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Confused/Dismayed by Clinical Program Admittance

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by twiggers, Aug 5, 2004.

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  1. twiggers

    twiggers Senior Member

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    Hi all,

    I'm a newbie here..but after much searching found my way here and I think it'll become one of my favoriate resources for clinical information.
    I'm currently a 4th year student at a UC campus in California. I am a psychology major who is oh so confused :)

    I originally started at a junior college taking courses while working, and graduated from there with an AA, then went onto a 4 year university. When I transferred I had to declare a major and chose psychology because they were the only undergrad classes I actually liked (besides history but I realized early that jobs for history PhDs were limited so I crossed that out). I also thought I'd like to be a doctor so I went pre-med last year. Realized I HATED it! So now I'm back to psychology.

    When trying to determine what kind of psychology program I wanted to apply for I chose clinical because it gives me the option of private practice, teaching, or research. I've researched about 30 different Midwest schools I want to go to, including specific faculty research (such as picking professors from the schools to email, and downloading and reading their publications).
    I realized research experience was important so I started as an RA in a very highly respected research institute studying autism, fragile X, and other neurodevelopmental disorders. I also started an internship that involves observing and interacting with children with neurodevelopmental disorders. I also have another RA position on emotional development starting in the fall, and will be starting a senior thesis in September.

    I have a 3.9 overall GPA and approximately 3.95 psych GPA. I am currently studying for GREs to take in early October and subject in November.

    Now I'm freaked out because I read how terribly hard it is to get into a clinical program. I'm married and our future depends on me immediately getting into a school (we're planning on leaving our state because we hate it so much and going to Midwest). The work I am doing with autistic children is fascinating and so interesting, so I am contemplating applying to some developmental programs as backups (I have heard they are much easier to get into). At the same time I am now learning about something called "back door into clinical". I don't want to do this...if I got into a developmental program I would stick with that. Will it look horrible if I apply to 2 programs at the same school? If so should I just give up on the clinical idea and stick with only developmental programs? I am already limited to 30 schools in Midwest to apply to (costs of programs, fundings available, location, etc.) and don't want to jeopradize whatever chance I have.

    Sorry so long! Thanks to everyone in advance for replying.
  2. Sanman

    Sanman O.G.

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    Welcome twiggers,
    Well first off let me tell that with those kinds of grades and experience you shouldn't have a ton of problems getting into a decent clinical program. I believe the average gpa for those admitted is around a 3.5-3.6. I would make sure that you have a good upper level background at your UC, to show that you can handle it coming from a CC. As far as "back-dooring" your way into it by respecializing afterward I wouldn't do it because you never know when legislation could change to eliminate that option. You may want to check out the PsyD option if you are into clinical practice, though they can be expensive. Another alternative is school psychology, they practice with children in schools and private practice and have very nice salaries. Bottom line, I really don't think you should be worried. Come to think of it I should be worried cause we're both applying now and your grades are better than mine! :D
  3. twiggers

    twiggers Senior Member

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    HIya Sanman,

    Thats what people keep telling me, but I still worry about limiting myself to only clinical...kinda like putting all your eggs into one basket. I've been reading these horror stories of people not getting in because they are published. Seeing as how I just made my mind up a couple months ago it is semmingly impossible for me to do so.....I'll only be midway through my senior thesis by the time I start sending out applications.
    I hear of people applying to social programs as well as cognitive programs to give themselves more options, but it seems that if I do that while applying for clinical it'll look like I'm trying to "back door in".
    I haven't written GREs yet, so that may eliminate some of my choices after I get my scores back (like U Michigan since they are so high there).
    I have a well rounded choice of schools...from the really good (like U Mich , U Wisconsin, and U Minnesota) to the not so good (like N. Dakota, S. Dakota, etc.) but I still worry.
    If I wasn't married and moving across the country I would probably chill out and not stress, knowing I could just do some post-grad research, but the way the job climate is in Cali. it's just not an option....can't live on a student's income out here.

    Anyone else have any advice about applying to the two types of programs at same time????
  4. twiggers

    twiggers Senior Member

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    Oops....that meant to say "because they weren't published"

    Also I will have approx. 225 quarter units when done graduating...of those approx. 125 will be upper division work...so I should be OK there. I had one bad chem grade (a C+) but since it's only one class, and a hard one at that, I'm not too worried about it affecting me.
  5. lazure

    lazure Senior Member

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    You sound like you have a stellar application - don't worry. Clinical psych programs do get 300 - 500 applications per year but more than half of these don't stand a chance, therefore you're only competing against 100 - 200 people. Each person can only go to one school so apply to 10 - 15, more than that is diminishing returns in my opinion. I applied to 12 schools, got into 6. For my PhD, I changed schools based on a single application.
    I had pubs but most of my classmates did not. Send a couple of abstracts to conferences and put them as 'submitted' on your application.

    You'll do fine. Trust me.
  6. PublicHealth

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    Publications are increasingly becoming an important part of applications to clinical psychology Ph.D. programs. I had an MPH in epidemiology, seven first-author papers -- 3 in print, 2 in press, and 2 conditionally accepted -- and 12 published abstracts/conference presentations prior to applying to clinical psychology Ph.D. programs. Interestingly, many of the people you will meet on the interview trail are as qualified as you -- at that point, you are the proverbial "cream of the crop." After a while, you start seeing the same people at all of your interviews! Pretty much everyone in that select group of applicants will be accepted SOMEWHERE.

    Try to submit an abstract(s) or paper(s) before you apply. Rest assured that not everyone has publications. Many people work as technicians in good labs and with highly regarded people, but these positions often do not them to write papers, as such opportunities are often reserved for postdocs and advanced graduate students. Nevertheless, try to get something out.
  7. twiggers

    twiggers Senior Member

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    Thanks for the advice! Maybe more self-confidence is what I need :)
    I will definitely check into the abstract thing....the problem is getting all of this stuff done before December 1st application deadlines.
    I was planning on applying to about 15 schools with a good mixture of good/bad/not so bad schools.

    As for interviews......do schools actually want you to fly across country on your own dollar to meet with them? Or are phone interviews acceptable nowadays?

    What would your overall advice be on the whole developmental thing? Scratch it and put everything into clinical programs or have a couple developmental schools as backups?
  8. lazure

    lazure Senior Member

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    Apply only to schools where you see yourself going....but do a couple of developmental programs as a back up.. but no more than 2. I've done both in person and phone interviews - in person is probably better. Whether they will pay for your interview depends on the prof....I wouldn't ask for it up front...
  9. PublicHealth

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    Some schools do phone interviews. During one of my interviews, an applicant who was doing some research in Israel was put on speaker phone during the group portion of the interview, and then interviewed individually with three professors. Of course, it's better if you can go to the interviews in person, as your potential mentors will get a better sense of who you are.

    If you're genuinely interested in developmental psychology, certainly go ahead and apply to some programs. Of course, if you're not accepted to any clinical programs but accepted to developmental programs, you have to decide if you want to actually pursue developmental psych or re-apply to clinical programs for the following year. Ah, decisions!
  10. twiggers

    twiggers Senior Member

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    Hiya public,

    If I do apply to some developmental programs that are at the same school as the clinical program...do I run the risk of looking bad to the committee and ruining a chane at either program? Would I be better to separate the schools to which I apply?
    I am asking because U of Minnesota is my #1 choice and they have both programs, and I would be elated to be admitted to either program (geographically that is where I want to be, plus their program in both areas is really top notch), but I would not want to ruin my chances by having the appearance of trying to "back door" into clinical.
  11. lazure

    lazure Senior Member

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    Hiya public,

    If I do apply to some developmental programs that are at the same school as the clinical program...do I run the risk of looking bad to the committee and ruining a chane at either program? Would I be better to separate the schools to which I apply?


    Look at their applications. Many schools that offer multiple programs will ask for one application with their programs rated according to your preference. Make sure that your chosen faculty are allowed to supervise clinical students since some schools only allow the clinical faculty to do this.
  12. lazure

    lazure Senior Member

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    There also are clinical-developmental programs as well like the one I am at in Canada. If you're interested in more details, PM me.
  13. PublicHealth

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    It's certainly a possibility, and may make you look desperate. However, if you provide a clear explanation regarding why you're considering clinical psychology as well as developmental psychology in your respective personal statements to each program, you should be fine.

    Why not e-mail the program director and ask if s/he would recommend that you apply to both programs?
  14. twiggers

    twiggers Senior Member

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    Thanks for all the great advice! Especially thanks to public....that makes perfect sense to talk to the department head. I don't want to look desperate...but rather look as if I am interested in both.
    I have been pursuing schools that offer child clinical, or developmental clinical, and am finding that many schools do offer such programs. U of Minnesota specifically asks that you apply to child development program with an emphasis on clinical psychology, and thus having a speciality in child clinical with full benefits of clinical program (ie internship availabilities, etc.)
  15. PublicHealth

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    This sounds like a great opportunity. As you may already know, the personal statement is a very important part of your application. Use it as an opportunity to explain how the U of Minnesota program meshes well with your interests in clinical and developmental psychology, and note the names of the professors with whom you'd like to work. You may also want to contact these professors to make sure they're accepting students and to discuss the possibility of your working with them.

    I wish you the best of success. Let us know if we can help you along the way.
  16. twiggers

    twiggers Senior Member

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    Thanks public...I have already spent a couple of weeks downloading articles of profs that I liked, and will be emailing them later this month to check availabilities....I may find that a couple of my schools get crossed off my list because the prof doesn't have openings...I don't want to work with someone that doesn't share the same interests as I do ..that just makes for a miserable 4-5 years.
  17. smeachen

    smeachen Junior Member

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    Hi Twiggers,

    You sound exactly like I did about a year ago. Like you I was smack in the middle of applying to grad schools while finishing off my undergraduate degree. My first piece of advice? Try to relax a LITTLE bit. My GPA was exactly the same as yours, and I had about the same amount of research experience as you and my applications went just fine. I personally had no publications (just my honours thesis) and this didn't impact me one little bit. Granted, I haven't done a master's yet... I think it's a lot more important that potential supervisors see publications from applicants with Masters degrees. Everything will get done in the end, even if it doesn't feel that way now.

    Secondly, I'm actually starting at Wayne State next month, in a clinical neuropsychology doctoral program. The lab I'll be working in is a Developmental Neuropsycyhology lab. My supervisor manages to straddle the fields of clinical and developmental psychology quite well. In fact, I would hazard to say that neuropsychology is the ideal subdiscipline for students interested in both development and clinical work.

    I mostly just wanted to offer you some encouragement. I know exactly how stressed out you are! Let me know if you have any specific questions about applying to grad school, preparing for the GRE, etc. I'm happy to help.

    Sarah
  18. twiggers

    twiggers Senior Member

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    Hi Sarah,

    Thank You! I do appreciate the words of encouragement.....Wayne State is actually one of the schools on my non-narrowed-down list. I've research about 30 schools, already gotten rid of 5, and need to get rid of about 10 more. As I've been looking for professors I have been trying to focus on ones who deals with children/teenagers, and leaning more towards ADD, ODD, autism, anxiety disorders, etc.
    Thanks for the availability as well...I am sure I will have many more questions in the coming months!
  19. PublicHealth

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    If you haven't already, you may want to look at UConn and Yale. UConn has Dr. Debbie Fein, an internationally recognized pediatric neuropsychologist and autism researcher. Yale's Child Study Center is probably the foremost center for research and clinical treatment of developmental disabilities in the world. From what I have heard, there is quite a bit of collaboration between these two programs.

    Links:

    UConn:

    http://web.uconn.edu/psychology/Clin.pdf

    http://web.uconn.edu/psychology/

    Yale:

    http://www.yale.edu/psychology/clinical.html

    http://info.med.yale.edu/chldstdy/autism/
  20. Sanman

    Sanman O.G.

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    Hey Public,
    I am looking at UConn also. ANybody know why their numbers, specifically GPA and number accepted decreased so much in 2003? Just curious if there is a problem at the program or if this a sign of trouble to come. That would be too bad because I really liked the program.
  21. laxyhead

    laxyhead Member

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    Hello

    Just wondering, how do you actually go about writing up an abstract to send to a conference? This is something that few people I know of do. I apologize if this seems like an elementary question. Thanks for answering though!
  22. PublicHealth

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    I think it has something to do with the fact that 27 people were accepted in 2003, as opposed to 10 to 17 in the previous years (the numbers reported in that document were for the people accepted in that year, not those who matriculated). There were probably a handful of people with sub-par GPAs, but who were otherwise exceptionally well qualified in that group of 27. It may also have something to do with the demographic composition of the group (e.g., older age).

    Why not contact the program director and ask why the numbers decreased from 2002 to 2003?
  23. lazure

    lazure Senior Member

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    Hello

    Just wondering, how do you actually go about writing up an abstract to send to a conference? This is something that few people I know of do. I apologize if this seems like an elementary question. Thanks for answering though



    Read abstracts from previous meetings of the conference you're interested in. Get your supervisor to proof read it. Note how there is usually is the following:

    - General statement about the importance of your research
    - hypotheses/research q
    - brief participants & method
    - brief results
    - brief conclusion
    - general statement about the importance of your findings
  24. smeachen

    smeachen Junior Member

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    No problem Twiggers. Feel free to ask me questions. I remember how tough it was last year. Good luck.

    Sarah
  25. Sanman

    Sanman O.G.

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    Yeah, I figured it had to do that, but if you noticed the number matriculating was about the same, 10 people I believe. This leads to the question of why did they have to let in so many more people to have the same number matriculating.
  26. PublicHealth

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    Multiple acceptances? Perhaps they initially sent out acceptance letters to 15 applicants and some of those applicants declined. Thus, they may have extended a few more offers for a total of 27. Keep in mind that schools may not extend offers at the same time. Some come earlier in the process, some come later. Most of this depends on when professors are available to interview students.

    Believe it or not, most applicants hold multiple acceptances ("cream of the crop" phenomenon). At each interview, most applicants say that that program is their top choice. This more than likely leads to their being accepted to that program, and gives them the option of turning that program down. However, I have heard that programs are asking applicants to give them a definitive answer regarding the acceptance right away. Some professors even call students to confirm the acceptance. Of course, the APA is supposed to regulate this whole process, requiring that students make their decisions by a certain date (April 15, I believe).

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