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Journey to the Doctorate...

Updated: Feb 8

Everyones journey will differ in some way, but in this blog post I will draw upon my own experience in my journey to the Doctorate. Its a long one, so grab a cup of tea and enjoy!

1. GCSE's

If you have the option to study psychology or sociology and GCSE level do so, I actually didn't have this opportunity as psychology and sociology were not options at my school for GCSE students. However, I did take core science and additional science at GCSE level but my other chosen subjects were not related to psychology at all (Art, History, ICT and Sports Science), so if psychology isn't an option for you at this stage don't worry just choose subjects you are good at or that you enjoy!

2. A-Levels

For A-Levels I did choose Psychology as I changed school at this point. However, all the students who had done their GCSE's at this school had taken Psychology at GCSE level so I did feel a little behind as they already understood the basics. I remember sitting in my first Psychology lesson thinking "what do they mean by et al" (laughing as I write this).

I actually didn't do very well in my mock A Level for Psychology, I think I actually failed! At this point I considered dropping the subject and thinking it clearly isn't for me, however, after having a conversation with my teacher she assured me that I knew the stuff I just wasn't answering the exam questions in order to pick up the marks. I was very fortunate that she offered to give me extra tutoring and support after school to help me answer the exam questions correctly (basically I was describing everything in the exam and not evaluating).

I ended up passing my A Level Psychology with flying colours, going from a fail to a B+

3. Applying to University

I ended up taking a gap year before university because I was not 100% sure what I wanted to study at university, this was one of the best decisions I've ever made as it allowed me time to THINK. It also gave me a year to mature which definitely helped me cope with the demands of university.

The confidence I got from my A Level Psychology teacher made me rethink my Psychology ability and led me to pursue it for my undergraduate degree. I remember I questioned whether to study subjects such as: Marketing, Business, English, Fashion. But a great piece of advice my mum told me was "You can do all of those jobs with a psychology degree if you decide after uni you want to (with the correct experience obviously), however you can't be a psychologist with any of those degrees, you have to have a psychology degree. After my mum said that, my mind was made up, Psychology it was! However, at the time I thought I wanted to go down the criminal psychology and forensic route so I did a joint honours of Psychology and Criminology.

4. Psychology Undergraduate - Year 1

So I began my Psychology degree with a joint honours of Psychology and Criminology. I thought I would learn how to catch out criminals, how their mind works and what makes a murderer. Unfortunately, at my University this wasn't the case. Criminology was more about crime rates and crimes themselves as opposed to the actual criminal mind. I ended up not enjoying the subject at all and had a conversation with the head of psychology to see if in second year I could just take the full psychology degree instead. He looked at my grades for psychology and accepted me onto the full psychology course in second year. (My grades in Psychology were far better than my grades in Criminology).

5. Psychology Undergraduate - Year 2 & 3

So finally, I was just studying Psychology! I actually really enjoyed my second and third year and found myself getting more confident with the subject and my writing. My grades also dramatically increased in second and third year as I was getting A's and B's, which I was over the moon with. I also took an Education Psychology module which allowed me to do a placement within a school in both second and third year. This was great experience before I finished my degree.

6. Met with a Psychologist

In my final year, I was lucky to be put in touch with an Education Psychologist, she was able to explain to me the requirements to become a fully qualified psychologist. This really helped me and she pointed out the importance of getting assistant psychologist experience after university, so this began my search and applications for assistant psychologist roles.

7. Internship

Before completing my final exams, I managed to get a place on an internship programme at a private clinic in London (my dream had come true). I started my internship in the June after completing my final year and final exams in the May. The internship was unpaid, 9-6pm everyday, it was hard work! But I learnt a lot! They also trained me to begin seeing my own clients at the clinic after 6 months and this then led to a paid role at the clinic!

8. Application for the Doctorate

My experience of applying for the doctorate is probably a little different than others, as I decided really late that I was going to apply. I was contemplating pursuing a CBT course instead. I finally decided to bite the bullet and just apply for the doctorate, however my late decision making meant lots of the applications had already closed which limited my options slightly. I also needed to write my personal statement and gather all my recommendations and references really quickly.

9. Doctorate Interviews

I was offered a couple of interviews at the Universities that I had applied to. My first interview (I won't say which University) but it was awful! I was underprepared and felt very integrated and actually cried afterwards! My second interview was with the University I currently study at, I found out about the interview the day before as they had a cancellation, so it was a very quick turnaround. Luckily because of my horrible first interview with the other university I was able to prepare for the worst, I prepared for this interview as if it was an exam and luckily found out the same day that I got a place! (THE BEST NEWS EVER)!

10. Starting the Doctorate!

And there we go, I then began my doctorate and the craziness started all over again!

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