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happy and jealous the same time


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Right now, I feel happy, jealous and sad. My fiance, who will graduate with a master's degree in education when this semester is over, just got interview requests from a top university. I am so happy for her, but at the same time I am jealous as hell.

I applied for PhD programs in psychology after I got my undergraduate degree, and it was so difficult. Out of the 20 programs I applied, I only received offers from 3 (and one of them is a backup plan, so really, just 2).

Now after gaining some experience as a graduate student, I found out that under most circumstances, in PhD programs, unless there are no more good applicants with master's degree left, professors will seldom consider applicants fresh out of undergraduate, with good credentials or not.

Obviously, education and psychology are two different fields. There are usually a lot more people applying for psychology PhD programs than for education PhD (EdD) programs. But I just can't help it to compare my credentials to others, including my fiance.

For example, apart from her thesis, she got no significant research experience. no conference presentations, no publications, no research what-so-ever. I helped her in developing her measurements, in selecting and running statistical analysis, in writing goal statements, in designing CV........

Hopefully I can get over this annoying feeling soon. :(

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I think you should try to be happier for you fiancee. The admissions process is confusing and complicated. As you said yourself, applying out of UG and out of a Masters are two different things and Education and Psych are different fields. While I understand that it's frustrating that you had to work hard and reap little from your efforts, you need to understand you two are in different circumstances. I don't know any of the specifics, but I think Education programs tend to put more emphasis on experience and stuff rather than research. Plus, she hasn't been accepted yet, she just got interviews. Look, the bottom-line is, even though it was difficult, you did get accepted to a PhD program, and it sounds like she is well on her way to achieving the same thing. I think you need to push your bad feelings aside and be supportive of her and her accomplishments.

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yes I understand. Thank you for your advice... I feel really ashamed to feel the jealousy.

It is hard to get rid of the feeling of sadness though. We are already on a long-distance relationship. One of the schools she applied to is closer to my school, and I really hoped she would be accepted there. But now, if she receives an offer letter from the better school, I want her to go to the better school. The distance between us will increase further... :(

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Ouf, yeah that is hard. It's difficult to balance academia and family. If I get into both my schools, I'm going to have to choose between a better fit and a school that is much closer to my and my partner's families. I can sympathize. :(

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Like you alluded to earlier, the expectations for admissions are completely different for the two fields.

Psychology (both Experimental and Clinical) has been getting more and more saturated by prospective graduate applicants, and its created this upward pressure of research experience needed to gain admission somewhere. I got accepted into a top Psych-related PhD (CMU SDS/Psychology) with only a year out of school (and working as a consultant, not a research assistant/lab manager), but that was definitely not the norm among the people I met at the interview. The norm to get into a decent program is now 2-3+ years of post-bacc full-time research experience and/or a Masters with a fair amount of research competence reflected by your letters. As an undergrad, I presented a relatively large amount of different papers/posters and had a couple of R&Rs in three pretty different fields (social psychology, game theory, and behavioral medicine/epidemiology), and my letters were glowing because of it, which served as a strong enough signal to avoid having to get extra research experience. I have colleagues now, though, in my school's Psychology department who came in in their late 20s because they had to build up their CVs just to get looked at by top schools--when I ask professors who got their PhDs a decade ago, they are still in shock over the sharp increase in expectations during the relatively short time-span.

Point is, you chose to get into Psychology. Your fiancé chose to go into Education. Both are completely different fields and the profiles needed to appeal to top schools are completely different for both. If you got into Psychology because it's a passion of your's, you wouldn't be happy doing Education, even if at a better school. You're getting training for your career and your future--not anyone else's. There's always going to be disparities around you, so it's best to just focus on yourself and be happy with what's in front of you and not what falls into the lap of anyone else. Ultimately, you're in charge of your future, and even though academia isn't as much of a meritocracy as many of us hoped for, there is still ample opportunity to 'move up' between stages in your career, so work on doing that rather than ruminating over counterfactuals that can no longer be changed.

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Well, I wouldn't say that it's uncommon for people to get into a psychology program straight out of undergrad. Many PhD programs are combined MS/PhD programs. But it's still a difficult game. Applicants are expected to have more research experience during undergrad. Another big factor is luck (as in the timing of your application relative to openings that interest you). I really lucked out in that sense. My adviser happened to be looking for two grad students when I was applying.

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1. comparing yourself to other students is a great way to make yourself feel like shit. guess what, as awesome as you were in the small pond of your undergrad years, you will NEVER be the best in your field. you'll NEVER be the best in your department, either. that's not me being pessimistic, that's reality. and the faster you can stop comparing yourself, the happier you'll be in grad school. because it isn't about being THE best, it's about being YOUR best. for real. stop comparing.

2. definitely don't compare yourself to people you love. that's a good way to stop loving them. quit it.

3. education programs are a VERY different animal from PhD programs. the field of education has a very different reputation and is perceived (right or wrong) to have a very different level of rigor. i mean, if you gotta start comparing yourself, at least do it with someone in your field. but even then, quit it.

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Well, I wouldn't say that it's uncommon for people to get into a psychology program straight out of undergrad. Many PhD programs are combined MS/PhD programs. But it's still a difficult game. Applicants are expected to have more research experience during undergrad. Another big factor is luck (as in the timing of your application relative to openings that interest you). I really lucked out in that sense. My adviser happened to be looking for two grad students when I was applying.

Getting admission straight from undergrad, I'd argue, is a lot more common for programs that aren't considered 'elite' in the various sub-fields in Psychology. The CVs of graduates from top Social Psych programs are getting almost ridiculous (Stanford, Michigan, Ohio State, etc.) where newly-minted doctorates have near 10 publications/R&Rs because of the research they published/started before even gaining admission to the program.

Fair on unfair, it's almost scary what the expectations are to be anywhere near the top of the 'graduating class' on the job market now as compared to just a few years ago, and this effect is just being transferred to the PhD admissions process.

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I hope you can get over this feeling, too. You need to stop comparing yourself to others. And you need to stop taking away from another's accomplishments to make yourself feel/look better. Maybe as you continue to mature you can get past this feeling. I'm not trying to be hard on you, but I feel that people aren't honest with each other often enough. Good luck.

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I second StrangeLight's advice because I know how you feel. I once felt that way towards my SO's accomplishments (especially the part about helping him get into grad school and then get a job with my contacts), and guess what? He's not my SO anymore. That's not the primary reason we broke up, but I can tell you that those little seeds of jealousy can grow into uncontrollable feelings of resentment and anger. This happened when I was younger, so it was a maturing experience for me. But, yeah, comparing yourself to others in terms of anything is just going to be self-destructive.

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  • 1 month later...

Well, I wouldn't say that it's uncommon for people to get into a psychology program straight out of undergrad. Many PhD programs are combined MS/PhD programs. But it's still a difficult game. Applicants are expected to have more research experience during undergrad. Another big factor is luck (as in the timing of your application relative to openings that interest you). I really lucked out in that sense. My adviser happened to be looking for two grad students when I was applying.

"Another big factor is luck (as in the timing of your application relative to openings that interest you). I really lucked out in that sense. My adviser happened to be looking for two grad students when I was applying."

Brilliant. Yeah, I guess you really "lucked out" with that other "big factor" LMFAO...like luck had anything to do with it.

Now I see why you were so defensive of academic inbreeding in the other thread when you're an academic inbred lovechild yourself!

Listen up kids: you too can get in to grad school str8 out of UG if you get some "luck" going for yourself with an influential prof in your dept. BUT, it will be in the same dept. @the same school, so everyone from your labmates, classmates, other profs and everyone on the future SC's you apply to will think you finagled in through some shady backdoor...even if you didn't. But hey... nothing beats that "look at you" moment when you end up TA'ing your former UG classmates who are still in the UG program and trying to get into grad school.

Edited by snowballschanceonhell
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To the OP, I can understand this on multiple levels. I don't have an SO, but I get incredibly jealous and insecure when I think my friends in the department are better than me. It's terrible for all of us, and I need to fix it. Jealousy and comparison are very, very destructive to any relationship. You already recognize that, and you know you need to change. I don't have the answer for you not that one, but it is a problem worth working to fix.

Also, psych. Sigh. During my interview day at a highly ranked program, two of the professors commended me for making it this far in the application process as an undergrad. I was ultimately denied because I am a 21-year-old undergrad and they had master's students competing for the same spot. My POI was incredibly nice about it, expressed interest in my future, and even said she hopes I'll consider being her post-doc several years from now. My undergrad advisor is only 9 years older than me and she was amazed by how much more difficult admissions have become. I don't know what kind of psych you're going for, but if it's clinical, you can't take anything personally. Clinical psychology Ph.D. programs are now more competitive than med school.

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