Mature students and challenges

The place to ask about degree courses, conversion courses, masters, PhD or other qualifications. Discuss specific courses, their pros and cons, the content, the application process, different institutions, how to fund them, etc. Includes advice if you have a 2:2 and questions on transcripts
Post Reply
CareerChanger11
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Nov 22, 2019 10:18 am

Mature students and challenges

Post by CareerChanger11 » Tue Jun 02, 2020 11:50 am

I want to bring up something that has probably been discussed before but it still bothers me greatly.

I have a 2:2 from my undergraduate degree which I completed nearly 20 years ago. This was in a non-psychology subject. I went on to do a PGCE and complete teacher training, working as a teacher for several years. When I decided to switch to a career in Psychology, I was aware that I needed to complete a conversion course to get BPS accreditation. I did this and earned a good grade (Distinction). I am still baffled as to why my unrelated, undergrad degree has such a strong bearing on my ability to gain access to a career in Clinical Psychology. For example, KCL require evidence of doctoral study if a candidate doesn't meet the undergraduate degree class. I do not understand why they have made it so challenging/punishing for mature students! First of all, my Masters degree is in a completely different subject and one that I am passionate about, unlike that of my undergraduate degree. Secondly, the essence of psychology is the idea that we can change, develop as people, yet the application process still condemns early academic failures/mishaps as if they measure your current academic ability. I just don't understand this. I strongly believe that this holds back people like me, who want to change careers.
What are your thoughts about this?

hawke
Posts: 138
Joined: Tue Feb 07, 2017 11:10 am

Re: Mature students and challenges

Post by hawke » Tue Jun 02, 2020 1:35 pm

As a fellow teacher to psychologist, I completely agree and share your frustrations.

I found ways round it by picking my university applications carefully, but I appreciate not everyone has that choice. My first choice geographically sadly didn't favour me in short-listing method, so it has meant 3 years of long-distance family and friends relationships which I am obviously not wild about. I would love to see clinical psychology being more flexible with where placements are (like counselling psychology), although I do appreciate that financially and practically the local trusts put a lot into each trainee. I've been reflecting a lot recently on the costs of the narrative that CP is a career that requires sacrifice and competition to succeed in.

If you do make it through the short-listing you will benefit from having a wide perspective on the world having come from a different discipline and career. I found things work very differently in the NHS compared to education, the private sector and the charity sector (for better and worse!) and have found it really helpful to draw on my experience in all of these different settings. If you make it through early short-listing, you have to stand out in some way, and you have a good foundations to be able to do that with a good reflective application.

User avatar
Spatch
Posts: 1432
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2007 4:18 pm
Location: The other side of paradise
Contact:

Re: Mature students and challenges

Post by Spatch » Tue Jun 02, 2020 5:33 pm

This is a very common frustration, and comes under the broader category of "why does course X look for arbitrary selection criteria Y". That said I would challenge a few assumptions.
I am still baffled as to why my unrelated, undergrad degree has such a strong bearing on my ability to gain access to a career in Clinical Psychology. For example, KCL require evidence of doctoral study if a candidate doesn't meet the undergraduate degree class. I do not understand why they have made it so challenging/punishing for mature students!
It's not actually mature students that courses are looking to punish, as a) most will have an average starting age of people in their late 20s b) its the 2:2 not the 'mature' element of your application. As Hawke points out, it's not all courses that do automatically disregard 2:2s and courses with selection tests do welcome people with that classification, and you are free to apply for those courses. In fact, I would argue that courses probably are skewed in bias of more mature candidates due to their emphasis on experience and reflection (which tends not be there in most 21 year old fresh grads).

The deeper part of why your earlier degree classification is held against you is down to the tyranny of numbers applying. The process has to winnow out people who are very capable and motivated. Degree classification is a blunt but effective tool and it's for their benefit, not yours.
First of all, my Masters degree is in a completely different subject and one that I am passionate about, unlike that of my undergraduate degree.
That may be true, but there isn't enough time for courses to view the life story, struggles and development of every one of the thousands of applicants applying. If faced with two almost identical (on paper) candidates, but one had a previous 2:2, and one had a 1st, what would the rationale be fore selcting the former over the latter?
Secondly, the essence of psychology is the idea that we can change, develop as people, yet the application process still condemns early academic failures/mishaps as if they measure your current academic ability.
That may be the essence of therapy and some areas of applied psychology (and a lot of clinical work), but there are equally areas of psychology that are based on the principles that past behaviour is one of the best indications of future behaviour (e.g. risk assessment in forenics, statistics, occupational). In fact the studies by Scior that have been published have cited A-levels as being a good predictor of course outcome...

Our relationship to selection and it's processes are interesting, and worth reflecting upon. It's one thing that has evolved for me across time, and am always struck with what I see differently and what stays the same.
Shameless plug alert:

Irrelevant Experience: The Secret Diary of an Assistant Psychologist is available at Amazon
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Irrelevant-Expe ... 00EQFE5JW/

User avatar
workingmama
Team Member
Posts: 1501
Joined: Thu Feb 28, 2008 1:54 pm
Location: UK

Re: Mature students and challenges

Post by workingmama » Thu Jun 11, 2020 8:03 am

If it's of any use to you, my school quals were distinctly lacklustre and my first degree (non Psychol) was a third class. My ego is trying to tell me to type all the good excuses for that, but essentially I was immature and unfocused at that stage in my life. Sharing in case it helps to see that entry as a mature student is not by any means impossible from a poor starting point. I got offered a DClinPsy place on my first application. If you're prepared to work very hard now it is likely to mitigate a bad track record, but be prepared to have a CV that brings something to the table that is above and beyond your peers who will already be bringing good academic qualifications plus decent experience. Good luck.
Fail, fail again, fail better.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests