Sunday, September 16, 2012

How to succeed in graduate school: Psychology professor co-authors chapter

If you want to know how to succeed in graduate school for psychology, Holly Tatum has advice for you.

Tatum, a psychology professor at Randolph College, recently co-wrote a chapter for Your Graduate Training in Psychology: Effective Strategies for Success, published by SAGE Publications this year.

Her chapter, “Setting Your Path: Begin With Your Dissertation in Mind,” provides advice that could help students save time by maintaining focus. “Sometimes in graduate school you get distracted by all the little things,” Tatum said. “It may be several years before you write your dissertation, but your activities should be framed by that ultimate goal.”

She wrote the chapter with Daniel Corts of Augustana College. They drew on some of their own experiences and lessons learned in graduate school at the University of Tennessee. “It was a good chapter to write because I made a lot of the mistakes that we wrote about,” Tatum said.

Thinking about the long-term goal of a dissertation can help beginning graduate students select an advisor, choose courses, and develop research skills that will be necessary for the dissertation, according to the chapter.

Tatum said the opportunity to reflect on her experiences helps her prepare her students for graduate school, and the final book is a good resource, too.

Psychology is one of the most popular majors at Randolph, where professors are well known for helping students prepare for graduate school through a rigorous curriculum and intense research programs. Among all undergraduate institutions, Randolph ranks among the top 14 percent for the number of graduates who go on to receive a Ph.D.