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Grad School Admission Help: What Type of Career Should I Pursue and Am I Qualified to Pursue It?

slynn471slynn471 Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
I am an undergraduate student, and I am not 100% sure what I want to do with my life, but I am sure it requires graduate school (hopefully a PhD). I will go over my ideas but first, a little about me:
-I go to a well-known psychology university where I study psychology and communication (double major) with a minor in sociology. In regards to psychology, I focus on clinical/community psychology (our school gives us the option to declare a concentration within the major) and in terms of communication, I focus on the health and interpersonal fields.
-I am taking a few classes (especially in sociology) that relate to law.
-I do research in both of my majors and am in honors programs within my departments and in the college of liberal arts and sciences.
-I have a leadership position within my school’s communication department, I am on my counseling center’s advisory committee, and I am involved in my school’s chapter of Psi Chi.
-I am a teeny bit involved in the arts (I work with a publication, I have been in student-directed plays, and I am directing the play Radium Girls next semester. I think I put this here so if you have any better suggestions for me based on my interests, you know more about me).
-I have yet to take the LSAT and GRE, but I am scheduled to take the GRE.
-My GPA is 3.89, which is pretty good, but if I absolutely need to I have at least another semester left to get it up.
-I am a first generation college student (in both undergrad and grad), which would explain why I am relatively clueless
My Possible Options/Experience I Have:
Clinical psychology (research and practice):
-This is, of course, where my research is (I am writing a thesis).
-I have an interest in this field and I am really interested in working with people with mental illnesses.
-I am just hoping I can find someone that can work with me (I understand that many of these programs are competitive).
Counseling psychology/Social Work:
-The former was my original dream but I am not sure how good I will be.
-I have been told that I pick up on counseling skills really well.
-I also have 80+ total hours of training in topics such as providing support for people who have been sexually assaulted, providing support to domestic violence survivors, running a support group for loved ones of people with mental illnesses, and many more related to special populations.
-Many of my interests and activities-mentioned or otherwise-involve working against certain social perceptions that sometimes give way to human rights violations and/or general discrimination.
-My internships probably also probably relate to this as they are within similar fields.
-My only qualm would be wondering if I am cut out for this field. I am better at writing so research is also something I might want to do.
-This is a long shot, probably, given that I do not have as much recent experience with debate (at least in terms of extracurricular activities) outside of high school.
-I have reason to believe that I was the top of my class in my argumentation class, and I have been told that I am good at composing arguments that not many people think of and that I am good at applying logic.
-I also got a really high A/A+ (professors don’t often differentiate when posting grades though I know my percent was at an A+) in my course on communicating public policy, which mostly involved writing.
-I have a human rights certificate from Columbia University (it is a program that requires us to take 4 courses, one of which is International Human Rights Law).
-I volunteer with organizations that work on a global and domestic level to combat human rights violations (I include this because it might be a specific interest within law).
Final notes: It is tempting for me to aim for Ivy League schools/other well-known schools (especially if mine doesn’t let me in for a PhD in, say, counseling psych), but I know that may not be realistic because it depends on what I am researching, and though I could see myself doing social psych (many of those schools offer it compared to clinical), it really does not interest me as much as the other psych fields listed above. Any advice would be appreciated and thank you so much for sticking through this post!

Replies to: Grad School Admission Help: What Type of Career Should I Pursue and Am I Qualified to Pursue It?

  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 11,579 Super Moderator
    If you are not sure what you want to do with your life, how do you know that it requires a PhD?

    The way that you pick your career is only partially a constellation of the things that you are good at and/or have been involved in in the past. Really, it's about what YOUR interests are. You have a lot of experience volunteering in social services, doing research in psychology, and doing some things related to law. What things have you really enjoyed doing? What kind of work do you want to do every day? You can support people who have had traumatic life experiences (like sexual violence or domestic abuse) or suffered human rights violations in all four of the careers you mentioned; what really changes is HOW you do it.

    Do you want to provide direct mental health therapy and care for people? If so, then you need a degree that licenses you to do that. A PhD in clinical or counseling psychology, or an MSW or PhD in social work, will accomplish that (so will an MA in mental health counseling).

    Do you want to spend time defending those folks in court, maybe helping them navigate the legal system to get restraining orders, custody of their kids, judgments against their abusers, etc.? Most lawyers spend a lot of time trying to stay OUT of court, so while argumentation skills are necessary, what's also really important is attention to detail, a strong adherence to deadlines, good strong writing and analytical skills, etc.

    If you want to do research you can also go into any of those fields, although legal research is harder to get into since legal professor positions are extremely competitive. But there may be legal research positions outside of academia that are less so.

    If social psych doesn't interest you as much then don't go for it!
  • zannahzannah Registered User Posts: 544 Member
    Well here is a career option that opens doors in lots of areas...School Psychology. There Ade specialties such as applied behavioral analysis, research, graduate faculty, school positions, consultation, administration at all academic levels, private practice in therapy or diagnostics. Look at the National Association of School Psychologists for more information about this profession.

  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls Registered User Posts: 2,642 Senior Member
    Many students get to the senior year of university without knowing what they want to do for the rest of their life. This is normal. You have plenty of time to figure it out.

    Regarding law, you said: "This is a long shot, probably, given that I do not have as much recent experience with debate". I am not a lawyer, although I do work with lawyers. On the most part lawyers work to keep people out of court, and as far as I can tell most (including the ones I work with) spend no time at all in court. Logical thinking is important, as is the ability to write well, but I am not convinced that debating ability is critical. I have also heard that law school admission is largely based on GPA and LSAT. At least the GPA part you have.

    That being said, I am wondering if you should be applying to graduate or law school if you don't know for sure what you want to study. You might want to work for a year or two and then plan to go back to graduate or law school.
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