Grad School: first year recap

As I sit down to write this, it’s finally sinking in that I have completed my first year of graduate school. Let me say that again. I have completed my first year of graduate school! I remember when I was younger, and all the people who were older than me talked about how time goes by so fast. I looked at them like they were crazy, because time seemed to be crawling at a snail’s pace for me. Now, I am sitting here feeling like I just moved to Atlanta and just started school, when, in reality, it has been a whole year and THREE semesters of class. So, what really happened this year? I’ll tell you. 

I have now completed 10 classes at the graduate level. I have learned how to administer assessments, perform a clinical interview, understand diagnostic criteria and psychopathology, struggle through statistics (both regular AND advanced), understand the basics of ethical obligations during the practice of psychology, see how our overall health is related to our mental processes, understand how we process information, assess personality, and much more. When I’m in it, it’s easy to feel like there isn’t a lot going on, which is a habit of mine. As I continue to pile on more and more work, regardless of what is already on my plate, I work hard and study a lot, but I always feel like I need to be doing more with my time. Looking back, I understand that I have an entirely different knowledge base than when I started. I see things that I might not have picked up on before. So, that’s it--one year down seemingly in the blink of an eye. I have 3 more years here in Atlanta to go, and so much more to learn. That’s right, only 3 more years of classroom education. After that, I have a full year internship before graduation. If this year is any indication of the future, it will all be here and done before I even know it. But “done” would be kidding myself; this is a lifelong learning sort of career, and I am excited to be taking these steps toward my future. 

In the fall, I’ll start my practicum training. This means that, in addition, to coursework in class, I’ll begin my on-site training with the first of three practicum experiences. This year, I’ll be at a private practice assessment location to learn a multitude of new assessment measures, and how to synthesize all the information gathered into a complete picture and for reports. To be honest, this sounds incredibly daunting to me, because it feels like there is so much for me to learn. On the other hand, I am excited to be able to learn and become better at these skills over the course of the next year. I am sure there will be moments where I will be unsure why this is what I wanted. But I am also positive that, in the end, it will all be worth it, and all the stress will seem like a distant memory. 

On top of my new practicum schedule, I will continue to be in class, learning even more fundamental skills for becoming the psychologist that I want to be. I will start looking at what my dissertation will be comprised of, and how to apply all the elements of my training. It all means that this first year was a nice time to get used to my new environment, but now it’s time to get to work. It means that I will have to be even more conscious about how I spend my time, making sure that I take the time I need to take care of myself. The gym is not something that can fall by the wayside, meal prepping for efficiency will become the norm, and prioritizing sleep over social time will often be necessary (even more than normal). By now, I have learned what I need for self-care, and I know that it’s different for me than for almost everyone else I know. While others might put social time much higher on their priority list than a workout, that’s not how it works for me. Stay tuned for updates on the new school year and the addition of practicum training to my weekly life! For now, I am excited to spend some time at home, and take some time to reset for the transitions coming my way this fall.