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Anyone have any doubts about grad school before applying?


ohai

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I'll be applying this upcoming fall, but I just can't seem to shake this sinking feeling that maybe I'm not ready for grad school. I'm doing my senior honors thesis and so far all is going well, except I just can't seem to concentrate on writing my darn thesis (too much procrastinating? :wink: ) and I don't know if I want to do more of this for 5+ years. As a psych major I feel like I don't have a good enough grasp of stats like my peers (I'm in an advanced stats class), which bothers me a lot. I thought I wanted to go into academia or research but now I'm having major second thoughts - I've been considering going towards a degree that's geared towards counseling or assessment than research. Or even just moving back home and getting a job that pays.

Does/Did anyone else have these doubts before grad school? I feel like I'm so tired of school. Maybe it's just the mid-semester blues. :(

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Oh, absolutely! Senior year I had doubts about grad school- and I'm applying to masters programs which are two years or less... I felt like I couldn't do another year, that I was tired, and that I would burn out, even though i knew that I wanted, at the very least, a masters degree.

So I moved to France to teach English for a year. Turns out I loved it... Stayed for a second year, and now I will move back to the states for my masters degree two full years after I graduated from college. I am ready to go back to school. I'm really excited about being a student again. I was not ready to do this last year or the year before. I'm more focused now, and I know what I want to study. I know I've made the best decision for myself.

Consider taking a gap year... There are plenty of exciting opportunities in the world that are open to recent college grads.

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Hmm...I think you can probably tell if this is just a "I'm tired of school at the moment" (which is fine--just take the summer off or something) or more serious doubts about what you're getting yourself into.

If it's the latter, do not start your program next fall. See if you can take a year off and do something else. Grad school is a huge commitment and if it's not really what you want, you would do best to find out for sure sooner rather than later.

On the other hand, if it's just burnout...I wouldn't worry about the stats training; you will probably get a basic stats review in your program anyway. And if you're going into a research-focused clinical psych program, I've heard that it's pretty easy to switch gears to mostly practicing afterward, even though the degree is research-oriented...

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Oh hell yes. Being in college forever seemed totally awesome when I was in undergrad (and not because of drinking and partying, either -- I was a total goody-goody, I loved homework and class). For most of my sophomore and junior years of college, I was 100% convinced that I was gonna go get a PhD in linguistics or psych, study second language acquisition, and live happily ever after. Then, early senior year, I got burnt out hard. I quit my thesis (optional in my major), dropped my second major, and took only classes I wanted to take for the rest of the year. I started to get my stuff together to apply to grad schools, but found that I just didn't care anymore.

Now here I am, four years later (meant to go back after two, oops), applying in a different field (related, but much better for me), 100% sure I want to go back to school, and excited to go. I still had to think hard about what I really wanted, but my head was a lot clearer after I'd been out of school for a while.

One thing to know: grad school will always be there. There's no time limit from undergrad, and no age cap. If you're really unsure, it is much better to take a year or two off than to go and quit early, or go and hate every minute of it. And keep in mind, most college graduates have been going to school for 17 years in a row. 17 years is a long time to do anything. You are not weird for being sick of it and needing a break!

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I was in your position last year, and I am now super excited to be going back to school.

My suggestion: finish your thesis, trying finding a job for the year off while researching schools and programs, and if in september you are not looking forward to going back, don't apply.

For me, I was sick of my thesis and was ready to have a year off, but after spending 4+ months unemployed and another few months in at a soul-sucking job, I was dying to go back to school.

If you want to do counseling and not research, get a masters in counseling or a psychD. Talk to your current advisors. They are smart and have most likely been there.

Additionally, everyone in grad school has frequent doubts about whether it is worth it, if they can stay any longer, and feel like dropping out a few times. To think you will never have doubts is crazy. I got into some great programs and am excited about going, but every time I hear about some bullshit study that passes as "scholarship" or read some shitty paper that was published in a "top" journal, I cringe and wonder if I am going to hate it. Maybe that is just me.

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but every time I hear about some bullshit study that passes as "scholarship" or read some shitty paper that was published in a "top" journal, I cringe and wonder if I am going to hate it. Maybe that is just me.

Not at all. My first job out of college was at a bullshit factory disguised as a "research lab." It had me convinced that all academics were charlatans, and I hated myself for being part of the scam. But I got very lucky and was able to switch to my current job at a less prolific but much better quality lab. Good scholarship is out there... but sadly, you often do have to look for it.

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Do you know the kind of fatigue you feel after three or four days of poor sleep? It's still possible to function, laugh, eat and get on with things, but in the back of your mind you are exhausted. That's how I felt, all the time, in my senior year. No matter how much sleep I got, it was like a weight on my shoulders and a soreness in my bones. When I really recognized how burned out I was, taking time off was a non-issue. Here I had always thought I'd go strait to grad school and suddenly I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life!

I applied for working abroad, and it sounds like lauraeli and I have had very similar experiences. I spent two years flitted around southern Africa, re-gained my energy and motivation and will be starting grad school this fall. I feel about 1,000 times more mature and capable, and no longer think of my academic pursuits as most valued (and thus vulnerable) part of my personality. If you're feeling the same fatigue I was, then maybe you should give it a break (???).

A prof once told me, "if you don't go to grad school right away you may never come back", and he said it with this doomed voice, like I was actually contemplating walking back OUT of Heaven. Ha! If I never went back it would be because I DID NOT WANT TO GO BACK. Because it wasn't right for me and I found a better fit. Ditto above comments, grad school will always be there. Take care of yourself and your health and throw the "delayed gratification" argument out the window. It's crap. If you're constantly thinking that being miserable now will = happiness later than you'll never be happy. Graduate school is not right for everyone and there is no shame in that. Find a way to live a happy and fulfilled life and you will be more successful than most, regardless of the letters behind your last name.

Good luck and best wishes!

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On 3rd (out of 5) year of my undergraduate program I decided I'd go to Grad School, and put every effort on that. Sometimes I was taken by this feeling "I'm tired of school", but then I realized that being tired of a industry job would be not only predictable, but ultimately far more difficult do deal with. So I just kept it going, applied and now I'm going to my attend my top choice program.

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Don't worry about taking time off from school. It could be the best thing you ever do for yourself. I took one semester of college after high school and dropped out. I pursued a singing career for three years and then decided to go back to college. I am more focused than ever and I am getting really good grades. My situation might be different, but give yourself time to live your life outside of school. I learned a lot about myself and what I was capable of in those years that I wasn't going the traditional route. I don't believe anyone who says that if you "take time off you'll never go back." That is a bunch of bull. If you really love to learn, if it is something you are passionate about- you will be back. If you don't come back, then you have found a different path that likely suits you better. But I suppose some people don't always follow their hearts, or find they can't. But.. if you want to come back, you can and you will. (You may also find that your priorities change when you give yourself time to grow, and that is OK, too - We are supposed to change and grow in this life. Permit yourself some space to do so.)

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Thanks for all the replies. I didn't realize how stressed I was until recently. I've had shoulder aches and neckaches all semester, and just since last week I had terrible pains in my jaw and bad migraines, which I found is caused by my newly-found bruxism. My doc told me all of my problems are probably stress-related. Now I'm starting to wonder if I really need some major time off. I can't seem to concentrate on my classes anymore. :-(

So I've been asking around and looking at other options after graduation, and most grad students suggested that I take a research job in a big city or someplace. I'm more open to a 9-5 company job...I'm getting sort of sick of research! Of course, the job market these days isn't helping...:-(

Anyone else have some suggestions for a undergrad with a psych degree? (I really start to regret my major now, too. :-( )

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If you're having a hard time concentrating on classes and are sick of research, then you definitely need a break. We give you permission to take one :D

Get some help from the almighty internets* and your college's career center on how to write resumes and tailor cover letters, and then go apply for any job you want. Having a psychology degree doesn't mean you can only take jobs that have to do with psychology.

* One of my favorite job blogs is http://askamanager.blogspot.com/ -- it's a lot of very sane and current advice from someone not much older than we are (parents, relatives, and profs are all well-meaning, but they will have no concept of what the modern job market is like, particularly for people in their 20s and 30s).

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A prof once told me, "if you don't go to grad school right away you may never come back", and he said it with this doomed voice, like I was actually contemplating walking back OUT of Heaven. Ha! If I never went back it would be because I DID NOT WANT TO GO BACK. Because it wasn't right for me and I found a better fit.

This--what curious zygote said--is so true. Your prof was right--you may never come back. But if you end up not wanting to come back, then it's not exactly walking out of heaven, yeah?

I never had doubts, but I took time away from being in school, too--mostly for financial reasons. (I couldn't remotely afford applications when I had just graduated.) Turns out that all I did during that time--all I've been doing--is researching. I can't wait to go back.

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It's something I thought about a long time when I got my first grad degree (I have a MPH). I had no intention of going to school immediately, but after setting up a meeting with the dean of admissions immediately after following my graduation to discuss my future enrollment (in 2007), he said to get into school now and they'd get me setup with money.

Of course, I was ecstatic, especially since I'd get money to go to school (I ended up getting a RA which covered tuition). I never looked back. Now I'm on to another school for a PhD :)

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