As tax day approached, so, too, did the deadline to respond to invitations graduate programs. I think back to a year ago when I was buried in my own decision-making process; I had spreadsheets, pro-con columns strewn about, and the counsel of friends and family. The factors included in my process were the following:
Program. I looked through the curriculum requirements for each program and thought about which set of classes both seemed more interesting to me and seemed like they would supply me with the information I was seeking. Wiggle room for electives and the opportunity to take classes in departments outside of the designated program were additional pluses.
Degree. Like some others, I had applied to various degree programs with different foci. MSPP’s clinical psych PsyD seemed like the best bet, but having been a teacher for over 6 years, I was also strongly considering School Psych MA/CAGS programs in the Boston area. What helped me differentiate? The possible career trajectories for each program. I knew that I wanted flexibility and didn’t necessarily want to be locked into school psychology or even working with the school-aged population.
Resources. Here I’m specifically referencing time and finances. Going to graduate school, particularly to a full-time program, is a serious undertaking. As this is my second career, I am trying to be efficient rather than to fulfill my quasi-secret dream of being a life-long student. I also realized that moving forward, there was a good chance I’d want to pursue a doctorate, so why not commit to a doctoral program with the opportunity to grab my masters on the way?
Location. This is the domain that boxed me in a bit. I was committed to staying in the Boston area for various reasons. As you may know, MSPP has one of the few APA accredited Clinical Psychology PsyD programs in New England. For me, this was a major determinant.
Experience vs. Research. I knew I wanted as much clinical experience as possible. MSPP’s program offered a clinical practicum from day one. Now nearing the end of the second semester, I can attest to the fact that learning by experience is incredibly powerful. It informs the conversations in the classes, putting the theory in the context of actual client interactions.
If you’re still in the process of making your decision (although by the time of posting, I believe the deadline has passed), I strongly encourage you to post questions or reach out to your potential schools’ communities to pose further queries. Best of luck in your decisions!