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May 23, 2007 - 7:40 am

I have read a a href=”http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/04/22/ncareer22.xml”number of articles /a lately about the falling birth rate among educated women in the United States and Europe; many of these lower rates are blamed on sexual diseases, later age of marriage and women waiting too long to have kids. It’s great that women are so into their careers but some of these careers take a lifetime to prepare for. I wish someone had told me years ago at 18 that I would be spending another 14 years in school training to be a psychologist. I even made it through undergrad in three years but little did I know that it would be years of work before I finished two masters, a postmasters, a PHD and a post-doc–11 more to be exact. I have almost no regrets about my life, save for one, that I spent my youth in graduate school when it was unnecessary, unfullfilling and not very lucrative. br /br /Lest you think I am just an anomaly who doddered through school, I read recently that the average PHD in psychology takes over 7 years to complete after a BA and many schools have their students take even longer. For example, at the University of Pennsylvania, a a href=”http://espse.ed.psu.edu/schoolpsych/51″PHD in School Psych /atakes a median average of 7.75 years emafter/em a master’s degree. If you go directly in with a BA, it will take a median average of 8.75 years. And then there is the one year Post-doc that many states require in order to get licensed and the licensing exams themselves (usually written and oral). By this time, a woman is often close to thirty or more–meaning that if she wants kids, there is not much time. I knew several colleagues who had families and kids during one of my PHD programs and some of them dropped out or their marriage ended. I imagine that medical school and other PHD programs also pose hardships on women who want to have children but of course, it is doable.br /br /This post is not to discourage women or men for that matter from going to time-consuming graduate programs, it is simply to remind people that in life there are trade-offs and it is important to remember that while a PHD or MD is quite an accomplishment, it can also be quite a hindrance. Only the person getting the degree can decide if it is worth the sacrifice.

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