From students fresh out of undergrad to professionals who are retraining for a new career, the Michigan School of Psychology welcomes students wherever they are in life. “How I Make It Work” highlights the diversity of student experiences as they balance classes, work, and life. Christopher Corbin (PsyD 1) shares his experience below.
Name: Christopher Corbin, MA (’18)
Current Program: PsyD
Describe the (joys and) challenges in your life that make graduate school difficult to manage.
I truly enjoy spending time with my family which includes taking trips and planning fun activities. However, sometimes managing a family worth of schedules to include coordinating different events such as school, work, and extracurricular activities can be very challenging. Time management and planning are both a joy and a challenge for me and can sometimes make graduate school difficult to manage.
How do you make it work?
Support. If it were not for the support of my family and friends, I would not be able to make it work.
Originally, I was not one who enjoyed relying on others and would have much rather preferred to rely on myself. However, I had to learn really quick that I needed to rely on others in order to survive. I have come to embrace this support and I truly feel that it has allowed me to build better relationship with those around me.
What are some tips or secrets you have for staying organized with a busy schedule?
When you have two children ages 5 and 3, planning is critical. My family and I have a three-month calendar which sits in our kitchen and it holds my schedule, my wife’s work schedule, and our children’s schedules, plus any family events that we have. This even includes half days of school, day care, who is watching my son and who is picking up my daughter on the days I am unable to.
I also Chair a board for a Dyslexic Learning Center, serving southeastern Michigan and have recurring board meetings and conferences which I have to attend. Keeping and maintaining a schedule is how I stayed organized and how I stayed alive. However, it is important to know that sometimes plans change (sicknesses, car troubles, and life), but it makes it easy to see what will be impacted by surprises.
How do you make time for yourself?
At first, I never made time for myself because I did not think it was important and it impacted me psychologically and physically. However, as the semester went on, I started to give myself 40 minutes a day, 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening.
Outside of this 40-minute time, the rest of the day was dedicated to school and family. In the morning, I would shower, eat breakfast, drink my coffee and meditate. In the evening, my wife and I put our kids to bed and afterwards spend time together, either reading together or watching a show on Netflix. This time allowed me to reground myself in my our life and it helped me reflect on my experiences and identify the changes which were happening internally.
How do you avoid feeling overwhelmed?
Whenever I begin to feel overwhelmed, I look to my support. My wife, children and close friends are who I rely on to provide logistical and emotional support. I bounce my frustration and my exhaustion off my friends and they help me find my center again. I also meditate and practice new mindfulness techniques not only to get my own clarity, but to experience something which I ask my own clients to experience.
What support have you received from MSP?
Outside of the support from individual professors who are always there to answer questions, provide guidance, and give support, the school feels like a family where everyone is there to support you. Additionally, I am dyslexic and whenever I have questions or need extra time on assignments the professors are more than willing to accommodate me.
I have never been made to feel bad about using my accommodations or felt that I was not welcomed to seek assistance. MSP has always provided both academic and personal support throughout my time at the school.
What advice would you give a prospective student who is worried he or she can’t make grad school work?
Do not give up! There are times when it seems like everything is due but I promise YOU CAN DO IT! Keep your eye on the syllabus for due dates and DO NOT BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP.
You will never find another school which truly cares about you as an individual and as a professional. Plus, if you are ever feeling overwhelmed or questioning yourself, you can always reach out to me because I am here for you too.