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Everything posted by juilletmercredi

  1. I don't think you should limit yourself geographically or focus on a specific area. Especially since you have a specific area of research interest (as you should), the best schools for you might be elsewhere. For example, I think the University of Virginia has a great sociology and law program, IIRC. Do you have any sociology research experience, either from undergrad or from the ensuing years? Did you do any legal research in law school outside of taking classes?
  2. @Slappo - I think the advice that the person and not the proposal is what gets funded is apt - and yet, reviewers are still going to want to see evidence that you're able to execute the work that you propose. I remember in my proposal (long time ago - 2009 - but still) I spent two short paragraphs talking about the institution I attended and at which I planned to do the work and the researchers/PIs I was planning to do the work with and their qualifications for guiding me as I completed it. I deleted my ratings sheets a long time, and of course the link to log in and check them no longer works, (lol) but I do have an email thanking one of my PIs in which I mentioned that my raters specifically mentioned "the extent to which my project was related to [their] fields of research" as a positive factor in my application. If you look at recent successful proposals, people vary a lot in whether they do this at all and, if they do, how much space they spend on it. The bottom line is that you need to convince the reviewers that you are capable of carrying out this project (see Alex Lang's excellent advice!) and there are lots of different ways to do that. Not mentioning a specific mentor won't necessarily count against you if you can make clear in your proposal in other ways that you are capable of carrying out the project.
  3. That's not what I was doing and that's not what I said. I presented my identity as a PhD graduate from an underrepresented background as a means to say that although I am not a member of the OP's specific URM group, I do understand being concerned about a program being welcoming to a student from a diverse background. My intention was to reach out a friendly face - hey, I'm not in your group, but I'm a person of color who's been to graduate school and has tread some of the same road. I mentioned it to signal that I wasn't simply being dismissive of diversity issues in general or the importance of feeling accepted and not being ostracized in a program. Nowhere in my comment did I compare my background to theirs. I also didn't say or imply that El Salvadorans aren't discriminated against or face hatred or stereotyping. I don't disagree with his perception because I'm a black woman; I disagree with their perception because it doesn't cohere with my personal experiences and my interpretation of their comment...just like anyone else who would respond to them on this forum. I am not trying to separate their life history and their educational path. I realize that people of color and undocumented immigrants face significant challenges; the fact that OP completed a bachelor's degree and and works at a tech company and was able to publish and present some research is remarkable. Those accomplishments, especially in the face of an education system that is not built for them and sometimes actively opposes their efforts, should be celebrated! But what I was responding to was this: From my perspective, and in my experience, there are many doctoral programs that would take into account mitigating factors - an applicant's undocumented background, an applicant's later realization of their career goals, family difficulties, illness, early struggles, etc. - when deciding whether or not to admit them to a PhD program. Some of those may even be valued as experiences that make an applicant diverse and bring a different perspective to the department. But I still think that having no research experience would be a hard sell to even a department that greatly valued diversity, because at the end of the day a PhD is a research degree. The OP asked how they could best use their resources (time and money) and I provided some suggestions, most of which revolved around 1) getting more research experience, and 2) proving that they can succeed as a graduate student.
  4. I actually don't think that's the salient question here. I think the real questions are"What do you want to do with your life? When you think about what kind of career you want to have, what do you see yourself doing?" As Hk328 says - it's great that you've identified your scholarly interests, but at the end of the day, what kind of work do you want to do? Graduate study is a means to an end. You get a PhD because you want some kind of career doing research, scholarship, and/or teaching. Sure, hopefully you enjoy the journey somewhat, but it doesn't make very much sense these days to get a PhD just because without any sort of focus on the end result. Similarly, you'd get an MLIS because you want to be a librarian, or some other job that requires or benefits from an MLIS. In your post, you've talked a lot about what you want to study and your desire to get a graduate degree in general, but you've also mentioned that you don't like the duties that come along with the main career path that a doctoral degree in history prepares you for. Lots of people like books, but liking books alone isn't a good reason to become a librarian. I have a friend who is an academic librarian and has also worked at public libraries, and there's a lot of dealing with the public; librarians (especially academic ones) also teach classes and do private consultations with students and other people conducting research. Have you ever volunteered in a library or maybe done an informational interview with a librarian? As you say, you could probably get into an MLIS program, and probably even a PhD program. Your GRE scores are very high; you have research experience and good recommendations from past professors. The non-completion of the undergrad thesis doesn't have to be a blocking factor, if you have a good supplemental essay explaining the circumstances and perhaps a strong supporting letter from a professor familiar with your history. If you have a good polished early chapter from that thesis, that could be a good writing sample. Your employment history will be meaningless to graduate programs. But that's not the real question; you shouldn't attend a PhD program just because you can get in. Getting a master's is not "selling yourself short," particularly if a master's is the actual required degree for the job you want to do. In fact, it doesn't make sense to spend the time getting a PhD if the job/career that you want requires a master's and doesn't much care if you have a PhD. Also...I can't resist, but getting an MBA doesn't make you a sellout or a bootlicker. After getting a PhD in public health and doing HIV research with low-income populations, I currently work in private, for-profit corporate industry. It looks like the definition of Selling Out from the outside (and have been rudely asked by multiple people if I made the switch because of the money). But I do research on increasing the diversity and accessibility of our products and services - I want to help make our games and services accessible and fun for everyone, not the narrow group of people that we once served. There's a lot of good to be done in business and private industry, if one is interested in that sort of thing.
  5. As a PhD holder from an underrepresented background (I'm African American, queer, and a woman), I don't think this is so much an issue of diversity. When graduate programs talk about diversity of experiences, they are talking about about people who come from different backgrounds but not people who they may perceive as lacking the requisite experience to succeed in their PhD programs. Many programs would welcome an immigrant who came to research later in their academic career. I suspect that what most programs would have a problem with would not be those factors, but would instead be your lack of research experience and your lowish GPA. I don't know what your struggles were in college. But by your own admission, you don't have a borderline application because the 'academic system wasn't built for you'; you have one because you were focused on other goals when you were in college. That's perfectly okay - but when you switch gears that often means you have to spend a little more time building the background to be competitive for the new field you're interested in. Generally speaking, doctoral programs want students who have research experience because 1) it's one of the few ways to ensure that students know what they are getting themselves into and are at least reasonably sure that they enjoy research, thus perhaps being less likely to drop out of the program; and 2) students with experience are more useful in the lab as research assistants to principal investigators trying to churn out grants and papers. Without much formal research experience, you are less competitive for PhD programs, especially with a 3.25 undergraduate GPA (which is not bad or disqualifying in and of itself, but doesn't look great combined with the lack of research experience). That doesn't mean that you can never get a PhD, but it may mean that you have to spend a little more time before applying to competitive programs preparing - doing more research, perhaps presenting your results at more conferences (particularly the kind that academic faculty tend to attend), maybe getting an MA in statistics if you don't already have one, or taking some graduate classes as a non-degree student.
  6. I'm sure this depends on the field. In my fields (psychology and public health) the quality of an MS program is important, but the prestige or reputation of a program isn't necessarily in preparing students for applying for PhD programs. You'd want to attend a program that offered a good quality education and offered the kinds of classes and experiences that would prepare someone for a doctoral degree, versus a program that was primarily for professional preparation. But you wouldn't have to attend a prestigious MS program to go to a prestigious PhD program later. Plenty of people go from regional public universities for their master's to top programs for a PhD. I am not sure about CS. One thing to consider is how many people from that program have gotten outcomes that are appealing to you? For example, how many people from CSU-DH go to doctoral programs in CS, and where do they end up getting in? What kinds of jobs do they go onto? Ask your program's departmental secretary and/or career center for statistics like this, or ask your professors and advisors. They should at least have high-level answers to those questions.
  7. What field? It depends on the field. In my field - psychology - reaching out to potential advisors before applying is important for making students competitive but not strictly necessary.
  8. I got my PhD in a joint program in social psychology and public health. Not only will you not have time to work full-time during your doctoral program (at least the first 2-3 years), some programs also forbid or heavily discourage you from doing so. It's not just classes, although that is a major factor. At most social psychology PhD programs, you will be taking 2-3 classes a semester, and those classes are typically scheduled during normal business hours (between 8 am and 5 pm Monday through Friday), making it very difficult to work any full-time job with normal daytime hours. You will also likely be required to work as a teaching assistant even if you don't want to, and those classes are also M-F 8-5. (If you don't have funding from the department, you may not be required to TA, but some programs are considering this part of the education and not just a job for funding.) But in addition to the classes, you will also be required to do "20 hours" a week of research assisting a professor in your department. "20 hours" is kind of a myth, as I know few PhD students in the field who actually did only 20 hours a week - the real figure is probably somewhere around 30-60, depending on the student, their program, and their PI/advisor. Since a PhD is a research degree and you're there to gain training as a researcher, an RAship isn't really negotiable - even if you technically are not required to RA because you have no funding, if you have an advisor, you will probably be required to provide research assistance to gain research training in practice. And you want to be, because that's the only way you'll learn what you're there to learn. The research is far more important than the classes. Some research requires you to physically be in the lab, and even if you don't need to be there many PIs expect you to put in face time anyway. Some of that time may be spent supervising undergraduate RAs and attending lab meetings. Even once you complete your coursework, you don't have more time in your later years - you just have more unscheduled time. Depending on your program, years 3-4ish will be filled with completing your comprehensive/qualifying exams, for which you will need to study. Years 4-5ish will be filled with completing your dissertation, for which you need to conduct the research and actually write. And those are just the official requirements of the degree. That's not including the professionalization activities you need to complete, such as presenting at conferences and publishing papers, networking with faculty and researchers in your field, attending talks and brown bags and colloquia, etc. I don't think you working on your own would be more beneficial to you overall. If you intend to be a researcher with your PhD (which I assume you do, given that it's a research degree), the best work you can do is research work. This is true even if you want to go into industry. The only way that working outside of the department would be better for you is if a) the job you have "on your own" is a full-time research job supervised by doctoral degree-holding researchers, and b) they are offering you enough flexibility to take your classes and do the work you need to do in the department. While it is technically possible to work full-time during these years, studies show that students who do have often completed fewer of the kinds of activities they need to be competitive for jobs. My personal opinion is that you should not do an unfunded/self-funded PhD. Most good PhD programs in social psychology will offer to fully fund every student that they accept, and conversely will not accept an unfunded student who is paying their own way. There is thus no option to not "request" funding; mentioning that you are willing to attend without funding will not help you gain admission. But even if you found a middling PhD program that would allow you to do this, it is a bad idea, as it's unlikely to help you achieve your career goals.
  9. Graduate admissions committees don't care whether or not you've taken some classes outside of your major. Every professor knows that undergraduate curricula require you to take more than just the classes in your major. They don't expect you to be a robot with no interests outside of biology, either. As long as you have the background you actually need in biology, what other courses you decide to take are irrelevant. You don't have to 'provide reasoning' either. Just go ahead and take the history course, and enjoy it!
  10. Do you have any research experience? How well-reputed your universities are is almost irrelevant; students go to graduate school from all kinds of undergraduate institutions. What's more important is what you did there. You said that your studies weren't quant-heavy. Most economics PhD programs want to see students with a lot of quantitiative experience - 2-3 semesters of calculus, linear algebra, statistics and probability, maybe even differential equations and real analysis. (Berkeley's website has a list of recommendations for their students.) What does "not quant-heavy" mean for you? Have you taken any of these classes? If you don't have a relatively strong quantitative background and no research experience, your odds of getting accepted to economics PhD programs aren't very good. Why not take a few years to get some research experience and take the math courses you need to be competitive? Reaching out to professors in your departments of interest can only help you if you have the kind of profile they look for in graduate students. Lots of students send e-mails to professors ahead of submitting an application. Since they haven't worked with you yet, really the only thing they have to go on is your application packet.
  11. No, why would you give up? Although it's increasingly common for PhD students to have published in undergrad, it's by no means universal. In other words, you can get into a PhD program without having published a paper.
  12. My dissertation was conducted with primarily Black and Latino gay and bisexual men. I went to graduate school in New York, so I spent a lot of time 'in the field' recruiting. We posted flyers at gyms, coffee shops, gay bars, LGBTQ centers, university campuses, and the like. We had a booth at Pride where we signed people up; I visited gay bars with my research lab and passed out palm cards; when there were other parades or social events in the city we stood on street corners and passed out cards. We also posted ads in gay periodicals and on both general-interest websites and LGBTQ+ websites. So basically, we pounded the pavement! We also established connections with an LGBTQ+ center and clinic to recruit participants that way. The caveat, though, is that my dissertation was a sub-project/related project to the larger grant-funded project my PI was doing, so I had the infrastructure of the entire lab to rely on to get the recruitment done - since we were recruiting for the larger project all up and my dissertation was an analysis of a chunk of that data for a specific purpose. (I also wouldn't say that we had no connections with our desired samples, because I'm black and queer and so was a significant portion of my lab, including my PI. So we kind of knew where to go.) If you're doing organizational research, you may want to think about how your research findings could potentially benefit the organization and pitch it that way. Could you release the results and/or write up a summary for the organization after you're done? Could you provide recommendations or insights for them?
  13. 1) Not very common, in my experience. I do qualitative interviewing, and I wouldn't provide my participants with questions ahead of time - I'd be worried about them being too prepared with their responses and not capturing some of the natural/spontaneous reactions I'd be looking for in certain areas. Often you can give a brief, high-level summary of what they can expect to talk about. 2) My answer is colored by the fact that I work in industry, where often the answer is that sometimes you bend the rules of research as long as you understand the impact that will have on your outcomes and can temper your interpretation and recommendations on that basis. So I have done focus groups with 3-4 people before when I've had to, due to the difficulty of scheduling or recruiting participants. However, I wouldn't recommend it, particularly for an academic project (that you may hope to publish someday). Given my experience, I wouldn't recommend doing a focus group that was smaller than four people - at that point, you may as well just do individual interviews. Depending on the project, you may decide to do individual interviews AND a focus group. However, do be careful, because focus groups and individual interviews don't provide you with the same things. So consider your research question and what kind of tool it requires.
  14. ^I agree with the above post that an online MSW may not confer the 'pedigree' that you'd assume came with a Columbia program, and a local MSW in PA may be a better choice. That said, though, I think that your decision to live with your parents should be a personal one. Living with one's parents in one's early 30s is less stigmatized amongst our generation (millennials, as it were); most in our generation knows that the cost of living has risen faster than inflation. These days it's pretty common for young adults to live with their parents while attending graduate school (or saving up for a house). I went to Columbia for grad school and I knew a couple of grad students who lived with their parents in the New York area, and it was...just a living situation. *shrug*
  15. I will warn you that my answer is partially colored by my three years in non-academic research in industry, where not responding to emails within 24 hours is enough to make people concerned that you didn't receive the email or maybe you are sick or dead. Personally, I think more than a week without even replying (sure, I got your email, I am reading it over, expect to be done by X date) is too long, but a lot of academics don't confirm receipt - they only send you mail back when they have something to send you. Even in that case, though, a month is a reasonable period of time to expect someone to review a paper in or at least give you an update on where they are. It's definitely enough time for him to at least respond to you and let you know where he is in the process (even if the response is to say "sorry I haven't responded, I got your chapter, I just haven't gotten around to it yet.") Is this a paper for publication, or a paper you need his sign-off on (like a thesis or MA essay or something)? Or both? I'm not advocating that you do this, but one of the tactics I took for an advisor who wasn't super responsive to requests to review is that by my second or third follow-up (and after ample time - usually about 3-4 weeks) I let him know that if I didn't hear from him I was going to ahead and submit the paper. IF you need sign-off - does your advisor have an office? Does he have an office phone number? If he's not replying to your emails, I'd stop by his office and/or call him on the phone to politely inquire if he has seen your emails.
  16. It's a little bit of both. You should have a general area identified when you're applying, but many (most?) graduate students continue to refine and evolve their interests during graduate school - and beyond. You kind of have to, as the resources and opportunities at your disposal only become more clear after you've begun and have met your PI, seen what ongoing projects are happening in your area, learn more about the scientific conversation in your field, etc.
  17. Are you talking about the conference travel matching fund? https://gsas.columbia.edu/student-guide/professional-development/gsas-conference-matching-travel-fund In my experience (I went to Columbia for my PhD), travel funding is not difficult to get. Many departments essentially allow every student to get some funding at least once a year to travel to a conference, and the "application" is more or less a formality. I've never been rejected for travel funding; I had travel funding that supported pretty much every presentation I made from 2008 to 2014 (and in some years, I traveled twice). I will say your department is probably more fruitful than this matching fund, though. My department was willing to provide up to $500 per student, per year. And often, your advisor can also give you funds from their grants to travel to present work, particularly if the work was done in support of a research agenda they have grant funding for.
  18. Yes, if you want to use the chunks of time you have productively, you have to prepare. You can use the shorter chunks you have to prepare for the longer chunks. One thing I had to convince myself of was to just write. Sentences are just a collection of words; paragraphs are made up of sentences. Even if you have a 30 minute span of time, how much can you write? Even if you can only write one paragraph, that's one less paragraph you have to go to your goal. Persisting in writing even small amounts is so important - set aside some time to write almost every day, even if it's only a short period. Set yourself realistic goals. I used Scrivener to write my dissertation in pieces, and Scrivener does easy word counts at the bottom of each section. Give yourself a couple of diagnostic sections to see how much you can realistically write in X period of time (realizing that there's a difference between theoretical writing, like a literature review, and things like methods). Then assign yourself goals at the beginning of each session. So maybe your goal for a 30 minute session is about 100 words. Believe it or not...that's about one-third to a bit less than one-half a double-spaced page (Times New Roman, 12 pt-font, depends on the length of the words). I outlined my entire dissertation from the beginning...and broke the entire thing up into 2-3 page chunks. Once I did that, the task seemed FAR more surmountable. (I also picked that tip up from a book.) I worked backwards from when I wanted to be finished and assigned myself specific sections to be working on on specific weeks/days, with deadlines. I communicated this timeline to my advisor for some external accountability (he didn't give a fig when I finished, lol, but it felt more accountable to me). Of course, this timeline and outline shifted and changed over time, but it at least gave me a roadmap and an overarching goal. I also realized that some of the writing rituals I committed myself to were actually, in truth, procrastination techniques. Figure out what you absolutely have to do to get started writing - I mean, the bare minimum that you can go with. Try writing exercises in different areas, without ideal conditions. How do you do? See, you didn't die. Since you have to change workspaces often, one thing you may want to do is pack a bag with the bare essentials you need to write. Try to purchase or download books/articles electronically and enter them into a reference manager, so you can be as mobile as possible. I wrote a significant chunk of my dissertation at a coffee shop around the corner from my apartment, just for variety. (I wrote probably like less than 5% of it in the graduate student workspace.) One of the most valuable things I learned was from the book Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day, by Joan Bolker. (The title is not meant to be taken literally.) She talks about "parking on the downhill slope" - which means when you stop, make it easy for yourself to get going again. Set aside 5-10 minutes at the end of each writing session to write yourself some messy notes about what you're thinking right then, where you were planning to go with a thought, what article you need to read or reference, or whatever else is helpful to help yourself get going. That way, next time you sit down to write, you don't have to waste 20 minutes trying to remember what the hell you were writing about last time. When it comes to data analysis and processing - document, document, document! Comment all through those syntax files! Literally, every time you run an analysis, write a short comment about what you were doing with that line of code. If you use a GUI system (like SPSS) just start a notes file in a program like Evernote or OneNote and comment what you're doing. That's the way to "park on the downhill slope" with data analysis. That way, next time you start up you can just glance at your notes/comments and remember where you where and what you were doing. I also took the time (~5 min at the end of each analysis section) to write to myself about what I was planning to try/do next, so that when future me sat down I didn't waste time trying to figure out what the hell I was doing and what this code was for! Another tip I used a lot is to save editing/revising for dedicated editing/revising days/sessions. If you're a procrastinator or a perfectionist, the temptation might be strong to edit/revise as you write, or to start editing/revising at the beginning of your session. If you do that, you'll look up 2 hours later and realize you've not written anything new. I put a banner above my workspace that say "JUST WRITE" to remind me to stop constantly editing and to just write. Even if I felt like I was vomiting out nonsense, a lot of the time I was able to take that "trash" and edit/revise it to something better later, when I had dedicated editing time. (Honestly, I wrote a significant portion of my dissertation with a glass of wine nearby. The buzz from the wine helped inhibit my natural perfectionistic tendencies and I was able to write more. Now, I often had to do revisions in the mornings but at least I had some words on the paper!) Recommended books: How to Write a Lot by Paul Silva (someone else recommended it; it's awesome) Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day, by Joan Bolker (again, not meant to be taken literally, but there are lots of practical tips) Complete Your Dissertation or Thesis in Two Semesters or Less (their timelines are, IMO, unrealistic. But the tips and skills are useful) Destination Dissertation: A Traveler's Guide to a Done Dissertation, by Sonja K. Foss and William Waters (They have this recommended activity that involves slips of papers. I thought the method was stupid, but I basically did the activity electronically and that was decently helpful.) The Craft of Research, by Booth, Colomb, Williams, Bizup, & Fitzgerald. Now in its 4th edition. Excellent resource!
  19. I have a PhD from Columbia. It's not a "golden ticket." It can, indeed, open some doors for you, but that's less because of "the name" in and itself. Don't get me wrong - people are, occasionally, quite impressed by "the name" - but that alone is usually not enough to nab you a job (although it might get you an extra look or called in for an interview, fairly or unfairly). It's more because of the incredible resources that these very wealthy universities have. Columbia has excellent career services for graduate students, for example; you have to be proactive enough to take advantage of them, but they are there for you to use. Columbia has several career fairs every year; the big companies come recruiting here; it's easier to get a non-academic industry job, at say, a large investment bank or a top consulting firm from a university like this than it is from other places. The professors are often very well-connected both within academia and with researchers and policymakers in the public sector. For example, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is stacked with Columbia graduates, so people very often got internships there out of our school of public health. Lots of grads go onto work for national labs to do research afterwards, so there are alumni networks to draw on. Still, you have to work to take advantage of these connections - the initial spark may be your Columbia student/alumni status, but you have to foster and cultivate the connection. Of course, I have little to compare it to, because I haven't done the counterfactual (gone to a non-Ivy for graduate school). There are other elite universities that are not Ivies where people have similar career connections - Stanford and MIT being other private examples; Michigan and Berkeley being other public ones. So you don't have to go to an Ivy to have that kind of network.
  20. Uh, this isn't true. The umbrella term for R1s, R2s, and R3s is "doctoral universities." In order to be considered an R2 (or an R3), a university must have granted at least 20 research/scholarship doctoral degrees in the year the analysis is conducted. Not 20 different PhD programs, but just 20 PhDs. Still, since most doctoral cohorts are pretty small, a program with 20 degrees awarded in the last year probably has at least 2 and probably more like 3-5 doctoral programs at least. http://carnegieclassifications.iu.edu/classification_descriptions/basic.php R2s include the College of William and Mary, Brigham Young University, Florida A&M University, Howard University, Lehigh University, Mississippi State University, Nova Southeastern University, and several other universities that offer several doctoral programs. R3s include universities like Clark University, Georgia Southern, Idaho State, and Kennesaw State, all of which have several doctoral programs. However, I do agree that competitive/top PhD programs at R2s is less common; however, I think the reason is resources. Universities are grouped into R1, R2, and R3 based on the research expenditures that the university made in the last year; science and engineering research staff, and doctoral conferrals in each field - in other words, the amount of resources they have invested in research in general in the last update period. Necessarily, then, on average R1s are going to be more robust environments for research; since doctoral degrees are focused on research, and most rankings of doctoral programs focus on things that overlap a lot with the way the Carnegie Classification folks group their programs...it makes sense that highly-ranked doctoral programs would be mostly at R1s. That said, there's of course probably overlap in the margins.
  21. I took Japanese in college. I didn't find speaking and listening incredibly difficult. However, a huge caveat is that I've been watching Japanese-language programming and listening to Japanese music since I was a teenager. I did find Japanese reading and writing to be pretty difficult, especially once we got to kanji (and I didn't stay in that long afterwards, for various reasons). Japanese is a critical language, so there are several scholarships that you could get to support your language learning. The Boren Fellowships support overseas study to increase proficiency in certain critical languages (Japanese included; https://www.borenawards.org/fellowships/boren-fellowship-basics.). You could also apply for a Fulbright grant in Japan and add a language component to it (https://us.fulbrightonline.org/countries/selectedprogram/37). Adding some intensive study in an immersive environment can make it easier to pick up the language.
  22. I was interested in mental health and substance abuse research. I also absolutely did not want to get a PhD in clinical psychology. I decided to get one in social psychology and public health instead. Like you, I primarily wanted to contribute to research. There are lots of clinical psychologists that do that, though; there are even PhD programs that are specifically for clinical science (i.e., preparing researchers and academics primarily). But I also had a strong desire not to do any clinical work. I didn't want to even do practical hours. I definitely did not want to do mental health therapy or practice. I knew I wouldn't enjoy it; it would've made me unhappy. Some well-meaning people also told me that it was better to have more options after the PhD. I considered that. But quality of options is important (and IMO, more important than quantity). I did not want a career in private practice or any kind of clinical work, so to me it made no sense to give myself those options if they weren't options I'd be willing to take. There are lots of other things you can do with a PhD in another non-clinical subfield of psychology. I conducted research in mental health and substance abuse in my program. My school had clinicians - MDs and DOs, DDSs, and a few clinical psychology PhDs - and people with PhDs in non-clinical social and behavioral sciences. I never observed or experienced any differently in how 'seriously' I or any of the non-clinical faculty was taken by the clinicians at the clinics from which we sourced our research participants. (I'm not sure that they were even 100% aware of what our PhDs(-in-progress) were in.) Nor did I perceive any difference in how my non-clinical professors collaborated or researched with other professors. There is one exception: there are some kinds of studies in which the IRB will recommend or require that a clinician be involved (an MD in some cases; a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist in others). So sometimes, I suppose clinicians can come on as consultants on grants and perhaps get a lower authorship on certain papers through those kinds of selections. The catch, though, is that you're usually asked that because of your clinical skills and would be called on to offer expertise in that area...and if you dislike clinical work, then maybe you wouldn't want that.
  23. I agree that your rumination over the last couple of months points to a potential mental health issue. It's possible that not the specific decision you made - but, rather, the transition to graduate school - is what's driving your depressive symptoms and unhealthy behaviors. Or whatever the reason is that your location near B changed - that could also be contributing here. To understand that, consider the whole picture - and I agree that you should talk to a doctor or mental health professional. With that said: The YOLO approach is not a bad one, if you are pretty confident that you will be very unhappy at Program B. You are right that not starting there is probably better than starting knowing that the program isn't a good fit - not only for the program, but for you. However, I think the best you could hope for, should you choose this option, is applying again for A this fall to begin in Fall 2019. Usually, when you decline a program, they move down their list of candidates to fill your slot. At this point in the year, they may not have funding or a slot for you. I suppose it couldn't hurt to ask, but I think you should expect to be told to reapply for Fall 2019. (As for jobs, though - if you are pursuing academic jobs, nobody is going to care about an extra gap year before the PhD.) I don't advocate for the Honest approach. This is basically the YOLO approach, but with the addition of telling Program B that you're meh about the program. What would that gain you? At B, you run the risk of alienating the entire department before you even begin. Total and complete honesty isn't a moral imperative. It's OK to hold back information that won't help anyone. The third approach is not evil by any stretch. It's pragmatic, and it is actually what I think you should do. It is totally fine to begin a program having some trepidation about it - a lot of people get nervous jitters in the summer before graduate school. I mean, if you knew 100% it was not the right program for you - you shouldn't start it. But this sounds more like uncertainty than a solid knowledge. So it's not bad to to begin it, try it, and see if it could work for you. Dropping out of a PhD program isn't a bad thing IF you can make it clear that you left because the program wasn't a good fit for you. Usually, you can do that by writing a great statement of purpose and having your former advisor or another professor at your former PhD program write you a recommendation, vouching for you.
  24. What Sigaba said. Also, I think it depends on how far along you are. You said you're in the middle. If you're like in year 3-4 or above - like, if you've finished your coursework and are preparing for qualifying exams - I'd definitely stay put. Pretty much any other PhD program would require you to redo most of your coursework. I'd focus more on finding ways to boost your prestige post-graduate school, like doing a postdoc at a well-known place under a well-known advisor.
  25. Hey there! I did my PhD in psychology at Columbia. Oof, you've probably already made your decision and are off to start! But for posterity, I would recommend the post-bacc program at GSAS, rather than the MA in clinical psychology. Both offer good options. I'm pretty familiar with the post-bacc program, and those students tend to be very successful in getting into PhD programs after they complete the post-bacc. The post-bacc program is also associated with Columbia's well-reputed GSAS department of psychology (the one at TC is completely separate). The MA students in clinical psychology that I know of who got into PhD programs almost always went to TC's PhD in clinical psychology. Also, if you are in GSAS, you can easily take any classes that interest you at TC. I'm not sure how easy it is to do that in reverse.
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