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So, just wondering how you all deal with this as the holidays brought it up in droves for me! I'm the first person in my family to go a route that is even remotely academic. My siblings and I are first-generation college students, and only one of my four siblings has a bachelor's degree and is using it for her job. How do you explain the prospect of a PhD and general academia to those who are way outside of it? I'm currently in the application process, and it feels like everyone assumes I'm just a bookworm who doesn't want a 'real job.' I'm very aware that the confusion is out of a lack of understanding and not out of malice. Have any of you come up with ways to explain it that get the idea across without sounding too babbled or stuck up?
Okay, so I'm a first generation college student, trying really hard to wrap my head around grad school and my odds of being accepted. Background: I have a bachelor's degree in elementary education from a small, private liberal arts college. Graduated in 2014. Immediately after college, I joined Teach for America and spent two years in an inner-city school. After, I moved back to the western Chicago suburbs. I have since been teaching kindergarten at a not-for-profit child care center since June 2016. Here's the catch: I have decided I want to do research psychology. Psychology has always been a strong interest of mine, and my teaching experience has strengthened that. I am also a lover of science and research, but have no formal training in either. Limitations: Because of personal reasons, I must continue to live in the western Chicago suburbs. Because of financial reasons, I need a grad school where I can get an assistantship offering both a tuition waver and paid work. Because of financial limitations, I cannot take additional undergrad courses to beef up my prerequisites. I have zero college credit in statistics or research of any sort. My liberal arts college did not offer research opportunities. I only have one undergraduate psychology course, Child and Adolescent Development. Although I took two other courses that were technically in other departments, but the content was psychology. I took a class in Education called Theories of Learning, which was an educational psychology class, and a Natural Science class titled Mind and Matter, which was essentially a neuropsychology course. I've got a full-time 9-5 job that I am not willing to compromise until an assistantship can be attained. What I've got going for me: Teach for America Alum (that's supposed to be good on a resume, right?) 3.31 undergraduate GPA (something like 3.4 in the last 2 years) Excellent standardized test skills. I have not yet taken the GRE, but on my first practice round, I got 162 quantitative and 152 verbal. I imagine that with studying, I could raise that quite a bit. Trying to figure out by how much it needs raised. A five-course MOOC series specialization titled "Methods and Research in the Social Sciences" published by the University of Amsterdam. It is not for college credit and it is totally self-paced, but by the end of it I will have completed a little research project of my own, as well as be proficient in R. I have also used Khan Academy to teach myself statistics. Unfortunately, neither of these provide college credit. I don't know if there will be an opportunity to showcase my self-taught skills, or if it would even matter. Where I'm trying to get in: Northern Illinois University, Masters (to PhD) in either Developmental Psychology or Cognitive & Instructional Psychology Admissions requirements according to the Developmental Psychology Program Website: "For strongest consideration for admittance candidates typically: Should complete and send in your application by February 1. Early application is strongly encouraged. Have a B.A. or B.S. in psychology, although other related majors may be considered Have earned a strong undergraduate GPA; typically above 3.30 Have strong GRE scores; typically over 1000 (Verbal + Quantitative) Have strong letters of recommendation Have relevant research experience Note that the Department of Psychology admits only full-time students." University of Illinois at Chicago, (MA to PhD) in Cognitive Psychology According to the website: Admission Requirements The department accepts only applicants who wish to be candidates for the PhD. Applicants are not admitted as candidates for the MA as a terminal degree. In addition to the Graduate College minimum requirements, applicants must meet the following program requirements: Baccalaureate Field No restrictions. Prior academic work must include course work in psychology and statistics. It is preferred that students have laboratory course work in experimental psychology and physical and/or biological sciences. Grade Point Average At least 3.20/4.00 for the last 60 semester (90 quarter) hours of undergraduate work. Tests Required GRE General. GRE Subject Test in Psychology is recommended, but not required. While applicants may have had their official GRE scores mailed to UIC from ETS, the application requires an uploaded copy of the unofficial GRE score report from ETS. Letters of Recommendation Three required from those who are familiar with the applicant’s training and ability. Information concerning an applicant’s research experience and ability is especially pertinent. Personal Statement Required. This should include information about how the applicant has prepared for graduate school in Psychology, research experience and interests, what the applicant would like to do as a research psychologist, and who the applicant would like to work with as a faculty advisor. There is no minimum or maximum length for the personal statement. __________________________________________________________________________ So I guess my question is where do I go from here?
Hi All, I find myself paralyzed by the prospect of selecting a graduate program before even applying to a single program! Crazy, I know! Nevertheless, I'd greatly appreciate strategies, wisdom, or anecdotes from anyone who has considered planning for a masters and a doctorate. Thank you so much! Some context -- For the last couple years, I have planned to go for a MPH in environmental health, followed immediately by a PhD in medical anthropology. I decided on that order, hoping the MPH would buy my some time to explore other PhD tracks, and give me a stronger skillset and more refined research interests to bring to a PhD program. Haven't questioned that plan until now. I was just happy to have a plan. However, now that SOPHAS has opened up for MPH programs beginning in 2017, I am getting cold feet! I am questioning the "traditional" order I planned to pursue these degrees (i.e. MPH, then PhD) and struggle to prioritize the factors that are most important to me in either program: affordability (the specter that haunts us all), program quality (judged by the school's national rank + research productivity), and ability to specialize in my area of interest (judged by curriculum variety/flexibility + faculty's areas of research) I am confident that I can get into attractive, "top-ranked" MPH programs. However, I know rank isn't everything and that there are "smarter" (read "less expensive" and "quicker") ways to go about earning the degrees I want, even if that means choosing a less attractive MPH program. For example, perhaps applying to a MPH/PhD dual-degree program will make it easier to fund my MPH. I've read other forums on this site that recommended starting a PhD, earning candidacy, leaving to do the MPH, then returning to the PhD. Maybe I should go part-time for my masters and work for a few more years before going back for a doctorate--who knows! I tend to overthink large decisions and would be ready to admit that's at play here, but I am confident there are plenty of ways to pursue my goals with merits of their own that I have not considered before. I will say that mentors who know my interests have encouraged my to earn both degrees as soon as possible, and that feels right to me. So in the hopes of gaining more opinions--here we are! Thanks again, K.