Dear me, future psychologist. Yours truly, Dr. Howard Gardner

Posted in Advice, Graduate School, Humor

It’s time for the second installment of Dear me, future psychologist, a gradPSYCH Blog exclusive in which a prominent psychologist writes a letter to his/her 16-year-old self. We hope you enjoy these letters and glean some invaluable wisdom and guidance as you decide whether to enter graduate school in psychology, as you navigate the challenges of graduate school, and as you make decisions about your career and life.

Author photo courtesy Dr. Gardner.

Howard Gardner (source: author’s own).

This letter is from Howard Gardner, PhD. Dr. Gardner is the Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, and Senior Director of Harvard Project Zero. He is best known for his theory of multiple intelligences, a critique of the notion that there exists but a single human intelligence that can be adequately assessed by standard psychometric instruments. During the past two decades, Gardner and colleagues at Project Zero have been involved in the design of performance-based assessments; education for understanding; the use of multiple intelligences to achieve more personalized curriculum, instruction, and pedagogy; and the quality of interdisciplinary efforts in education. For more info, please visit Dr. Gardner’s website.

DEAR-ME

FROM THE DESK OF HOWARD GARDNER:

Dear Howie,

For your bar mitzvah, cousin Walter gave you book plates decorated with three pictures: a book cover (you love to read); a musical score  (you are an avid classical pianist); and a spade (you are a gard(e)ner). Those icons capture you: not athletic, not particularly social (though you have close friends), eager to go to college and to test yourself in a world wider than Scranton, Pennsylvania.

This year, Uncle Fred gave you a psychology textbook. I doubt that you knew about this subject—except for Fred, your family is not oriented toward academics. But as you leafed through the book, a picture caught your eye: the Ishihara test for color blindness. Severely color blind, you have pondered how the world looks to others. But you had not realized that scientists can study color-blindedness and elucidate what you can and cannot see.

I became a research psychologist. Though color blind, myopic, without stereoscopic vision, and prosopagnosic (all intriguing conditions!), I nonetheless elected to study artistic vision. I wrote my doctoral thesis on how individuals recognize the styles of visual artists; I was a founding member of Harvard Project Zero, a research group focused on artistic cognition; and I belong to two artistic boards (the Boston Landmarks Orchestra and New York’s Museum of Modern Art). Clearly the seed planted by Uncle Fred benefited from the gardening suggested by cousin Walter.

“Howie” in his school yearbook (source: author’s own).

By no means do I urge you to become a psychologist. (Even twenty-five years ago, I realized that neuroscience and genetics were equally germane for my scholarly interests).   I urge you not to take the line of least resistance for a bright Jewish boy— becoming a doctor or a lawyer. I’d add that you should not unreflectively follow those of your peers who feel that they need either become a management consultant (McKinsey) or an investment banker (Goldman Sachs).

I know that you don’t believe in reincarnation or in an afterlife. You only get one shot on earth, and it could terminate at any time. I have two recommendations that you’ve heard from others. But since they come from someone who shares your DNA, I hope that they have added credibility:

1. Follow your passion, your love, do what you most want to do vocationally and avocationally. Don’t worry about how much money you will make or what others will think.  If you embrace your interests and follow them well, you will be fine.

2. Think beyond your own needs and desires; serve the wider community. Following my quarter century of psychological research, I’ve spent the last twenty years trying to understand how individuals become good workers and good citizens and trying to help people your age pursue and embrace these broader forms of service.

Given your many talents and your supportive family, I have full confidence that you’ll make us proud of what you accomplish and how you accomplish it.

Howard

 

Editor’s Note: Dear Me, Future Psychologist is inspired by the Dear Me book series by Joseph Galliano. Special thanks to David A. Meyerson, Ph.D. for curating these.

 

Fun with data: Internship Stipends, cost of living, and practicum hours

Posted in Advocacy, APA, Graduate School, Training Issues

Many graduate students in clinical, counseling and school psychology programs are preparing applications to internship positions across the country this fall. The internship component has been a requirement to earn a doctoral degree in these programs for decades. And every year the American Psychological Association’s Commission on Accreditation (CoA) collects data on students in accredited doctoral and internship programs.

Let’s have some fun with those data!

The first chart shows the mean and standard deviation of stipends from APA accredited internships from 1998 to 2012. Click the chart to magnify it:

Intern Stipends

Since 1998, the mean stipend for clinical, counseling, and school psychology interns has increased steadily. In fact, the stipends one standard deviation below the mean have increased by almost $5,000. (Source.)

While internship stipends have generally been increasing, do they cover the cost of living? My second chart presents the percent change in the median internship stipend and the percent change in the consumer price index (CPI) from year to year:

Stipends vs CPI

As you can see, the percent change in median stipend amount is greater than the percent change in CPI for some years but not others. It seems that although many stipends cover the cost of living, the percent change in stipend amounts is not always in pace with this marker of inflation (source). The good news? The 1998 mean intern stipend, adjusted for inflation, still beats the amount one would expect to earn in adjusted dollars for 2012 by nearly $1,500.

The percent change in stipend amounts is not always in pace with this marker of inflation.

Beyond stipends, I decided to look at the trends in practicum hours reported by internship applicants. In particular, I wondered if the internship crisis was leading to greater accumulation of hours by students who desire to appear more competitive. This third chart shows practicum hours of applicants from 2006 to 2012, broken into supervision and assessment/intervention categories:

Practicum Hours

It appears that the trends in supervision and in assessment/intervention hours are similar between the APA mean (blue) and APPIC median (red) hours. If we look at the most recent data, it appears that median hours are increasing over time. Students applied to internships with 18% more intervention/assessment hours in the eight years between 2006 and 2013.

It appears that median hours are increasing over time.

(Sources: Mean practicum hours are reported by APA, though public release of data in this area ceased in 2010. Median hours are reported by the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers, or APPIC. It is important to note that APA accredits some doctoral and internship programs, almost all of which send students through the APPIC national match. APPIC data report students from accredited and unaccredited doctoral programs vying for accredited and unaccredited internships.)

Any thoughts on the data I presented? Are you surprised by the trends? Do any possible interpretations come to mind? I welcome you to comment on this post!

APAGS on the Road! California: 9/20 and 9/21

Posted in Graduate School, Training Issues
APAGS is coming to California in one week to offer a half-day workshop for students and recent psychology graduates.

In sponsorship with the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards and The Trust,  we will present sessions to help students and recent grads grapple topics such as:

  • Building a private practice — identifying different types of private practice, discerning what types of practice you might envision for yourself and developing a plan to start that practice.
  • Loan forgiveness — brief overviews of the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program, Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program and NIH Loan Repayment Program.
  • Psychological services in the digital age — applying key ethical principles to evaluate risks, benefits and appropriateness of using electronic communication and social media in professional practice.
  • Preparing for the EPPP — best practices for studying for the licensure exam.

Advance registration is $15 before Sept. 15, 2014. On-site registration is available for $20. Follow these links to register:

See you in California!

Spreading Awareness and Taking Action on the Internship Crisis

Posted in Advocacy, Graduate School, Training Issues

IMG_6735This spring, a group of APAGS members recorded a short video about the real struggles that doctoral students are facing as a result of the imbalance between internship applicants and positions – and how these struggles inform the field we care so deeply about. We hope that you can use this video as a tool to spread awareness of the internship crisis and catalyze solutions to ending it. Please watch it here:

When you click the link at the end of the video — http://on.apa.org/internshipcrisis — you are brought to a page with a number of awareness, advocacy, and action steps. The video shows that we have a large stake in the issue. The list of steps reveals that we have the skills and ability to do something about it!

APAGS intends for this video to be a stepping stone on the way to solving the internship crisis. Please share it amongst your friends, colleagues, and faculty. What did you think? What action will you take? Leave your comments on our blog.

Editor’s note: Todd Avellar is a doctoral student studying Counseling Psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and was a Member at Large on the APAGS Committee through August 2014. Applications for APAGS subcommittee members are being accepted through 9/10/14.

Applying to graduate school? Ask these 15 questions

Posted in Advice, Graduate School

Getting in to graduate school is hard. I know this. And like many of you, I obsessed over the “Will I be liked?” question as I waited for any offer to come in. I now see that focusing on that question obscures another equally important one: “Do I really like the programs I am applying to?”

In my role, I sometimes hear students recount how different their program is compared to the slick marketing they’ve received from schools attracting candidates. While I can offer no advice on which institutions should be on someone’s list, I do want to shift the power dynamic in your favor. Let’s get thinking about how to find the graduate programs that will help you meet your professional goals and provide you with the highest quality training experiences possible in the field of psychology. Sound good?

Last month, I co-presented (with Dr. Nabil El-Ghoroury) a workshop at APA’s Annual Convention. The workshop was centered around 15 questions that “smart shoppers” should ask of the programs on their list, but it also included some information about different types of degrees and subfields, and the cost of education.

To learn what you should be asking, view the slideshow below or download the slides directly:

Download the PDF file .

Please also check out the resource page on our website for more tools from APAGS and our colleagues in the Education Directorate. If you want to hear a live version of this presentation, we’ll be in Los Angeles on September 20 and Berkeley on September 21. Stay tuned to our Facebook page for announcements of future webinars, live workshops, and more tutorials.

May you make this decision with eyes wide open to the objective and subjective factors that will make your future graduate school the right fit for you. Best wishes.