graduate program will likely also require you to address what led to being dismissed from your applied psych program and detail solutions that you've identified and the strategies that you'll employ to be successful in the future.

I want to become a clinical neuropsychologist
What made you specifically interested in neuropsych? Are there other areas in mental health, including work that doesn't require a PhD that you're also interested in? Getting into a PhD program that can provide you with the quality education and training to match to a predoctoral neuro internship and then a very competitive 2 year neuro postdoc is a very challenging task. If this is your primary goal, I would not advise applying this cycle since you'll need to bolster your CV, especially with research.

In the meantime, I'm currently studying for the GRE (both general and psychology).
At least during this admission cycle, some programs are waiving the GREs due to COVID-19 and in general, many grad programs do not require the Psych GRE. If time/energy/finances are a concern, these may not be the best areas to devote your resources but this will certainly depend on what programs you are applying and their requirements.

I'm also looking for jobs within the psych field to gain more experience.
I think this is a great idea. It sounds like you've been in school for a while and sometimes working helps us to recharge while also gaining new experiences and maybe more more insight into what we want life-wise. When we are primarily students, academic stressors often play a major role and things like anxiety and pressure can be impairing/distressing and sometimes work experience can provide different perspectives on school and life.

Good luck! It sounds like you're very motivated so that's a great foundation to build from, even if the plans may differ from what you previously anticipated,
 
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Spydra

5+ Year Member
Aug 16, 2014
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Grad school is only a pipe dream if you aren't committed to making the necessary sacrifices to going and/or you waste time on steps that are not going to help you. I agree with everyone else that continuing to take undergrad math classes is a waste of time and money. You earned a sufficient grade to obtain your Bachelor's, leave it at that. Yes you will need more stats courses in graduate school, but some programs are better than others at having support for those who need it.

If your goal is to finish your Master's and then aim for a PhD, then focus on the content the Master's wants you to be strong in so you can get through that hurdle. You don't specify if you prefer a research or clinical career in neuropsych, but either path will require foundational stats and research skills. Perhaps you can find a research lab to work in (paid will likely be harder, but don't discount volunteer opportunities) and can get some stats exposure there and some suggestions on what graduate level stats class might be a good place to start. It will also help you to understand how you learn so that you can better communicate the support you need as you move forward. Every University should also have a resource center to help anyone with a disability and having ADD should grant you access to such supports.

My situation differed a little from yours as I took several gap years between undergrad and grad school so I chose a terminal Master's to reacclimate to the student world and build confidence. Simultaneously I volunteered in a research lab and was allowed to participate in some basic stats activities and observe the more senior students conducting the analyses. I figured out right then I needed another class if I was going to ever get into a PhD because it was clear that a lot had changed since my undergrad stats course. The lab PI's arranged for me to join the other graduate students in the same stats class. At the time it did feel like 80% of that content went right over my head, but I did well enough to get into a PhD. When I got to my PhD I was offered the opportunity to skip a comparable stats class and the smartest move I made was saying no. The second time around it felt like only 50% of the content went over my head and I got to connect with my cohort. Every time that content is rehashed in another course or on a research project more of it makes sense. And I am not the only student that doesn't instantly get it, in fact most of us are in the I need to see that a few more times boat.
 
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