Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Thirty, clumsy, and shy

Today I had my last final of the semester, in my Counseling class. Afterwards, I went to lunch with a couple of friends from the class, David and Rebecca. Both of them are also "non-traditional" students like me: David is 33, and Rebecca is a 45-year-old single mother of 3(!) putting her life back together after a disastrous marriage and some intense hardship. I've known her for 2 semesters, but we never really spoke much until the last few weeks, when we totally bonded over the fact that we both want to specialize in sexual minorities and people with "gender issues" (transsexuals, transgenders, intersexed children and their families, etc) in our future therapeutic practices. David is graduating this semester, and is about to head to graduate school in San Francisco in about a month; he's getting a PsyD, also, and I say also because I have definitively decided that's what I want. It's a big commitment, but I've decided it's important to me. Teaching is important to me, and so is the prestige, if you want to know the truth. I'll be a doctor! It's crazy to think about. I won't lie, I want the title.

Anyway, we had a really great talk about grad schools, and our futures, and we all three thought it would be incredible to finish up, get our degrees, and then start our own little practice, with three little offices in one building, with each of our names on the doors. David and I both sort of assume, barring something crazy, that we'll both come back to Austin when we're done, and Rebecca's getting her Master's in Counseling at St. Edwards, because she can't really take off for somewhere far away.

When I got home from work tonight I had two packets from schools: from the Wright Institute in Berkeley, and from Antioch in Keene, New Hampshire. I began flipping through them, looking at course descriptions and faculty, and I started getting a weird panicky feeling.

Like, wow, am I really doing this? Am I really going to take 3 semesters of Statistics? Am I really going to take courses called "Intervention: Cognitive-Behavioral," and "Advanced Psychopathology and Psychodiagnosis," and "Neuropsychological Screening?" I guess I am. Am I really going to have to start sending out applications when I get back from camp in August? I guess I am. Both colleges included applications with the packets they sent me, complete with letters of recommendation forms and invitations to come visit the schools. Within 9 months from now, I'll be flying here and there to go to interviews. It's like finding a new job. With a 5-year minimum commitment. It's scary as hell. Exciting, thrilling, inspiring. But terrifying. Time-wise, moving-wise, money-wise. So much commitment. But on the other hand, I swear to God I can't think of a single thing in the world I'd rather do. It feels so right, I feel so strong and confident about it, I lay awake at night thinking about it like a kid on Christmas Eve.

So luckily, there are only about 40 PsyD programs in the whole country, so finding places I wanted to go and narrowing it down was much easier than trying to wade through all the Master's options. So here are my school choices, and where I will be sending application packets this fall, in no (mostly) particular order (If you're bored of my talking about grad schools, I'm sorry. I know I'm a broken record right now, but it really does constitute the better part of my brain these days, most of the time):

Pacific University, Portland;
the Wright Institute, Berkeley (it's right across the street from Stanford!);
Rutgers, Piscataway, New Jersey (they invented the PsyD degree, back in the 60's);
the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology, Boston;
Antioch, in Keene, New Hampshire;
and just for kicks -
George Washington University in D.C.

So wish me luck. I'm totally obsessed.

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