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Old 05-04-2013, 10:31 PM   #1  
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Question Anyone have a doctorate?

Hi all!

I've been struggling with a decision for a while, I just realized I might be able to find some advice on here.

I began college for the first time two years ago at age 27. I will be graduating with my BA in Psychology next year at age 30 (woohoo!).

The question/problem is what to do next. I sooo badly want to go straight into a PhD program (which I recently discovered I can do without receiving a masters first) but that is a 5-7 year commitment, meaning I'd graduate at age 35-37. That doesn't bother me at all, but the problem comes in with the desire to also get married and start a family sometime in the near future, maybe age 32ish. Those two things would intersect.

How in the heck could I do both? Having a child and pursuing a PhD are both massively intense things which require my full attention, I feel like I'd end up sacrificing one over the other, and that's not fair to anyone involved. The other option is to go for my MA (which is a 2 year commitment), try to have a child when I graduate, and then go for the PhD... but who knows how long that would take or if it would ever even happen. Being "Dr. S" is a dream of mine that I won't let go of without a fight, but so is having a family. Arg...

Am I completely exaggerating all of this in my head and making it seem worse than it really is? The problem is that I can't find anyone who can give me advice on this, so I'm probably going to make the decision blindly unless anyone here has some advice
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Old 05-04-2013, 10:48 PM   #2  
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I work in research with a lot of PhDs(and when I started, I was going to do a year to get experience and then go back for a doctorate in sociology). I decided against it because the market is really bad right now for PhDs in the social sciences. I love school and learning but I decided I don't want to do my own research and I don't want to teach. So.. I never went back.

It all comes down to what exactly you want to do. I know I won't be able to get much further without a higher degree in my current field, but I think it's ok for now.

Do you want to teach? Research? Do you have specific research ideas? How mobile are you in terms of getting a tenure track position... Would you move far away?

As for the family part of the equation... Every postdoc I know has had a baby during her postdoc or during graduate school. So it can be done! It might take a little longer but there is schedule flexibility etc... So you will be able to swingit, I think!

Good luck!
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Old 05-04-2013, 11:00 PM   #3  
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I'm currently in University and a good chunk of my professors are balancing teaching and getting their PhD, most also have kids. One teacher actually owns his own law firm, does about 30 hours with that, 20 hours of teaching PLUS he is getting his PhD. I don't know how he does it, but he is some how managing. I guess if both are things you really want, you'll be able to find a way to manage it!
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Old 05-04-2013, 11:02 PM   #4  
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Thank you, that makes me feel better!

First let me say I'm mesmerized by your avatar, I wish I could do that to my eyes lol.

As for the things you said, I believe a degree in sociology is similar to a degree in psychology.. you can't do much without going "all the way" (as you said), which is unfortunate. That's partly why I want to go beyond an MA. I know the competition for a job will be terrible if I don't have a doctorate, and I've also always dreamed of having the word "Doctor" in front of my name. I know that's a silly reason to go through 5-7 years of school lol, but I think I'd regret it if I didn't.

As for the research and everything you mentioned.. no, that is not my main interest. There is an option called a PsyD which is the shorter version of a PhD because it involves almost no research and focuses primarily on the clinical practice, which is exactly what I want. The only reason that isn't an option is because it is VERY costly, much more so than a PhD because the PhD allows you to earn money for your work.

I'm 100% with you on not wanting to teach.. ever, lol. Research is not out of the question, but it isn't my interest. I actually have the option of getting an MA in Mental Health Counseling which is almost identical to being a psychologist (I still haven't found someone who can tell me what I can't do as an MHC that I would be able to do as a psychologist). I'd even be able to open my own practice with that license. Actually, writing about it almost seems like a no-brainer.. why wouldn't I do that? But there is still the aspect of my dream being to have a PhD. Plus, the salary is much better (not my motivation, just a nice aspect) and I would be almost guaranteed a job because it opens up SO MANY doors, as opposed to a lower degree which is limited within the field (similar to what you said about sociology).

If I didn't want to one day have children I wouldn't even question it, I'd go straight for the PhD. What you said though made me feel better, like it's doable. It gives me more hope!

This topic makes my brain scatter, so I apologize for rambling so much lol.
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Old 05-04-2013, 11:37 PM   #5  
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I don't know about the field of psychology but I am in a PhD program in engineering. Grad school is actually a GREAT time to have kids if your spouse has a real job. I would want to start having kids during my PhD except for my competing goal of being married for 5 years before having kids (and that my husband is also a PhD student so our household income is low). In my experience PhD work is so much more flexible than a real job, but I am in research. Only a few grad students I know have kids but plenty of postdocs do and their workload is even higher than ours. I say go for both your dreams even if they have to happen simultaneously. You're not getting any younger so don't put off either!
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Old 05-04-2013, 11:43 PM   #6  
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Woohoo! I'm so glad I wrote on here!! Thank you, you guys are making me feel more optimistic
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Old 05-04-2013, 11:43 PM   #7  
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I am finishing my masters and have really thought about going for a phd. Several professors have really encouraged me to pursue research. I am almost 27 and will be 28 when I have my masters and credentialing all worked out. Right after my 28th Birthday I will be ready for my first “real world job.”

I decided that after all this craziness with getting my career sorted out, I am just ready to have a life. A phd isn’t for me at this point in time. Additionally, the career I could get with a masters is decent paying and flexible. The publish or perish madness of academia would be much more stressful. I put on 60 pounds finishing this last year of graduate school. I cannot imagine what a phd would do to me.

But in your case I would 1000% go for the phd.

An undergraduate degree in sociology/psychology is pretty much useless (especially in this economy). If you’re going to go to graduate school anyway, why not get the degree you want.

When I was in college the bouncer at this bar I worked at knocked up his girlfriend. The girlfriend had completed her undergraduate degree at the school we were attending and then moved away to do the phd in Psychology. Anyway I know she was able to take a year off from the phd program and it wasn’t going to be a big deal. It may take a little longer, but you could definitely have kids and do a phd at the same time.

Also I’d like to ask do you have a boyfriend or someone in mind to have kids with? Or are you looking for someone?

Good Luck!
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Old 05-04-2013, 11:52 PM   #8  
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Straightahead... that video was HILARIOUS! I literally laughed out loud through the whole thing because I say SO many of those same things!! It actually did make me think twice, because I hate the thought of giving up that much of my life to do something I can pretty much do with an MA. I will definitely message you, I'd love to hear more of your thoughts.

This whole thread has already been a huge eye opener, no matter which way I go. Thanks so much
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Old 05-04-2013, 11:56 PM   #9  
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Scarlett, thanks for the feedback!

I do have a boyfriend, we've been together for two years and live together. He was in school for the first half of the relationship though so it's still kinda new to us now that he's got free time, but the funny thing was that I started school around the time he was getting out. We've yet to have a "normal" relationship where we were free to go on dates whenever we want lol. The plan is eventually marriage, but not yet.
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Old 05-05-2013, 12:00 AM   #10  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by straightahead View Post
I have a PhD in clinical psych (I graduated in Dec. 2011).

There are positives too...if you ever want to discuss grad school, the psych field, etc., feel free to message me. I could talk about some of the reasons I am glad I got the phd, as well as honesty about the downside!
It isn't letting me private message you, maybe because my account is to new? I only signed up yesterday or the day before, can't remember which. I'd love to hear more from you though.
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Old 05-05-2013, 12:27 AM   #11  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by straightahead View Post
In this setting, one major advantage is that the counselors and social workers have to bust their butts to get a lot of productivity....we phd/psyd people have more varied responsibilities and, therefore, a lower productivity expectation. The counselors kind of have a low base salary and have to earn bonuses to increase their pay...when the phd/psyd people have a stable, predictable salary. Depending on the setting you work, things might be different though.
I do have questions, loads of them! I'll try to limit myself though lol.

My first question is what you touched on in the other reply about the difference between and MA (specifically, a Mental Health Counselor (MHC)) and a PhD. What you said seems about right because the question I posed was "If an MHC and a Clinical Psychologist are able to do the same thing, why would anyone even bother with the 7 year program when they can finish it in two? There has to be some sort of difference, what is it?" and that's where nobody can answer me.

My goal is not the salary or the prestige, it's the work I'll be able to do. If I can do the same job, that seems like the logical choice to make. I just need to hear, with certainty, what the difference is.

Secondly, what do you mean about productivity? I think I was following, but want to be clear I understand what you meant by that.
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Old 05-05-2013, 12:30 AM   #12  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suz151 View Post
Research is not out of the question, but it isn't my interest. I actually have the option of getting an MA in Mental Health Counseling which is almost identical to being a psychologist (I still haven't found someone who can tell me what I can't do as an MHC that I would be able to do as a psychologist).
I don't have a doctorate degree, but I graduated with an MS in Counseling Psych last year. I totally feel you on not being interested in research, which is a lot of the reason I'm not going to pursue a doctorate. That and because I just can't take school anymore! If I were going to do it, though, a PsyD would certainly be my choice. I've seen some online programs, maybe they wouldn't be as expensive?

When I was still in my master's program, I had plenty of classmates who had small children or who were just starting families. A couple women I knew took a semester or two off to have babies & then came back. If both things are truly what you want, you seem capable of finding a way to make it work

Also, in my state, Licensed Professional Counselors legally can't make diagnoses for their clients whereas Licensed Psychologists can make diagnoses. That's the biggest difference we have right now. I'm currently pursuing licensure to be a counselor, myself.
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Old 05-05-2013, 12:51 AM   #13  
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i second what ERHR was saying about grad school being a great time to have kids! I'm in grad school and a lot of students are having kids now. If you pick the right adviser, you can get a lot of flexibility in terms of working from home, choosing your own work hours, etc...
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Old 05-05-2013, 10:59 AM   #14  
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I don't have my PhD but I do have my MSW (Masters Social Work). I divorced at age 27 and was a full time single mom with 5 kids. I had my BS within 4 years and went straight into the graduate program, which was three years long. In the SW field a PhD is rarely earned and it doesn't do much for your career as an LCSW is the end goal.

Anyway... I had several people tell me that this was impossible or too much to do while I was raising a family. I talked about it each step of the way with the kids and it was doable. There was some rough times, some difficult times, times I decided to take less of a grade or invest less so that I would have more time with the kids.... and times the kids were shipped to grammas for the weekend to finish a project.

Education is powerful and never a waste, but do look into what you plan to do with it. I wanted a PhD in sociology (my BS is sociology) but saw that the reality I would get hired to use it was slim. I looked into several programs when I found the MSW program it was everything that worked well and I am in high demand in my field, so I can now have a great paycheck AND flexible time with my family.

Not sure I helped much but would be glad to talk to you about it more. The kids actually benefitted from my education. 2 of my kids are now in school to be social workers, one is political science. My two youngest had no idea most moms didn't go to school and one day said "Did you know Joeys mom doesn't go to college!!!" hahahah I had to explain that was the norm....
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