Stage 5: Reflections of a working mum with a psychological degree

How does psychology affect me in my work and daily lives?

Well, having two kids, with my parents-in-law staying with us, has definitely been very challenging. For example, having to change my behavioural styles and communication with my kids as a mother because they see me as a role model, and controlling my unnecessary bad temper and mood swings to communicate with my kids in a manner that they will learn to be better persons. 
G., my elder daughter was full of jealousy when her baby sister came to join our family. How did I realise? This was through being more sensitive to her behaviour and her communication methods. She had shown and proven that she was unhappy with a lot of things that concerned her younger sister, J. Thank god, I picked up on her negative thinking and managed to save (or rather minimize) this continuation of bad behaviour in her. Now her management skills and tolerant levels are better. However, my job does not stop here. It was not even a job. It was a responsibility, a huge one in making sure they grew up as better persons. I believe in giving them the childhood that they need, making sure they are happy at the same time having discipline at a very young age.
At work, psychology too had helped me recognise certain elements that may lead to stress. Understanding people's behaviour helped me in handling them better. I don't believe in stress-free working environments unless you got no objective or dateline to meet. However by recognizing that I am stressed, I can learn to manage them. Hence I believe it is very important to manage your stress at work, and only then, you will produce effectiveness and efficiency in your work.


Stage 7: Reflections of a Phd Candidate

My supervisor once told me that undertaking a PhD is like running a marathon – it’s more about endurance and perseverance than intellect. My seniors told me that a PhD should come with a health warning, that I should brace myself for the worst. My parents wondered why I was putting off a full time psychologist job to undertake something that won’t necessarily result in a pay rise. Having just past my first year milestone, I often reflect on my reasons for undertaking a PhD, and what it means to me. After all, in the past year, I’ve had my fair share of health hazards – sleep deprivation, non-existent social life, irregular meals, and low self-esteem (supervisor tells me my work is very undergraduate) to name a few. But, I’ve had the opportunity to work with the world’s best in Alzheimer’s disease research, to push my creative and intellectual capacities to limits I never knew I had, to really make a difference in a field I’m passionate about, and come to the realization that I have an amazing support network. In my often sleep deprived state, I find myself being grateful for this rare opportunity to indulge my interest in neuroscience, psychology, and cognition. So even with all the hazards, I can safely say that I’m loving it, and I’m certainly having fun. And there's a lot that's been done for less.


SGPsychStud - Working and Studying: Advisable??

Some students doing their psychological studies may be working a full-time (FT) job at the same time. This is quite common especially for those doing their studies in a PEI (private education institute). The question is: Can you handle all the load???

Often it is assumed that if you are studying in a night course, you are doing a part-time (PT) program. However in fact, if you are doing a university degree with three or more subjects, you are actually doing a FT load, according to most universities. A usual FT load for universities are 4 subjects. Better check with your university and ask if it is a FT/PT load, rather that if it is a FT/PT program. You might actually be doing a night program with a FT load.

 Is it a good way of working out the program as you work? Definitely not!
Yes you do get to finish the program faster, if you choose to do it full-time. However if you are working as well, this could take a terrible toil on you. Let's do some calculations.

Assuming you have a FT job (8am to 5/6pm) and taking up a program with FT load (hence requiring 40 hours each week including the lectures and tutorials of 3 sessions a week, and time taken up for readings and assignments):
Out of 5 weekdays, 3 are gone due to the lectures and tutorials, hence leaving out 2 weekday nights and the weekends. In those days, assuming everyone sleeps a normal 6 to 8 hours sleep (which most don't), you are left with about 4 to 5 hours per weeknight and 16 to 18 hours for the each weekend, which adds up to a total of 40 to 45 hours. This remaining hours will include travelling time between home and work, and eating time.  But you need another 30ish hours for your work other than classes, which means you probably only have around 10 hours left for travelling and food over 2 weekends and the weekends.
(This timings are estimates and varies from person to person, depending on amount of time you need for your various activities.)

Is that enough time for you? You decide...
My advice for students are "Manage your time"; time management is extremely important if you plan to do a FT job and a program with a FT load at the same time. If it is possible, do one FT and one PT, either work or studies, but probably not those two FT together.

Which institution (Uni / PEI) is good for me? A comparison of factors

I have been asked before: Is this school better than this other one?? I should answer this question here for a reminder for those who have asked me before, and also for those who are planning to ask this question.

This post may or may not cover the local universities, as most people who have asked were comparing amongst the private education institutes (PEIs). Here is the comparison of the bachelor degrees that are available. But knowing this may not be enough, as there may be other factors coming into play.

Distance: May be an issue for some, but I have seen students who travelled half the distance of Singapore, and having to attend class 3 to 4 days a week. Hence this probably is now not a very big issue.

Duration: How long does it take? Are your previous studies (e.g. diploma) helping you to get some exemptions? If you do not have any exemptions, the duration should be those as reflected in the comparison above.

Cost: As cost may be a sensitive issue  for some institutions and may not be revealed, you may wish to check with the local program managers from the different institutions to find it out and do a comparison. Sometimes the fee structures may actually be available online, so make sure to check out their websites first.

Class Hours: Are you planning to take it part-time or full-time? What are the percentage of class you will be able to attend? Make sure to check with the program managers on how many hours you have to attend each week, depending on the number of modules/subjects you are taking. Manage your time properly, as this may be the deciding factor in your grades, especially for those who are working. Though a lot of you may be taking night classes, they may still be considered as full-time load if you are actually taking 3 or more modules/subjects in a semester.

Specialisation: What is the area of specialisation you wish to get into or are interested in? Does the university/PEI offer this area of expertise and knowledge? This could be checked through the module/subject list that the program offers. This may also be a minor or major offered by the institution. In the comparison above, the majors are included.

Prestige of Institution: What is the level of prestige of the institution as compared to other institution? You may wish to compare the PEI to other PEIs, or local university to local university, or even the university you are doing it in with those in their original countries. This might give you an idea of how good the university is in terms of Singapore or their own countries. Talking to your friends/colleagues will give you an idea of whether the institution and program is well-known or not.

Quality of Program:  This is a hard one to check out, as you may only know until you study there. Hence one way would be to talk to the lecturers and staff there, if they are willing to give you an honest answer. Or you may talk to previous students who you may know of or friends of friends who might have studied there before to give you a clearer picture of what happens in the institution. This is actually one of the more important factors, as once you start paying the school fees, you may not be able to withdraw from the program without losing some money, if you find that the quality of the classes and/or modules are not what you expected them to be.

Future education/career possibilities: You might also base your choice what future possibilities you might have if you join the institution. Are you able to get into Honours with that program or inclusive of Honours? Will it enable you to do your Masters and proceed to become a psychologist? Are you learning what you should be learning if you wish to get that (new) job as a counsellor/social worker?  If it does not enable you to go anywhere or do anything with the certificate that you are getting at the end of the program, why are you choosing it as one of the choices?

Hope this serves as a good guide towards your choice of institution/university/PEI for your psychological studies.

SGPsychStud: Importance of practicum/work experience/internship

In your early years of psychology training, all you probably would be doing is studying theories and textbooks, writing essays and reporting, understanding how psychological research is done, and analysing SPSS reports, and other things, which are more towards the "scientist" (or researcher) side of the scientist-practitioner model. Rarely or little chance you will be doing more of the practitioner side, unless you take up counselling modules or doing a practicum/work or job attachment/internship (if it is offered in your program).

But why is it important?
If you are studying psychology to become a psychologist/counsellor, then you will need to get real experience from doing the real job. Unless you are planning to study psychology to do psychological research, then that would be a different case.
Before you read any further, please read this post on what you are going to study in psychology. Note that the things you study in your program was "is to build up your knowledge for the "practitioner" part", but they were not mentioned to  build up your experience?

All the theories learnt would forever be theories that you have learnt, but not something to be applied, if they were not being experienced before. With real experience, you will see the theories becoming true and knowledge that you have learnt to become applicable. Things will start to make sense from a psychological point of view. 
Probably now for you, they still would not as you are still in your learning stages. But with experience and knowledge, you will then become a "real" and competent psychologist.