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Univ of Mississippi/ University of Southern Miss-WHAT DO YOU THINK!

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by jagger, Mar 21, 2007.

  1. jagger

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  3. blindblonde

    blindblonde U.S. citizen, Dutch Ph.D

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    Well, I went only to the University of Mississippi for an interview (and was promptly rejected), but I'll give you my two cents on the program.

    I was actually quite impressed of what they had to offer. It seems laidback, with the flexibility to do what you want. I liked the faculty (who is your PoI if you don't mind me asking...may help with decision), and it seemed like a family atmosphere (quite literally, as several grad students had kids from what I saw). These elements were definite perks in my mind.

    The drawbacks? A) Funding. Although making students RAs in the first year is quite nice, apparently the funding sucks. When you rely on the practicum and consulting work to make cash to live on, there is a slight problem. Not sure how this compares to Southern Miss, but that was a little disheartening to me. B) Training Expereince in a rural area. C) Too much flexibility. Let me explain. Although having the liberty to do what you want is nice, I stayed with a student who was in her sixth year and just getting her masters. She was really sweet, and there were reasons for this happening (data collection didn't work out right), I was still a wee bit concerned when I heard this. Having the liberty to do what you want is nice, but just not making progress toward your degree is another.

    Overall, I had a positive impression of Ole Miss. It is a good school, but I have no idea how it compares to Southern Miss.

    I hope that helps somewhat...:confused:
     
  4. perfektspace

    perfektspace Member

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    Well I was not able to attend the interview day due to a conflict with another program. However, professors I spoke with from my undergrad school spoke very highly of the child track at Southern Miss... They seem to do good work there and have reasonable funding considering how cheap Hattiesburg is.

    At another interview I shared a room with a student from Southern Miss. who worked in their psych. department (non-child track). They had good things to say overall about the faculty and had obviously received some good experience there to be interviewing at several other quality programs. I think the location scares a lot of people away more than anything else. Not exactly first hand info but I get the impression it's a good place to be.
     
  5. jagger

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    Your insight is helpful! I'm trying to decide between these two programs. My husband has a great job, and if I went to Univ of Miss, he could keep his job. Southern Miss would require us to live apart or require him to get a new job there. He has a specialized job that probably wouldn't be available in either town. So, he would most likely end up getting paid less and doing something he doesn't enjoy.

    Like blindblonde, at the Univ of Miss, I was also concerned about the program having too much flexibility. Hopefully, it depends on the student. I don't feel comfortable saying who my POI is b/c it's the internet, and it would be relatively easy for anyone at Univ of Miss to figure out who I am.


    Currently, I have been accepted at MSU (MS), Middle Tennessee State University(MS), UM (Clinical PHD), and Southern Miss (clinical PhD).

    Below are my concerns about UM and Southern Miss. Please tell me if I have been misinformed or am putting too much emphasis on certain factors:

    1. Reputation (The faculty and students at UM appeared to be very laid back. Other than my POI the faculty did not stress the importance of graduating in a timely manner. In fact, one student has been there for almost 7 years and just turned in her MS thesis!)

    I sensed that UM's program isn't very research-oriented. Did you get that impression Blindblonde? I don't know the
    reputation among professionals and institutions, but I do want to be confident in my ability to obtain a job after graduation. I know that I can work hard to prove myself in the marketplace, but I don't want the reputation of my graduate institution to be an obstacle that I must constantly overcome during my career.) Still, I may be putting too much emphasis on the reputation. Please let me know.

    Southern's program seems to be more serious, and the faculty seem very helpful. At Southern, the drive to obtain grants and publish is more apparent.


    2. Clinical Training (While the faculty at UM claim to "supervise" clinical training,
    a student said that some students preferred not to be supervised because they felt uncomfortable. Also, it sounded as if students were actually supervised by more advanced students, not faculty.) Additionally, the facutly at UM were of theoretical orientations that I wasn't familiar with (ACT; self-directed). At Southern, most were CBT which more closely aligns with my orientation. I realize that I will be uncomfortable when being evaluated during clinical training, but evaluation is the only road to improvement, right? The clinical training at Southern appeared to be better at USM (better resources,faculty supervision and feedback).

    3. Faculty (One man at UM really disturbed me. I went to his research meeting which was unstructured, and I really don't see how the lab accomplishes anything. I know he wouldn't be my major professor, but he does teach courses.) I felt more comfortable with the UM faculty who were very laid back, but the faculty at Southern seem to be more driven.

    4. Funding (UM only offers 75% tuition waiver with no stipend. I got the
    impression that there wasn't much funding available for research. How can that be?) Um's tuition is only 5k a year so its not as bad as some schools. Southern does offer full funding plus a stipend, but my husband would be making less money so it would probably balance out with UM.

    5. Research Interests (With my univ of miss POI, I would be able to study an area I'm passionate; and it relates to health psych which I want to specialize in eventually. On the other hand, I would be working with children. The Pros at UM: you can change your interests and major professor at anytime, it actually seemed to be encouraged. Also, collaboration among labs is encouraged.) At Southern, it appeared that they try to lock you into an area which is the POI's area. I am not sure who I would be matched with at Southern; however, both possible POI's seem interested in assessment/ test validation (something that I don't have any interest in). I am still confused as to how they matched me with these 2 b/c i made my interests flexible but clear. I never mentioned ass/validation as an interest. If they know my intersts, they must be able to accomodate them or they wouldn't have made an offer, right? southern miss also has labs in the building. There were not any labs at UM. I asked about the location of the labs, and the student said that they used any available rooms to run experiments

    Also, Do you think it will be possible to specialize/ gain expertise in health psychology during practicum, internship, post doc?

    I think I imagined that the faculty and students in a PhD program would have a very serious sense of purpose. UM is laid back, and I appreciate that they are not putting too much pressure on their students. However, I don't want to cheat myself out of getting a good education. What do you think? Still, Southern Miss will require a number of sacrifices by my family. Moreover, I don't even know who I would be working with for sure and the 2 possible candidates don't even fall within my broad interests.


    I really don't want to go through the application process again, and even if I
    did, there would be no guarantee that I would get into a better program. If UM and USM are respectable graduate programs, then I want to go ahead with the PhD.

    Sorry this is so long! Please help!
     
  6. blindblonde

    blindblonde U.S. citizen, Dutch Ph.D

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    Let's see if I can cover some of the main things brought up.

    Firstly, I did get the sense that it is more practicum focused--if you wanted it to be. You still have TA positions (although also low on cash..weird how that worked out), if you wanted to go the academic route. I think the labs were located in the basement, but they were really just small office spaces from what I was told. In any case, I got the sense that what you put into your education at Ole Miss is what you will get out of it. If you want to be more reserach focused, then you need to go after it. It is the whole flexibility thing again.

    I think your main problem, practicum, money, flexibility, and everything else aside, is really the problem of match. You should find out for sure what lab you will be working with at Southern Miss. It sounds silly that you should call up and say, "Uh, who am I working with?"--but you need to know. I think the bottom line is that you need to find the fit. By the way you've talked about the research, you seem to fit better with Ole Miss. Even if you don't get the awesome opportunities to perform experiements while in grad school, you will still learn about the area, get into the literature, and work with an advisor is in an area that you want. And frankly, I think that is the bottom line--researching and doing what interests you within clinical psychology. There is no guarantee that you will get this knowledge in other ways (I have no idea for sure--someone else may have a better idea about this than I do), so you might as well work with the faculty member who is in the area.

    Also, in conjunction with fit--which program will make you happy? Ole Miss? Southern Miss? Or neither?
     
  7. jagger

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    I already asked which lab I would be in at Southern Miss, and the DCT told me that it depended on the other two students (accepting 4 for adult concentration; 1 accepted; 3 offers out). But, it would be between 2 people both of which i did not mention in my SOP or directly express interest in at the interview. Is that strange or what?
     
  8. blindblonde

    blindblonde U.S. citizen, Dutch Ph.D

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    yeah, that is pretty strange....

    You have a tough call ahead of you, and I wish you luck on this. I hope I have helped at least a little. :luck:
     
  9. paramour

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    This likely isn't very helpful at all but I hear only great things about Univ of Southern Mississippi. Of course, this information is probably quite biased since it comes from my current mentor and his wife (both graduated from USM). They actually just returned from a trip to USM to visit their mentor and they graduated many, many years ago. 'Tis nice to see that some of those relationships built during your grad years last for a while (even with the profs!). G'luck with your decision! :luck:
     
  10. jagger

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    thanks for the help! This is so hard, and I feel pressured to make a decision right now. I need to talk to my advisor first which will not happen until Monday. I can't make an informed decision if i don't know who I would be working with at USM. Again, thanks to all for your input.
     
  11. perfektspace

    perfektspace Member

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    I understand there is a lot of pressure to make a choice but take until April 15th if that's what you need. I am next in line as an alternate for a program I will likely go to (if I am offered) and will wait till the last day if I have to. It tough but what can you do? It's just part of process and the only one where we have some control.
     
  12. hermionephd

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    I don't think any sane person would want to live in Hattisburg, but maybe that's just me.
     
  13. paramour

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    :laugh: My mentor was actually talking about USM again today. He mentioned that one of the drawbacks was the location as it simply didn't "do it" for most people. However, he thought it was an okay place for the time that he was there and definitely had some positives.
     
  14. jagger

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    You must not be familiar with my alternative, Oxford, MS!
     
  15. HopefulHealer

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    Not sure this will help...but I interviewed for the Counseling Psych. program at USM and was quite impressed. Not only are they a top 16 program, the faculty was great and in my area of interest (ethnicity and culture) quite well known. Additionally, my advisor during my first master's degree was a USM grad and was an awesome clinician, researcher, and person. Good luck!
     
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  17. edieb

    edieb Senior Member

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    Where I do my externship there is an intern from USM. The fact that her advisor gave her little to no supervision, her thesis and dissertation committees actually lost her documents (her advisor called her the morning of defense asking if she could get another copy), and the fact that the clinical populations they deal with are very circumscribed in nature of psychopathology, left her very unhappy with the program. Also, the funding is very poor and students typically leave with >$90 K debt
     
  18. perfektspace

    perfektspace Member

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    I don't have any vested interest in defending USM but I'm not so sure some of this info is very accurate. While I did not interview as USM due to a conflict with another program, I took a long look at the program. I am fairly certain they offer the "typical" PhD funding package (tuition waiver, stipend) to their clinical students. Coupled with the uber-cheapness of living in Hattiesburg I don't see how >90K debt would happen.

    I don't doubt that clinical opportunities are limited given the rural location but that should be fairly obvious to any incoming student and was a reason I interviewed elsewhere.

    Not saying I'm right but info from those closer to the program would be great before people considering USM start freaking out.
     
  19. paramour

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    I tend to agree with perfektspace. I'm unsure how someone could end up with $90K+ in debt at USM. My mentor and his wife both graduated from there with very minimal debt and they bought a house while there. They received the typical funding package (tuition remission & stipend) that most of us do. If someone's leaving with that amount of debt, I have to assume something else is going on with that particular student. NOT that the program sucks because they're all incompetent nitwits who make life miserable all the way around for their students. Perhaps there are a few faculty who aren't on the ball with things and/or perhaps a few faculty made a mistake by losing some paperwork, but once again, both my mentor and his wife have no complaints with the supervision and still remain in contact with their mentor today. Soo, perhaps something happened horribly for this one student but that does not necessarily mean the entire program is a lost cause.

    Clinical opportunities may be a bit limited, of course, but that's why you do external pracs and/or internships in other areas to obtain the experience you need/want if it's not giving you access to everything you need.

    I, too, would encourage jagger to contact other students currently in the program for their experiences before writing them off based upon one student's lousy time there.

    G'luck! :luck:
     
  20. jagger

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    Your comments are so helpful. I may be biased, but I sense that graduate student who wasn't happy with USM was an exception. Maybe the graduate student was exaggerating or having a bad day. Also, there is tuition remission/ stipend so the 90K is questionable. I realize that the externship/ practicum opportunities are limited at USM, but there internship match stats are 100% over the last several years. So, there doing something right. I also know someone who graduated from there, and she is very successful and has great things to say about USM. I think that USM's program is better than Ole Miss's in almost every aspect, except maybe flexibility regarding research interests evolving.
     
  21. perfektspace

    perfektspace Member

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    Did they happen to have a 7 series BMW? :D
     
  22. paramour

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    :laugh: I thought about this later--wondered if the individual made an extremely large purchase (house, car, etc.) that would have obviously resulted in a huge amount of debt. Seems to be the thing for grad students to buy their own houses at this time. Maybe the silly twit thought she was going to have it paid off before she left the program? :rolleyes:
     
  23. jagger

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    Finally accepted today; I turned down Univ of Miss and Univ of Louisville. So two spots open!
     
  24. paramour

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    Congrats on the decision! Now you get to have the great joy of planning your impending relocation. :D
     
  25. psyd77

    psyd77 New Member

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    Congrats! I actually grew up in Hattiesburg (Petal to be exact), it is a unique city but you get used to it. Unfortunately, rent and real estate prices have sky rocketed since the hurricane but if you look, you can still find some decent places.

    Good Luck and Congrats again!!
     
  26. jagger

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    That's what I heard. So, what do you think rents are like? Also, do you know a great vet in the area? I have 3 dogs so a good vet will be important. Are there certain parts of the city that are better to live in? Which ones? Any other general advice about living in the area?
     
  27. psyd77

    psyd77 New Member

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    Sure, my family all still lives out there so I will ask around and PM you some info, especially a good vet.
     

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