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I'm starting a PhD program this fall in clinical psychology, and found out that my advisor will have a total of 4 incoming students (including myself). This was not originally intended. But due to only 2 faculty members taking students, the greater ratio of students applying to my advisor's lab vs. the other faculty member, and needing a cohort of 5 to function, my advisor ended up taking on 4. I stand out amongst the other 3, as I have more academic-related career goals whereas they have more clinical-oriented career goals. So I know I have something to stand out with, but I'm curious how I should prepare for this scenario. I'm very aware of how busy my advisor will be, but I also am aware that this may have an impact on my relationship with said advisor. 

Has anyone been in a scenario like this before? Or just have any words of wisdom for this scenario? 

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22 hours ago, Psych_Law said:

I'm starting a PhD program this fall in clinical psychology.......I stand out amongst the other 3, as I have more academic-related career goals whereas they have more clinical-oriented career goals. So I know I have something to stand out with, but I'm curious how I should prepare for this scenario. I'm very aware of how busy my advisor will be, but I also am aware that this may have an impact on my relationship with said advisor. 

I don't quite understand your question, so I thought I should ask.

Are you:

1) Worried that because the other 3 have "more clinical-oriented career goals" that your advisor might favour them over yourself? (You mentioned "...may have an impact on my relationship with said advisor.")

2) Are you worried that because there are more students than you thought, you won't shine as much and will have more competition? (".....I stand out amongst the other 3, as I have more academic-related career goals whereas they have more clinical-oriented career goals. So I know I have something to stand out with...")

3) A combination of both?

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  • 1 month later...
On 4/19/2018 at 6:58 PM, Psych_Law said:

Or just have any words of wisdom for this scenario? 

Don't make the situation weird by treating your lab-mates/group-mates as competitors. In your post, you have already started comparing yourself to your colleagues. An important thing to learn in grad school for mental health is to stop comparing yourself to others.

You are all in this together, you are all working together, and this is not an "us vs them" thing. In addition, I got the sense from your post that you were "supposed" to be their student and that these other students will "take" time away from you and your advisor. Maybe this is not what you intended, but if it was, it would be wise to avoid this type of unhealthy and arrogant thinking.

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I think it is also important to point out two things: 1)  Neither path is "better" than the other, so it is just fine for some students to prefer the clinical route while others prefer the academic route and 2)  The goals that you and your classmates have now could change and that is ok to.  As others have said it is not a competition.  Your advisor would be busy regardless of how many students were being taken so you'll have to maximize the time you do have with them.    Your advisor's challenge will be making sure each of you is supported based upon your varying needs all while making sure each of you meets the programs standards and finishes on time.

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