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I'm looking to start a PhD program in psychology soon...and I want to ask you all - how time-consuming is it REALLY?

I know it's a lot more time consuming than undergrad. But undergrad was a *COMPLETE* joke for me. I got a good gpa, did psych research, worked jobs on the side, spent a LOT of time on music, a LOT of time partying, worked out every day, and still had plenty of free time for things like videogames, taking yoga classes, etc.

I expect it to be way more time-consuming, but is it really as stressful as they say? I mean...my current job is stressful, because of the extremely long commute and being trapped in an office all day while doing not mentally stimulating things. If I spent 8-10 solid hours a day on different school-related tasks, surrounded by people with similar interests and in an intellectually stimulating environment, I would not be stressed one bit. I don't miss the party aspect of school, I miss the atmosphere, continual self improvement and growth...and hell, studying, reading and learning new things...I was good at that.

I'm considering going not because of the job market or whatever, but because I hate the corporate world and loved the academic world, and want to help people rather than corporations.

PS I'm looking to study counselling psych with the most likely goal of becoming a therapist and a possible goal of becoming a professor ;)
 

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I breezed through undergrad, belonged to nine orgs and chaired most of them, had a stellar GPA, went to grad school, and hit the f*cking wall. It's nothing like undergrad. It will take all your time and energy. It's worth it, of course, but it will own you. I'm in my third year now.
 

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^What he said. I'm in my first semester for a master's program.
 

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I did really well in undergrad and then crashed spectacularly when I started grad school. It's not because of the work itself - it may be busier but it's not fundamentally more difficult than undergrad. It's because of the whole new structure - interacting with professors, being expected to work with other students on class work, doing presentations, shifting from class mode to research mode, etc. All of that wrought havoc on me because of my social anxiety. I became overwhelmed and depressed and lost motivation. I did terribly in my first year and just mediocre in my second year. I've steadily gained some of my motivation back since then, but it's been slow and I'm still not at 100%. I'm not saying this to scare you, but I'm just saying that it's a different atmosphere and it can be very challenging psychologically, even if the work itself is not that much harder.
 

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struggling

I'm a first year grad student and started my first semester with 4 classes and dropped 3 of them. I struggled a lot with my social anxiety that I had no idea I had when I was an undergrad. I get stuck on stupid many times, I know that sounds silly, when I have to make a presentation and lose my train of thought. No one in my family knows about this and I am scared. I really wanted to teach early childhood and am afraid I will not be able to finish. It makes me very sad and I'm just hoping I can get over it.

Time consuming?? YES. Some professors, not all, act like you only have their class. I'm seriously reconsidering enrolling next semester since I felt a lot of weight off my shoulders when I dropped the 3 classes. Not surprisingly, I kept the online class which I don't feel so shy expressing my thoughts. I guess the key is that we shouldn't give up.:no
 

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I'll outline my experience. First, the answer to "but is it really as stressful as they say?". YES. No one told me but I can tell you, yes. The stress (of doing a masters and PhD) was immense. However some people get lucky with their courses and supervisors. My subject was physics so it's going to be different to your experience in various ways. I also have different diagnoses.

If you don't have a masters in the subject here they make you take some course units and exams during your PhD. They also make you take over a dozen skills courses (on giving presentations, first aid, communication, writing, time-management, and you can choose many others). I didn't get on socially and was very isolated. You have to be an independent worker and not be afraid of directing your own research. You have to be resourceful, especially with social disorders, because most people use multiple people around them for support and feedback. I essentially taught myself.

I got away with not teaching any classes because of my anxiety. However you can't get away with not doing a presentation or viva.

Then there are the hazards of supervision. If it's not working out within a year then request a new supervisor. Make sure s/he's in your exact sub-field. Some of them BS and let you think you're doing well just because they don't know enough to give feedback. There are all sorts of PhD horror stories involving supervisors. I experienced my own I won't go into. It took extreme perseverance to overcome the effects of bad supervision (which can also waste years) and it causes serious long term stress. The presentations were a breeze in comparison to these problems, which gives you some perspective.

Anyway, make sure you know the steps when you encounter problems. Here, the students' union has staff to manage such cases.

With the work itself, it's crammed into a small timeframe. You can request extensions though, especially if you've a disability. The 1st year's not taken seriously by supervisors and you get ignored. They leave you to it. Thesis writing should begin pretty early, if only writing the background chapters. Get feedback as you go along. Analysing data takes several iterations to learn to do properly. The work's extremely repetitive. If you make a small error early on you have to re-do everything, and this happens a lot. You have to be very detail-orientated, logical, concise, and tolerant of isolation and repetition (which happens to the point of madness). This was in physics though. Despite all the pains, taking on a research degree was the best thing I did because I didn't just learn to be a scientist and think well, but found it very character forming.
 
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