Feeling unsure about why you want to go to graduate school?

There are many reasons to go to graduate school and in this video, I challenge you to think about one of the related themes!

Download the matching worksheet here.

Caitlin Faas, psychology professor and coach, excited to talk to you today about some of the thoughts I've been having about graduate school.

I mentor a lot of students and clients that think about going back to graduate school.

And I always start with asking about “why you want to go back to graduate school” or any type of program or certificate. So…”Why?” And there are a lot of great reasons to go back and we can make a whole list of those, but sometimes – Well, this is what I talk about today – sometimes there’s this sneaky thing that comes into the reasons that has to do with “enough.”

And so, people say to me, “If I go back for this program, then I will be smart ‘enough.’”

Then, “People will view me as competent ‘enough.’” “If I do this, then I'll feel better about myself” – which is another type of “enough” type of feeling. If I do this then this feeling will happen or I'll be in a different type of mindset or a better place.

Something I read this weekend that I want to read to you was from Anne Lamott who wrote a book called Bird by Bird that you may have come across yourselves. It’s pretty famous. She's writing to writers – people who want to become published writers.

In this book, she actually is referencing – in the section that I'm going to read, she's referencing the first Jamaican bobsled team and how there's a movie about it called Cool Runnings. And in that movie, this is the quote, “The coach is a 400-pound man who had won a gold in Olympic bobsled 20 years before, but had been a complete loser ever since. The men on his team are desperate to win an Olympic medal just as half the people in my classes are desperate to get published. But the coach says, ‘If you're not enough before the gold medal, you won't be enough with it.’ You may want to tape this to the wall near your desk." That’s what Anne Lamott says – the quote from her book Bird by Bird.

This really resonated with me because I thought this is the same thing that happens with people who are thinking about school. They'll say, “I'll be ‘enough’ after I complete this program.” And if you ask anybody who's been through a program, there usually isn't a magical…“Now I feel smart enough, now I feel competent enough.” Right?

It was a mindset shift or embracing the idea they are enough through a different process, not necessarily the process of going through graduate school to help them realize that.

My own example, I thought as I completed my Ph.D. or even before, people said I was smart. I felt like I could be smart enough in that program, but even after completing a Ph.D., I still didn’t feel smart enough. And so, again it was a different – through a lot of talking with people and mindset shift, I realized I am smart enough and I always was with or without my Ph.D. That's what I work with clients and students to realize, that if your sole reason to go to school is something about being enough, that is not (pun intended) going to be enough to get you through your graduate program.

So, can we work on the other more concrete reasons that will give you a reason to go to a program, stay in the program, and graduate from the program.

I challenge you today to think about do you have any “enough” statements that are floating around in your head, kind of reasons of why you're going back or thinking about going back to school or it may be applicable to another domain.

Ready to fill out your own worksheet?

Let's continue the conversation and I look forward to hearing what you have to say about this issue!