Oct 19, 2012
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Pre-Psychology
Hey everyone,

I am currently in a psych maters program and am only on campus three days a week. How often are you guys on campus as PhD students, specifically as first years? I am thinking of going into clinical (maybe counseling). The reason I ask is because my partner and I are thinking of having a baby soon and I'm trying to determine how likely it'll be for my partner and I to just work on different days to eliminate the need for a babysitter.
 

CheetahGirl

Clinical Psychologist
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I was on campus 4-days a week and at externship 1-day of week during the first year...so you'll need a full-time babysitter (at least to cover your caregiving shift during the work days 8am - 6pm). I can't put rose-colored glasses on for this post. Doctoral training in vigorous (and gets exponentially so). In fact, we had a family member move in with us to help care for our little ones. Both parenting and doctoral training in clinical psychology are more than full-time jobs. It's doable, but I wouldn't plan to have a baby in the first year, especially if you are a first time parent. If you end up preggo, that's a different story...but if planning it all out...in hindsight of having 4 kids myself....I would not do it. I'm surely blessed, but geezz, I'm one hard-working, relentless person...and I would not wish the pressure with the ups & downs of my past 5-years on anyone, particularly if volition was involved. Now, you're not saying anything about having multiple children, nor are you saying you already have a child...you are talking about planning ahead. I would plan to get in a program first and see how it works out for you before you bring a vulnerable dependent into the equation. Once that little Lima Bean is staring you in the face ...it's a different story, you'll find a way and manage, but IMO you'll need a lot of extra support (in addition to your partner) and simply cannot eliminate the need for a babysitter.

*EDIT* Vianca, you didn't ask for subsequent opinions (in terms of parenting), but I'm sharing my very personal bias that I believe the jump from zero kids to one is much harder than the jump from one kid to two...or three...or four. Primarily because you have to learn and train (and ultimately transform) yourself to become a parent...once you already have one kid, the system is in place to have multiples with less effort than it took to have the first (you know what to expect with feeding & napping schedules, play-times and night-time routines already in place). Likewise, doctoral training in clinical psychology ultimately transforms your thinking, feeling and behavior into a clinician that can assess and treat another in various forms of distress or impairment. Both jobs entail so much energy that in order to do both well, you must provide yourself (and your partner) on-going support. Otherwise, you will become overwhelmed and may fall behind in one or the other...set yourself up for success, and avoid failure. Wait until the second or fourth year (even better!) to have a Tiny One, if you can.:luck:
 
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researchgirl

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Feb 6, 2009
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For a slightly more positive spin - I think during my five years I could have always worked from home at least 1 weekday per week. However, this will be highly program dependent and lab dependent and not something you'll know until you are accepted.

(This is not to discount anything about what CheetahGirl says about the stress and difficulties of managing it all - just simply to say that maybe you could swing being at home one week day per week, depending on your situation).
 
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psychRA

Psychologist
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Mar 8, 2007
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I think it can really depend on your program as well as your lab. My first few years, our lab was running several active studies, which meant that we were expected to be available (with some advance notice) nearly any time that we weren't in class, including evenings and weekends. That didn't mean that we actually ended up being booked for all of those hours, of course, but our participant population was not the type to book a research appointment weeks (or even days) in advance, so you'd have to keep those times available until the same day. None of us had kids, so I can't speak to whether our advisor would have been willing to work around someone with a baby.

If you're in the type of lab where most of your research involves coding, or working with data, you would potentially do a lot of that from off campus.
 

cara susanna

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It depends on your TA assignment as well. My first semester of first year I only TAed online courses, so I had an entire day off. It was pretty sweet.
 

futureapppsy2

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In my experience, you spend more time on campus during the first year or two and then spend more time off-campus as you complete most of the required coursework and focus more on practicum and research. Whether you do your research mostly on campus, at home, or elsewhere depends largely on the type of data you use (collecting observational data on children? You'll probably be in schools. Running undergrads through neuropsych batteries? You'll probably be on campus. Online survey research? You can probably monitor and analyze it from home.) and whether or not your data are the type that can ever leave the lab.
 

AcronymAllergy

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In my experience, you spend more time on campus during the first year or two and then spend more time off-campus as you complete most of the required coursework and focus more on practicum and research. Whether you do your research mostly on campus, at home, or elsewhere depends largely on the type of data you use (collecting observational data on children? You'll probably be in schools. Running undergrads through neuropsych batteries? You'll probably be on campus. Online survey research? You can probably monitor and analyze it from home.) and whether or not your data are the type that can ever leave the lab.
I would generally agree with this, as well as with the other responses that essentially say, "it depends." I personally was on campus 5 days/week during my first couple years owing to a mix of classes (both taking and TAing/teaching, with the latter typically requiring office hours), supervision meetings, research, and clinical work in the on-campus psych services clinic. In my later years, I was on campus probably 1 or 2 days/week, but was at various practicum sites 5 days/week. I don't know that there was a time at any point in my grad school career that I could've stayed at home (i.e., avoided both campus and practicum placements) for an entire weekday, but that might've just been the case for me.
 
Nov 12, 2013
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Not to beat a dead horse, but it really does depend on your program. I had a 4 month old when I started. I only had classes 3 days a week, and occasional clinical duties on-site, and I did all my TA work from home. I do not think I could have managed without a full-time babysitter. Now I had an older kid already in preschool, which made it a bit harder, I grant you. Our babysitter left at the end of my second year, and we've done it without since. It's saved us a lot of money, but it has been really difficult and stressful. Mostly if one of the kids gets sick, now that they're both in school.

That said, you know your situation, and your husband's. Once you know what program you're in, you'll have a better sense of what you can manage. You could also consider a part-time or sitter-share situation, if you or your partner could manage one day home each, then there may be other people in your community who also don't need a full-time sitter and would be willing to have different days.

Either way, good luck! As people have said, graduate school and parenting are two of the most challenging experiences I've had, but they are without question the two most rewarding and the best choices I ever made. It's hard, but it can be done, provided you have enough support.
 
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Jan 25, 2011
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Again with the It Depends. As another option, look into childcare options on campus; many Universities (especially those with Early Childhood Ed programs) have a daycare on campus, and offer reduced rates to students and staff.
 

G Costanza

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Make sure your partner knows what she or he is signing up for. I don't get to see my wife for half the week because of school. If we also had a child, I'm pretty sure our alone time would go to zero.
 
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PsychPhDStudent

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Program dependent. :) Our program has students taking classes 4 days a week. I was on campus 5 days a week (I did my stats homework on the 5th day, and we also had colloquia on those days).
 

CheetahGirl

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...More unsolicited advice from CheetahGirl but I actually woke up this morning thinking about this thread. :thinking:

A while back we briefly discussed being a first-year and getting a kitten here: http://forums.studentdoctor.net/threads/first-year-student-should-i-get-a-kitten.1012779/#post-14146247 The OP edited out his/her postings (probably because the first responder was unnecessarily harsh). But I suggest reading for more opinions (Spoiler: Many of us said get a kitten/older cat because you can put out a self-feeder & big bowl of water).

Now, I clearly acknowledge that a pet is in no way equal to a child (sorry Pet Parents out there - of which I am a Dog Mommy also), because (as we all know) the accountability for a child and his/her lifelong development is exponentially more extreme for a human child. However, my intentions are well-meaning here, and I'm posting this because the OP (and anyone else who reads this) should know that the first year of doctoral training is intense. If you are planning to do various activities (including having a child, especially if you are the mom or primary caregiver), you should really allow yourself time to adjust at being a new grad student (or a new parent) before embarking on thse lifelong journeys.

And Vianca, my postings here are the antithesis of what you do as a clinical psychologist...you assist the client/patient in the decision-making process that is best for the individual without infusing your personal biases (which I have done here b/c I'm behaving in the capacity of a peer, not a professional). Regardless, I wish you well no matter what your decision may be. :luck:
 
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