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DrClinPsyAdvice

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Hey all,

I'm a DCT and a student just told me about this forum. if you have any questions about the application process, I'm happy to help. I may not be able to check this every day, but I'll do my best...


PLEASE READ FIRST BEFORE POSTING
Hi all,

It has been fun to answer all of your questions, and I am happy this has been helpful.

I'd like to mention a couple of things...

1. As the application cycle starts again, please do be sure to read through this thread before posting a question. It is highly likely that your question already has been answered. I know it is a long thread, but it will be easier if the new posts address new issues that have not been addressed previously.

2. I will be out of commission for a couple of weeks at a time, so thanks for your patience. Each time I return, I will answer every question posted. In the meantime, the email messages generated by this list seem to come somewhat inconsistently. So, if it has been a while since you have heard from me, please send me a private message reminder to log back in (please continue to post your actually questions publicly so all may benefit). The private messages seem to generate an email each time. That will help me tremendously.

Thanks, all!

Take care, and good luck!
 

WaitingKills

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You're beautiful!!! Thank you so much for the offer to give advise.

My biggest question is how are student's weeded out. Say you are applying to an average program where there are 100-150 applicants for approximately 6-8 seats. What is the typical process for whittling the pool down to about 20 or so.

I understand that there will be the incomplete applications and those who have GPA's and GRE that are quite low, but when you get down to 60 or so how are others' chosen to be kept or discarded?

A second question I have comes from advice given to me by a psychologist in the field. She told me that if I was willing to move early, in the summer, I should contact my POI's and see if I could work in their lab. Is this really appropriate to do after I have applied to the program and applications are being reviewed? I have the thought that this may appear pushy or demanding while they psych I spoke with said that it showed I was committed and eager, and that it would make me stand out. I just don't want to stand out in a bad way lol.

Thanks again, you will be very valued in this forum.
 

DrClinPsyAdvice

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Great questions!

Applicant screening at most institutions follows a somewhat similar multi-tiered procedure. First, at least 50% of completed applications are eliminated based on GPA and GRE scores. Of those that remain, applicants who want to work with a faculty member who is not taking a student (or has left the university) are then screened. Also, applicants who state interests that just don't fit the program philosophy are typically eliminated (e.g., different theoretical orientation, not a match on research-clinical emphases, etc).

Then, semi-finalist folders are examined by either an admissions committee or individual faculty members who would serve as the mentor. Unfortunately, at this stage there are any number of idiosyncratic factors that come into play. Some faculty like applicants with focus and prior experience; others like a blank slate. Typically prior research experience (a RA position or honors thesis) is a plus. Letters of rec also play a big role, especially if from a trusted collaborator that the faculty member knows in the field.

As for volunteering to work in the summer before admission - I'd say No! This does seem potentially pushy. But once you are admitted, then it is very welcome and nice to suggest coming early to get started.

Hope this helps!

-
 
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WaitingKills

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Great questions!

Applicant screening at most institutions follows a somewhat similar multi-tiered procedure. First, at least 50% of completed applications are eliminated based on GPA and GRE scores. Of those that remain, applicants who want to work with a faculty member who is not taking a student (or has left the university) are then screened. Also, applicants who state interests that just don't fit the program philosophy are typically eliminated (e.g., different theoretical orientation, not a match on research-clinical emphases, etc).

Then, semi-finalist folders are examined by either an admissions committee or individual faculty members who would serve as the mentor. Unfortunately, at this stage there are any number of idiosyncratic factors that come into play. Some faculty like applicants with focus and prior experience; others like a blank slate. Typically prior research experience (a RA position or honors thesis) is a plus. Letters of rec also play a big role, especially if from a trusted collaborator that the faculty member knows in the field.

As for volunteering to work in the summer before admission - I'd say No! This does seem potentially pushy. But once you are admitted, then it is very welcome and nice to suggest coming early to get started.

Hope this helps!

-

Thank you very much. Your response helped a lot especially regarding the volunteering.
 

Duckygirl

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DrClinPsyAdvice~
Thank you for your offer to be of help to members of our forum! I wish you had been around a year ago. I also wish I had a really great question to ask you, since you so generously agreed to help out, but I am at a loss at the moment. Nontheless, your help really is appreciated!
 

thewesternsky

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First, at least 50% of completed applications are eliminated based on GPA and GRE scores.

-

Thank you so much for offering to help; it's very much appreciated. I was wondering-- what kind of GRE scores and GPA would an applicant need to 'escape' this first cut?

Second-- how do programs evaluate students who have completed or are completing a master's degree in psych (either clinical or experimental)?
 

rollomayfan

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Dear DrClinPsyAdvice,

Thanks so much for your willingness to answer questions!

I had a question about interviews -- am not sure if this is a loaded question, but it's something I've been curious about. Do most professors already have their minds mostly made up before you get to the interview? And if so, what is it that would change their mind during the interview?

I ask because I noticed that last year I was slotted last in the interview sequence with the faculty member I was actually interested in, and it made me think that I was probably already his last choice, even though he had never even met me. Later I was not given an offer, which was consistent with my feelings that they weren't as interested in me before the interview started.
 

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Great questions!

Of those that remain, applicants who want to work with a faculty member who is not taking a student (or has left the university) are then screened.

-

When you say screened, does that mean eliminated or do these people still have somewhat of a chance?
 

Thrak

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I have a question....

Do programs "yield-protect"? As in, wait-list or reject applicants with scores significantly above the averages for their applicants, reasoning that they'll be going somewhere else? I know that law schools do this, but I didn't know if PhD programs do.
 

Locrytham

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Second-- how do programs evaluate students who have completed or are completing a master's degree in psych (either clinical or experimental)?

Thanks for offering your application advice from the perspective of a DCT. I also look forward to your comments on thewesternsky's question about how PhD programs evaluate students who hold a master's in psych already. I've submitted applications to PsyD and master's level programs for next fall, but have already heard horrible things about one of the (university) master's programs I've applied to and am beginning to have financial misgivings about the PsyD route based on what I've recently come across reading SDN. Would you encourage students who are making a switch into the clinical psych field to first prove their abilities in a master's program, and then aim for a funded PhD?
 
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DrClinPsyAdvice

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Thank you so much for offering to help; it's very much appreciated. I was wondering-- what kind of GRE scores and GPA would an applicant need to 'escape' this first cut?

Second-- how do programs evaluate students who have completed or are completing a master's degree in psych (either clinical or experimental)?

The minimal GRE scores vary from school to school. But you can get a really good guess from 2 sources. 1) check the website of any program that you are interested in. They are required by APA to list the average scores of recent admits on there. 2) go to www.apa.org/books and look for the book Graduate Study in Psychology. You can probably get it at the library. It has lots of info on minimum scores.

Short answer: at least a 1200 and a 3.3 for most PhD clinical programs.

As for a Masters, it adds a lot if your undergraduate record was not in psychology or was not representative of your best work. In other words, a low undergrad GPA can be taken into consideration more if you have a Masters. Otherwise, it does not necessarily give you a leg up on the process. It MAY eliminate some requirements once you get into grad school, but it may not.
 

DrClinPsyAdvice

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Dear DrClinPsyAdvice,

Thanks so much for your willingness to answer questions!

I had a question about interviews -- am not sure if this is a loaded question, but it's something I've been curious about. Do most professors already have their minds mostly made up before you get to the interview? And if so, what is it that would change their mind during the interview?

I ask because I noticed that last year I was slotted last in the interview sequence with the faculty member I was actually interested in, and it made me think that I was probably already his last choice, even though he had never even met me. Later I was not given an offer, which was consistent with my feelings that they weren't as interested in me before the interview started.

In most cases, I believe faculty are pretty open minded about the folks on the interview list, and have not pre-ranked them firmly. There are just so many amazing applicants, that it is hard to know who the best match will be until you have a chance to chat by phone or in person. I think everyone enters the interview on an equal playing field.
 

Duckygirl

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Okay! I got one!

DrClinPsyAdvice-
How common is it for committees or individual faculty when reviewing applications and narrowing down the applicant pool to contact an applicant's letter of recommendation writers? Does this virtually not happen? Could it happen if a faculty member was really on the fence about an applicant? Or would you say that contacting an applicant's references is reserved more for the times when the faculty member who is reviewing applicants knows an applicant's reference personally? For example, if an applicant's letter writer was an old student or colleague of a professor that applicant applied to work with?

No two! I have two questions! The master's degree thing mentioned earlier led me to thinking:
What weight and/or consideration does a non-psychology master's degree have for an applicant? I am not talking about a master's in fine arts or history, but something a little more closely related, say...a master's degree in teaching or sociology, if it might be in line with some of a given program's or faculty's background interests?
 

DrClinPsyAdvice

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When you say screened, does that mean eliminated or do these people still have somewhat of a chance?

Well, kind of eliminated. Every folder gets looked at and evaluated at most sites. But if the GRE scores, GPA, and broad match to the program values are not there, usually the remaining screening that is done is just to check whether the applicant may have won a Nobel prize or something that sugests a second look is worth it.
 

DrClinPsyAdvice

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I have a question....

Do programs "yield-protect"? As in, wait-list or reject applicants with scores significantly above the averages for their applicants, reasoning that they'll be going somewhere else? I know that law schools do this, but I didn't know if PhD programs do.


Actually, I did not ever hear this phrase before, but I can tell you that MANY excellent applicants with terrific credentials do not get an interview. It is so hard to explain why, however, because it is not always systematic. Usually, it is because other applicants with even better credentials, more experience, or a stronger match were always in the pool. Faculty feel so guilty that they can't interview and accept everyone who looks good, because it pains people to turn down so many great candidates. But we always say that we know those great people will probably get in somewhere, or will rise to the top of the pool the following year (and that almost helps relieve the guilt!)
 

DrClinPsyAdvice

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Thanks for offering your application advice from the perspective of a DCT. I also look forward to your comments on thewesternsky's question about how PhD programs evaluate students who hold a master's in psych already. I've submitted applications to PsyD and master's level programs for next fall, but have already heard horrible things about one of the (university) master's programs I've applied to and am beginning to have financial misgivings about the PsyD route based on what I've recently come across reading SDN. Would you encourage students who are making a switch into the clinical psych field to first prove their abilities in a master's program, and then aim for a funded PhD?

If you want to go to a PhD program but you did not major in psychology, it probably would be far better to get a research assistant position in an active lab! Research experience is extremely important for grad school admissions (for PhD programs)! The Masters is good just to prove that someone is capable to grad level work (mostly coursework). So, it's good for people with low undergrad GPAs. But some Masters programs are expensive, and it takes an extra two years! Don't spend too long in grad school - enjoy your twenties while you can!!
 

DrClinPsyAdvice

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Okay! I got one!

DrClinPsyAdvice-
How common is it for committees or individual faculty when reviewing applications and narrowing down the applicant pool to contact an applicant's letter of recommendation writers? Does this virtually not happen? Could it happen if a faculty member was really on the fence about an applicant? Or would you say that contacting an applicant's references is reserved more for the times when the faculty member who is reviewing applicants knows an applicant's reference personally? For example, if an applicant's letter writer was an old student or colleague of a professor that applicant applied to work with?

No two! I have two questions! The master's degree thing mentioned earlier led me to thinking:
What weight and/or consideration does a non-psychology master's degree have for an applicant? I am not talking about a master's in fine arts or history, but something a little more closely related, say...a master's degree in teaching or sociology, if it might be in line with some of a given program's or faculty's background interests?

Ok, as for #1 -
it happens all the time! - and for both of the reasons that you mention!

as for #2:
a non-psych masters degree typically adds very little to the attractiveness of an applicant. (although of course, there are always special situations in which it may be relevant).
 

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I'm done with applications (thank god), but I did have a question for you.

We've all heard the "don't write ridiculous things in your PS" tip (i.e. don't write about your own mental health issues in painful detail, don't say you want to heal the world, etc.). However, among the applicants who ARE doing well in the selection process, what would you say are some of the common mistakes (or just things that would make you look twice) on PSs/applications? I'm thinking things like sending a "I know all about this research topic" vibe or such.
 

DrClinPsyAdvice

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I'm done with applications (thank god), but I did have a question for you.

We've all heard the "don't write ridiculous things in your PS" tip (i.e. don't write about your own mental health issues in painful detail, don't say you want to heal the world, etc.). However, among the applicants who ARE doing well in the selection process, what would you say are some of the common mistakes (or just things that would make you look twice) on PSs/applications? I'm thinking things like sending a "I know all about this research topic" vibe or such.

I have literally read thousands and thousands of PSs, and you would not believe how many of them commit the very flaws that you mention. I think the "I'm a people person" one also stands out for me as a weak justification for entering clinical psychology!

But if you don't engage in any of these egregious acts, then it is hard to do anything that will knock you out of the running. Most essays are quite straightforward and similar to one another. They talk about a quirky anecdote that illuminated their path to clinical psych, outline a list of classes and research experiences/responsibilities, and then a paragraph talking about a specific prof's work and the perceived match. Every one in a while, someone talks about an area of research with such a strong knowledge base, discusses creative ideas, and seems to truly understand what clinical psychology and clinical research is all about. These essays really rise to the top of the pile quickly.
 
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socialcog

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As for volunteering to work in the summer before admission - I'd say No! This does seem potentially pushy. But once you are admitted, then it is very welcome and nice to suggest coming early to get started.


-

What if the POI reaches out to you? I know this might sound weird and I know this isn't the norm, but my POI, after I met with her in December, asked me to help assess subjects for a study that is beginning in February. I was so excited, and flattered that she thought of me, that I agreed immediately.

I am sure my application is being reviewed as we speak. Agreeing to work with her can't possibly hurt me, right?

I hope this isn't a stupid question, but I fear that it is.. :D
 
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empathiosis

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What if the POI reaches out to you? I know this might sound weird and I know this isn't the norm, but my POI, after I met with her in December, asked me to help assess subjects for a study that is beginning in February. I was so excited, and flattered that she thought of me, that I agreed immediately.

I'm wondering if her request might be construed as unethical, or at least in a grey area in terms of ethics. Here you are an applicant to the program, and she's asking you to work with her. I mean it's flattering, but I'm wondering about her motivation.
 

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I have a question also but I should mention that my area is I/O psychology. Well in statement of purposes when it comes to disclosing research interests some people will go very specific (i.e., I want to study the effects of parental divorce on six year olds' depression scores) and some people simply say "I want to study depression". Which one is better? How specific the person should be in research interests?

And what if a person has done research on one topic but wants to do research on another topic in grad school? Should our research interests match our research experience? (i.e., if someone studied work satisfaction in undergrad, can his future research interest be something different, let's say, motivation in the workplace)
 

scienceisbeauty

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Hey all,

I'm a DCT and a student just told me about this forum. if you have any questions about the application process, I'm happy to help. I may not be able to check this every day, but I'll do my best...

I almost cried from happiness. Thank you so much for helping us out! DrClinPsyAdvice, I have 2 questions:

1. Do schools convert from one school's GPA scoring system to their own scoring system? In Canada (where I'm from) 80% = A-, methinks it's different at other schools in the States and elsewhere. Some schools use a 4.3 GPA scoring system, some schools use a 9.0 scoring system, some schools use a 4.0 scoring system where 4.0 can be obtained by getting an 85% or over. How are these applicants evaluated on GPA so as to judge them similarly?

2. Is it a very bad idea to mention that I was diagnosed with MS in my 3rd year of university and that accounts for the significant fall in my marks during that year? I'm currently in my 5th year and so got a 3.31 GPA in that year that I was diagnosed with MS, but got a 3.76 in my 4th year and have a 4.0 GPA in my current year. Thus, since I have 2 pretty good GPAs following that low 3.31 GPA, would it call more attention to that year and thus look bad? (In my first year I had a 3.68 GPA, and my 2nd year a 3.54 GPA) But even then, the 3.31 significantly brings down my CUMMULATIVE GPA and my PSY GPA because in my 3rd year is when I took a lot of my PSY courses. Shoud I mention it in the PS or in some part where it asks for some sort of explanation of anomalies? I've gotten very mixed advice, but I think the best person to ask is of course someone with your credentials. (and I ask because my MS is invisible, insofaras one can't tell unless I told them).


Again, thank you SO so much for your help on this forum. I know a lot of people sincerely appreciate it!
 

chinaKat

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My question:

How are older applicants viewed? Is work experience seen as valuable? How about career-changers -- people who have built a successful career for maybe ten years, then decided to go back to school to become psychologists?

In a situation like this, how much emphasis does the applicant's undergraduate work get? Say a student had a "just okay" GPA as an undergrad ten years ago, but recently took a bunch of undergrad psych classes and earned a 4.0 GPA in those courses... do the schools even delve that deep into the application before making a decision?
 
D

deleted176373

What if the POI reaches out to you? I know this might sound weird and I know this isn't the norm, but my POI, after I met with her in December, asked me to help assess subjects for a study that is beginning in February. I was so excited, and flattered that she thought of me, that I agreed immediately.

I am sure my application is being reviewed as we speak. Agreeing to work with her can't possibly hurt me, right?

I hope this isn't a stupid question, but I fear that it is.. :D

I would take this as a VERY good sign. Many times lab assistants get accepted to attend doctoral programs they are working in. Nothing shady or wrong with it... It does give you the opportunity to blow it completely as well. ;) Although I was not admitted to the program in question, one professor reached out to me after APA in '06 and as a result I was interviewed and definitely in the running. Further she helped review my application essay prior to submission, which was re-assuring to say the least. If they reach out to you, it's because they have some hope for you... might not be enough to get you in, but it won't hurt. I got beat out by a very bright ivy league student, who was a better fit for that program, still I know it was a close horse race.

Mark
 

psy19

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First, thank you so much for offering to answer our questions!

My question is related to what chinaKat asked- how are young(er) students viewed? Young as in... not even old enough to legally gamble/drink. I'm graduating a year early from my undergrad university, and I'm currently applying to PhD programs. Thus, although I have had research experience, I haven't had any full-time positions.
 

Therapist4Chnge

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First, thank you so much for offering to answer our questions!

My question is related to what chinaKat asked- how are young(er) students viewed? Young as in... not even old enough to legally gamble/drink. I'm graduating a year early from my undergrad university, and I'm currently applying to PhD programs. Thus, although I have had research experience, I haven't had any full-time positions.

I have interviewed students in the past for my program, and based on my experiences I'd suggest NOT graduating early, or if you do....pick up some lab/RA work for a year. Undergrad is as much about learning as it is about maturing and refining social skills. My personal bias is that everyone should take a couple years off after undergrad to work a bit and gain more experience.....but obviously that isn't for everyone.

-t
 

DrClinPsyAdvice

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What if the POI reaches out to you? I know this might sound weird and I know this isn't the norm, but my POI, after I met with her in December, asked me to help assess subjects for a study that is beginning in February. I was so excited, and flattered that she thought of me, that I agreed immediately.

I am sure my application is being reviewed as we speak. Agreeing to work with her can't possibly hurt me, right?

I hope this isn't a stupid question, but I fear that it is.. :D

Sounds like a great sign if she askd you!! I can't possibly imagine that this would hurt your application - in fact, it should help!
 

DrClinPsyAdvice

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I have a question also but I should mention that my area is I/O psychology. Well in statement of purposes when it comes to disclosing research interests some people will go very specific (i.e., I want to study the effects of parental divorce on six year olds' depression scores) and some people simply say "I want to study depression". Which one is better? How specific the person should be in research interests?

And what if a person has done research on one topic but wants to do research on another topic in grad school? Should our research interests match our research experience? (i.e., if someone studied work satisfaction in undergrad, can his future research interest be something different, let's say, motivation in the workplace)

Tough question. In Clinical, it could go either way. Some advisors will like a specific statement, and some more broad. Probably best to just be honest and trust that you will match where you are supposed to match based on what is truly the best fit.
 

DrClinPsyAdvice

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I almost cried from happiness. Thank you so much for helping us out! DrClinPsyAdvice, I have 2 questions:

1. Do schools convert from one school's GPA scoring system to their own scoring system? In Canada (where I'm from) 80% = A-, methinks it's different at other schools in the States and elsewhere. Some schools use a 4.3 GPA scoring system, some schools use a 9.0 scoring system, some schools use a 4.0 scoring system where 4.0 can be obtained by getting an 85% or over. How are these applicants evaluated on GPA so as to judge them similarly?

2. Is it a very bad idea to mention that I was diagnosed with MS in my 3rd year of university and that accounts for the significant fall in my marks during that year? I'm currently in my 5th year and so got a 3.31 GPA in that year that I was diagnosed with MS, but got a 3.76 in my 4th year and have a 4.0 GPA in my current year. Thus, since I have 2 pretty good GPAs following that low 3.31 GPA, would it call more attention to that year and thus look bad? (In my first year I had a 3.68 GPA, and my 2nd year a 3.54 GPA) But even then, the 3.31 significantly brings down my CUMMULATIVE GPA and my PSY GPA because in my 3rd year is when I took a lot of my PSY courses. Shoud I mention it in the PS or in some part where it asks for some sort of explanation of anomalies? I've gotten very mixed advice, but I think the best person to ask is of course someone with your credentials. (and I ask because my MS is invisible, insofaras one can't tell unless I told them).


Again, thank you SO so much for your help on this forum. I know a lot of people sincerely appreciate it!

Whew! These are touch ones! As for Canada, I'd make sure that you or your advisors include some brief explanation of how grades work there. Many people reading the folder will not know how to interpret. Luckily, the GRE scores usually correlate highly with grades, so if you have a high GRE score, people will give you the benefit of the doubt with the grades.

Same goes for the very stressful and difficult decision about disclosing your MS. This may be something appropriate for a letter-writer to mention, if you feel it really warrants it. Your GRE score may give enough info so that not many questions will be asked about your grades. Otherwise, your referees may be able to address this in as specific or as vague a way as you would prefer.

Sorry - hard to be more specific on this one because I think this is really a very personal decision and there is no real 'right answer.'
 
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DrClinPsyAdvice

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My question:

How are older applicants viewed? Is work experience seen as valuable? How about career-changers -- people who have built a successful career for maybe ten years, then decided to go back to school to become psychologists?

In a situation like this, how much emphasis does the applicant's undergraduate work get? Say a student had a "just okay" GPA as an undergrad ten years ago, but recently took a bunch of undergrad psych classes and earned a 4.0 GPA in those courses... do the schools even delve that deep into the application before making a decision?

Sure - all of that would be taken into consideration. I think if it is a career change, then people will want a good reason for why someone is switching their career (and whether they realize what they are getting in to). Experience and recent grades can certainly count favorably againist lower grades from long ago.

Good luck!
 

DrClinPsyAdvice

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First, thank you so much for offering to answer our questions!

My question is related to what chinaKat asked- how are young(er) students viewed? Young as in... not even old enough to legally gamble/drink. I'm graduating a year early from my undergrad university, and I'm currently applying to PhD programs. Thus, although I have had research experience, I haven't had any full-time positions.

I don't think there's any bias towards younger students. But if it means that you will have less research experience than I think that it will make a big difference. An extra year to do a senior thesis can make a difference. And I'd say that at least 30-65% of our top applicants have had a full-time post-bac research assistant position in recent years.
 

jennigold

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Great questions!

Applicant screening at most institutions follows a somewhat similar multi-tiered procedure. First, at least 50% of completed applications are eliminated based on GPA and GRE scores. Of those that remain, applicants who want to work with a faculty member who is not taking a student (or has left the university) are then screened. Also, applicants who state interests that just don't fit the program philosophy are typically eliminated (e.g., different theoretical orientation, not a match on research-clinical emphases, etc).

Then, semi-finalist folders are examined by either an admissions committee or individual faculty members who would serve as the mentor. Unfortunately, at this stage there are any number of idiosyncratic factors that come into play. Some faculty like applicants with focus and prior experience; others like a blank slate. Typically prior research experience (a RA position or honors thesis) is a plus. Letters of rec also play a big role, especially if from a trusted collaborator that the faculty member knows in the field.

As for volunteering to work in the summer before admission - I'd say No! This does seem potentially pushy. But once you are admitted, then it is very welcome and nice to suggest coming early to get started.

Hope this helps!

-


Hi Dr.ClinPsyAdvice - thank you so much for volunteering your time to answer our questions, we are all so appreciative. My question is in reference to your statement that the first step of the GRE/GPA cutoff eliminates about 50% of the applicants. I agree that this seems the expected process, but I just assumed that there would be a component of self-selection and that people with obviously low scores (under 1200 GRE, or under 3.5 GPA) would choose not to apply until they raised their scores. 50% of applicants being eliminated due to low scores just seems like such a huge chunk...is the 50% a reasonable estimate? Not to say that I wasn't happy to hear it but I just don't want to have unrealistic expectations of my application being looked at. Thanks again, this thread and all your responses have been extremely helpful!
 

DrClinPsyAdvice

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Hi Dr.ClinPsyAdvice - thank you so much for volunteering your time to answer our questions, we are all so appreciative. My question is in reference to your statement that the first step of the GRE/GPA cutoff eliminates about 50% of the applicants. I agree that this seems the expected process, but I just assumed that there would be a component of self-selection and that people with obviously low scores (under 1200 GRE, or under 3.5 GPA) would choose not to apply until they raised their scores. 50% of applicants being eliminated due to low scores just seems like such a huge chunk...is the 50% a reasonable estimate? Not to say that I wasn't happy to hear it but I just don't want to have unrealistic expectations of my application being looked at. Thanks again, this thread and all your responses have been extremely helpful!

Yes, believe it or not, there are a ton of people who apply with very low scores. I think that people just don't understand how it works and do not know what clinical psychology programs are really like. It's a shame that they waste so much money and time applying to places without really understanding the process.
 

DrClinPsyAdvice

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Thank you so much for your willingness to answer our questions/assuage our fears!

i just have a quick question... i've been worried that a 3.4 undergrad (3.6 psych, honors thesis, ivy league university) will throw me out at that first cutoff and i will never be looked at further (1350 GRE, a few papers, first authorships, 2+ years of post-undergrad research experience). is this concern valid? should i have addressed this "bad" gpa in my personal statement?

i know this has been a concern presented from many other different people on this forum... and it's one that has been addressed my the lovely members of this community, but i'd love a DCT's opinion!

thank you so much in advance for your advice!

Sounds like a strong application. I bet you will get looked at. Remember, none of these numbers are strict cutoffs - the whole folder is considered (even if very briefly) at each stage of the application. Sounds like you have other very impressive components to your application that will get nice attention.
 

ny1020

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Dear DrClinPsyAdvice,

We truly cannot thank you enough for your help! My question is regarding the interviews that we have coming up:

How do you suggest we best prepare for them and what can we do during the interview process to shine?

Thank you,
NY1020

 

WaitingKills

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Me again :)

I have thought of one more question if that's alright.

How are applicants with disabilities looked at? I know you said earlier that it's a personal choice to disclose and it's a hard one to sort of analyze. However, if you receive an application from a student who has a non-psych disability, in my case a mild ABI, is that taken into consideration in regards to grades and achievements?

For example, my undergrad GPA is crap (3.1) because that's when my accident was and I had to go back to university and 'learn how to learn' again. I have written a pretty elaborate, though not lengthy, letter with my applications explaining this situation. As for my other qualifications, I have an international clinical psych masters with a GPA of approx (3.6), GRE of 1200 (raised from 1080), 1 international conference presentation, 1 first authorship, 2 more in prep, master's thesis, teaching experience with very good student feedback submitted with my applications, practical experience, research experience. I also have 3 solid reference letters with one stating that I was one of the best students in my masters program and was the only one in recent years to finish my degree on time.

I guess what I'm asking, is that if you can explain some real fault in your application (eg. my undergraduate and graduate GPA) and it's due to a disability or another relevant issue, are you still an automatic toss if your other credentials are good?

Thanks again for helping all of us with our questions. It's more helpful and appreciated than you'll ever know.
 

Ihatethisgame

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I was wondering how you would view an applicant with children in an interview. Would it be considered a negative? Should interviewees avoid talking about their kids? Thanks!
 

wdd

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First, thank you for taking this on!

I'm glad to hear that a large chunk of applicants are rejected outright because they don't have, and have never considered, the real qualifications necessary to get into a program. I mean, I'm not glad for them ... I'm glad for us here, who are among the cognoscenti :)

My question pertains to what you said earlier about the Master's, but I would like to apply it to us non-psych majors (in my case, a psych minor) who are taking continuing studies courses to earn prerequisite credits. For example, I am taking statistics now, since I didn't have to take them for a minor in college. I can only assume this is a big positive, but I like to hear as many opinions as possible.

Also, regarding Master's work in another field:

as for #2:
a non-psych masters degree typically adds very little to the attractiveness of an applicant. (although of course, there are always special situations in which it may be relevant).

Does this at least serve the purpose of showing that the applicant has the ability to do work at the graduate level?
 

Marissa4usa

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Hey there,
I, too, have a couple of questions.

1. How are students viewed who attended a Community College before trasnfering to a larger 4-year school? Are the considered less competitive because half of their course work was completed under easier conditions. In my case I did 3 semesters at a CC where I completed 65 credits in 3 semesters. Now I am at a large state university from which plan to graduate within the regular 4 years (4 years altogether). Technically I could graduate in 3 years but decided against it so that I can complete a thesis and get more research experience.I will also graduate with almost 145 credits (lots of them a research credits). Is being a CC transfer students going to work against me?

2. How do you judge GRE scores of non native speakers? I know you said that it's not even worth applying if one doesn't have a score that's at least 1200. I just took the GRE and got 710 in the Math and a horrific 320 in the Verbal. I will take it again in a few weeks but I don't think I will be able to raise my verbal score by almost 200 points which I would need to in order to get a 1200 combined. Are proffessors usually a little more lenient with non native speakers? If so, what is the least score expected?
 

Candelabra

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Hi, thanks for doing this, it's much, much appreciated.

I've got a couple of questions as well.

1. This is the second year that I'm applying to Ph.D. programs and after getting a single interview last year, it looks like I'm well on my way to not getting any this year. :( I'm trying to figure out what exactly it is that's keeping admissions officers from being "wowed" at my application, I guess. My numbers are okay (3.6 cumulative, 1200-ish GRE) and I have a couple of poster presentations to my name as well as six months of R.A. work, 3 years of volunteering at a hospital during undergrad and I'm currently in Americorps doing community outreach, testing and counseling, as well as a little bit of research on the side (though the T&C and research have only begun recently).

I targeted schools (good schools, but not the Northwesterns and UCLAs of the world... think DePaul and Temple) in big cities that had faculty research interests close to mine, but so far I haven't heard from anybody and over half of my schools have sent out interview invitations with me receiving absolutely none (keep in mind this includes the school I interviewed at last year, where the DCT even offered to look over my materials and gave me (good) feedback on them). Would taking the GRE again help, or does it matter since I crossed that 1200 threshold (barely)? Is it more a matter of not having any first authorships or time in research?

2. I'm very interested in public health and have been looking towards getting an MPH if I don't end up getting anywhere with PhD programs this year. Do you think it would help my chances at all, or would my time be better spent finding an RA position somewhere and getting more research under my belt?

Thank you so, so much for any help that you might be able to give me!
 

immortalavalamp

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DrClinPsyAdv,

Thank you so much for answering our questions! I have one for you, too.

During my undergraduate career, I have been on the Residential Life staff for three years. The first year, I was basically a Resident Advisor, and the last two years, I was a resident director. In ResLife, we're always told that these experiences are looked on favorably. Are they, really? I consider them to be valuable clinical experiences, but I was wondering whether Clinical Psychology programs would see them the same way.

Thank you,

immortalavalamp
 

Ollie123

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I targeted schools (good schools, but not the Northwesterns and UCLAs of the world... think DePaul and Temple)

Actually depending on who you are applying with, Temple is right up there with Northwestern and UCLA.
 

scienceisbeauty

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Dr.ClinPsyAdvice:

Hi. Again, thanks so so much for your help on this forum. I can't even begin to express how happy this has made a lot of us.

I have a couple of questions.

1. I have worked with a famous professor except my interest is not even close to what he does. Consequently when I was working (and still am) in his lab I was a bit all over the place since I had so many research interests and was trying to narrow down to just one. He and I talked about graduate school applications today and I asked him about obtaining a letter from him. He said he'd be happy to write me a letter and I asked if he'd be able to say nice things. He said of course and that he enjoyed working with me, and that the only thing he might have had an issue with was that I wasn't completely devoted to that field. So he said, the only semi-neutral one thing he'd say is that : she didn't seem to be completely interested in the field.

Is this okay given that I will NOT be applying to schools that are doing research that is close to his field? Such that even if he says oh she didn't seem 100% interested in the field, it won't be so bad? Remember, he's extremely well known in research and very famous...sooo getting a letter from him would help(?) even if it says I was not 100% devoted to the field????
Basically, would it help (because he's famous and will say nice things) or hurt (because he's going to say I wasn't devoted 100% to the field that I'm not even going to apply to) to get the letter from him.

Thanks again so so much!
 
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