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Graduate school

Know Nothings And Status Envy

Know nothings, critics who don’t know what they are talking about.

English: A display of the academic regalia of ...

English: A display of the academic regalia of Harvard University. Top left: Harvard Law School professional doctorate; bottom left: Harvard Divinity School masters degree; right: Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Ph.D. degree (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Envy is the the price you have to pay for getting there when someone does not know the price you paid to get there.  As a female Ph.D., especially one from the 70’s,  I got “no respect”.  Automatically a man with a masters or less would assume that if a woman like me could do it then it wasn’t that hard to do.  Automatically they thought that if they went back to school to get their own Ph.D. or professional degree or advanced degree,  it would only take them a couple of years and it was not that big of a deal.  Women who worked under me and with me often thought I should do my own office work rather than depend on them to do it for me.  They did not expect a woman to be in charge.

I went straight through college and graduate school and it took me ten years of full time study and perseverence.  An “C” or even a “B” was not an acceptable grade and could get you “flunked out” of graduate school.  I took tough exams to get into graduate school and to get out of graduate school with my degree.  I had to qualify for scholarships all through my schooling and they were my sole source of support in graduate school.  They also accepted only so many applicants and I had to compete for one of those positions.

Lightner Witmer, the father of modern clinical...

Lightner Witmer, the father of modern clinical psychology. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Naturally I focused on doing well in college so that I would be considered and offered one of these positions.  I was aiming on going into one of the graduate degree programs that was well respected and offered only to people who whose professional goal was to get their doctor’s degree, not a masters.  People who left the program with “just” a masters were considered in other words to have flunked out. Elitist, yes but I wanted to enter a profession and to have the best credentials.  Also I wanted to be a clinical psychologist not an educational or counseling psychologist as positions in those graduate programs were often considered to be consolation prizes for those who couldn’t get picked for a position in a clinical psychology program or did not want to work as hard as they might have to in a tougher program like clinical psychology.  Worse yet, another “back door” into the field was through social work.

I am being a snob but only for the reason of making my point about how hard it was to get in a clinical psychology program and get a Ph.D. in my field.   Where I stand now on the question of what direction my professional life should take is different than it was then.  It was very competitive to have to do that.  I was very competitive.  I survived and after much experience in life and in my field.  I see things from a different perspective.  What other people think is not always the best barometer of who you are doing in life in your chosen field.  Self satisfaction and self knowledge can be a form of protection or shield against the thoughtless opinions of others.

Graduate School Blues

Graduate School Blues (Photo credit: ChiILLeica)

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Perseverance

 

Chinese proverb. It says, "Study till old...

Chinese proverb. It says, “Study till old, live till old, and there is still three-tenths studying left to do.” Meaning that no matter how old you are, there is still more studying left to do (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

perseverancePerseverance breeds possibilities. Possibilities make themselves visible when we are optimistic about doing something.  Self-confidence breeds success.  Developing solutions to problems can become our constant mod us operandi if we think positively.  Thinking something is hopeless blocks our thoughts and cripples our creativity.  Being judgmental, especially of one’s own self and one’s abilities, can be self-defeating.  Is the first thing you say to yourself when faced with a problem or decision, “I can’t.”  Stops you in your tracks doesn’t it and you immediately give up trying to do something about the problem.   Also at a certain point when you get older, you are often told that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.  Perseverance is the key and we now know the brain can and does make new connections as we learn something new no matter what our age.  This is called neuroplasticity.

Perseverance is also necessary when seeking help.  I have come to rely on others who I think know more than I do about somethings like computers and technological devices or who, I think, have more mechanical abilities and even those who I think are physically less challenged than I.  They’re taller and stronger.  Sometimes, however, I still must rely more on myself.  For example, when it comes to computers, I have done two things:  When I do rely on others for help, I review my problem areas and compose questions whose answers I hope will help me get the answers I need to do what I do.  That way I can help myself to some extent and better use the help I get.  Or I try to figure it out by myself with the aid of any material I can find which will explain what I need to have explained at my level.  Even though I feel at times that the time I have spent “trying” to do some things has been useless, I have found that I did acquire some basic knowledge that helps me to understand and use the information I do get if any from other sources.  Learning is a complex process and to achieve it you must persevere.

Sometimes people do not appear to have to persevere at something to master it. Somethings appear to come naturally to others without perseverance, but that is often so because they want you to think that when actually it took blood, sweat, and tears.

For example, after I had finished my graduate schooling, I had to take a comprehensive exam in my area of study in order to be licensed by the state.  This required perseverance.  It was very strictly regulated and offered infrequently in a distant city.  I remember my former boss told me that he had taken it and passed it without studying for it.  I studied anyway for several months as I had been out of school for a couple of years and needed to refresh my memory about important concepts and applicable research studies.  The exam was very difficult and I would not have passed it if I had not persevered and done all the studying I had.  I now think my former boss was setting me up to fail by saying what he did.  I doubt whether he had passed it without studying or that maybe even if he had passed it at all.

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Planning Your Education, Things I wish I had known

Graduate School of Education Diploma Ceremony

If you have an idea of a field that you would like to go into or are looking at graduate schools or post-graduate experiences, you should consider certain things.  Be sure as an undergraduate that the educational experiences offered in areas that you might want to major in are good ones.  Be sure that the school, if possible, is a good fit for you.  I got financial aid to go to a small private religious college that had a good academic reputation.  I was comfortable there because I had grown up in a rural area near a small town.  Of course the college was bigger than my high school; but it was not so big as to feel unfriendly.  As a christian school, it did not have a reputation as a party school and sororities while active did not isolate themselves in houses, but lived in the dorms with everybody else.  While no degrees were offered besides a bachelors, it had a very active psychology department which offered practical experiences.  Sometimes schools with graduate programs do not offer good experiences for undergraduates and the classes are often taught by graduate students.

Choosing a graduate school is very important, not only do you want one that has a good reputation in the field you will be studying, but also it should offer studies that will be meaningful to you and that you will like participating in.  In schools with a major professor system and/or offering research assistant positions to help you finance your education, you should investigate and see what kind of research is being done at that school and if you would be comfortable doing that type of research.  People often do their masters thesis in an area of research that their major professor is involved in.  It is not a good introduction to doing work in your field if you don’t like what you are doing or if you are not very talented at making new discoveries in that field of research.

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