Three years in heaven? Or your worst, never-ending nightmare?

During this academic year, I set myself the arduous task of applying to post-grad programmes in clinical psychology.  What I have learned, for starters, is that individuals silly enough to do something so difficult are asking for a vast task-load. The self-deprecating masochist in me certainly thinks I deserve it.  Whatever the case, the reality is that it’s an overwhelming struggle to apply to doctoral programmes, particularly in clinical psychology.  Clinical psychology programmes are extremely competitive both stateside and in the UK, which I now know because I’ve applied to both American and British programmes.  Researching various schools, editing my CV, acquiring recommendation letters, writing endless numbers of essays, and filling my personal information into roughly fourteen graduate-school applications – well, that gets a little costly, both in terms of energy and in terms of money.

Honestly, I had to jump through a lot of hoops during this process.  It got tiresome, of course it did; luckily, I have found it’s been worth the effort.  Perhaps I only say that because I’ve received good news along with the inevitable bad, but I also LOVE the idea of being a clinical psychologist, even though I’m dooming myself to 3-to-6 more years of school after I graduate.  I put a lot of thought into this decision, and I couldn’t be more excited about the choice.  But this decision, like any other, isn’t going to be right for everyone.

So is being a perpetual student right for you?  Assess the following:

-Do you like studying really, really hard?

-Does your preferred profession require postgraduate schooling?

-Can you afford postgraduate tuition, or can you apply for grants, scholarships, or financial aid?

-Do you want a fancy title to accompany your name (eg, PhD, PsyD, MD)?

-Are you willing and able to put in the time, effort, energy, and money required?

-Do you like the idea of escaping real life and possibly racking up a fair amount of debt in the process?

-Are you willing to travel all over should a school request that you interview?

-Are you willing to wait, stress, and panic for a while, until schools respond to your applications?

-And, most importantly, are you genuinely passionate about your area of study?

If you answered yes to the majority of these questions, then there is a point in being a perpetual student!  However, I sincerely recommend spending a lot of time truly thinking about what you want to do long-term.  If you aren’t sure yet, wait.  Take a year, work, consider your options, give yourself time to decide.  Jumping into something too quickly can be disastrous, especially when the process requires so much work on your part.  If you do decide postgraduate study is right for you, I wish you luck – and I’ll gladly lend an ear should you need commiseration.

Sarah Pinkerton