An Eye on Graduate School:
Interview With Editor Merry Sleigh, PhD
In spring 2017, Psi Chi released its very first eBook, An Eye on Graduate School, which brings together our Professional Organization’s very best advice about applying to graduate school—advice accumulated from 25+ experts in over 20+ years of Eye on Psi Chi magazine issues. Today, we are excited to present this interview with the book’s lead editor, Dr. Merry J. Sleigh (Winthrop University, SC) to share a little more about this fascinating publication.
Why did you want to create this eBook?
Psi Chi has a wealth of great information about navigating the graduate school application process. Every semester, I found myself looking up some of the same articles on the Psi Chi website and recommending them to my students. I realized that it would be advantageous to have all of these resources together and easily accessible to all students.
What response have you received about the book so far?
The feedback has been very positive. My students seem to agree that purchasing one book is much easier than hunting down 10 articles that your professor recommends.
What was it like working with so many authors on this project?
Collaborating with the contributing authors was a pleasure. Their shared enthusiasm for supporting students was a tangible reminder of how important our young scientists are for the future of our discipline. All of us remember struggling through the process ourselves, and our great hope is that we can make it a little bit less stressful for others.
What one thing would you tell a student thinking about going to grad school?
Make sure that graduate school is the necessary step to get the job that you want. Sometimes we tend to think in a linear fashion, where we focus almost exclusively on our next step. However, before you apply to graduate school, you should think about life on the other side. Will the degree qualify and prepare you for the job that you want? Are there other paths to securing the same job? Are those jobs readily available or scarce? Graduate school should not be viewed as an endpoint but rather a stepping stone to the place that you want to be. It is far too expensive and time-consuming to undertake in the mere hopes that it will get you somewhere you will enjoy being.
How did you become involved with Psi Chi?
Like many students, I initially joined Psi Chi as an undergraduate at James Madison University because I thought it would “look good” to future employers or graduate schools to join honor societies. A year later, struggling to improve my resumé and noticing that I had very limited budgeting and financial management experience, I decided to run for Treasurer of my school chapter of Psi Chi. That experience did help me improve my ability to handle money, but at that time, I could never have imagined how long and impactful my connection with Psi Chi would be. During my time as an officer, I met other psychology majors, and we navigated the entrance into the post-graduate world together. Since becoming a faculty member, I have advised chapters at two different schools, served on multiple committees, reviewed grants, and presented sessions at conventions. Most recently, I served as the Vice-President of the Southeastern Region. My students have gotten travel grants, research awards, and graduate scholarships through their participation. The benefits have never ended. I joined Psi Chi viewing it as a line for my resumé and ended up being blessed with one of my most meaningful professional affiliations.
What’s your favorite Psi Chi memory?
My favorite Psi Chi memory is the first time my student researchers won a Psi Chi Regional Research Award at a Southeastern Psychological Association convention. It was exciting to see their hard work recognized in a professional context, and I was grateful to Psi Chi for placing such high value on undergraduate contributions to our discipline. I often told my students that Psi Chi membership came with many benefits, and having those students receive a check and the award certificate made that promise tangible to them.
Thinking about going to grad school? Dr. Sleigh’s eBook will help you navigate the seven primary steps that are vital to your acceptance at the program of your choice. The eBook is currently on sale in the Psi Chi store for only $4.99 for members (login required) or $19.99 for nonmembers. You can learn more at https://store.psichi.org/an-eye-on-graduate-school-guidance-through-a-successful-application