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Top tags: Psi Chi Related  A Better You  Chapter Life  All Things Psych  Conducting Research  Career Advice  Going to Grad School 

COVID-19: How a Pandemic Highlights Necessary Changes to Help Students Thrive and Colleges Survive

Posted By Kaitlyn L. Nasworthy, Georgia Southern University alumni, Thursday, June 11, 2020
Updated: Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Almost every aspect of normalcy has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. From beaches to businesses to banks and beyond, right down to our very homes, economic uncertainty has left millions out of work and anxious for what happens next. These are uncertain times filled with confusion, and one area where this is seen very clearly is within the structure of higher education. Overnight, college classes had to convert to online courses, dorms were shut down and refunded, course material and exams had to be changed, and graduation ceremonies were halted and replaced with online live-streamed graduation announcements. Although the short-term changes are very clear, what remains to be seen is the long-term effects of COVID-19 on our colleges and universities. This article will discuss a few ideas to change our colleges and universities so they may better serve students and survive for the students of the future.

Costs to Cut

COVID-19 has forced everyone to look into college costs and ways to curb many of these costs. Colleges’ lack of adaptation to the changing "traditional" student stereotype has been noted before, but this is the straw that broke the camel’s back. With today’s technology and internet accessibility, an unintended consequence is that colleges will have to become more accessible and move most of their course materials online to survive, with the exception of service-learning, of course. This will not only make taking on a future pandemic easier for students, but it will also make college cheaper and easier to attend for working students, a demographic which is rising steadily every year. It will also increase the need for internet companies to expand their services into rural areas, and the increase in competition could potentially decrease the cost of internet services.

Another thing that COVID-19 highlighted to full-time students were the on-campus services that they were forced to pay for regardless of whether or not they used them. Gyms, athletic fees, student life fees, counseling services, health services, etc… all being included with tuition costs as a requirement to attend, and no refunds issued if the student chooses not to use them. Many students also faced difficulty getting refunded for these services when their campuses were closed, or only received a partial refund. Many students would be okay paying for these services by use rather than just paying huge costs upfront and never using the services in question.

A common complaint regarding college costs is the requirement for college-level CORE classes that should have been covered in high school. Many students voice their anger at graduating high school only to turn around and pay to take the same CORE classes at a college level that they just graduated from. COVID-19 has brought further light to the extra costs and time students face because of required CORE classes. Many of these individuals were first-year students, and required to enroll in CORE classes, get a dorm, and not have a car on campus, so it’s been a huge slap in the face for them, particularly because their college experiences were taken from them and online CORE classes tend to be more difficult. As such, many may choose not to return to college, or take a gap year to work.

COVID-19 has also highlighted more issues with student loans and problems to come. Because colleges have taken a steep profit loss and might have even dipped into their endowment funds, these losses in endowment funds could cause colleges to reduce merit and need-based aid, and drive students to take out larger loans to cover the loss. Furthermore, the cuts to student jobs and outstanding student loans may discourage students from returning and applying to colleges later. This will also discourage alumni and parents from donating money to these colleges, further driving away potential returning students and new students.

Finally, another change that could be made to help students thrive and colleges survive is for colleges to adopt trade school and apprenticeship models. Although college enrollment has declined, trade schools have received an increase in enrollments, particularly because the costs are far cheaper and there are little to no unnecessary classes to take in order to receive a certificate for a particular skill set. By cutting unnecessary courses that have nothing to do with the degree, students can save money, graduate earlier, and be more ready to begin their chosen careers.

Due to COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders, many bored students took to using massive open online courses (MOOCs) such as Khan Academy and Coursera to pass time for free or low-cost courses. Some of these students have voiced the idea of using MOOCs rather than traditional brick-and-mortar colleges. With all of these facts presented, why would students of the future pay thousands of dollars a semester for four or more years when they can pay hundreds of dollars a semester for two years or less, get trained and certified, and have a job lined up upon graduation? People are asking this question now, and if colleges won’t accommodate student’s needs, they won’t survive after COVID-19.

What to Do?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), total undergraduate enrollment rates decreased by 8 percent (from 18.1 million to 16.6 million students) between 2010 and 2018 (NCES, 2020). Climbing tuition rates and difficult work-school-life balances are being cited as the major factors for this dip in enrollment. COVID-19 has been credited as a nail in the coffin for many failing businesses, including colleges and universities. If higher education is to survive, college administrators have to be willing to cut costs wherever possible and change the traditional college model to a more streamlined model made for the growing working adult student demographic. This includes strengthening online course and material accessibility for all students, cutting required on-campus fees and unnecessary courses, creating a service-learning environment that nurtures tangible hands-on work skills rather than just relying on grades and degrees, and limiting scheduled meeting times for labs and service-learning to better accommodate working students. Like it or not, higher education is a business and runs on money, and the only way to make money is to adapt to the changing society. In an age of the internet, information, and the existence of MOOCs, colleges and universities will have to change, or they will eventually die out.


Undergraduate Enrollment. (2020, May). Retrieved June 1, 2020, from

Tags:  All Things Psych  Career Advice  Going to Grad School 

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Do You Have Your Eye on Graduate School? Review of An Eye on Graduate School: Guidance Through a Successful Application

Posted By Joel W. Hughes, PhD, Kent State University (OH), Wednesday, March 13, 2019

In 2017, Psi Chi self-published an edited eBook titled: An Eye on Graduate School: Guidance Through a Successful Application. This electronic-only offering is a compendium of 20 years of the collective wisdom of contributors to Eye on Psi Chi magazine on applying to graduate school. The editors curated, revised, enhanced, and organized 19 key articles into seven sections covering everything from selecting graduate programs to succeeding in graduate school. It is available for purchase on the Psi Chi website, and a 75% members’ discount reduces the price to only $4.99. But do you need it? There are other books for psychology majors on graduate school, and Eye on Psi Chi magazine already contained many of these articles.

I vote “yes,” for the following reasons:

  • Multiple perspectives. Many psychology departments host faculty presentations or graduate student panels on applying to graduate school. Often, these are limited by the expertise of the people involved. For example, a clinical neuropsychologist has a lot of advice regarding desirable qualifications and research as it pertains to graduate school in neuropsychology. No one person can address the diversity of graduate school interests represented in the audience. Some of the books on getting into graduate school like Sayette & Norcross’s (2018) excellent Insider’s Guide to Graduate Programs in Clinical and Counseling Psychology or my own Psychology Pathways: How Psychology Majors Get Into Graduate School and Launch Careers (Hughes, 2019) represent only one or two people’s advice. In contrast, An Eye on Graduate School collects the advice and guidance of a broad array of experts. Each reader will discern the themes and adopt or dismiss the specific suggestions as they see fit, based on their own situation. Considering multiple perspectives matches how graduate admissions works, as each program, admissions committee, and faculty member will have their own idiosyncratic considerations. Thus, aggregating the collective wisdom of multiple contributors is a strength of this book.
  • Unique niche. Some books on getting into graduate school emphasize only a few areas of psychology (e.g., Sayette & Norcross, 2018). Some focus exclusively on doctoral study in psychology, like Sternberg’s (2017) classic Career Paths in Psychology: Where Your Degree Can Take You. The American Psychological Association’s (2007) Getting in: A Step-by-Step Plan for Gaining Admission to Graduate School in Psychology is broader because it also covers master’s programs, but is becoming a bit dated. Of course, no book can cover everything, so An Eye on Graduate School doesn’t discuss employment with the bachelor’s degree. For that, APA has another resource: Finding Jobs With a Psychology Bachelor’s Degree: Expert Advice for Launching Your Career (Landrum, 2009). Thus, An Eye on Graduate School strikes a nice balance of specificity and breadth, which is needed because, although about 44% of psychology majors often get graduate degrees, only the minority are in psychology (14%), and only 4% are doctoral degrees in psychology (APA, 2018).
  • Up-to-date and cost-effective. Do you need An Eye on Graduate School? In my view, the $4.99 price for members settles the case. True, many of these articles were previously featured in Eye on Psi Chi. However, what is your time worth? It would take hours to collect them all, and they wouldn’t be organized into one resource. Also, can you tell what is current and what is outdated? The articles span 20 years, so relying on authors and editors to update, fact-check, and align the material with contemporary APA standards more than justifies the paltry price.


Prospective applicants to graduate school probably need multiple informants including faculty advisors, other graduate students, websites, and books. One of those books should be An Eye on Graduate School: Guidance Through a Successful Application. It’s not perfect, and for example, some chapters may leave you wanting more details. But on the whole, it’s a valuable resource that I’ll be recommending to the undergraduate psychology majors I advise.


American Psychological Association (2007). Getting in: A step-by-step plan for gaining admission to graduate school in psychology, 2nd ed. Washington, DC: Author.

American Psychological Association (2018). Degree Pathways in Psychology. [Interactive data tool]. Retrieved from

Hughes, J. W. (2019). Pathways in psychology: How psychology majors get into graduate school and launch careers. Kent, OH: Joel Hughes.

Landrum, R. E. (2009). Finding jobs with a psychology bachelor’s degree: Expert advice for launching your career. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Sayette, M. A., & Norcross, J. C. (2018). Insider’s guide to graduate programs in clinical and counseling psychology, 2018/2019 edition. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Sleigh, M. J., Iles, S., & Cannon, B. (Eds.). (2017). An eye on graduate school: Guidance through a successful application. Chattanooga, TN: Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology.

Sternberg, R. J. (Ed.). (2017). Career paths in psychology: Where your degree can take you, 3rd ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Joel W. Hughes, PhD, is Professor and Director of Clinical Training in the Department of Psychological Sciences at Kent State University. He is a lifetime member of Psi Chi since March 1991. He blogs at

Editor's Note. This review was edited for basic APA Style only.

Tags:  Going to Grad School 

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Answers to 30+ Popular Questions About Grad School

Posted By Psi Chi Central Office, Thursday, February 8, 2018


Answers to 30+ Popular Questions
About Grad School

For four years, a column called “Three Heads Are Better Than One” was a special highlight of Eye on Psi Chi magazine. This column concisely answered more than 30 popular questions that students have about the graduate school application process. These articles were written by grad school experts, Drs. Mitchell M. Handelsman, Scott W. VanderStoep, and R. Eric Landrum. Today’s blog post features all of those questions, neatly organized for your convenience! Enjoy!

Should I Apply to Graduate School?

Selecting a School

Application Materials


Grades and the GRE

Other Questions

More About Grad School

Psi Chi is dedicated to supporting your journey to graduate school. You can learn more on our free Graduate School online resource. Other Psi Chi resources feature Careers in Psychology, Conducting Research, Presenting at Conventions, Diversity Matters, and Chapter Leadership.

Also, consider purchasing Psi Chi’s eBook, An Eye on Graduate School: Guidance Through a Successful Application, which brings together our very best advice about applying to graduate school—advice accumulated from 25+ experts in over 20+ years of Eye on Psi Chi magazine issues. The eBook is currently $4.99 for members (login required) or $19.99 for nonmembers.

Conduct a Lab Experiment

Have other questions about grad school? Let’s discuss in the comment section below (login required).

Tags:  Going to Grad School 

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The Pursuit of Graduate School: Vanity or Necessity?

Posted By Carolyn Cowl-Witherspoon, Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Pursuit of Graduate School:
Vanity or Necessity?

Carolyn Cowl-Witherspoon, Walden University (MN)

For most of my life, I have felt suction cupped in place. It is a curious feeling because, although there is often a perceived sense of movement, no actual forward momentum occurs. It was during a moment of visceral awareness that I recognized my lack of progressive movement, and that realization propelled me to return to graduate school 30 years after completing my undergraduate degree. Making the decision to return to graduate school was fairly easy, but actually returning to graduate school has been somewhat more challenging. My young brain was a marvel, quick and curious, effortlessly connecting disparate chunks of knowledge into a seamless unification of understanding and content mastery. When I was awarded my bachelors degree, I felt no glowing sense of pride or feeling of accomplishment because it had taken no appreciable effort to achieve it. It felt more like successfully completing the automatic process of a breathing cycle: inhalation, exhalation, inhalation, exhalation. Natural.

Partnered with my older brain, graduate school and the processes of learning are both vaguely familiar and exhilarating, reminiscent of the innate cycles of my breathing, except paced to a roller coaster’s rhythm. From my very first glance at my very first syllabus in my very first graduate course, I was convinced that I had waited far too long to return to school. I was concerned that the academic burdens of graduate school might simply overwhelm my less-elastic brain, prohibiting me from learning anything. However, I was relieved to recognize that although my brain functions differently now, it still functions. Gone are the heady abilities of my youth when I could glance quickly at a textbook and be able to instantly recall its contents days later. Instead, that has been replaced by a steady consistency of reading and review, allowing me to acquire new knowledge through a cycle of gentle repetition.

And so I made it through my first course, and then my second, and then the next. In fact, it began to feel almost effortless, just like breathing in and out. It was automatic, natural. The final course in my Masters program was the subject of one of my areas of specialty, and it was especially gratifying to be able to finish my graduate degree by taking a course that I really enjoyed. As I moved through that last course and the quarter unwound with one week melting into the next, I began to wonder how it would feel when I had finally achieved my initial objective of earning a Masters degree. And more importantly, would it represent enough tangible forward movement for me to perceive that I had finally loosened and lifted the edges of my metaphorical suction cup. When I turned in my last assignment and realized that I had successfully completed graduate school after a 30 year hiatus from the educational process, I definitely, finally felt something about my academic achievement: pride, and it felt very empowering and affirming. I recognized that I had truly earned this degree through indefatigable determination, intellectual curiosity, and very hard work.

So, now what? My initial goal was successfully realized. I have completed my Masters degree, and it has been an incredibly positive and productive experience. However, have I learned enough and will it be enough, personally and professionally, for me to actually move forward (Murdoch, 2016)? My graduate program has taught me to think scientifically (Dane, Baer, Pratt, & Oldham, 2011; Kuhn, Ramsey, & Arvidsson, 2015; Pinnow, 2016), so I began to assess the logic of academic continuation from a scientific perspective. I am, after all, an older learner, and I have often wondered if it would be financially advisable or professionally viable to continue moving forward in pursuit of a PhD. I have also considered that, within the field of psychology, there is often a perceived value difference in academic credibility between a Masters and a PhD. Therefore, perhaps my career opportunities and professional options would be enhanced if I continue to move forward. Most notably, I have asked myself if the desire that compels me to consider this additional academic commitment and resulting financial burden are motivated by personal vanity or justifiably warranted because of professional necessity and expediency.

I have vacillated daily between resolving to stop and being determined to continue; but in the end, my decision was predicated upon the most unexpected catalyst. I had turned in a project in my last course, and my professor called me to say that it had far exceeded the efforts of my classmates. In fact, she told me that it had far exceeded the efforts of the doctoral students, and she wanted my permission to use my project as an exemplary for current and future students in the course. She also asked me if I planned to continue in my studies, indicating that it would be unfortunate if I chose to stop, because she believes that I understand the material in an exceptional way. It was at that precise moment that I decided to continue, unencumbered by reservations.

In reflection, maybe I felt suction cupped in place for so long because I was simply waiting for that catalytic moment, for someone who I respect to remind me that the forward momentum in our academic and professional lives really is just like breathing in and out. It can be automatic, and effortless, and natural. It is something that we just do. Upon reflection, I often wonder if these feelings are simply unique to me, or if they are shared by my colleagues, mentors, and classmates. Do we all yearn for more, and in our yearning, do we wait for that universalized catalytic moment that ultimately propels us forward? What do you think?

Conduct a Lab Experiment

Psi Chi members, are you considering returning to graduate school? Post your questions or advice in the comments below (login required).


Dane, E., Baer, M., Pratt, M. G., & Oldham, G. R. (2011). Rational versus intuitive problem solving: How thinking 'off the beaten path' can stimulate creativity. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 5, 3–12.

Kuhn, D., Ramsey, S., & Arvidsson, T. S. (2015). Developing multivariable thinkers. Cognitive Development, 35, 92–110.

Murdoch, D. D. (2016). Psychological literacy: Proceed with caution, construction ahead. Dove Press, 9, 189–199.

Pinnow, E. (2016). Decoding the disciplines: An approach to scientific thinking. Psychology Learning and Teaching, 15, 94–101.

Tags:  A Better You  Going to Grad School 

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An Eye on Graduate School: Interview With Editor Merry Sleigh, PhD

Posted By Psi Chi Central Office, Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, November 14, 2017


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

Tags:  Going to Grad School  Psi Chi Related 

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