Sunday, February 22, 2009

I Hate Sundays

I've decided to skip the conclusion of my Gender Interactive post. Basically, you are supposed to notice that boys' games have clear winners and losers, rules, and are most often reflective of career paths that boys could actually engage in, while girls' games are cooperative, life-reflecting, without the clear winner/loser dichotomy and rules that can easily be modified to reflect the players. 

Bleh. It's more interesting to do in a classroom. 

So my husband is in FL until next week. I'm bored without him here. I should probably be doing something productive, but oh well. I've been doing the P90X fitness program to try to get myself back into something resembling being in shape. It's fun, painful, exhausting, and possibly worth it (I don't really know yet). 

The grad school thing is consuming my thoughts. I've started feeling that if I don't get accepted to programs #2 and #3, that I may not want to go to grad school, at least not this time around. I know, I know. But I busted my goddamned ass for the last 3 years, and if I don't get into one of my top-choice programs, WTF is the point? To get a PhD for the sake of doing so? This is no offense to program #4 where I am interviewing this weekend, but I feel like I busted my ass for nothing. Why give up everything to be a Top Student if you can't then get into Top Program? 

I just got a letter the other day from my MRU announcing that I was selected as a Scholar of something or other. No money attached to this award. I wanted to tell them to go fuck themselves, because nothing they have done for me has made a difference with my prospects for the future. As a matter of fact, they haven't done a fucking thing for me, period. Oh, except increase my student loan debt. They did that with gusto. 

I could not possibly have done anything differently or better as an undergrad. I really couldn't, given my life circumstances and everything else. WTF - a single grade of B compared to all A's for undergrad would be enough to disqualify me? Second authorship on a paper/presentation with RockStar Researcher's name as 3rd author? Sorry I couldn't be first author, because I HAD TO WORK TO PAY MY MORTGAGE.

Maybe they looked me up on Facebook or MySpace and decided that I use the f-word too often. Or that I look too good in a bikini with a monkey on my shoulder, and it would be distracting. Who the fuck knows. 

Now I know some of you are out there who got where I'm trying to go. Those of you who managed to get into Ivy U grad programs in your field - WTF did you do to get there? 

It's not about names or prestige for me. It is about the programs that are going to allow me to research the things I am interested in alongside faculty whose work I respect and admire. I still have yet to hear from #2 and #3, and I'm hoping that no news is good news. But if I did not do well enough to merit those opportunities, I need to know. 

So I can choose another fucking career path. 

11 comments:

Psych Post Doc said...

The one thing I want to say is do not rule out any school until you've gone to visit and have heard from the other two.

It's amazing what perspective you can get from a campus visit. I never, ever thought I would have ended up at the grad school I did (never even crossed my mind I'd live in that state), but it truly was the best fit for me.

Odyssey said...

Why do you believe so strongly where you do your PhD is so important? It's not (at least in all fields about which I have some knowledge). It's what you do as a graduate student.

leigh said...

reality calling, jlk. wtf has gotten into you today? (and i mean that in the nicest way possible.)

look. it's not about the top-anything or name prestige or whatever. the #1 most important thing is that you go and get into a mentoring relationship with the person who is going to kick your ass the hardest and turn you into the best motherfucking gender psych researcher you can be.

that. is. all. that. fucking. matters.

why not see how you feel when all the results are in. but if you walk now, after all the ass you've already kicked all over the place to get here, then your efforts ARE wasted.

i'm at a top-5 program. and let me tell you there are plenty of major issues to be found here. that's something i won't comment on in detail in the blogosphere, but i'll just say it's no wonderland.

my secret to getting in? i have no idea. ambivalence made the process easier though. ;)

Comrade PhysioProf said...

The grad school thing is consuming my thoughts. I've started feeling that if I don't get accepted to programs #2 and #3, that I may not want to go to grad school, at least not this time around. I know, I know. But I busted my goddamned ass for the last 3 years, and if I don't get into one of my top-choice programs, WTF is the point? To get a PhD for the sake of doing so? This is no offense to program #4 where I am interviewing this weekend, but I feel like I busted my ass for nothing. Why give up everything to be a Top Student if you can't then get into Top Program?

This is fucking crazy talk.

scicurious said...

I concur with leigh. I'm also in a top-5, but believe me, it wouldn't matter AT ALL where I was, as long as I was working with a mentor I respected doing something I consider worthwhile. In grad school, it's really not where you go, it's who you work with and what you do.

You're talking like you'd drop out of the game without ever playing because you're too afraid you'll lose. That is crazy talk. You will do well wherever you go, and with whatever you decide to do. go with your PASSION, and you'll be happy doing it.

JLK said...

I know I sound crazy, guys. But you missed the part where I said it's not about the prestige, it's about the people I want to work with.

You have to understand that while social psych is a big field with lots of programs across the country, my research interests comprise only a very small niche within that field, and there are not many people studying it or even things related to it.

So the problem is that only my top 3 schools have faculty members that are REALLY doing the research I want to be involved in for the next 5 years. The other schools on my list are basically either stretches of my interests, or other more minor things that are of interest to me.

Yes, I realize that it's stupid to apply to schools that you don't really want to go to. But as I was reminded a gazillion times by people at MRU - grad programs are extremely competitive and you should apply to about 10. Well, I couldn't find 10 programs in social psych that had faculty studying my area of interest.

There were clinical programs, counseling programs, even some cognitive programs. But going to one of those schools would require me to completely change the perspective from which I want to examine the issues of my research. So I crossed them off the list. (Also, just in case this comes up, you cannot have your primary advisor be from a different sub-field. I asked.)

So yes, I probably am crazy. But right now I'm freaking out about the idea of moving halfway (or farther) across the country in order to spend the next 5 years of my life studying someone ELSE's topic of interest.

And you know what the real kicker is? The REAL topic I want to study, the one that gets me all hot and bothered - there isn't a goddamn researcher in a single doctoral program in the country who's working on it. It's all private sector.

So if I don't get in to these programs, I just might start stalking the worldwide expert in Real Topic of Interest until he gives me a job.

Yeah, I'm freaking out. I am definitely freaking out. How on earth is it possible that this could be more stressful than putting together the goddamn applications in the first place?

That was hell. But this is Much. Much. Worse.

JLK said...

I should add - I think I'm having a mental breakdown of some sort.

Like Imposter Syndrome turned Identity Crisis.

Odyssey said...

JLK,
Grad school isn't about working on "your" topic. It's about getting the best possible training as a research scientist. The specifics of your research topic are secondary. Your primary concern should be getting into a program that will provide an environment in which you can thrive.

Think about it this way - how many people have a cool research topic lined up for their future faculty or other independent research gig before they even get to grad school?????

Anonymous said...

JLK, the Most.Important.Decision. is your advisor! Your dissertation will take twists and turns. There will always be new things to explore.
Step away from the computer and go have a brownie or something. Chill.

Silver Fox said...

I'm not in social psychology, obviously, but in some fields you *can* work on the topic you want to, if you have a flexible-enough department and advisor, and sometimes you can add one outside professor to your committee - maybe someone in industry? (I'm not sure about the latter, but their purpose would be to advise not to do all the grad-school bureaucratic stuff or to actually pass you.)
/advice that may not apply

Anyway, I do wish you the best of all fortunes in wading through the mire of choosing grad schools. And sorry it's being such a drag.

JLK said...

Thanks everyone. I think I might be okay now. I think.

I'm trying to keep things in perspective - that I've only heard from 3 of 7 programs - that all is not lost (at least not yet).

It's hard though, I gotta say.

Also - are grad admissions different in other fields? Because every psych grad admissions book I have and every person I've talked in the field about it says that matching research interests with potential advisors is THE MOST important thing. The programs are all essentially the same otherwise - a stats and methods course is a stats and methods course whether it's at a Top 5 or a marginal program.

I don't know enough about advanced study in the other sciences, but in social psych for example: If I want to study cognitive dissonance theory but get accepted to a program where no one is researching CD theory, I will not be trained in my area of interest beyond a single class, and even that's rare. In order to get familiar with the methods used to study CD theory, I need to work in a lab under someone who is researching CD theory.

And also according to my books on the subject, if I want to study CD theory and apply to programs where no one is researching it, I won't be accepted to those programs because the faculty interests don't match.

Do the "hard" science grad programs not work the same way?

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