As I mentioned yesterday, in August of 2012 I was in a position where my 9 month-long hunt for a job in research was becoming futile, and I could no longer stand my temporary job as a barista at Starbucks. So I made a choice: I would look for a better temporary-ish job and apply to graduate schools in psychology to begin in the fall of 2013.
I found a job at a local art studio-- a ceramics painting place. I also got a job (through the studio) as an art teacher for a pre-school's After-School Enrichment program, so I now guide 3 and 4 year olds in painting ceramics. I really like these jobs; my coworkers are such great people and I feel like I am learning a lot about teaching.
Now onto grad school. So. In August I purchased a book called Insider's Guide to Graduate Programs in Clinical and Counseling Psychology and started doing research on my options. The book only featured PhD and PsyD programs, and I had always thought I would pursue a doctoral degree so it was a good fit. I decided to pursue a PsyD instead of a PhD, because I wanted a more practice/clinically based program that would prepare me to be a practicing clinical psychologist instead of a research based program that would prepare me (mostly) for research. So I found nine programs and applied. It was a grueling process, and I basically had no support or assistance.
From the beginning of this process I seriously doubted my ability to get in to any school. Yes, I had the grades, and yes I had some "clinical experience," but I also had several W's on my uni transcript because of the medical leaves I have had to take. I thought for certain that a school would see my transcript and just throw my application away. So I started breaking down emotionally. One day I was very upset and I begged my mom, "Please tell me that you believe I can get into school. Please tell me that I can succeed." And, in true mom fashion, she would not indulge. (New readers: this is the kind of emotional withholding that happens in my family.) So because I was very unsure of my prospects, I also applied to two master's programs in counseling psychology for "safety."
So here are the stats: Things have turned out better than I had expected! So far, I have gotten five interview invitations from PsyD programs (I accepted four of them), and one invitation from a master's program. I have also received one rejection from a PsyD program, but they offered to allow me to apply to their master's program. The process is ongoing, so these stats may change.
This process has been an emotional rollercoaster; first I was feeling discouraged, then I felt a little bit better once I got some positive responses to my applications, then I felt crushed when I received my first rejection, I've felt stressed the whole time, I feel nervous and anxious about the interviews, and now I feel scared and confused. My original goal was to do a PsyD program, not a master's, but I'm not sure anymore. I went to one school's interview which involved a kind of orientation to the school, and they kept talking about how the program is five years long, then another year of postdoctoral work, then my salary will reach X dollars in ten years... and I almost started crying (but I saved it for the car ride home). Can I live five years? Several years ago I set my expiration date at 22 years old; I'm 24 now, can I really make it to 29? Do I want to make it to 29? So I've been thinking that maybe a master's (two years) is the way to go, but no one is giving me guidance. At uni my professors really pushed a doctorate because they all have doctorates. D is pushing a master's because he has a master's. No one is giving me unbiased information, so I made an appointment with uni's Career Services for next week so they can (hopefully) tell me the pros and cons of each type of degree.
Sorry this has been such a long post-- there's a lot to talk about (and there's more too, but I think this is enough for one night). Applying to graduate school is one of the hardest things I've done, and probably will be one of the most important. And it's taking its toll.