Succeeding in Graduate School: The Career Guide for Psychology Students

By Steven Walfish; Allen K. Hess | Go to book overview

7
The Politics of Graduate Programs
Gerald F. Sumprer
Steven Walfish

When the second author entered graduate school, he did not have financial aid. During the first quarter he made a conscious attempt to do well in the class taught by the director of clinical training. Indeed, he scored at the top of the class and was then rewarded with an assistanship by the director to work on his research project 20 hours per week. He had been exhausted by the first quarter's work and faced an additional 20 hour per week responsibility. He decided, for the sake of his own physical and mental health, to take one course fewer during the second quarter. Because two of the three courses were part of sequences (e.g., statistics, assessment) he chose to not take the third course, Theories of Personality, which appeared as though it could be taken the next year. This seemed to be a healthy and reasonable decision. Unfortunately, the director of clinical training taught the Theories of Personality course. When the student informed the professor that he would be taking the course the following year, the second author was told, “If you have withdrawn from this course and are not enrolled by tomorrow I will be unhappy. Please know there are plenty of people who would like your slot in graduate school.” Naturally, he enrolled the next day.

Consider this story of a colleague. After completing the first year of his doctoral studies he received an excellent evaluation regarding his progress in the program. However, he was told that he was an anxious person and he went into therapy to address this problem. At the end of the next semester, just 6 months later, he was told that he was going to be asked to leave the program after he received his master's degree. This was despite the fact that he had passed all of his courses and had received favorable evaluations from his practicum supervisors. There were two or three professors who just did not like him and did not think he would be a good therapist. He had always wanted to be a doctoral-level psychologist. Rather than just live with

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