Tag Archives: Mentors

4 Strategies for Success for the Low-Income Grad Student

piggy-bank-phd-mhtBy Kala J. Melchiori, PhD (Asst. Professor of Psychology, James Madison University)

Dear low-income graduate students,

If you come from a less privileged background, graduate school can present unique social and cultural challenges. Perhaps the biggest hurdle for low-income grad students after financial worry is belonging. Students of lower socioeconomic backgrounds report lower feelings of belonging during graduate school and beyond[i]. Students who feel they do not belong are more likely to drop out of their programs and steer away from high-prestige academic positions (like R1 or R2[1] tenure-track jobs) after they graduate. Below I offer some advice I wish I had heard before starting graduate school.

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Students at a #blacklivesmatter die-in. There is a planned die-in across the country on April 4. (Image source: Author).

National Graduate Student in Psychology Die-In on April 4

Students at a #blacklivesmatter die-in. There is a planned die-in across the country on April 4. (Image source: Author).

Med students at a #blacklivesmatter die-in at Stanford University. There is a planned die-in across the country on April 4. (Image source: David Purger, PhD, Stanford University. Used with permission.)

Editor’s Note: This post is submitted by Luciano Lima, a doctoral student at the Illinois School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University, in Chicago, Illinois. APAGS does not have an official position on this event, and takes no responsibility for any actions that may result from one’s independent decision to participate. 

Open Letter to Graduate Students in Psychology

Over the past few years this country has experienced an upwelling of racial strife resulting from the deaths of numerous black men, boys, and women at the hands of police officers. In response, medical students throughout the country staged a coordinated nationwide Die-In protest against racial bias and violence, which included over 90 medical schools and thousands of students. I observed their activities with admiration and thought to myself, “Why can’t we do that? The reasons provided by the medical students for their protest are just as applicable to graduate students in psychology:

“Racial bias and violence are not exclusively a problem of the criminal justice system. As we have seen in Ferguson, Mo., New York, and countless other places, bias kills, sickens, and results in inadequate healthcare. As medical students, we must take a stand against the oppression of our black and brown patients, colleagues, friends, and family. By standing together at medical schools nationwide, we hope to demonstrate that the medical student community views racial violence as a public health crisis. We are‪#‎whitecoats4blacklives.”

Racial bias causes damage not only to the physical, but also the mental health of our clients. We are intimate witnesses to the psychological harm that results from police violence and racial profiling—from the teenager who is unjustly stopped and searched on a routine basis merely for possessing the wrong skin color, to the families, loved ones, and communities traumatized by senseless killings.

In the APA Ethics Code, a guiding principle of our profession is promoting the welfare and protection of the individuals and groups with whom psychologists work. The code also calls on psychologists to “respect and protect the civil and human rights” of our clients. When the welfare of our clients is jeopardized by racial discrimination, we are called to stand up and seek justice on their behalf. Towards this end, we are calling for a coordinated nationwide Die-In demonstration of graduate psychology students and others who are passionate about this cause.

The nationwide Die-In of graduate psychology students will be on Monday, April 4, 2016, the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

We call on fellow students to take up the torch and organize Die-ins on their respective campuses. The Chicago branch of the Die-in will be meeting at Daley Plaza (50 W Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602) at exactly 5 p.m., central time. We will lay together in silence for 16 minutes, each minute representing one of the bullets fired into Laquan McDonald. Please bring signs and dress for the weather!

We have created a Facebook event page to help coordinate our activities.

We call on student leaders to spread the word throughout their programs, so that we can make a powerful statement of our values and vision for the future. Also, please share this letter on social media and email your friends and colleagues to help get the word out.

Your Fellow Students,


For additional questions please contact Luciano Lima and Keisha-Marie Alridge.

What rights can psychology graduate students expect no matter where or what they study? (Image source: Julia Manzerova on Flickr. Some rights reserved.)

Graduate Students Have Rights. APAGS Just Spelled Them Out.

What rights should psychology graduate students expect no matter where or what they study? (Image source: Julia Manzerova on Flickr. Some rights reserved.)

What rights should psychology graduate students expect no matter where or what they study? (Image source: Julia Manzerova on Flickr. Some rights reserved.)

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard a graduate student in psychology discuss aspects of their training or education that seemed inequitable, I could pay back all my loans.

Too often in graduate school, students come across situations in which they believe their rights have been infringed upon in some way. When this occurs, many students feel at a loss for how to advocate for themselves and what they can or should be able to reasonably advocate for. The result for many students is dissatisfaction, frustration, and occasionally leaving a training program or experience.

The APAGS Committee has honed in on this student concern over the past year and opted to move forward with creating a student “bill of rights.” This was a very detailed process that included a literature review of various student right documents from across the world, drafting lists of rights based on this literature and our own experiences, and completing many revisions with input from APAGS leaders and many outside resources.

At long last, the APAGS Committee voted in December to approve a document titled, “Position Statement on the Rights of Psychology Graduate Students.” The Committee is planning to distribute these rights across various platforms and to a variety of constituents. The Committee is even considering bringing the document to APA’s Council of Representatives for consideration as an official policy document! That’s a huge step, and we will keep you posted.

In the meantime, we hope that students, programs, and other interested parties can use this document to their benefit. Use it to advocate for your own rights and thereby create a program or training experience of the highest caliber. If you have other ideas and reactions, we would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below!

Here now is the text of our position statement, which is also available on our website.

Position Statement on the Rights of Psychology Graduate Students


The American Psychological Association of Graduate Students (APAGS) deems the rights described in this document to be indispensable to the fair, equitable and respectful treatment of every psychology graduate student throughout their education and training. The protection of these rights fosters the highest quality graduate training experience. APAGS considers these rights essential, not aspirational, and we urge graduate programs to implement these rights in their unique settings and training environments. We encourage current and prospective students to utilize these rights in making informed graduate program selections and in advocating for themselves as issues arise.

1. Institutional Environment

1.1 Right to respectful treatment by faculty members, colleagues, staff, and peers.

1.2 Right to have professional and personal information handled in a sensitive and respectful manner such that personal information is only disclosed when it is deemed necessary for educational or training purposes, and that students are informed prior to any such disclosure (See Ethical Standard 7.04).

1.3 Right to affordable insurance inclusive of health, vision, dental, and mental health care coverage.

2. Program Policies

2.1 Right to publicly available, accurate, and up-to-date descriptions of costs, the availability of financial support, and the likelihood of ongoing support throughout training (e.g., percent of students with full and partial financial support during year one, year two, etc.; available funding options), to be provided prior to or immediately following the program’s interviews for prospective students (See Ethical Standard 7.02).

2.2 Right to accurate and up-to-date information from research advisors and thesis/dissertation committee members on professional factors that could impact student training, career development, and timely program completion.

2.3 Right to access and exercise formal written policies regarding leave and accommodations as they pertain to pregnancy, parenting/caregiving, bereavement, medical or mental illness, and disability.

2.4 Right to access and exercise formal written policies and procedures regarding academic and placement/internship requirements, administrative procedures, evaluation, advisement, retention, average “time to degree,” and termination (See Ethical Standard 7.02).

2.5 Right to express opinions and have representation on campus committees relevant to professional development, with voting privileges where appropriate.

2.6 Right to exemption from new graduation or program requirements, developed after admission, that might result in a delay of graduation.

3. Professional and Educational Training Opportunities

3.1 Right to appropriate professional training (e.g., teaching, research, clinical practice) in the current standards and practices of the discipline and specialty area (See Ethical Standard 7.01).

3.2 Right to be evaluated by faculty consistent with current ethical practices in employment, progression through the program, and grading, solely on the basis of academic performance, professional qualifications, and/or conduct (See Ethical Standard 7.06).

3.3 Right to quality mentorship.

3.4 Right to change advisors and committee members for professional and personal needs.

3.5 Right to receive timely, ongoing feedback on all areas of trainee competency and the opportunity to address growth areas with support from faculty.

3.6 Right to co-authorship in publications when the student has made significant contributions of ideas or research work (See Ethical Standards 8.11 and 8.12 a-c).

3.7 Right to freely communicate and collaborate with other academic colleagues.

3.8 Right to lead, assemble, and participate in organizations and activities outside the academic program.

3.9 Right to engage in self care as a routine practice throughout training (See Ethical Standards 3.05 and 3.06).

4. Work Environment

4.1 Right to fair compensation for services provided during training (e.g., graduate, teaching, and research assistantships).

4.2 Right for students providing services during training (e.g., teaching, research, clinical, and administrative graduate assistantships) to enjoy the recognitions, rights, privileges, and protections afforded to employees under state, provincial, territorial, and national labor laws.

4.3 Right to study and work in an environment free of exploitation, intimidation, harassment, or discrimination based on one’s student status, race, ethnicity, skin color, national origin, religion, political beliefs, economic status, age, sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, marital status, pregnancy or parental status, disability, medical or mental health conditions, ancestry, citizenship, military veteran status, or any other identity salient to the individual in admissions and throughout education, employment, and placement (See Principle E and Ethical Standards 3.01, 3.02, 3.03, 3.08).

4.4 Right to work under clearly expressed and mutually agreed-upon job descriptions and work or training conditions.

4.5 Right to perform only those tasks that relate to academic program requirements, professional development, and/or job duties.

4.6 Right to provide constructive and professional feedback to supervisors, directors, administrators, and staff concerning the quality and content of supervision

5. Appeals and Grievances

5.1 Right to clearly defined official grievance procedures and informal complaint procedures.

5.2 Right to whistleblower protection for exposing professional, ethical, or legal violations (See Ethical Standard 1.08).

5.3 Right to due process for any accusation of violation or infraction.

5.4 Right to be free of reprisals for exercising the rights contained in this document (See Ethical Standard 1.08).

Become a mentor or a mentee this August. (Source: User John-Morgan on Flickr. Some rights reserved).

Addressing the Need for Mentoring Among LGBTQ Graduate Students

How are the mentoring needs of LGBTQ graduate students unique?

For LGBTQ graduate students, challenges such as program climate, coming out, establishing a support system, confronting microagressions and heterocentric attitudes in coursework, advocating for the inclusion of LGBTQ issues in ones program, and conducting LGBTQ-related research can uniquely influence the graduate school experience (“Proud and Prepared…”, 2015). Studies looking specifically at mentoring relationships and needs among LGBTQ graduate students highlight a plethora of societal, environmental, and contextual factors which influence LGBTQ graduate students’ academic and professional development, and emphasize the specific need for LGBTQ mentors (Matheney, 1998).

Become a mentor or a mentee this August. (Source: User John-Morgan on Flickr. Some rights reserved).

Become a mentor or a mentee this August. (Source: User John-Morgan on Flickr. Some rights reserved).

Social support, such as that found in a mentoring relationship, is one key factor shown to positively influence the career development of lesbian women and gay men (Morrow, Gore, & Campbell, 1996). Lin (2001) found that gay and lesbian protégés found more perceived support from gay or lesbian mentors than heterosexual mentors. Nearly all of the LGBTQ+ graduate student participants in a study by Lark and Croteau (1998) reported pursuing a LGB-affirming mentoring relationship but having difficulty finding one, which participants expressed as a serious disappointment. Participants cited wanting the expertise of mentors concerning LGB perspectives in clinic work, LGB research strategies, LGB professional advocacy, LGB career planning concerns such as identity management and disclosure on resumes or in interviews, providing models of successful out LGB professionals, and having someone with similar experiences with whom to disclose situations of discrimination (Lark & Croteau, 1998). Although these needs can, and certainly should, be addressed by faculty and practitioners of any sexual orientation or gender identity, the need for LGBTQ graduate students to have a mentor who also identifies as LGBTQ—and the tendency to seek mentors of similar sexual orientation or gender identity—shouldn’t be overlooked (Nauta, Saucier, & Woodard, 2001; Russell & Horne, 2009).

How does APAGS help address the needs of LGBTQ graduate students?

The APAGS LGBT Graduate Student Mentoring Program is designed to address the needs of LGBTQ graduate students in psychology by matching them with an LGBTQ-identified advanced graduate student or professor who shares similar interests, experiences, and goals. Mentors and mentees are provided monthly discussion prompts, a closed listserv to create a venue for dialogue, access to resources (such as webinars) relevant to LGBTQ graduate students, and opportunities to connect at APA Convention. As one mentor in the program reported:

“…I have felt very grateful to be part of the APAGS LGBT mentoring program. My PhD program has no open or out faculty members and I am one of two openly gay students. As a result, the sense of aloneness and isolation as an LGBTQ student and practitioner has periodically overshadowed my training and education process. Through this mentoring program, I was able to receive professional guidance and genuine relational support from a seasoned LGBTQ psychologist…who could also relate very personally to the social pressures and professional challenges of being a minority graduate student, as well as working as an openly gay psychologist.” –Brian

Interested in becoming a member of the 2015-2016 APAGS LGBT mentoring program—either as a mentee or mentor? Applications for the program are now available through the APAGS Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity website, and should be submitted electronically by August 15, 2015. Pairs will be formed on or around September 1, 2015.

Editor’s Note: This post was written by Mary T. Guerrant, M.S., a doctoral student at North Carolina State University and member of the APAGS Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity. It originally appeared in “Perspectives on Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns,” a newsletter publication of APA Division 35 (Psychology of Women) Section IV (LBT Concerns). It is reposted here with generous permission.

9 Mentorship GIFs I Wish Someone Had Shown Me in Grad School

Finding a quality mentor is one of the most — maybe the most — important thing you can do in graduate school.  A good mentor can make your career fly like an eagle, or plummet like a rock.  But, despite the importance of mentorship in career building, we receive no training on what to look for when selecting a mentor.

Here are nine things that I wish someone had told me about mentoring during grad school, to help you find the mentorship you need.

1. Your ideal career should guide your mentorship choices.  What do you want to do? Find someone that already has your ideal job and ask them to mentor you.

star wars animated GIF

source: insanely-good-brownie.tumblr.com

2. Just one isn’t enough. No one can do it all, so build a team of mentors. Each mentor will have strengths and weaknesses; learn from their strengths, and supplement their weaknesses.

source: rooneymara.tumblr.com

3. It should be reciprocal. Mentorship is a two way street. If it isn’t reciprocal, it isn’t mentorship. Be mindful of keeping both sides of the relationship balanced, and beware if your mentor is the one unbalancing it.

scratching animated GIF

source: littleanimalgifs.tumblr.com

4. Don’t deify. Mentors are just people. They don’t know everything.  They will make mistakes and need feedback on their performance too… unless your mentor is Morgan Freeman… that dude is amazing.

god animated GIF

source: www.gifbay.com

5. Don’t fall for brands. Famous people/popular mentors are often busy already. Find someone who can spend time working with YOU.

hbo animated GIF

source: veephbo.tumblr.com

6. Don’t fear the peer. Other students will have great insights and will probably be open to sharing their knowledge with you. Ask for their advice, and help them out too.

wall animated GIF

source: tumblr.forgifs.com

7. Letting them push you is a good thing. A good mentor sets a high bar for you. But they should also do whatever it takes to make sure you reach it.

yoda animated GIF

source: mcbrayers.tumblr.com

8. They should be an inspiration. Find someone who makes you excited, even when the work is hard. They should motivate you to become a better professional, and hopefully also make you a better person.

excited animated GIF

source: http://piinkwinemakesmeslutty.tumblr.com/post/38713052048/how-i-feel-when-im-in-new-york-city

9. Don’t be shy. The worst thing someone can say when you ask them to be your mentor is “no.”

the office animated GIF

source: www.reddit.com

Want to learn more about how to find and keep a good mentor? Come to the program on mentorship at APA Convention in Toronto, Thursday August, 6th from 2-3:50 in Convention Centre Room 716A.

What do you think? Do you have other advice you would like to share? Comment below!

Editor’s Note: Daniel Reimer, MA, is Chair of the APAGS Convention Committee and a doctoral student at the University of Nevada – Reno.