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About to begin school psychology graduate school but very hesitant to begin journey

I have been accepted into a school psychologist graduate school program but I am really worried about accepting. I have concerns regarding work/ life balance, paying off student loans/ and stress.

Thank you comment icon Hi Valeria! Could you rephrase your title to be in the form of a question? These are great details, but it is hard for Professionals to give advice if they are not sure what question you have. Thanks in advance! Alexandra Carpenter, Admin

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Wenmeng Wendy’s Answer

Hi Valerie,

First of all, congrats on getting the grad school offer. No matter if you decide to accept or not, this offer represents all your hard work and your qualifications. Here are some of my advice about your concerns:

1. work life balance

- take less classes the first semester and see if you can balance work and life. If you can, then take more classes later.
- Ask people who are already in that grad program and see if there is any feedback you can get from them
- maybe think about to drop your part time job in graduate school if you are working part-time or maybe consider to work less so you have more time for school

2. Student loans/stress

- ask professors around to see if they can offer you a research assistant or teaching assistant position at school. Sometimes research assistant or teaching assistant position can waive your academic expenses

- apply scholarships/fellowship and grants

- think about/research how would this graduate degree would help you to get a job. Will a graduate degree make you to find job easily or will it g et you a higher salary job? Then, think about if it is worth to do a graduate program from a financial point of view

- think about your passion and career goals. Do you want to do research or become a professor in the future? If so, then you should accept the offer since it falls into your passion and career goals
Thank you comment icon Thank you, this is really helpful. Vanessa
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Lakeisha’s Answer

Hey Valerie!!

Congratulations on your offer!! That is hugh and should be celebrated first and foremost!! Enjoy the moment as you worked so hard to achieve whether you decide to accept the offer or not. But honestly I suggest GO FOR IT!! Don't allow fear to overshadow your thinking of how you going to balance work/life, student loans and most importantly don't stress yourself out worrying. To help you, here are some recommendations:

Work/Life Balance: Block out distractions while working and stay focused. We can easily become distracted by a text messages/phone calls emails then stay there. The smallest thing can distract you which lead to time taken away from what you started. Stay focused and set aside time to finish work that needs to be done.
Give yourself time to relax when you need it. You have to have time to relax, unwind and reset for the next day. Take time off from work especially if you have the time to do so; that's part of keeping yourself mentally and emotionally healthy. Something as simple as reading a book or sitting outside on the bench at your campus on a sunny day can do wonders for your emotional well-being. Truly take advantage of that good ol saying " me time" =)

Student loans: Explore alternative plans, deferment or loan forgiveness to help along the way. Research scholarships/grants you may be eligible for.

Stress: DONT DO IT!! I know it can be easier said than done, but when you stress that's clouding your thought process and have you overwhelmed. Believe within, have a strong support system that you can lean on when you feel pressure, get plenty of rest and lastly deep breathing relax your mind! YOU GOT THIS!!

Wishing you much success,
Keisha
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Priya’s Answer

Hi Valerie,
These are all valid concerns. Take some time to take a self-inventory: how have you managed work-life balance in the past? What about finances? Stress? What supports do you have? What can you add to support you along the way emotionally, financially, etc? If you feel up to it, discussing with a therapist or career counselor can help you feel more firm on your decision. Remember, at the end of the day it is your choice, and it is okay to pick whatever you feel is best for you at this time. Good luck!
Thank you comment icon I am really grateful you took the time to answer this question. Valerie
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Theresa’s Answer

Hi Valerie! Two of the best things I ever did as a clinical social worker was to get my own therapy and practice meditation regularly. Much like Priya’s answer, participating in these activities will help support the necessary introspection to determine what is creating the fear and whether the fears are connected to old narratives and/or justified. Best of luck to you!
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James Constantine’s Answer

Hello Valerie,

Work/Life Balance: Achieving a work/life balance is a common concern for many graduate students, especially those entering demanding programs like school psychology. It’s important to prioritize self-care and set boundaries to prevent burnout. Strategies such as time management, setting realistic goals, delegating tasks when possible, and seeking support from peers and mentors can help maintain a healthy balance between academic responsibilities and personal life.

Paying Off Student Loans: Managing student loans is a valid concern for many graduate students. It’s essential to explore all available options for financial aid, scholarships, grants, and assistant positions to minimize the amount of debt accrued during graduate school. Additionally, creating a budget, exploring loan forgiveness programs specific to school psychologists, and considering income-driven repayment plans can help alleviate the burden of student loan repayment after graduation.

Stress Management: Graduate school can be stressful due to academic demands, clinical placements, research requirements, and personal commitments. Developing effective stress management techniques is crucial for maintaining mental health and well-being. Strategies such as mindfulness meditation, regular exercise, adequate sleep, seeking counseling or therapy when needed, and engaging in hobbies or activities that bring joy can help reduce stress levels and prevent burnout.

It’s important to remember that it’s normal to have concerns before embarking on a new journey like graduate school. Seeking guidance from current students, alumni, faculty members, or mental health professionals can provide valuable insights and support as you navigate the challenges ahead. Remember that you are not alone in facing these concerns, and there are resources available to help you succeed in your school psychology graduate program.

Top 3 Authoritative Sources Used in Answering this Question:

American Psychological Association (APA): The APA provides valuable resources on work/life balance strategies for graduate students in psychology programs.

National Association of School Psychologists (NASP): NASP offers information on financial aid options and loan forgiveness programs specifically tailored to school psychology students.

Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA): ADAA provides evidence-based information on stress management techniques for graduate students dealing with academic pressures.

GOD BLESS!
James Constantine.
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