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Does everyone have set back-up plans?


  

54 members have voted

  1. 1. What is your back-up plan, if you don't get accepted with this round of applications?

    • Seek a paid RA/lab manager position
      23
    • Seek a volunteer RA position
      2
    • Terminal masters
      5
    • Other job in the field
      8
    • Job outside of the field
      5
    • Haven't considered it
      9
    • Other
      2


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I have submitted all of my applications to competitive PhD programs, and as someone who can't help but obsessively plan for the future, I've been thinking a lot about my back-up plan. If you didn't get accepted, would you definitely reapply next year/in the future? What would you do to improve upon your application? How would you fill your time/pay the bills in the mean time? Or would you pursue something other than grad school entirely?

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I just realized I did not answer the question. I spoke to my advisor, and he said if he thinks I can get in a Ph.D. program next year, he would just want me to hang out, find work, and continue conducting research. Otherwise, I will certainly consider terminal masters program.

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I couldn't really answer your poll because my answer is a mix of the options!

My 2-year back-up plan, developed in one night last week:

- continue on in my lab part-time as a volunteer to continue getting papers with my mentor, if he'll have me :-)

- find an RA/RC position for 2 years that is in my field with the potential to get papers as well as more clinical experience for my CV

- if the RA/RC position I find has no clinical experience, then I plan to get more in some volunteer capacity (telephone hotline, co-leading groups for studies in the area, etc.)

- teach Psych/stats courses at a local community college (I'm graduating with my M.S.) and/or get a second master's over the 2 years (at night) at a local university in applied statistics

I feel like that will put me in a great position if I don't get in anywhere this year... if I don't get in after all that then who knows what my plan will be???

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I'm in the same boat! I actually graduated in August so this is my "gap" year or whatever. I've been TAing a class in the psych dept, working in two labs, working in a restaurant. I definitely would keep doing this next year, but am considering an unrelated masters program (middlebury russian program). I think this would help me in psych in the future because I am interested in both emotion and culture...it's really the price that holds me back. I tried applying to paid lab manager positions last year but pretty much didn't even get responses (they weren't really in my field) so not sure if I care enough to do that again or just stick around and do more reseach in my current labs.

I feel like taking time off and doing other things, even if it is just volunteering in labs and working an unrelated job, is acturally a really nice experience. I love school, but it's been nice to not be in school and still do academic things for a little while.

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My roommate plans on applying to the Middlebury Russian program after she graduates. Kudos to you for being prepared both for psych PhD programs and the Middlebury program. I can't imagine combining all the work I put in and all the work she puts in to be prepared for both! That's really cool though.

I imagine I would go the same route as many of you. I will apply to a few masters programs if i don't hear about interviews by the end of january, but I couldn't go if it wasn't fully funded, and I know those are rare. My adviser said there is no need to get a masters unless your gpa is very weak, but it seems to me like it would be a good way to get research and teaching experience.

If that doesn't work, I suppose I would apply to work in labs (paid or volunteer), but I don't think I can get much more out of the labs I work in now. I just dread the idea of working in a restaurant or something for the next two years. Ive been working jobs like this pretty close to full-time since I was 16 and I am just so excited to be done. It just feels like there should be something (paid) I could do with my degree that would also better prepare me for graduate school. I hope this doesn't just sound like whining. The idea of it just makes me want to let out the most gigantic sigh.

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ahahh. Oh man I FEEL YOU. I was soooo relieved to get the TA position and only have to work in a restaurant 1-2 days a week because I also CAN'T WAIT TO BE DONE WITH CUSTOMER SERVICE FOREVER. I too have been working jobs like that since I was 16 non-stop...so yeah, definitely not whining I totally understand...

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And thanks! I am way less prepared for the Russian thing now that I'm out of school though, haven't had the best change to keep up with it. Thinking of trying to audit a class next semester to get back on top of things :)

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The idea of it just makes me want to let out the most gigantic sigh.

Yup, this. I've considered back-up plans, but I don't have one. I applied to a couple of programs that are drastically less competitive than the others, with acceptance rates around 20%, but that I would still be happy to attend. If I don't get in to at least one of those, I honestly don't know what I'll do. Right now I can't imagine reapplying or giving up on my dream and going down some other path. I'm considering applying to masters programs as well, but I could really only attend if funded, and funded masters programs are more competitive than some PhD programs right now...

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Lab Manager positions and paid RA positions are getting fairly scarce. Many smaller labs are just using volunteer RA's. I actually had to interview for a volunteer RA position at Stanford last year.

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Lab Manager positions and paid RA positions are getting fairly scarce. Many smaller labs are just using volunteer RA's. I actually had to interview for a volunteer RA position at Stanford last year.

Yeah Lab Manager positions are super scarce...One of them I applied to last year sent me an email that said something along the lines of "we had 200-some applications and many of the applicants had multiple publications and had PhDs...you had no chance sorry" hahah.

Although I have to say I think it's pretty normal to interview for volunteer RA positions - I had to for both of the lab positions I have.

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I got similar responses from RA positions last year as well. I think besides just being an outstanding stellar cream of the crop applicant, connections are everything. I know that's how a lot of people got their RA/Lab Manager positions. So ask your professors if they know of any positions or just make word known that you're looking for something, so that when one of your connections do get word, they may be able to connect you two. Look into private research firms as well. They are not as abundant, but have paid positions available. Doing any kind of research work is good, especially if it's paid work. So that may mean working as a statistics analyst, project coordinator (in fields other than psych) or a skills trainer (great for clinical experience and it also usually involves data tracking/collecting). Volunteer positions are great also, but you will have to balance that with a job (assuming you need the income). But it still looks just as good on your CV, especially if you work with a helpful PI who allows you to take on some greater responsibilities.

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I have TA positions secured in a course or two, (intro psych) and stats, so that shouldn't be a problem (money).

I'd probably just volunteer in some other labs around my undergrad, since there are few paid positions available (though I'd seek them out if possible). I'm just worried that relevant research experience is going to hold me back, but there really isn't anyone conducting relevant research at my undergrad. If it comes to this, I might have to get creative...

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I also want to add to the pool saying that lab manager jobs are VERY hard to get. I applied last year and got many interviews but ended up not getting the jobs because they went to people slightly more qualified or who had a better fit, etc, etc, etc. It was really similar to not getting into grad school, actually.

As far as back-up plans for me, after I get past the "I WANT TO GIVE UP ON SCHOOL FOREVER!!!!!" stage, my options are these, in order of likelihood: keep my current lab manager job for another year and apply yet again, take biology classes in the summer and apply for a marine science masters program in the fall, or quit everything and go to culinary school.

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If i don't get in, I'll be leaving my full-time RA job for who knows what. I actually want to look into the business side of psychology. I'm tired of being everyon's b**ch as the RA and doing wayyy too many things. My job description includes multiple bullet points, everything from managing undergrads to preparing manuscripts (which yes, includes writing) to data analysis, to sending out emails. Is this normal...? All for an income that would actually qualify me for section 8 housing. I know compared to someone who can't find a volunteer position, I'm complaining way too much.

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My job description includes multiple bullet points, everything from managing undergrads to preparing manuscripts (which yes, includes writing) to data analysis, to sending out emails. Is this normal...? All for an income that would actually qualify me for section 8 housing.

From my experience, yes, this is normal. My job includes managing undergrads and grad students, manuscripts, data entry, cleaning and analysis, recruiting, advertising, and graphic design (which I suck at), among other things. And I am making less than I was on a masters student stipend.

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From my experience, yes, this is normal. My job includes managing undergrads and grad students, manuscripts, data entry, cleaning and analysis, recruiting, advertising, and graphic design (which I suck at), among other things. And I am making less than I was on a masters student stipend.

Exactly the reason why I'd rather not be an RA if I can find something else in the business sector. Try something new.

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If i don't get in, I'll be leaving my full-time RA job for who knows what. I actually want to look into the business side of psychology. I'm tired of being everyon's b**ch as the RA and doing wayyy too many things. My job description includes multiple bullet points, everything from managing undergrads to preparing manuscripts (which yes, includes writing) to data analysis, to sending out emails. Is this normal...? All for an income that would actually qualify me for section 8 housing. I know compared to someone who can't find a volunteer position, I'm complaining way too much.

Very normal! You are paying your dues :-). At least, I think that's how the system is supposed to work.

Although, cherubie, if you are leaning towards academia as a career path, it's probably due to certain priorities and personality traits you have. The business sector can be a painful surprise. I worked in business for a few years and it had me running back to academia incredibly fast. Yeah you get paid a lot and there are a lot of "perks", but there are a LOT of downsides that someone who enjoys academia would be driven crazy by. Just a thought :-)

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I have TA positions secured in a course or two, (intro psych) and stats, so that shouldn't be a problem (money).

I'd probably just volunteer in some other labs around my undergrad, since there are few paid positions available (though I'd seek them out if possible). I'm just worried that relevant research experience is going to hold me back, but there really isn't anyone conducting relevant research at my undergrad. If it comes to this, I might have to get creative...

I see you're applying to Stanford for cognitive. What are your interests and who would you like to work with?

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If I don't get in, I'll continue working full-time as a study coordinator. I have a few publications in preparation and will probably have more by the time next year comes around. I really hope I don't have to go through the process more than twice!! (However, only going through it once would be fantastic! We'll see...)

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I have some mixed feelings on this one. As someone said above - the thought of it is just sigh inducing. My fiance has been jonesing to move out of the area that we're in now, which means if we move and it isn't school-directed... I'll probably end up in an area with no university connections/not knowing anyone there. Luckily, I have career experience in a decent paying field, though it's not anything I want to do for the rest of my life. That said? If I don't get in anywhere, I'll apply again next year with masters backup, and that will be make or break. I'm not sure if I could handle a three years of heartbreak!

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If I don't get in, I'll continue working full-time as a study coordinator. I have a few publications in preparation and will probably have more by the time next year comes around. I really hope I don't have to go through the process more than twice!! (However, only going through it once would be fantastic! We'll see...)

It seems you only applied to 3 schools? I thought I was undershooting at 8 schools.

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It seems you only applied to 3 schools? I thought I was undershooting at 8 schools.

I only applied to three schools as well. I know where I want to be, I know the programs that are a perfect match for my interests, and I won't settle until I get in. For me, it wasn't about 'casting a net' and hoping to get in somewhere. Plus, $100 application fee per school is a lot to stomach for schools that aren't an absolute perfect match.

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I only applied to three schools as well. I know where I want to be, I know the programs that are a perfect match for my interests, and I won't settle until I get in. For me, it wasn't about 'casting a net' and hoping to get in somewhere. Plus, $100 application fee per school is a lot to stomach for schools that aren't an absolute perfect match.

Since typing doesn't include any intonation or other nonlinguistic aspects of speech, but I wasn't trying to insinuate anything. If you know where you want to go, even better.

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Since typing doesn't include any intonation or other nonlinguistic aspects of speech, but I wasn't trying to insinuate anything. If you know where you want to go, even better.

I didn't assume you were being snarky, or insinuating anything, just providing rationale for applying to a select few schools :)

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