Saturday, June 21, 2014

Graduate School and the Psychology Undergrad

Skip to the bottom if you're wanting just the Buzzfeedian numbered list.

If psychology is your major, you've heard the jokes from professors. "Go to grad school or don't plan to use your major." This joke is true for most of us. If you intend to work in a field where you use your psychology degree, graduate school is almost necessary.

As an aside, there is a small percentage that will be able to use their psychology degree to create an innovative business or leverage what they've learned about personalities to persuade someone into offering them a job they aren't quite qualified for. They are the exception and probably are not seeking advice from obscure blogs.

There is another group of psychology majors who genuinely enjoy the science and actively want to do research. For those, if you wish to be accepted into the psychology church, you have to pay your dues. And those dues are tuition fees, and the receipts, degrees.

The state of the economy is apparent. Tuition rates have increased many times the rate of inflation. College book prices demand piracy. Colleges have decreased admittance rates.

So, should you go to Graduate school?

Do you have a GPA over 3.5? Did you score in the 85th percentile or higher on your GRE? Do you have scholarships or financially helpful parents to carry the burden of tuition costs? Do you have solid Letters of Recommendations from well-standing professors? Have you found a specific field in psychology that you're interested in pursuing? Do you have research experience?

If yes, then yes. Apply. But if this is you... there is no chance you are reading this blog.

So for the three people who may read this, that this would apply to, I think a different answer suits you.

"Taking time off between undergraduate and graduate school to really learn about the field and the job prospects is a good way to go," [1]

"Before applying to grad school, weigh these numbers against your passion for a career as a psychologist: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of clinical psychologists is $68,640; for mental health counselors with a master's degree, it's $39,710. People who take assistant professor positions after getting a doctorate in psychology make, on average, a little more than $50,000, according to APA's Center for Workforce Studies. And the debt involved is not a pretty picture: Over three-quarters of people coming out of clinical or counseling doctorate programs are in debt, with an average of over $78,000. By contrast, only about half of those who go into research or teaching come out of grad school in debt, and the average there is around $46,700. "[1]

If you're set on going to Grad school, here are my 4 bits of advice on getting accepted.

1. Start Early

It is impossible, but if you possess Nostradamus-esque foresight, start preparing for graduate school in undergrad. Seek out research experience. Do all you can to be a part of published material. Beg to go to conferences. Find the teachers who would make for a good Recommender via letters.

2. GPA

Protect her. 3.5 or higher. Full stop.

3. Internship and Research Experience

Starting your Junior year, start looking for internships and possible research opportunities in your field. Almost 1 in 2 businesses have some kind of assistance program where they will help you pay for graduate school if they see it as a good investment, so keep this in mind when interning.

4. GRE

Start studying for this as early as you can manage. A poor score on this test and your chances of getting into a good graduate program is almost gone. There are apps, books, and websites a million that will help you study. I'll update this post as I come across outstanding examples.


Getting accepted in great. Debt is not. Here are 4 ways to minimize the financial damage.

1. Scholarships, Grants, Assistantships and Fellowships

These are those you don't have to pay back. They are the best. You're familiar with FASFA. Get back on there and update it with your potential graduate schools. Scourge the intertubes for scholarships. The Truman Scholarship Foundation is a competitive but great one. and are good resources to aid you in the hunt.

Fellowships are when you do some kind of work for the school, normally assistant teaching our research, where the school pays a portion or all of your tuition and gives you a living stipend. This is the holy grail. You may choke on the stress of the workload though. Good luck.

2. Tuition Reimbursement 

Your job may pay all or a portion of your graduate expenses. The Military is in need of Psychology majors. PTSD is a growing problem and the VA is, well, underperforming.

Be proactive. Demonstrate to your company that it would be a good investment on their part to fund your education. This, if successful, will probably lead to some kind of agreement where you continue to work for them for a number of years. There is no free lunch in America.

3. Tuition Waiver

If you've served in the Peace Core or the Military, some schools will waive all or a part of your tuition. Also, some schools do this on a first come, first serve basis. Its rare in this economy but everything helps.

4. Literally Hitler (Loans)

Do your homework. Interest rates aint nothig to fuck with. Go for federal subsidized loans over private loans. Loans should be a last resort.

A fun fact, Student Loan debt is over a Trilli in Ameri. God Bless the USA. [2]




[2] (Fuck slideshow just for ad rev)