Author Topic: Is it okay to pay my friend to do some jobs in this specific situation?  (Read 1739 times)

sergrief

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My career goal is to become a clinical psychologist. You need a PHD for that. It's one of the most competitive programs out there and you need to work insanely hard and smart to have even a minor chance to become one.

I realised that working/studying at 80% capacity is just not gonna cut it. I need to seriously dedicate 95% of my waking hours to studying/work experience if I want to get into this career.

The problem is, I have so much annoyingly long everyday things to do on my to-do list. They are the type of jobs that don't do anything to help your life but they have to be done. I even have a second to-do list, and at the end it says "finish first to-do list".

These things involve lots of DIY jobs, lots of cleaning and organising jobs, just busywork that isn't important but has to be done.

I've already decided I'm gonna pay my friend to do some of these jobs for two reasons:

1) I have lots of income from odd jobs unlike every other young person out there starving on part-time jobs, and I promised my best friend a job but the opportunity disappeared, so I'm gonna pay her to be my personal assistant for a few days to keep my promise. I care about her a lot and I said I'm willing to go anti-mustachian this one time to help her out.

2) all these things on my to-do list are one-off jobs that won't pop up again. If I pay my friend to clear these things off for me, my time will be fully free and I can dedicate 100% of it to my studies/work which I now realise is my number one priority if I want to go into my desired career.

My question is, is this a smart move? I think in very rare specific situations, paying for convenience does actually have more long-term benefits than trying to be frugal and do it all yourself. This is the ONLY time I will ever consider doing something like this, and I can assure you my long-ass to-do list is taking up too much of my time each day yet could be cleared if I got my friend to help me.

Please share your thoughts.

sergrief

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Re: Is it okay to pay my friend to do some jobs in this specific situation?
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2018, 02:00:44 PM »
Apologies for multiples of the same post, an error occured where the page just wouldn't proceed so I kept clicking the post button and now I have a bunch of the same posts.

ixtap

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Re: Is it okay to pay my friend to do some jobs in this specific situation?
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2018, 02:11:02 PM »
Are. These jobs unimportant or they must be done?

Busywork or crucial?

Cleaning and organizing or one offs?

Are your odd jobs paying you more take home per hour than you plan to pay your friends?

I chose to have my laundry done for me while working on my PhD and I had food delivered more often than before or since, but if I don't do my own organizing, I won't find things. I have a strong muscle memory. I still think you need to learn better time management skills if you are going to make it through a PhD.

sergrief

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Re: Is it okay to pay my friend to do some jobs in this specific situation?
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2018, 02:36:18 PM »
I will give some examples of the jobs.

1) I need to get rid of some scratches on my car. Doing it yourself takes VERY long, you need to rub it down with car-sandpaper or scratch remover for about 30 minutes just to get rid of a 1 inch scratch, yet it needs to be done because I've already applied the touch up paint and it looks all horrible half-done and nobody will buy the car when I eventually sell it.

2) I have to clean my shed which is a complete mess after we've bought a lot of tools and done lots of house renovation stuff all at once and have to dump all the materials in it. I also need to construct some DIY tables to utilise the shed space better and make more room.

3) I need to clean and organise my loft because when we did some home renovations we had to dump an ass load of stuff in the loft and it's a mess.

4) I need to construct some drawers for my room, I've got barely any DIY/woodworking experience so I have to do quite a bit of trial and error to make them which will take time.

5) I need to repair lots of different things on my bike and since I'm a beginner in this sort of stuff, it will take a lot of youtubing and trial and error to do it myself.

6) My room looks like it was inhabited by my grandmother, it's extremely dull and depressing and needs to be decorated in all sorts of manners, especially since I'll be spending most of my waking hours studying in this place.

7) need to trim and hang a door which takes time since I'm a beginner

The DIY jobs take so long to do properly because I have no experience, and I'm trying to learn how to fix and build things myself. When I'm experienced at doing a certain thing I usually do it faster the next time around, but obviously the very first time it takes a lot of time and frustration.

My odd jobs are paying me more than what I plan to pay my friend. I was gonna use her assistance for three or four days, and pay her just above minimum wage per hour.

Although I argue these one-offs will pay dividends in the long term as it will allow me to put it in all the work I can for my PHD, one could argue that the fact that I can't do all of it myself is poor time management, which a PHD requires.

Any thoughts?

lhamo

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Re: Is it okay to pay my friend to do some jobs in this specific situation?
« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2018, 02:56:49 PM »
You are probably going to hire your friend to do this stuff anyway, but I think it is the wrong choice.

I hope this won't sound too harsh, but if you can't manage to stay on top of your life while you are trying to get into a competitive academic program, then you probably are going to struggle to manage it while you are in one.  And nobody can realistically study effectively 95% of their waking hours.  The brain doesn't work that way. Actually, spending 40 min-1 hour studying intensively followed by an hour or two doing one of these relatively mindless tasks where you can go over what you just studied while you process things would probably be more effective than just sitting in front of a book/your notes for hours on end. 

I did my best dissertation "writing" when I hit writers block and would go for a long walk -- something about repetitive physical movement would help me break through and I could usually think through 4-5 pages which I then would get down on digital paper when I got back to my desk.  I never needed to use an audio device to record my thoughts, but that works for some people, too.

Also, there are mentions of "we" in your post -- if you are part of a couple, why are all these jobs your responsibility?

sergrief

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Re: Is it okay to pay my friend to do some jobs in this specific situation?
« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2018, 03:18:44 PM »
I have to refer to reason 1 for why I'm still gonna go ahead and do it. I'm apart of a family business that just started up and I promised my friend it will be busy enough that we need her for reception come christmas. We've already broken a few promises regardings jobs with her because our other business lifted off immediately and we expected this one to do the same, yet it's doing the opposite. So this one time I'm giving her the opportunity to make some money while also helping me. PLUS, even if the above didn't happen, I still would have given her the job because this one time I really want to help her financially.

But yeah you're right, the fact that I can't manage it on my own right now just shows my management skills need serious improvement. If I can't make time for myself for my degree right now, how on earth am I gonna survive a PHD programme?

I do go for regular walk breaks however, both for physical reasons and for psychological reasons such as getting mental blocks/needing a breather.

We is in referal to my parents. They work 7 days a week while taking care of my newborn sister. They literally work 24/7 while looking after her at work. So if something in the house needs to be done, I have to do it.

sergrief

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Re: Is it okay to pay my friend to do some jobs in this specific situation?
« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2018, 03:21:30 PM »
This one time I'm gonna pay her to do it because I voluntarily want to help her. But I'm not going to ever consider it again because it would just be a sign of bad time management which I need to seriously improve to prepare myself for future studies.

lhamo

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Re: Is it okay to pay my friend to do some jobs in this specific situation?
« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2018, 04:17:38 PM »
OK, it makes a little more sense now that it is clear you are younger/still living with parents.  Nice of you to want to help your friend out financially, especially considering past commitments you were unable to fill.

The general issues of disorganization/clutter and time management are things both you and your parents are going to need to get under control if you want your business(es) to succeed, though.  Sounds like things are pretty chaotic for all of you.  Hiring someone to temporarily "fix" the problem isn't going to be a long-term solution if you can't stay on top of it all once her work is done.

Smokystache

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Re: Is it okay to pay my friend to do some jobs in this specific situation?
« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2018, 08:30:26 PM »
You are probably going to hire your friend to do this stuff anyway, but I think it is the wrong choice.

I hope this won't sound too harsh, but if you can't manage to stay on top of your life while you are trying to get into a competitive academic program, then you probably are going to struggle to manage it while you are in one.  And nobody can realistically study effectively 95% of their waking hours.  The brain doesn't work that way. Actually, spending 40 min-1 hour studying intensively followed by an hour or two doing one of these relatively mindless tasks where you can go over what you just studied while you process things would probably be more effective than just sitting in front of a book/your notes for hours on end. 

I did my best dissertation "writing" when I hit writers block and would go for a long walk -- something about repetitive physical movement would help me break through and I could usually think through 4-5 pages which I then would get down on digital paper when I got back to my desk.  I never needed to use an audio device to record my thoughts, but that works for some people, too.

Also, there are mentions of "we" in your post -- if you are part of a couple, why are all these jobs your responsibility?

+1 to this. And I have this PhD so I've been through the program and dissertation (although in the US, and it doesn't look like you are).

sergrief

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Re: Is it okay to pay my friend to do some jobs in this specific situation?
« Reply #9 on: November 05, 2018, 03:18:25 AM »
You have a PHD in clinical psychology? Can you tell me how painfully hard and competitive it is? What attitudes do you think are mandatory for me to change if I want even the slightest chance of getting one?

Jon Bon

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Re: Is it okay to pay my friend to do some jobs in this specific situation?
« Reply #10 on: November 05, 2018, 10:33:43 AM »
You have a PHD in clinical psychology? Can you tell me how painfully hard and competitive it is? What attitudes do you think are mandatory for me to change if I want even the slightest chance of getting one?

Relax, if you make goals, and work towards them you will probably achieve them.

Sounds like you are still quite young and that is fine. There are LOTS of people who have done this before you, its not like you are creating the Manhattan project all on your own. College is hard but honestly grad school was easier because you have more life experience and are a more efficient worker. I have not gotten my PHD but I assume that it is more of the same.

You will get better at managing your time, you will get better at studying and applying yourself. But you need to work on these things yourself if you ever want to get better at them.  If you are building the PHD up to be this insurmountable mountain, yes there is a good chance you will fail.

Focus on your current year. Don't completely sacrifice today to lay the ground work for that goal. Live in the moment at bit. Young people like yourself tend to change what they want to do from time to time, and that is OKAY! A 1000 mile journey starts with a single step and all.

If you care to share more about your age or at least where you are in the process I think you could get some good feedback.

Good luck.

magnet18

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Re: Is it okay to pay my friend to do some jobs in this specific situation?
« Reply #11 on: November 05, 2018, 12:23:13 PM »
+1 to the things getting easier (in engineering grad school)

You'll get better at time management, but I feel for you
Lask week I worked 40 hours and took an exam, then Saturday worked on rebuilding the engine for my vehicle and went for a 5 mile hike, and Sunday tried to see family
Other things on my todo list include insulating my floor, replacing my toilet, adding a new 30A electrical service, and installing a woodstove before I freeze to death.  It's easy to feel overwhelmed.

Some would say suck it up and do everything, which is the ideal, but I'll admit part of my $300/mo eating out expenses are because I only have so much time and energy


Part of it is where you are at the moment.  Ho-hum middle of a sophomore semester, probably ought to try to learn the time management.  It'll suck, but you'll come out the other side with expanded capabilities.  Cruch time of senior design project or finals week?  Yea, order takeout and do whatever you have to do to get enough sleep.

Given that you're stressing about decorations... Chill, you're letting everything pile on at once

Also, sounds like if time management is in a crunch, staying out of the family business may be a better bet than outsourcing your organization on a one-off basis

Goldielocks

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Re: Is it okay to pay my friend to do some jobs in this specific situation?
« Reply #12 on: November 05, 2018, 12:38:09 PM »
If you hire your friend -- do it contractor style.
Give her the list of tasks, and ask her how much she would charge for each one, and which ones she thinks she can do.
That way you won't be treating her like a subservient employee, but like a friend that has a gig-job that is mutually beneficial.
Do not use a $/hr rate, but a lump sum with estimated hours for each task.   You don't want to monitor it too closely, but do want to acknowledge when a task takes far longer than anticipated.

Be careful that providing instruction on how to do the task does not take up more time than the actual task, however!

Also, I noted that several of these involve extra skill / experience (hang a door, build table) that most of my friends don't have.   For example, I have now hung a door (ok, about 13 in our home) as the #2 person, so I know how to do it - sort of.  It is pretty difficult until you get the hang of it, and definitely is easier with a second person to hold it while you shim / screw it.

Smokystache

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Re: Is it okay to pay my friend to do some jobs in this specific situation?
« Reply #13 on: November 05, 2018, 01:52:42 PM »
You have a PHD in clinical psychology? Can you tell me how painfully hard and competitive it is? What attitudes do you think are mandatory for me to change if I want even the slightest chance of getting one?

I'd be happy to talk about it - but it helps to know if we're in the same country. You can do different things with different degrees in different countries and not sure that my experience would be relevant if you're not in the US.

Do you want to teach or practice or do research? If you want to teach, what type of university/college? If you want to practice, do you want to work at an agency, at a hospital, at a VA, open a private practice? If you want to be a "therapist" - then my first question is why do you want a PhD instead of becoming a professional counselor or clinical social worker?

How were your standardized test scores to get into your undergraduate program? What is your current college GPA? Are you willing to move to go to any program?

I've advised a LOT of undergraduate psychology students who thought they wanted to get a PhD and I talked most of them out of it. I'm not complaining, my degree has opened up a crazy number of opportunities for me. But depending on your goals it "might" be a big, fat waste of time, money, and effort. And there may be cheaper, faster, and easier routes to get to the same goals. I just want to make sure the path you think you should be on is the right one before we dig into what you might need to change to achieve this goal.

lhamo

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Re: Is it okay to pay my friend to do some jobs in this specific situation?
« Reply #14 on: November 05, 2018, 02:08:40 PM »
Also, if you could elaborate a bit more about why you are drawn to this field/career, it might help us help you brainstorm alternative paths to similar ends.  Not that you shouldn't pursue your dream -- but lots of people are prevented by different factors from pursuing Dream A.  That doesn't mean that there might not be a similar Dream B/C/D/E that you could pursue as a great alternative.

sergrief

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Re: Is it okay to pay my friend to do some jobs in this specific situation?
« Reply #15 on: November 06, 2018, 06:03:16 AM »
Quote
Relax, if you make goals, and work towards them you will probably achieve them.

Sounds like you are still quite young and that is fine. There are LOTS of people who have done this before you, its not like you are creating the Manhattan project all on your own. College is hard but honestly grad school was easier because you have more life experience and are a more efficient worker. I have not gotten my PHD but I assume that it is more of the same.

You will get better at managing your time, you will get better at studying and applying yourself. But you need to work on these things yourself if you ever want to get better at them.  If you are building the PHD up to be this insurmountable mountain, yes there is a good chance you will fail.

Focus on your current year. Don't completely sacrifice today to lay the ground work for that goal. Live in the moment at bit. Young people like yourself tend to change what they want to do from time to time, and that is OKAY! A 1000 mile journey starts with a single step and all.

If you care to share more about your age or at least where you are in the process I think you could get some good feedback.

Good luck.

Well, I'm not sure what to believe... You make it sound a little easier than it is. I've always been told that it's an extremely competitive field and only X percent of people manage to get in, so I figured being truthful about how difficult it will be is what will motivate me to work hard and do what 80% of people are failing to do.

I'm 20, doing my last year of psychology, I attend the Open University which is online based so I get to save up money while living at home with my parents.

sergrief

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Re: Is it okay to pay my friend to do some jobs in this specific situation?
« Reply #16 on: November 06, 2018, 06:07:24 AM »
+1 to the things getting easier (in engineering grad school)

You'll get better at time management, but I feel for you
Lask week I worked 40 hours and took an exam, then Saturday worked on rebuilding the engine for my vehicle and went for a 5 mile hike, and Sunday tried to see family
Other things on my todo list include insulating my floor, replacing my toilet, adding a new 30A electrical service, and installing a woodstove before I freeze to death.  It's easy to feel overwhelmed.

Some would say suck it up and do everything, which is the ideal, but I'll admit part of my $300/mo eating out expenses are because I only have so much time and energy


Part of it is where you are at the moment.  Ho-hum middle of a sophomore semester, probably ought to try to learn the time management.  It'll suck, but you'll come out the other side with expanded capabilities.  Cruch time of senior design project or finals week?  Yea, order takeout and do whatever you have to do to get enough sleep.

Given that you're stressing about decorations... Chill, you're letting everything pile on at once

Also, sounds like if time management is in a crunch, staying out of the family business may be a better bet than outsourcing your organization on a one-off basis

Well I'm not sure, I figured if I want to do something extremely difficult like obtain a PHD, I need to really discipline myself and realise that if I work "well enough" like everyone else, I'll always be a B student and not an A.

Staying in the family business is what gives me an easy income.

sergrief

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Re: Is it okay to pay my friend to do some jobs in this specific situation?
« Reply #17 on: November 06, 2018, 06:10:55 AM »
If you hire your friend -- do it contractor style.
Give her the list of tasks, and ask her how much she would charge for each one, and which ones she thinks she can do.
That way you won't be treating her like a subservient employee, but like a friend that has a gig-job that is mutually beneficial.
Do not use a $/hr rate, but a lump sum with estimated hours for each task.   You don't want to monitor it too closely, but do want to acknowledge when a task takes far longer than anticipated.

Be careful that providing instruction on how to do the task does not take up more time than the actual task, however!

Also, I noted that several of these involve extra skill / experience (hang a door, build table) that most of my friends don't have.   For example, I have now hung a door (ok, about 13 in our home) as the #2 person, so I know how to do it - sort of.  It is pretty difficult until you get the hang of it, and definitely is easier with a second person to hold it while you shim / screw it.

Yeah maybe it's a better idea to charge per task.

I was thinking that if I can get her to do the cleaning and organisation and decorations, it would actually give -me- the time to do  the extra skill work like hanging doors and building tables. I've hanged doors before (surprisingly easy to do alone as long as you have a little pry to elevate the door) and by "building a table" I just mean sticking some legs on some square surfaces to put things on top on in my shed.

sergrief

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Re: Is it okay to pay my friend to do some jobs in this specific situation?
« Reply #18 on: November 06, 2018, 06:19:56 AM »
You have a PHD in clinical psychology? Can you tell me how painfully hard and competitive it is? What attitudes do you think are mandatory for me to change if I want even the slightest chance of getting one?

I'd be happy to talk about it - but it helps to know if we're in the same country. You can do different things with different degrees in different countries and not sure that my experience would be relevant if you're not in the US.

Do you want to teach or practice or do research? If you want to teach, what type of university/college? If you want to practice, do you want to work at an agency, at a hospital, at a VA, open a private practice? If you want to be a "therapist" - then my first question is why do you want a PhD instead of becoming a professional counselor or clinical social worker?

How were your standardized test scores to get into your undergraduate program? What is your current college GPA? Are you willing to move to go to any program?

I've advised a LOT of undergraduate psychology students who thought they wanted to get a PhD and I talked most of them out of it. I'm not complaining, my degree has opened up a crazy number of opportunities for me. But depending on your goals it "might" be a big, fat waste of time, money, and effort. And there may be cheaper, faster, and easier routes to get to the same goals. I just want to make sure the path you think you should be on is the right one before we dig into what you might need to change to achieve this goal.

Yeah I'm in the UK so the process is a lot different. I'm interested in practice, and I know that (at least over here) there's a separate PHD called "ClinPsyD" specifically for practice. I think the best route for me would be working in the NHS over here, and after many years of experience open a private practice (or alternate between similar fields still working for others - I'm still open on the far future). Although I'm interested in regular counselling and psychotherapy, I do want to be able to treat people with severe mental disorders. Unless I've been completely wrong the entire time, regular therapists don't try and treat those with things like comorbid OCD and depression right? That's the job of a clinical psychologist along with a team of other healthcare professionals. My goal is to have the skill of being able to help people with all sorts of problems, whether it be severe like multiple incapacitating disorders, or those simply grieving over lost ones.

I go to the Open University, which has no grade requirements and you do it online.(for those who have never heard of it is, it's not a mickey mouse degree - it provides the exact same bachelor degree as everywhere else, it just doesn't have a campus). I'm in my last year. After that, it seems that the road for me would moving onto masters, but the OU doesn't provide a masters program specifically on this subject so I'll go to a campus based uni. I don't mind moving out. 
« Last Edit: November 06, 2018, 06:22:29 AM by sergrief »

sergrief

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Re: Is it okay to pay my friend to do some jobs in this specific situation?
« Reply #19 on: November 06, 2018, 07:02:33 AM »
Also, if you could elaborate a bit more about why you are drawn to this field/career, it might help us help you brainstorm alternative paths to similar ends.  Not that you shouldn't pursue your dream -- but lots of people are prevented by different factors from pursuing Dream A.  That doesn't mean that there might not be a similar Dream B/C/D/E that you could pursue as a great alternative.

I'm drawn to psychology for a number of reasons. I do absolutely love many of its subdisciplines, but I'm especially drawn to psychotherapy and clinical treatment. All I want to do is help as many people as I can. I was going to just become a therapist, but I realised I wouldn't have the skills needed to treat severe patients such as those suffering from co-existing debilitating disorders. So I decided I want to pursue a degree in clinical psychology. I understand that to become a regular therapist you don't actually need a degree, but training. So if I want to incorporate psychotherapy into my skillset after I become a clinical psychologist, I will do whatever training is required of me so I become well rounded and can practise many sorts of therapy or treatment.

Rosy

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Re: Is it okay to pay my friend to do some jobs in this specific situation?
« Reply #20 on: November 06, 2018, 09:40:24 AM »
Setting priorities is important, so is re-arranging your priorities so that you can focus on the most important goal - your studies.
I couldn't help but notice how many times you mentioned "extremely difficult" - are you perhaps a bit intimidated by your career choice and freaking out before you ever started?:)

Relax and set your own priorities and if they differ somewhat from your parent's expectations, so be it. Discuss it with them - starting out your studies totally stressed out and overwhelmed by a ton of nitty-gritty tasks is not in the least bit helpful.
You will become more efficient with time, the key is to follow through on what is important to you. Those tools and crap that currently resides in the shed - well, it may just have to wait until you have your own room sorted out and ready for study, right?:)
Unless the stuff is being rained on it doesn't matter - having a study space is your priority.

Here are my five cents worth of advice:
1. Priority one - complete your online studies and see about cutting and hanging that door - it will be a boost to see that job completed. Always good to be able to shut that door:)
2. Next, pick whatever help might be most important to your parents to be taken care of by your friend and call that little episode of your life done. You have now officially satisfied the obligation that you feel towards your friend.

3. Forget about the rest of your ongoing list until you are done setting up your room - set a deadline, don't make it a never-ending project. You don't have the luxury of time - if it isn't 100% so what? Do the important stuff and roll with the rest - if it is really important to you at some point, it will get done.
Set yourself up for success - re-arrange your to-do list and be aware that it is the nature of a to-do list to never end:)

4. My tip on how not to become overwhelmed by all the pending projects and endless to-do lists - is to never allow more than three items on my daily to-do list.

That way you get things done and it feels good to move on to the next list. (which you will often re-arrange - it is the nature of the beast:). Eventually, you realize that yes, you can do this - one three-item list at a time.
(Sure you can keep an ongoing list, but your working list will always only have three items on it, unless it is a project).
Each project gets its own list - buy paint for the car, look for sandpaper in the shed etc. - designate a time for it and voila - set timelines and deadlines.

Based on what you said, your room should be on the top of your list. A clean, organized space with enough storage and good lighting in all the right spots is essential.
Know what you need - a different desk, ergonomic seating, new cabinets for storage - start with the must-haves to have a great study space.

You can always make your own art while you let your mind wander and absorb the things you've studied, but if you don't have proper lighting (like daylight bulbs or reduced glare on your electronics) or a chair that doesn't kill your back ...

Set a deadline - bedding, new paint, enough storage, and big art pieces make a splash for a reasonable amount of money.
The decor may be secondary, but for some of us it is important - so think about exactly how you want your new room/study space to look like, make a plan and implement.
No reason why you can't take an hour or two to dream about your space and your life - do it while you talk that walk to clear your mind. Priority is only what you decide to allow to become priority.

Goldielocks

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Re: Is it okay to pay my friend to do some jobs in this specific situation?
« Reply #21 on: November 06, 2018, 11:31:34 AM »
Check with your top universities for a Masters how to get in with your bachelor's...  I know that masters in Psych here may require a faculty reference, or volunteer work on a study, or high marks on a Masters entrance exam, etc.  Each unit may be a bit different, so you need to build out that plan now.

The volunteer. / Faculty reference is yet another way that the carrier is made restrictive.   I agree that Psych is unusually so.

sergrief

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Re: Is it okay to pay my friend to do some jobs in this specific situation?
« Reply #22 on: November 07, 2018, 05:23:41 AM »
Setting priorities is important, so is re-arranging your priorities so that you can focus on the most important goal - your studies.
I couldn't help but notice how many times you mentioned "extremely difficult" - are you perhaps a bit intimidated by your career choice and freaking out before you ever started?:)

Relax and set your own priorities and if they differ somewhat from your parent's expectations, so be it. Discuss it with them - starting out your studies totally stressed out and overwhelmed by a ton of nitty-gritty tasks is not in the least bit helpful.
You will become more efficient with time, the key is to follow through on what is important to you. Those tools and crap that currently resides in the shed - well, it may just have to wait until you have your own room sorted out and ready for study, right?:)
Unless the stuff is being rained on it doesn't matter - having a study space is your priority.

Here are my five cents worth of advice:
1. Priority one - complete your online studies and see about cutting and hanging that door - it will be a boost to see that job completed. Always good to be able to shut that door:)
2. Next, pick whatever help might be most important to your parents to be taken care of by your friend and call that little episode of your life done. You have now officially satisfied the obligation that you feel towards your friend.

3. Forget about the rest of your ongoing list until you are done setting up your room - set a deadline, don't make it a never-ending project. You don't have the luxury of time - if it isn't 100% so what? Do the important stuff and roll with the rest - if it is really important to you at some point, it will get done.
Set yourself up for success - re-arrange your to-do list and be aware that it is the nature of a to-do list to never end:)

4. My tip on how not to become overwhelmed by all the pending projects and endless to-do lists - is to never allow more than three items on my daily to-do list.

That way you get things done and it feels good to move on to the next list. (which you will often re-arrange - it is the nature of the beast:). Eventually, you realize that yes, you can do this - one three-item list at a time.
(Sure you can keep an ongoing list, but your working list will always only have three items on it, unless it is a project).
Each project gets its own list - buy paint for the car, look for sandpaper in the shed etc. - designate a time for it and voila - set timelines and deadlines.

Based on what you said, your room should be on the top of your list. A clean, organized space with enough storage and good lighting in all the right spots is essential.
Know what you need - a different desk, ergonomic seating, new cabinets for storage - start with the must-haves to have a great study space.

You can always make your own art while you let your mind wander and absorb the things you've studied, but if you don't have proper lighting (like daylight bulbs or reduced glare on your electronics) or a chair that doesn't kill your back ...

Set a deadline - bedding, new paint, enough storage, and big art pieces make a splash for a reasonable amount of money.
The decor may be secondary, but for some of us it is important - so think about exactly how you want your new room/study space to look like, make a plan and implement.
No reason why you can't take an hour or two to dream about your space and your life - do it while you talk that walk to clear your mind. Priority is only what you decide to allow to become priority.

Thank you for your detailed help Rosy! You do understand the weird priority of room storage and decorations. Psychological studies do show that humans are hardwired to like beautiful things. our moods improve and our productivity increases when we are in a beautiful environment which is why I've been wanting to give my room a complete makeover. The grandma look is so depressing at the moment!

And yeah, I can see now that things that don't need immediate attention such as a messy shed can come AFTER the other important stuff is done. I'm gonna make sure that I organise my to-do list in a hierarchy of importance. It's a good suggestion to limit the amount of things to tick off each day on the to-do list. The first time I tried to tackle it, I thought I could complete three big things in one day, yet ended up doing a quarter of just one!

I've just started using a calendar schedule and it really helps me put a timer on the tasks I do. It's like mini deadlines for each item on my to-do list. I've organised it so I am alternating two hours of work with an hour of to-do list stuff, and it's really helping my concentration knowing that I get to look forward to ticking some extra jobs off the list each day.

Thanks once again!

CestMoi

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Re: Is it okay to pay my friend to do some jobs in this specific situation?
« Reply #23 on: November 07, 2018, 03:20:57 PM »
I see no problem with temporarily hiring someone to do extra chores for you if you can easily afford it and it doesn't become a regular thing. Once you get your degree, you probably won't be working 95% of your time, so you can make a chore schedule for yourself then. Still might be a good idea to look at your time and schedule in the near future, though, to see if you can reduce the amount of outside help you need, without killing yourself in the process.

Smokystache

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Re: Is it okay to pay my friend to do some jobs in this specific situation?
« Reply #24 on: November 09, 2018, 06:59:20 AM »
Also, if you could elaborate a bit more about why you are drawn to this field/career, it might help us help you brainstorm alternative paths to similar ends.  Not that you shouldn't pursue your dream -- but lots of people are prevented by different factors from pursuing Dream A.  That doesn't mean that there might not be a similar Dream B/C/D/E that you could pursue as a great alternative.

I'm drawn to psychology for a number of reasons. I do absolutely love many of its subdisciplines, but I'm especially drawn to psychotherapy and clinical treatment. All I want to do is help as many people as I can. I was going to just become a therapist, but I realised I wouldn't have the skills needed to treat severe patients such as those suffering from co-existing debilitating disorders. So I decided I want to pursue a degree in clinical psychology. I understand that to become a regular therapist you don't actually need a degree, but training. So if I want to incorporate psychotherapy into my skillset after I become a clinical psychologist, I will do whatever training is required of me so I become well rounded and can practise many sorts of therapy or treatment.

Others are addressing the choice to outsource some chores/duties and I'll let them cover that. I'm more focused on whether your ladder is against the correct building before you climb any further. Here are two thoughts:

1) If you haven't already, find a way to spend time in psychiatric hospitals or other facililties where you would be serving more severely mentally individuals. These tend to be environments that people either love or hate with little room in between. Environments vary based on services, funding, leadership, etc - but there is no substitute for spending long periods of time in in-patient facilities to determine if you could handle being there. I couldn't do that my entire career - worked at a Veterans Hospital that included a locked ward and I did the psych testing (no therapy). I was happy to get the experience and even happier that I don't work there. Don't get me wrong, we need great professionals to help individuals with these challenges - but make sure you won't burn out doing it.

2) You'll have to check into this in the UK, but (as you mentioned) PhD in clinical/counseling psych is very competitive. Therefore a free online college degree will often be a significant drawback to an applicant. At programs in the US, you will often have 150-200 applicants for a class of 6-10 students. Why would they take a chance on students from a program that they would deem to be easy and not as complete/strenuous? You can call this unfair - but the reality is with high GPAs and standardized test scores (GRE here) are begging to be let in, so they don't really have to look too far down the list. Perhaps I'm completely wrong, but in the US a degree from a free online program wouldn't be viewed as a strong degree. One way you could offset this is to absolutely crush the standardized testing for graduate school (again the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is what is used in the US). This would help a lot. Is it possible to transfer to a traditional school for the last year and then have your bachelors as being granted from that institution? Again, much may be different across the pond, but those are my initial thoughts. Best of luck!!

sergrief

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Re: Is it okay to pay my friend to do some jobs in this specific situation?
« Reply #25 on: November 10, 2018, 03:28:31 PM »
Yes I'm going to do lots of work experience as it's pretty much mandatory if I want to go into my field. For undergrads, working in mental heath hotlines is usually recommended, and postgrad becoming an assistant psychologist is one of the best ways to increase the intensity/difficulty of your work experience. Plus if I end up hating the entire thing after doing the experience, at least I know I'm heading down the wrong path.

Like I said, it's not a mickey mouse degree - the cost of my bachelor's is about 21,000 in USD, and it's only that cheap compared to a 'brick' university since there's no campus to maintain. Since it's online and can be accessed from anywhere, it's actually the biggest university in the UK, one of the biggest in Europe and the whole world. The degree is the exact same difficulty/intensity as a degree you would get from a campus university, it's just all done online. In fact the career counsellors I used to talk to said that one advantage to going to the OU is that employers think you're doing the entire degree all by yourself with no help, which shows that you are extremely disciplined and willing to work hard! So at least I got that under my belt.

To compete with all the other students trying to fight to get into a doctorate program, I have a mindset. The 5% or 10% of students who 'survive' and get in, they are doing something completely different than the majority of students. Therefore, I have to take a good look at my life and realise that I'm probably running my life the exact same way as everyone else, which is what makes me part of the majority. I need to organise my life differently, set my priorities straight, think outside the box constantly in regard to CVs/work experience and have an unorthodox attitude similar to an entrepreneur planning to establish his own business if I want a good solid chance at getting into a doctorate program.

This is partly the reason why I asked the question about whether it was okay for me to outsource some of my jobs in the hope that it gains me free time. I realised that it's fine as a one-off, but if I can't do all of it myself then I have a time-management problem that needs to be solved. So I'm gonna turn my mind and body into a project and tinker with it until I'm an effective and efficient mustachian!

Goldielocks

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Re: Is it okay to pay my friend to do some jobs in this specific situation?
« Reply #26 on: November 10, 2018, 05:00:40 PM »

To compete with all the other students trying to fight to get into a doctorate program, I have a mindset. The 5% or 10% of students who 'survive' and get in, they are doing something completely different than the majority of students. Therefore, I have to take a good look at my life and realise that I'm probably running my life the exact same way as everyone else, which is what makes me part of the majority. I need to organise my life differently, set my priorities straight, think outside the box constantly in regard to CVs/work experience and have an unorthodox attitude similar to an entrepreneur planning to establish his own business if I want a good solid chance at getting into a doctorate program.



Yes, but you still have not told us HOW those 5-10% got into the masters / doctorate programs.   What are the deciding factors in their favour? What are the top 3 things that the admissions faculty look for?

Freedomin5

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Re: Is it okay to pay my friend to do some jobs in this specific situation?
« Reply #27 on: November 11, 2018, 12:54:58 AM »
I have a similar doctorate in a clinical specialty, and I went into my doctoral programme from a small uni that was not well-known. I also started behind the pack because my undergrad is not in the same field as my masters and doctorate. My doctorate is not from the UK though.

Smokeystache has already brought up many great points, but regarding your desire to stand out from the crowd, my experience is the following,  applying as the underdog.

1. Apply for less competitive but accredited programs. In the US, programs are accredited by the American Psychological Association. Iím assuming there is a similar governing body for clin psych programs in the U.K.  Apply for programs in less well-known universities, but which are still accredited by the governing body. If youíre hoping to be a clinician, there is slightly less competition than if you want a tenure-track research position at a top tier uni after graduation. For clinicians, at the end of the day what people care about is that youíre licensed; which specific uni you attended is slightly less important, especially if youíre a really good psychologist and are awesome at your job (which is partially natural talent and partially good training). If you get into a smaller uni, then you just have to make sure you get really good practicum placements when you are in your program.

2. Get related work/volunteer experience as an undergrad. Work at the suicide/crisis hotlines. Volunteer with individuals with mental illness in either a hospital or outpatient community setting. Donít just volunteer for a few months just so you have something to put on your CV. Volunteer for a couple years.

3. Ace your standardized tests (GRE or U.K. equivalent). Like, donít just do well on them, REALLY ace them.

4. Write an awesome personal statement for your applications. Be different ó I think that helped to distinguish me from the other applicants, and nabbed me a scholarship. So donít be all ďI want to help people who are unable to help themselves.Ē Write a non-cliche, well-thought-out personal statement.

5. Get great references from your professors. Make sure your undergrad professors know you well and can write a personalized reference letter.. If you can volunteer as their research assistant, even better. My stats prof told me I was wasting my life applying to my social sciences PhD and asked me to consider becoming her stats PhD student. Thatís how much you want your undergrad professors to like you.   

This is why people say itís hard to get into a clin psych PhD program, or most PhD programs, for that matter.

NevermindScrooge

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Re: Is it okay to pay my friend to do some jobs in this specific situation?
« Reply #28 on: November 11, 2018, 02:06:56 PM »
Well done you on identifying your goals! I'm not a psychologist or from the UK, and/but (whichever is appropriate) I have some thoughts on your question. Feel free to ignore them as I'm not a specialist ;)
Some of the things you listed to be done are very hands-on. These can be doubly useful to do yourself because 1) if a clinical psychology PhD is very stressful, these manual tasks can help you clear your mind and 2) these would teach you some handy skills that will be useful for the rest of your life.

Besides that, my dad always told me never to do business with friends, family or neighbours because if it gets ugly, you will lose some valuable people. And at some point it will get ugly. I understand that you want to keep your promise, but as you said you didn't keep promises in the past, does she still want to work for you? Would this work-relationship change your personal relationship? How would you like to continue the relationship after her work is done?
You are in a stressful period in your life and you have some very important choices to make. Besides career, I think it is also important to think about the kind of adult you want to become*. Do you have some thoughts on who can be your role model?

*At 20 you are legally an adult, but I read somewhere that the human brain is only fully developed at about 24 years old. Especially the prefrontal cortex takes a long time in developing and that's the bit you need right now. So you are in a wonderful pickle and I can only wish you all the best and buckets of luck!

sergrief

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Re: Is it okay to pay my friend to do some jobs in this specific situation?
« Reply #29 on: November 12, 2018, 10:12:45 AM »
I have a similar doctorate in a clinical specialty, and I went into my doctoral programme from a small uni that was not well-known. I also started behind the pack because my undergrad is not in the same field as my masters and doctorate. My doctorate is not from the UK though.

Smokeystache has already brought up many great points, but regarding your desire to stand out from the crowd, my experience is the following,  applying as the underdog.

1. Apply for less competitive but accredited programs. In the US, programs are accredited by the American Psychological Association. Iím assuming there is a similar governing body for clin psych programs in the U.K.  Apply for programs in less well-known universities, but which are still accredited by the governing body. If youíre hoping to be a clinician, there is slightly less competition than if you want a tenure-track research position at a top tier uni after graduation. For clinicians, at the end of the day what people care about is that youíre licensed; which specific uni you attended is slightly less important, especially if youíre a really good psychologist and are awesome at your job (which is partially natural talent and partially good training). If you get into a smaller uni, then you just have to make sure you get really good practicum placements when you are in your program.

2. Get related work/volunteer experience as an undergrad. Work at the suicide/crisis hotlines. Volunteer with individuals with mental illness in either a hospital or outpatient community setting. Donít just volunteer for a few months just so you have something to put on your CV. Volunteer for a couple years.

3. Ace your standardized tests (GRE or U.K. equivalent). Like, donít just do well on them, REALLY ace them.

4. Write an awesome personal statement for your applications. Be different ó I think that helped to distinguish me from the other applicants, and nabbed me a scholarship. So donít be all ďI want to help people who are unable to help themselves.Ē Write a non-cliche, well-thought-out personal statement.

5. Get great references from your professors. Make sure your undergrad professors know you well and can write a personalized reference letter.. If you can volunteer as their research assistant, even better. My stats prof told me I was wasting my life applying to my social sciences PhD and asked me to consider becoming her stats PhD student. Thatís how much you want your undergrad professors to like you.   

This is why people say itís hard to get into a clin psych PhD program, or most PhD programs, for that matter.

Thanks for your advice. That's a good idea applying to a less competitive yet accreddited program. Honestly I struggle to believe that employers really care about which place you went to (maybe as long as it's not the worst one). If you've got a PHD with plenty of work experience and you're willing to work hard, I don't think they'll care which university you got your doctorate from.

I'm gonna do as much experience as I can handle and for at least 1 year for each place I work at. I'll research the hell out of what makes an original and effective personal statement that presses the employer's hot buttons.

sergrief

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Re: Is it okay to pay my friend to do some jobs in this specific situation?
« Reply #30 on: November 12, 2018, 10:16:37 AM »
Well done you on identifying your goals! I'm not a psychologist or from the UK, and/but (whichever is appropriate) I have some thoughts on your question. Feel free to ignore them as I'm not a specialist ;)
Some of the things you listed to be done are very hands-on. These can be doubly useful to do yourself because 1) if a clinical psychology PhD is very stressful, these manual tasks can help you clear your mind and 2) these would teach you some handy skills that will be useful for the rest of your life.

Besides that, my dad always told me never to do business with friends, family or neighbours because if it gets ugly, you will lose some valuable people. And at some point it will get ugly. I understand that you want to keep your promise, but as you said you didn't keep promises in the past, does she still want to work for you? Would this work-relationship change your personal relationship? How would you like to continue the relationship after her work is done?
You are in a stressful period in your life and you have some very important choices to make. Besides career, I think it is also important to think about the kind of adult you want to become*. Do you have some thoughts on who can be your role model?

*At 20 you are legally an adult, but I read somewhere that the human brain is only fully developed at about 24 years old. Especially the prefrontal cortex takes a long time in developing and that's the bit you need right now. So you are in a wonderful pickle and I can only wish you all the best and buckets of luck!

Yes I'm very much into DIY, especially after hearing about MMM and how it saves a lot of money.

Don't worry, it's not like that. We're best friends and the idea is very casual and we're both happy to help each other out. She's not working at the moment and she's super happy to make some easy pocket money.

I don't have -a- role model but lots of them all over the internet haha! One of them owns this blog!

spuggy

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Re: Is it okay to pay my friend to do some jobs in this specific situation?
« Reply #31 on: November 12, 2018, 11:58:30 AM »
Hi, I'm a clinical psychologist in the UK *waves*. It's quite competitive but it's not the most competitive thing you could be doing with your life, and I actually think you're probably doing yourself a disservice by assuming it's sooo stressful that you have to work at 500% of what everyone else is doing. You have to work hard, but obviously it's doable or people wouldn't do it. Give yourself a break :)
Some advice, for what it's worth:
Make sure your degree covers a fair bit of statistics - you are going to need that. If you don't like maths/research, don't become a clinical psychologist (the role is so much more now than just therapy, and honestly, if you just like the idea of therapy, become a therapist. You're sliiightly mistaken about treatment in that IAPT tries to treat most things these days, although the effectiveness of that is debatable. There's no clear division between "severe" and "moderate" although they would like to think there is, and you'll almost never see a "simple" case of depression, OCD, whatever. People are complex!).
Getting your first job as an assistant psychologist is probably the most competitive part of the process from what I hear, so make sure you focus on this to start with. Have a goal of applying to a course two-three years into your assistant posts, and you need to research the courses carefully as they're all different. You don't specifically need a masters as much as you need clinical experience, but it can't hurt if you have the time/money.
I can't give you any more specific advice because I did the Hull course (you'll know why that's different to the other courses and, honestly, if you weren't already doing a degree it's the one I would recommend). Good luck!

gaja

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Re: Is it okay to pay my friend to do some jobs in this specific situation?
« Reply #32 on: November 12, 2018, 12:17:07 PM »
Don't know anything about the degree you want, but thanks to some crazy years where I had two disabled babies/toddlers, worked, and studied full time, I do know a thing or two about prioritizing time. 100 % of the stuff on your list is unimportant, and can be postponed until you have finished your degree.

If you want to hire your friend to be nice; cool.

sergrief

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Re: Is it okay to pay my friend to do some jobs in this specific situation?
« Reply #33 on: November 13, 2018, 11:09:48 AM »
Hi, I'm a clinical psychologist in the UK *waves*. It's quite competitive but it's not the most competitive thing you could be doing with your life, and I actually think you're probably doing yourself a disservice by assuming it's sooo stressful that you have to work at 500% of what everyone else is doing. You have to work hard, but obviously it's doable or people wouldn't do it. Give yourself a break :)
Some advice, for what it's worth:
Make sure your degree covers a fair bit of statistics - you are going to need that. If you don't like maths/research, don't become a clinical psychologist (the role is so much more now than just therapy, and honestly, if you just like the idea of therapy, become a therapist. You're sliiightly mistaken about treatment in that IAPT tries to treat most things these days, although the effectiveness of that is debatable. There's no clear division between "severe" and "moderate" although they would like to think there is, and you'll almost never see a "simple" case of depression, OCD, whatever. People are complex!).
Getting your first job as an assistant psychologist is probably the most competitive part of the process from what I hear, so make sure you focus on this to start with. Have a goal of applying to a course two-three years into your assistant posts, and you need to research the courses carefully as they're all different. You don't specifically need a masters as much as you need clinical experience, but it can't hurt if you have the time/money.
I can't give you any more specific advice because I did the Hull course (you'll know why that's different to the other courses and, honestly, if you weren't already doing a degree it's the one I would recommend). Good luck!

Ok, so I want to be as objective about this assumption as I can. I realise that I might be excessive in presuming that obtaining a PHD is more difficult than it is, but I'm having a hard time believing everyone's laid back attitude towards it. I mean if you have 150-200 applicants applying for a class that accepts about 10 students, I'm not sure how you can't be concerned about that. If I assume it's very very very hard, and as a consequence I end up acing my degree and collecting various work experience under my belt and easily getting into a doctorate program, then all that means is that having very high expectations is a good way to guarantee you won't fail. I'm not gonna say "woah I worked too hard at it, I didn't know it was easier than this, I should tone it down a notch". Plus, maybe the people holding doctorates in this thread have an underlying advantage/commonality that let them obtain their doctorates which an "average" student doesn't have. I'm trying to assume I'm that average student and must work as hard as I can to get a PHD. I've never got an A grade in my GCSEs, I actually got a D in A-level psychology, I couldn't get a first class grade last year, why should I relax my attitude on the difficulties of getting a PHD?

However I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this.

If clinical psychologists do a lot more than therapy, can you tell me what it involves? I've been trying to research what exactly a clinical psychologist does, and all the official career advice websites just say they design and deliver treatment plans for people with severe disorders. Psychotherapists are said to deal with more commonly occuring problems in life (although they can still treat depression/anxiety/other disorders) but clinical psychologists are much more focused on psychopathology. Another thing is, since there are two separate PHDs in clinical psychology, one for research and one for practice, I'm not sure how a practising PHD would involve a lot more than practice. So if you're gonna say clinical psychologists do a lot of research and statistics, it might not be applicable in my case.

I do like to work in therapy, helping people with general problems, and I'm interested in treating people with disorders, whether it's minor or severe, and I'm interested in doing this in different environments. Private room, clinical setting, even a prison. I'm learning about HMP Grendon and how it's the only prison in the UK that uses psychotherapy to help rehabilitate prisoners to actually come out a better person when they leave prison. I'm really considering making it an actual goal to eventually work in Grendon. I'd have to do some career research however on what type of psychologists do this, whether it's standard psychotherapists, or clinical psychologists or forensic psychologists or all of them.

I have no idea whether I'd like research to be a part of my job, literally no idea, but I have a growing interest in learning from the mountain of academic literature about the different subfields of psychology and how integrating that knowledge can aid me as a clinical psychologist. So that might be a tell-tale sign.


If all I need is a BA and lots of work experience to apply for a doctorate then what extra benefit would a masters give me? Do the benefits outweigh the student loan costs?

Sorry but I have to pick your brain! Funnily enough I find normal people more helpful than career counsellors/websites!


sergrief

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Re: Is it okay to pay my friend to do some jobs in this specific situation?
« Reply #34 on: November 13, 2018, 11:13:02 AM »
Don't know anything about the degree you want, but thanks to some crazy years where I had two disabled babies/toddlers, worked, and studied full time, I do know a thing or two about prioritizing time. 100 % of the stuff on your list is unimportant, and can be postponed until you have finished your degree.

If you want to hire your friend to be nice; cool.

Well if you've had to prioritise your time -that- much due to your situation, to the point where everything on my list is unimportant, it says a lot about what things truly are priorities. I feel silly now that I'm stressing over having enough time to clean up a shed that never gets looked at!

Thanks.

Freedomin5

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If youíre going to do a PhD, you need a solid stats background because you need to know how to interpret research. Even with a clinical PhD where your goal is to practice (rather than do research), youíre going to be asked to assess new clinical methods/interventions, or a new treatment for a certain disorder, and you need to be able to understand the research / clinical trial outcomes that support that intervention. As a clinician, you will be asked to read psychological assessment reports, and you need to be able to understand the numbers supporting the clinical impressions.

So yes, you have to understand the difference between causation vs. correlation, youíll need to know what a multivariate analysis is, you have to know what percentile ranks are and how they differ from cumulative percentiles, and how to interpret z-scores, T-scores, scaled scores, and standard scores. You have to know why being plus/minus two standard deviations from the mean is significant. You may not need to remember how to run an ANOVA as a clinician, but you do need to know what it means and the clinical significance of the results.

lhamo

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I am going to be a bit blunt here -- if it is too painful I can delete.

Most people who get into competitive Ph.D. programs have 20 some years behind them of being at the top of their ranks academically.  They have typically aced all prior selective exams and graduated at or near the top of their class.  This does not mean they are better people.  It means they are better at taking tests and doing well in the very peculiar world that is academics (which is not very much like the real world).  It probably also points to a certain (maybe very large) amount of privilege in the form of economic and social affluence that allowed them to do well in an educational system already set up to favor certain groups/classes of people.

Your past and current academic performance would be a red flag for me on an admissions committee.  Not that it isn't something that could be overcome, but no As on GCSEs, a D on A level psych, and absence of a first class grade in your current course are all warning signs that you might not be up to the academic and other challenges of a Ph.D.  Graduate school is a slog, even if you love it.  You need to be able to process and retain information quickly and accurately, and to draw connections between different pieces of data. 

Now, that being said, I worked for many years on one of the most prestigious international fellowship programs and I tried hard to advocate for candidates who I saw may have been less advantaged but were overcoming those disadvantages and on an upward trajectory.  I loved the people who had been out of undergrad and worked for a few years (over 50% of our candidates were completing their first degree when they applied, so would not have had any work experience).  The ones who had been out there in the real world and saw a real problem and figured out a research project that would address it in some way.  Who wanted to get on the ground research experience BEFORE they started grad school.  The ones who held down multiple -- sometimes menial -- jobs while in college so they didn't have to take out too many student loans. 

I think you need to be realistic about your chances of getting into a program, and put at least as much effort into getting real world experience as on the academic side.  You need to learn to study smarter, not harder.  Learn the tricks that will help you pass the exams.  And get stellar recommendations from your real-life colleagues and supervisors in the mental health field. 

Most of all, please don't decide that the only thing that will allow you to work in this field is a doctorate.  Yes, it would be an asset, but there are many ways to get involved in mental health work that don't require that long, hard slog.  You need to talk with as many people in the field as you can.  Get a better sense for what opportunities are out there and what gaps you can fill.  You are still very young.  You have time to explore.  Don't lock yourself in a room studying before you have a better sense of the field and what your place in it might be, both with and without an advanced degree.


NevermindScrooge

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Lhamo may be blunt, but there is a lot of truth in there! Where Iím from you donít need a PhD to become a good psychologist! In fact, the best one I met had dropped out.

sergrief

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I am going to be a bit blunt here -- if it is too painful I can delete.

Most people who get into competitive Ph.D. programs have 20 some years behind them of being at the top of their ranks academically.  They have typically aced all prior selective exams and graduated at or near the top of their class.  This does not mean they are better people.  It means they are better at taking tests and doing well in the very peculiar world that is academics (which is not very much like the real world).  It probably also points to a certain (maybe very large) amount of privilege in the form of economic and social affluence that allowed them to do well in an educational system already set up to favor certain groups/classes of people.

Your past and current academic performance would be a red flag for me on an admissions committee.  Not that it isn't something that could be overcome, but no As on GCSEs, a D on A level psych, and absence of a first class grade in your current course are all warning signs that you might not be up to the academic and other challenges of a Ph.D.  Graduate school is a slog, even if you love it.  You need to be able to process and retain information quickly and accurately, and to draw connections between different pieces of data. 

Now, that being said, I worked for many years on one of the most prestigious international fellowship programs and I tried hard to advocate for candidates who I saw may have been less advantaged but were overcoming those disadvantages and on an upward trajectory.  I loved the people who had been out of undergrad and worked for a few years (over 50% of our candidates were completing their first degree when they applied, so would not have had any work experience).  The ones who had been out there in the real world and saw a real problem and figured out a research project that would address it in some way.  Who wanted to get on the ground research experience BEFORE they started grad school.  The ones who held down multiple -- sometimes menial -- jobs while in college so they didn't have to take out too many student loans. 

I think you need to be realistic about your chances of getting into a program, and put at least as much effort into getting real world experience as on the academic side.  You need to learn to study smarter, not harder.  Learn the tricks that will help you pass the exams.  And get stellar recommendations from your real-life colleagues and supervisors in the mental health field. 

Most of all, please don't decide that the only thing that will allow you to work in this field is a doctorate.  Yes, it would be an asset, but there are many ways to get involved in mental health work that don't require that long, hard slog.  You need to talk with as many people in the field as you can.  Get a better sense for what opportunities are out there and what gaps you can fill.  You are still very young.  You have time to explore.  Don't lock yourself in a room studying before you have a better sense of the field and what your place in it might be, both with and without an advanced degree.

Thank you for the honest advice.

I have some questions:

1) so last year I did three modules. Two of them got a 2:1, another got a first class (the main psychology module). Not stellar, but pretty good. I'm in my last year so I can't say what my overall degree grade is. If I work hard and smart enough and get a first class, do you think this will be one way of overcoming my tainted academic record? To demonstrate that yes I wasn't an A grade secondary school and college student, but I actually excelled in university and got a first class? Or would the committee make up their minds on the GCSE and A-level grades?

2) it was recommended to me to take a break for a year after I finish my degree to really consider my choices. If I use this time to gain valuable work experience will this help me? Or would you say 2-3 years is more appropriate?

3) when you say some of those candidates underwent their own personal research project to address some problems (which is the exact type of "standing out" I'm thinking about btw) how did this come of any use to employers/organisations? I thought they can only make big policy decisions based on data provided by official academics, not one person who did their own project and don't have credentials. Can you expand?

4) To put it simply, is getting a LOT of work experience, and highly valuable, relevant, maybe even rare work experience might I add, a good way to balance out my record?

5) Since you were on the admissions committee, are there any other practical things one can do to stand out? That personal project undertaking is a stellar example of showing you are willing and capable to get into academia.

I will of course do as much career research as I can to look at as much options as I can.