Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Grad School Ambivalence

As I am wrapping up my second quarter at JFK I am really beginning to question the logic of completing this program. I know I want to pursue an advanced degree in psychology, but I am not at all sure that I want to be a full-time therapist.

I knew, entering this program, that I might not want to be a practicing therapist but figured that the only way to find out would be to give it a try. As I get deeper into the work of this program I find that I am much more interested in the research and theoretical ideas of psychology than I am in the practical application of therapy. This program, though, is clinical, not research oriented. It likely will not even transfer into a phd program, which is where I'd need to go to be able to do research and teaching, and would then end up being a waste of 45,000 and 2.5 years of my time.

On the upside, I would leave with the opportunity to become licensed, though not for 3 years after graduation... I could get a job as an intern though.

A couple of considerations: 1)having lived in California for a year now, I qualify for in state tuition at the public universities. This is more like 6-10,000 per year instead of the 20K+ that JFK charges, and in a phd program I am more likely to get funding to pay tuition (at some programs it would be free tuition plus a stipend!).
2) If I stay in the MFT program I will graduate with my Masters and as an MFTI (intern) in July or so of 2012. As an intern I might be able to get a job making 30-40,000 per year (though many interns are not finding anything nowadays) and will not be eligible for full licensure until sometime in 2015.
3)If I leave the masters program I will not be able to enter into a PhD program until fall of 2011, assuming I am accepted into a program, and would not finish my degree until probably 2016 at the earliest. With a PhD, though, I will have much greater earning power and have the option to teach at major universities etc.. and write/get published more easily.

It kind of seems most logical to leave the program and apply to PhD programs, especially since I'm only 2 quarters into the degree, but I guess I just feel disappointed to have wasted time, energy, and money just to find out that it will really not count for anything (except maybe a few good recommendations for a PhD program). I am also unhappy about the idea of having to wait a year and a half to get into a different program!

Then again... If I stay, I will be spending 40,000 more on a degree that is not going to get me where I want to be. I would love to do 5-10 hours of therapy a week but that is not adequate as a real career unless I'm able to do research, teaching, and paid writing as well. The MFT just isn't made for the rest of what I want to do...

Arggh! I have three weeks to decide... guess I better make some appointments to talk with people at those PhD programs and make sure I'd be competitive for admission.