Post # 1
I graduated with my B.S. in Psychology in 2010. I was a single mom at the time (still am, technically). It was HARD, but I did it! But there was no way I could go to graduate school at the time.
In my area, none of the psych jobs that I qualify for pay enough to feed and clothe myself and a child and pay for childcare (minimum wage for a B.S!) so I’ve worked a lot of unrelated jobs. Now I’m considering going to graduate school to finally get my Master’s in Counseling Psychology. The problem is, I have no relevant work experience, and since I finished my B.S. two years ago, I doubt any professors would remember me well enough to write a letter of recommendation. Jobs for a B.S. in psych still suck pay-wise around here, so I have no idea how to get the work experience I need and still afford childcare, etc.
Any other bees wait to go to graduate school, or work in unrelated fields prior to going? Do you have any advice or suggestions? I’d love to hear your experiences!
Post # 3
I definitely waited/am waiting. Why? I had no idea what I wanted to be “when I grew up.” lol. I’ve finally chosen a path (School Psychology) but the deadline for Fall 2012 was last year. Therefore, I’ll be waiting until Fall 2013, assuming I get into the program. I graduated with my Undergrad in May 2011. So basically, a bit over 2.5 years between.
The thing I’ve been doing is networking. I’ve talked to a few people about School Psychology, I’m planning on shadowing some SP’s before I apply, things like that. That way I can relay that info in my essay. “After seeing what SP’s actually do….” and then having that info in my interview.
I’m also going to retake the GRE. My scores were pretty good (over 1000) but I’m going to study really hardcore after the wedding and see if I can’t get them up a bit. Also, I’m going to try and reconnect with 2 former professors, probably via email, a few months before I’ll ask for a letter. I think the positive of having this much time is that we can plan and improve certain things. My current job isn’t completely relevant, but I don’t think they expect COMPLETELY relevant stuff with Psyc fields – they KNOW we cannot do a lot with our Bachelors in Psyc, they know that’s why we’re applying to Grad School. 🙂
Post # 4
I waited 3 years. My only advice would be to get a degree with direct & practical application (nursing, MBA, law). Make sure it will increase your advancement opportunities & salary. My MA is in health communications which I didn’t use for years. It now applies directly to my job, but I’m not sure I would do it again. It’s a lot of money, so make sure ir’s a real investment.
I have worked in many sectors. & am happy to help in any way!
Post # 5
I waited almost 3 years because I got a good job out of school that allowed me to explore my field a little. I’m glad I did because it helped me focus on what, exactly, I wanted to do.
Post # 6
I HAVE to have a minimum of two years relevent work before I can reasonably exspect to get into any graduate school. So yes, I will not be going straight!
Post # 7
I’m finishing up my two-year postbac position in a research lab amd doing the grad interviews/hopefully acceptances stage right now. Taking those two years to hone my skills and interests is hands-down the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.
Post # 8
I’m thinking I won’t, either. I will be done with my Bachelor’s degree in December, getting married September 2013.. hopefully I’ll start grad school in September 2014. It’d be nice to enjoy being newlyweds and take a break from school! This year has been rough so far so I might need it!!
ETA: FWIW I’m getting my BS in Psychology as well:)
Post # 9
I know exactly how you feel. I graduated with a B.S. in Psychology in 2007 and have worked hard to get debts from undergrad paid off and just figure out what I really wanted my master’s in. I started grad school this past fall and boy am I glad that I waited, as it really took me a while to know what I wanted to do. I contacted my old professors from four years ago and to my surprise they remembered me and were happy to write letters. I also should mention I work as a college recruiter and I’m going into a totally unrelated field and have found a lot of people in the field I’m entering who are willing to help me out with connections. I think you will find the same kind of support out there for people who are passionate about the program you want to pursue who love to mentor or help in anyway. I bet your professors will remember you and even if they don’t they usually always write letters and they will talk you up. Good luck, it will all work out, it’s just taking those first few steps that feels overwhelming. 🙂
Post # 11
@HeyKaraoke: I waited to go to graduate school because I hated college with a passion. I tempted for 4/5 years and got laid off in 2010. I could not find a decent job to save my life and decided to go get my MBA. of course as soon as I went back to school I landed a job. The old me would have dropped out of school and just continue working but I decided to stick it out. I find graduate school to be completely different from undergrad. I barely graduated with a 2.6 gpa but now with graduate school I have like a 3.9 GPA. I say if you want to go back please do just make sure you pick something you are interested in because it will cost you way more for graduate school. Also unless you find some program in grad school all they give you is loans. Good Luck!
Post # 12
3 year gap here! A year to work full-time, a year to volunteer (also full-time!) and ok maybe it was a two year gap. My memory sucks, haha. Ok yes, it was 2 years. And totally worth it!
The job that I had for a year (11-month contract starting a few months after graduating) as well as the volunteer work I did the following year were both amazing opportunites that were likely once-in-a-lifetime.
Post # 13
I waited 5 years before going back for my MBA. I waited because I wanted to get some work experience first and figure out what I really wanted to do and if a graduate degree would help get me to where I wanted to be. No use in paying for another degree if I don’t know what to do with it!
I was able to get letter of recommendations from my supervisor and a former supe. Can’t remember if I needed a faculty rec…if I did I’m sure I was able to dredge up someone. My advice: really figure out what you want to do before devoting your time and money into a program.
Post # 14
I waited a year and a half after undergrad before going to law school. I understand what you mean by working odd jobs. I couldn’t find any decent paying jobs with a B.A. in political science so I ended up working at a nail salon (I’m also a licensed nail technician). To help with the gap and getting letters of recommendation, I depended less on professors and more of my network contacts. Majority of my letters were from coordinators or directors of non-profits or companies in the legal field that I volunteered or interned at. My suggestion to you is look to find someone in your field that you are interested that will let you volunteer or shadow them. This way you get the practical experience of seeing the work first-hand, and your grad school admins get letters from professionals in your field who can access your capabilities as it regards to the profession. Good luck!
Post # 15
I am waiting. I wanted to do self-exploration after I graduated. I contacted professors to get those letter of recommendations prepared. But I really don’t think that the time should matter too much because your professors ask you to submit work to them anyways. They usually don’t remember off the top of their heads which papers you wrote because they’re constantly reading and grading assignments. Just make sure you kept those assignments!
Post # 16
I decided to take a year break because I was feeling burnt out from undergrad. I was going to particpate in the Disney College Program after graduation (the only requirement is that you be a student when you apply), but I ultimately didn’t end up going. What I did end up doing was temping at a bank, which is almost completely opposite of my field (English). It helped me realize really quickly that academia is where I want to be, and I started applying for graduate schools in Fall 2011 (I graduated May 2011). I’ve been accepted to two so far, and I’m hoping that my first choice will come through.
Even though I initially regretted taking a year off, I think it was really good to help me establish a direction. I was just going to get an MFA in creative writing, but in my time off I realized that I wanted to teach, and in order to teach I’d probably be more marketable with an MA (and subsequently a PHD). If i hadn’t taken a year off, I’d probably be in the middle of an MFA program with no real job prospects.
As for how to make yourself more appealing, etc., consider how you do use your degree in your job. For example, even though I work at a bank (hired on permanently now), I spend the majority of my day writing–albiet e-mails–and explaining my thought process. I also have to analylze data and be able to defend my actions. All things I learned in my undergrad.