GradPSYCH - January 2012 - (Page 42)
feel more sane because of it.” the Sciences indicates that family formation is the most common In addition to seeking flexibility from your graduate reason for women with PhDs to not receive tenure-track program, staying sane as a graduate student parent requires that positions. you stay flexible yourself, says Ryan Landoll, a PhD candidate. Timing is particularly precarious for budding professors since His wife had their daughter during the last year of his training “tenure clocks and biological clocks run in the same time zone,” in child clinical psychology at the University of Miami. As Halpern says. Aspiring academics have little time to spare given he wrapped up his coursework, he found the best time for the consecutive tasks of completing coursework, postdoctoral studying and writing was when his new baby was asleep — placements and securing an assistant professor position, she says. between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. That made collaborating with The question of when to focus on your career and start a professors and colleagues problematic. family has no easy solution, says Halpern. “If you have children Yet, he also found earlier, you’re balancing working until the them along with wee hours had an school,” she says. “If you unexpected upside: A have them later, you’re heightened sense of balancing them while focus. you’re new on the job “Before having my market.” daughter, I would send It is, however, a couple of emails and possible to juggle browse on the Internet,” parenthood and grad says Norwood. “Now school — especially if when I step away from you have a supportive DiaNE haLPErN my children, I utilize (and gainfully Claremont McKenna College that time to the fullest, employed) partner, says which cuts down on Amy Brausch, PhD, a procrastination.” psychology professor at Western Kentucky University. “My husband is an incredibly hands-on co-parent, which New parent survival tips made things more manageable,” she says. Though no two situations are the same, discussing what worked for others can help students handle the dual pressures of parenting and grad school, says Gerber. Her best advice: Put Parenting’s pros together a support system of friends and family members who Believe it or not, there are some advantages to starting a family will babysit when you need to hit the library or run data. during graduate school. For example, Brausch found that the “Find people who are in your corner, and try not get caught final years of graduate school proved to be an ideal time to have up on those who are not,” says Norwood. a baby, given the flexibility of her schedule while she wrote her Keeping one family calendar and requesting syllabi in advance dissertation. She was also able to coordinate child care with her are two strategies Halpern suggests to new parents. Both help husband, which was less expensive than if had she been working harried graduate students plan ahead and organize a schedule that full time. is constantly in flux. “We are happy that we didn’t wait, since you never really know “You no longer have the last-minute luxury of writing a paper how long your program will take,” says Brausch. the night before it is due,” she says. You may also find your professors are more accommodating Most of all, however, student parents should know their then you expected, says Miriam Gerber, PsyD, who completed whole world is going to change, says Landoll, but that shouldn’t her degree at Loyola University in Maryland in 2009. She took discourage them from going for it. summer courses and proposed her dissertation early — timing her “This process is totally manageable,” he says. “I hope progress so that she defended her dissertation two weeks before people open themselves up to the possibilities, because they are delivering her baby. worthwhile.” n Other students slow down their graduation timetables to have children. Amber Norwood, a Human Services Psychology PhD Matthew Siblo is a writer in Washington, D.C. student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, pushed through her fears about appearing uncommitted to grad school Slideshow: Pics and tips from grad student and reduced her course load after giving birth to her daughter. parents. “Graduate school can be more adaptable than we think,” says Norwood. “Did I take a little longer than I would have? Yes, but I
“Tenure clocks and biological clocks run in the same time zone.”
42 • gradPSYCH • January 2012
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