mspp STudent profile
Pursuing a Doctorate as an Older Student,
or Becoming an Expert Mountain Climber
By Janet M. Price, student
It is the beginning of September, which means—rendezvousing again (entering my third year this fall) at Base Camp (Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology), checking to ensure that all of the “gear” is packed (notebooks, pens, highlighters, books), and reviewing the “itinerary” (fall classes, internship, doctoral project hours). Nervousness, anxiety, and exhilaration set in.
I have discovered that for me, the start of each semester feels like climbing a mountain. My mountain is enormous, the peak is up there in the clouds somewhere, and I must trust that, once again, I will survive and succeed.
Changing careers in my mid-fifties has been quite daunting! I am finding that there are both challenges AND profound joys on this unique journey, such as:
- Adjusting to being a student again (no small feat)
- Blending in (Is that possible? Who am I in this context? What do I have to offer to AND learn from these students when many are as young or younger than my own children)
- Bringing the wisdom of years of life experience to class discussions AND re-discovering the world by looking at life through these younger eyes
- Connecting with my teachers as their student, while I am often as old, or older, than they
- Juggling the rest of my world while being almost completely submerged in school—staying connected with my partner while buried in books, paper writing, and internship work; being a parent to my three adult children; sending out an occasional flare to any friends who still remember who I am; taking time to enjoy our home, dogs, cats…
So, here I am again, and this climb offers exactly what I want and need to be doing right now—learning, being challenged in just about every way, stretching, sometimes slipping a little, fearing that I am losing my foothold, but learning where to reach for the supportive handholds that the “mountain” of MSPP offers—through teachers, fellow students, on-campus MSPP groups and other opportunities.
I am especially appreciative that MSPP has created opportunities for “students of a certain age” to gather (we are working on the name—hard to find one that is both politically correct AND one we like!!) I have found in the months since this group’s creation that it has become an oasis for me and other “older students” to connect in ways that are unique to us.
It is time. I am starting the climb once more. See you at the top!
Janet M. Price
3rd year student in Psy.D. program
BIO: Formerly involved in early childhood/ special education; worked in Early Intervention, Head Start; continue teaching college level. My focus is family systems—specifically, working with children who have significant mental health struggles, and their families. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.