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Kind of crushed.

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
This is partially just a vent, because I am really kind of crushed right now, so I apologise for that, but I also want to get opinions/adive if possible, so it's not totally just a bunch of whining, if that makes it any better.

I'm going into my third year of a B.A. Hons. degree in psychology. My plan since I entered this programme in first year has been to go to grad school, get a Ph.D and practice clinical psychology - I love academia and research and writing papers and student life, blah, blah (yes, I'm a huge nerd) so I have been really psyched (no pun intended ) about this career path, as I'd be in school until, oh, 30 or so, and then a career in psychology in private practice would really suit my personality, I think. I really, really had my heart set on this.

Well, come to find out, my plans are not so realistic. I had a meeting with my advisor yesterday to discuss course selection for the upcoming year, and she basically told me that my grades are not good enough, so I had better start making alternate plans for after grad. I don't have *bad* grades my any means - I have lots of B+s, some Bs, some As, but apparently I need to get all As and A+s in the next two years in order to have even a remote shot at grad school acceptance (and even then my chances will not be great because I have B+s and Bs from my second year). I honestly don't think it's possible for to get ALL As and A+s in everything for the next two years - for financial reasons I HAVE to work 15-20 hours a week, which takes up a lot of time, and honestly I am just not a genius like that - I consider myself fairly intelligent, but B+s and some As are my general standards when doing my best, again considering that I also need to devote a certain amount of time to work (if I could quit my job, I could probably manage all As, but the bottom line is that I can't). And even if I do get all As, it's still not a given or even likely - apparently each school take approx. 25-40 new students each year, out of roughly 500 (or more) applicants!

Also, we discussed the career path in general, and frankly, it's pretty terrifying - even assuming I do pull all As and get lucky and they overlook my Bs from last year and I get into grad school, I would then need to spend years on a thesis that COULD be rejected, compete for internship positions in order to ever be able to practice (also incredibly competive, apparently), and then after finishing, compete for very, very few positions either within the university or with a practice - apparently it's not unlikely to complete your Ph.D only to be unable to find employment as a prof. or practitioner! There are just SO many places along the line where rejection (and thus not being employed in the field) is a huge possibility, and honestly the thought of having to compete, compete, compete for the next ten years (in a lot of cases with rich kids who have gone to private school since the age of two, with expensive tutors for everything and who don't have to work and who have parents/family already in the field/university) before finally being reasonably certain of success in the field makes me feel like having a nervous breakdown. I just don't think I'm cut out for the level of comeptition involved with this - it's not that I expect it to be easy, or that I want it to just be handed to me, either, mind you, but there's a difference between challenging but a reasonably sure thing with hard work, and possibly out of reach even with hard work, you know? I just keep thinking about spending years and years doing all the competing, spending all that money, running up student loans only to be unable to find work in the field because there is too much competition for too many positions. So I'm honestly feeling like, even if I could get in at this point, I don't think it's right for me.

Which has me really crushed. First of all, I am so disappointed that now I will have to go out into the workforce in two years' time - I don't like the competition, but as I said, I do love the actual academia, and I was so looking forward to being a 'professional student'. Also, I just feel awful about myself realising that I'm just not good enough to effectively compete and get into grad school. I feel so stupid and sub-par, and I've never really felt that way about myself before (I was considered one of the 'smart kids' all through elementary and high school, so this is new) and it's awful - I hate realising that I'm not good enough. I'm also terrified because now I have no clue what I want to do with my life. With just my B.A., my career options are so disappointing - I could either take one of the many jobs unrelated to my field that just requires *any* B.A. - which I do NOT want to do, just the thought makes me want to cry - or else within the field my only option really is a research assistant - and that is so hard to swallow for me, that that's what I'll amount to, a research assistant (I'm sorry, that probably sounds horribly snobby, I don't mean to be that way at all, just I always felt so sure I'd get an advanced degree). I guess alternately I could enter a different grad programme that's less competitive, but I have no clue what my options are there or if that's even possible. I am just so, so sad - I have been crying on and off day and night since I found this out - I just feel like my dreams have been crushed, and I also feel totally pathetic because I've always been told that you can achieve any dream if you try hard enough and blah, blah but, so either I'm just not trying hard enough and am giving up my dream too easily and will end up growing old in a dead end job, embittered (which is a horrible thought) or that is crap (not a pleasant thought either).

I just don't know what to do with my life now. I feel so depressed and just heartbroken that I am now probably going to end up spending my entire life doing a job I don't like - naive, probably, but I just never pictured my life turning out that way. I guess if anyone has any advice (has anyone else gotten just a B.A. in psych? What career did you have now? Do you like it? Or otherwise, does anyone have advice about what careers are possible with a B.A. in psych in general [particularly I'd be interested in anything to do with animals]?) or anything at all, I would hugely appreciate it. Sorry this got really, really long, if anyone even manages to get through it, you're amaziing - thank you for letting me vent, and in advance if anyone has any advice at all.
post #2 of 19
You have the same grades I did! And the same grades a friend of mine had as an undergrad. She had a 3.0- basically the B average. She got into grad school at my undergraduate college- which is a state school- but she got in and she loves it. She's getting her MA in clinical psych and plans on getting her Ph.d after she finishes. All hope isn't lost. Psychology is certainly one of the hardest fields to get into- but it can be done. Maybe try putting more emphasis on volunteer work or some sort research assistant position- try doing someone that focuses on human services. The volunteer work might just give you the extra boost that you need.

I got into an MA program, but seminary isn't as hard to get into if they feel you should be there

Start looking at programs in counselling that are based in education programs- community mental health and addictions counselling programs are usually located within education departments. Social work is another great degree- easier to get into because it relies less on heavy science. With your background in psych. it shouldn't be too hard to get into an MSW program. As an MSW you can be licensed as a clinical social worker, marriage and family therapist, licensed professional counselor, licensed trauma therapist, etc etc. just as you can with a Ph.D in psych. There are also DSW programs- where you can get a doctorate.

If counselling is truly what you want to do, there are avenues other than psychology- you just won't make as much money and it doesn't quite have the clout. But you'd be able to do what you want to do.
post #3 of 19
Since you are in Toronto, you probably aren't too far from Michigan. The University of Michigan has one of the best social work programs in the world (the top in the US). Check out their website and maybe that can give you some insite into the field of mental health social work.

http://www.ssw.umich.edu/
post #4 of 19
Kylie, don't EVER let ANYONE tell you you're not good enough to do what you want to do. Sure, if you were a straight-A student your chances would be better, but that doesn't mean you won't ever get into grad school!! Talk to another advisor in the programme, tell them you're feeling a little discouraged re: your grades.

If all else fails, feel better knowing you're already doing better than me - I'm barely clinging to a 3.0 overall GPA, and I have a LOT of C's on my transcript, but thankfully most of them are in my generals, not in my major. The advisor for the Pharmacy school that I spoke with encouraged me, saying that I should address those grades and any circumstances that might have affected them in my application letter.

It may take two or three app cycles, but I WILL make it to Pharm school, NO MATTER WHAT anyone tells me. And if my "appointed" advisor tries, I'll ask for another one. Their JOB is to HELP you and encourage you to further your education, not tell you it can't be done!!!!!
post #5 of 19
I'm in the same boat as you. My main goal was to get my MA in history the thing is I did not get into grad school. I'm at my final option, getting my teacher certification. Bad thing is that the school I'm looking at costs $1,000 a class. If this school rejects me I have no clue what I'm going to do. You can't do much with a BA in history... what was I thinking!!!
post #6 of 19
You could always become a pharmacist or a dentist, or go into some other medical career that would use what you have learned already. With the baby boom generation retiring, more medicines and such are needed for them, so dentists and pharmacists expecially will be in demand.
post #7 of 19
I agree with Erica...do not let someone else tell you you aren't good enough. I realize I've been out of college for some time now, and things have changed..but one thing hasn't. No one knows you as well as you...do not let this advisor convince you you can't achieve your dream. I think instead of helping you be realistic, they've done you a disservice by giving you their reasons for why you can't. It's not a given that you can't! I just don't believe your options for doing this are gone.
post #8 of 19
One of the worst things I ever did was listen to my careers advisor at school. She hardly knew me, yet told me I wasn't good enough to do the course I wanted to do at collage (my main problem being that I found most of my school work too easy so didn't bother turning up much!). So I didn't do what I wanted, I did a different one, and dropped out within weeks as I hated it and it was too easy. I then spent a few years doing crap jobs, before going back to collage and doing what I should have done in the first place, and spending the next 6 years as one of the top students in my classes.

My point being, I knew I could do it, yet I let some jobsworth who hardly knew me convince me otherwise. Don't let anyone tell you what you're capable of, only you can know that. If you want it badly enough, then go for it.
post #9 of 19
I think you are in panic mode. True, there are a lot of issues to contend with, but you are overwhelmed right now.

You don't need straight A's to get into grad school. Some, maybe, but others look at the whole person; the fact that you are working as well as taking full time school courses, the fact that you are really motivated, and have career goals, and a lot of them take your application essay into account. It is tough and competitive, but it's not just grades based.

Completing a thesis is hard work. However, very very few get rejected. You work with a committee, and are supervised along the way. It would be a complete breakdown in the teaching system for your advisor to let you submit a thesis that isn't good enough. It is very very hard work, but the thing to worry about isn't that it will be rejected, the thing to worry about is your own motivation to take on that huge project.

By the time you get to grad school, all of the advantages of the "rich kids" with their fancy private school educations will have levelled off. They have financial advantages, but academically, you should not even think that you are not as good as they are. I taught university courses for many years, and found that the kids who had to work hard did way better than the kids who were pampered.

Your counsellor is right to make you think about what you want to do. It is tough, and a lot of people don't make it through the PhD programme. But the issues you are worrying about right now are just not going to be problems.

You do need to get really good grades in your major subjects. But a B or C here and there in your electives won't matter.

It sounds like you are worrying about the competition, for grades, for grad school placement, for jobs. You should take that energy, and put it into your own motivation for this career path. Don't worry so much about what everyone else is doing. Nothing is a guaranteed job, it's all competition out there. But you also sound really motivated, and if you can picture yourself doing clinical practice, then don't let someone else scare you away from that goal.
post #10 of 19
I have no idea what your academic possibilities are, but I agree with some others here - don't let ONE counsellor get you down. These counsellors are human and make mistakes too.

Keep the faith and know that if you want something badly enough you CAN achieve it.

I'm guessing that you are talking U of T - reputation as being very "snobby" anyway. I had to deal with one of their professors and his wife at a social function one time - what an a$$hole he was and she wasn't much better. There are other universities that have good reputations so don't give up.

I think that the A students graduate and don't always become the best persons to hire. The B students often have to try harder and do more and end up with a better work ethic.

Explore all avenues and don't give up - especially on ONE counsellor's opinion and when you get right down to it that's all it is - his/her opinion.
post #11 of 19
As I have no experience myself with grad school I can't exactly help you but I do agrre with the others that the counselor's opinion is only one opinion.
I wouldn't think that they should look at just grades but the overall picture.
Example: my sister undergrad at small state school-I don't think her grades were very good. Got into grad school in another state and a much bigger school.
Finished up her grad degree and slowly worked up the food chain to the just she wanted.
So don't give up hope you have a goal set and you WILL reach it.

I never listened to my college couseler either-some stuff she said why back then was correct but I would not most likely have discovered gardening!!
post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by esrgirl
You have the same grades I did! And the same grades a friend of mine had as an undergrad. She had a 3.0- basically the B average. She got into grad school at my undergraduate college- which is a state school- but she got in and she loves it. She's getting her MA in clinical psych and plans on getting her Ph.d after she finishes. All hope isn't lost. Psychology is certainly one of the hardest fields to get into- but it can be done. Maybe try putting more emphasis on volunteer work or some sort research assistant position- try doing someone that focuses on human services. The volunteer work might just give you the extra boost that you need.

I got into an MA program, but seminary isn't as hard to get into if they feel you should be there

Start looking at programs in counselling that are based in education programs- community mental health and addictions counselling programs are usually located within education departments. Social work is another great degree- easier to get into because it relies less on heavy science. With your background in psych. it shouldn't be too hard to get into an MSW program. As an MSW you can be licensed as a clinical social worker, marriage and family therapist, licensed professional counselor, licensed trauma therapist, etc etc. just as you can with a Ph.D in psych. There are also DSW programs- where you can get a doctorate.

If counselling is truly what you want to do, there are avenues other than psychology- you just won't make as much money and it doesn't quite have the clout. But you'd be able to do what you want to do.
I totally agree, esrgirl. I am a nurse working in outpt psych, and we have several therapists who are RN's, or come at it from a social work or other education. Honestly, the two PhD therapists I have known are jerks, and I don't think either one of them was a good therapist! Maybe all that schooling takes them too far out of reality?

If you want it, go for it. If you want to do therapy, get a job on an inpt unit as an assistant. It doesn't pay well, but will give you great on the job training as you complete your education. And most of us get a real wake-up call in college-it really is very hard, isn't it?

My brother and sis-in-law both have PhD's in English (how boring). Though the odds were greatly against them both getting jobs, they are both working as professors in the same town at 2 colleges. Be sensible, but don't give up on your dreams, ok?
post #13 of 19
I didn't even think of being a mental health assistant. One of our local hospitals is hiring a bunch of mental health assistants right now and you only need a high school diploma for that job. Like Beckiboo said, that job could really help you get on the path you need, by giving you experience and getting you connected. You'd be amazed at what a good recommendation can do for you when applying for grad school. One of my profs wrote me a recommendation, which she allowed me to read, that literally made me cry.

Don't give up hope! We'll probably be applying to a counseling program at around the same time- so I'll keep you in my thoughts and throw some good vibes out!

I know I keep pushing social work, but that's just because I'm a BSW After I finish my M.Div I'm applying for an MSW program so that I can provide pastoral counseling.

This is the description of a clinical social worker-

"Clinical Social Workers are found in private practice or in psychiatric & mental health care settings, where they provide psychotherapy and counseling. They might also work in employee assistance programs within larger companies that have numerous employees."

from http://www.socialworkers.org/profession/overview.asp

Just keep your head up, like I said, a friend of mine is in a psych grad program and she had a 3.0- so you can do it too.
post #14 of 19
Oh Kylie,
Have you ever given thought to entering the exciting world of victim advocacy . Seriously, the psychology comes in VERY handy!
While I wasn't a psych major per se, my degree is in criminal justice and about a third of our curriculum came from psychology. When I got out of college, I tried to work in law enforcement and discovered I'm not very good with a gun. So I swallowed my pride and took one of those jobs that wanted "any kind of college degree." That job was as a victim advocate for our local domestic violence shelter and it set me on a path now that I absolutely love.
My point is, there are a LOT of different careers out there and a LOT of ways that we can combine our passions with a career. I PROMISE you that things will work out for you in the end, even if things feel hopeless right now .
post #15 of 19
Don't listen to your advisor,. Sure, she is painting a rather bleak picture of academia - some of it accuarte I am afraid - but you CAN do this!! There is nothing as competitive as medical school and I managed it and a PhD as well. (a combo MD-PhD degree at Harvard). I was scared all the time - that I'd not get a good enough grade, that someone who matters (and there is a nasty prof on every dissertation committee, I swear!) who would hate my PhD thesis, that I would not get into the residency of my choice (hematology), or the hospital program of my choice. But there are so many choices out there.

If you don't get into one school, try another. And the advice about an MSW is good. I actually think you can do more with an MSW or DSW than a grad psych degree. You have to keep perspective tho I know it's hard sometimes!!

Good luck!!
post #16 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pat & Alix
I agree with Erica...do not let someone else tell you you aren't good enough. I realize I've been out of college for some time now, and things have changed..but one thing hasn't. No one knows you as well as you...do not let this advisor convince you you can't achieve your dream. I think instead of helping you be realistic, they've done you a disservice by giving you their reasons for why you can't. It's not a given that you can't! I just don't believe your options for doing this are gone.


Stop, take a breathe. You are in definite panic mode. Don't let one person talk you out of a dream. Instead, use this feeling to help push you over the top into fight mode. I was talked out of a teaching degree by a professor who didn't think I had what was needed. I hate that man to this day....hated him cause he had the audacity to squash my dream. But I'm angrier at myself for allowing him to do it.

You have a tough road ahead of you, but huney, thats the way the world is. So its time to prove yourself.
post #17 of 19
Depending on where you want to apply for grad school, grades might not be that important. Most grad schools also look at the experience you have and your references.

Maybe you could see about helping a prof who is doing research? That would get you great experience and good references. If you have the opportunity to take "individual research", "seminar" or "thesis" type classes during your undergrad, take them. They are very similar to what you would be doing in grad school.

Also make sure your profs actually know you and know how hard you work. That will really help in getting letters of reference.

Apply to many grad schools. Look up professors at different universities who are working in the areas you are interested in and contact them. If you can find a prof who is doing research in your area of interest and who is interested in having you work with them as a grad student, that will really help. (if they have enough research grant money to pay you, you're in!)

Most important of all: get a second opinion. Talk to your profs about your plans. They have all been through grad school, they have worked with grad students... they'll probably know better than the counselor how good your chances are.
post #18 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thank you guys SO much - really feel so much better after reading all of your responses. I so, so appreciate all of your advice.

Now that I think about it more - the advisor also told me that it's not possible to retake courses you've done badly in (I wanted to retake one) unless you've actually failed it and can first get it removed from your transcript - well, I knew that wasn't true because I'd already looked it up, so I insisted (politely) that she was wrong, so she called someone else in the department to ask, and sure enough, she was wrong - so now that I think about it, if she didn't know what she was talking about there, maybe she doesn't in general? I think I will try to get an appt. with someone else and get a second opinion.

Also, the social work suggestion is a great one! I'm definitely going to start looking up programmes around here, that sounds very similar to what I'd hoped to do, and like something I'd be happy with!

Thank you all again!
post #19 of 19
Thread Starter 
Oh, and also, great advice about the volunteer work - I left a message with a mental health unit that operates a telephone crisis intervention line and are looking for volunteers, and hopefully they will get back to me. Also, I am going to try to find a prof. who is willing to let me help out with research, as that would be great experience as well. Does anyone happen to know how I would find one? Should I just call/email a bunch of them, or...?
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