GradPSYCH - January 2012 - (Page 20)
How to know if you’re experiencing
with your psychology graduate program or if you’re ready to call it quits.
by EMiLy WoJcik
or 25 years as a math teacher in inner-city New Haven and its suburbs, Ruth Sullo noticed that math curricula tended to be, well, a little racist. Discussions of the history of math, for instance, tended to focus on European contributions rather than math systems developed in Asia and Africa. Word problems almost always used typical white names, and teachers seemed to have trouble identifying math ability in students of color, Sullo says, resulting in a large number of talented minority students in lower-level math classes. This observation spurred her to enroll in a psychology doctoral program, so she could study whether there’s a link between children’s classroom experiences and adult incarceration. “Without a math background, people have very few career options,” Sullo says. “I wanted to get a PhD to make a difference in people’s lives.”
Her experience in front of the class, however, has not translated easily to the other side of the desk. Barely halfway through the program, she says, “I am floundering.” Wrestling with unfamiliar coursework and “new ways of thinking” have led Sullo to question her decision to get the doctorate. “I may just bag it,” she says. “It would be a relief.” If Sullo bails, she won’t be the only one: Only 65 percent of psychology doctoral candidates finish their degrees, according to a 2010 Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) report that surveyed 1,406 PhD recipients from 29 fields. The top reasons for dropping out, according to the report, included a studentprogram mismatch, program difficulty and a lack of financial and community support. These factors are often fixable, but don’t just dismiss your unhappiness. Consider it an opportunity to re-evaluate where you are and whether you’re on the right path.
20 • gradPSYCH • January 2012
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of GradPSYCH - January 2012
GradPSYCH - January 2012
Psychology grad school enrollment drops, despite record numbers of applicants
Students leave their iPods at home during ‘crunch time’
Hot careers: Video game design and development
Friends and co-workers
Time to bail?
Scaling Mount Publication
Need to heal thyself?
Matters to a Degree
Power up your PowerPoint
Dissertations vs. diapers
Searching for answers
Jobs, internships, postdocs and other opportunities
The Back Page
GradPSYCH - January 2012