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Ambedo. Offline
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Grad School? - November 17th 2015, 05:41 PM

I'm at a massive crossroads in my life right now and I honestly have no idea what to do. I'll be graduating with a BA in the spring, which means I need to make a decision fairly quickly about whether or not to go to grad school. I'm a psychology major, so I know that I'll need to go at some point if I ever plan on doing what I want to do with my career. That being said, I'm completely burned out on school right now. I've actually been presented with a pretty awesome opportunity to live in Australia for a year and that's the other option that I'm really considering. The downside with that is that if I'm out of school for 6 or more months (which I obviously will be), I'll have to start repaying my student loans, which I'm not financially stable enough to do right now.

So, I'm really deciding between my mental health and my finances right now. One is obviously a much smarter choice, but I'm so afraid of the results of a massive burnout.

What are your thoughts?

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Re: Grad School? - November 17th 2015, 06:12 PM

I'd definitely take time off. First, you're late to be making a decision and applying for anything for Fall 2016 if that was something you were considering. I began studying for the GRE about a year before I applied, and if you're wanting to go into psych, you may have to take the psych one...yeah. Second, do you even have a program in mind? Counseling? A doctoral degree? An MSW? If you're only going to graduate school to avoid student debt, "because you only have a psych degree," and you don't really have a program in mind? I'd say it's a bad choice to jump into. Honestly, I was EXTREMELY sure about going to grad school from junior year on, and now, I sorta wish I would have taken time off. I'm not a competitive candidate; I'm surrounded by many people who have gone through careers (some were doctors) and I feel like I bring very little experience to my degree. So time off can really be a good thing.

Yeah, you'll have to pay loans. Loans suck. But you can figure that out. Australia sounds like a great idea! My friend just got back from spending a year in Australia working, and she really enjoyed her time there and it helped her realize her strength and independence. There's nothing wrong wtih taking some time off to figure out what you want to do. You can also do more with a psych degree than you think as long as you market it.

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Re: Grad School? - November 17th 2015, 06:21 PM

I do have a program in mind...and I'm actually scheduled for the GRE too. In California, the deadline for applications is December 1 and I'm already done with my applications. All I have to do is push the submit button. That's actually when I started hesitating.

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Re: Grad School? - November 17th 2015, 06:21 PM

I second what Traci said.

If you can figure out a way to pay the loans, definitely take a year out. I was so burned out at the end of my degree, that even though I've not done anything fantastic like travelling, I needed a year off to recover. And I don't regret it at all as I know I would've struggled massively otherwise.

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Re: Grad School? - November 17th 2015, 09:09 PM

As someone who has done this, if you feel burned out, not ready, or not stable enough to start grad school right now, don't. It's okay to take time off, a lot of people do it. Especially if this is a PhD. program, but even if it's not, you won't have time or flexibility to travel if you want to and your mental health can take major blows in these programs. When I got dismissed from my program, my first concern was my loans. Since it was (somewhat) sudden, I wasn't prepared to start paying them. I'm assuming all your loans are federal. There are payment plans and adjustments you can make if you can't make payments. I qualify for an income-based repayment plan and I have no income, so my payment is $0, without the loans defaulting or affecting my credit, (but the interest is still accruing.) Start exploring your options now and set something up before your grace period ends. Yes, lenders want their money, but they're willing to work with you if you can't pay or need to lower your payments. Also, don't refinance without talking to a professional first; it may sound like a good idea, but you can lose payment options if you do that.

Depending on the program, they almost never take as long as the maximum time limit and I think you can defer, but don't quote me. So, even if you go through with the application now, you can still take time off and finish your degree in time.

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Re: Grad School? - November 18th 2015, 04:18 AM

How will you support yourself in Australia?

I personally would consider at least a semester off. I took about 7 months between my under grad and my nurse practitioner program. I enjoyed the 7 months off but now I'm back in the game.
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Re: Grad School? - November 20th 2015, 02:48 AM

I'm not sure why some people told you that its too late to consider grad school in fall 2016. Its not - I know people who applied the semester before enrolling and took the GRE no prep and did just fine. GRE is a lot like the SAT. If you can do fine on that, the GRE should be no problem.

But see, graduate school is different. The work is a lot different and more involved. Most science (ie psychology) programs require you to almost have a strong interest in some narrow area before you even apply. Not to mention the amount of research required. I couldn't imagine taking on grad school in psychology if you are burned out of school.

This is why I am choosing not to go to graduate school in the area I studied in undergrad. I'm planning on doing something else that wouldn't require a thesis or anything of that nature. To me- I don't want to go to grad school to further the research in some field, I just want it as proof that I am educated in one of the 2 fields I'm most interested in---I don't see why a thesis should be necessary for just a Master's.
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