Mar 23, 2010
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Non-Student
Hi everyone,

I am new to the forums, and thought I'd post for some moral support and advice. Please be kind to me... I'm in a fragile state at present. :)

I will start with a little background about me since it may be helpful.

I have a B.A. in Psychology and an M.Ed. in Counseling. I graduated my B.A. program with a 4.0 (first in my class, with departmental honors) and my M.Ed. program with a 3.98. Neither school was Ivy League or anything, but both are private colleges that have a good reputation locally. My combined GRE score was roughly 1200 (nothing to write home about, I know, but I'm not particularly strong on standardized tests), and my psychology GRE score was 660. I have a year of research experience and a year plus of teaching experience at the community college level. I also have three very strong letters of recommendation (including one that states I am the most qualified candidate he has ever recommended in his 10 years of teaching), and a personal statement that I spent hours slaving over and which received input from about five different individuals (including professors and those currently in doctoral programs).

In the course of completing my counseling practicum, I realized that counseling is not for me. However, I have a passionate interest in social psychology research and a strong desire to continue working in academia. As you probably know, it is virtually impossible to secure a full-time college teaching position without a Ph.D., even at the community college level. The only jobs I can get are adjunct positions with pay that isn't enough to support myself (let alone a future family) and no benefits. Thus, for both personal and professional reasons, I have been trying to get into a Ph.D. program in social psychology. This is my second year applying. The first time around, I only applied to 3 schools and did not spend nearly as much time on my application; I was probably overly confident about my chances of being accepted. This time around, I spent a considerable amount of time (months) on the application process, applied to 7 schools, and so far have received rejections from 4 of them. The remaining 3 I have yet to hear from, but I am unable to think positively because if 4 out of 7 rejected me, why would any of the remaining 3 accept me?

I am kind of at a loss as to what to do. I understand how immensely competitive these programs are, but I am a total perfectionist and cannot help but blame myself for being inadequate in some way. I am not getting much support from friends and family, either, which is making this all the more difficult. I keep getting comments like "suck it up and move on," but this is my future at stake! I have had people tell me "maybe it isn't in God's plans for you" and "maybe you need a plan B." My own mother even went as far as to say that the money she spent on my undergrad tuition was a total waste because I am not able to get into any doctoral programs. I resent all of these disparaging comments and feel like I shouldn't have to settle for a career other than one I love, but obviously I am not having a very impressive effect on these admissions committees. I have been talking with former professors and classmates who are currently in doctoral programs, and they all tell me that they don't get it because I'm one of the smartest and most qualified people they know. I suppose they are just trying to make me feel better, but there must be some truth to what they are saying - it's not like I was a straight C student who just coasted through college or something.

I would appreciate any advice/support you can offer, even if it's just telling me that I'm not alone. I feel so heartbroken right now and am trying to figure out how I can strengthen my application for the next time around. Should I take the GREs a third time, try to get more research experience, etc.? In what areas might I be lacking? It's a shame that the programs are unable to tell you the basis on which you are rejected so that you can beef up your application for next year. :confused:

Lastly, is there a way I can cope better with all of this? It is really affecting me in a negative way. I am teaching six classes this semester and having a really hard time focusing on my grading and lesson planning because I am so deeply disappointed about the situation with the program rejections. There is nothing that I want more than to get into one of these programs. It isn't just about career advancement, but also about personal fulfillment. I miss being in school, but can't see taking classes just for the heck of it because that isn't financially feasible at the moment. If I took classes, they would have to count towards a degree of some sort.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and offer any insights you may have! Have a great day! :)

http://forums.studentdoctor.net/editpost.php?do=editpost&p=9429662
 
Jan 21, 2010
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:)
Lastly, is there a way I can cope better with all of this? It is really affecting me in a negative way. I am teaching six classes this semester and having a really hard time focusing on my grading and lesson planning because I am so deeply disappointed about the situation with the program rejections. There is nothing that I want more than to get into one of these programs. It isn't just about career advancement, but also about personal fulfillment. I miss being in school, but can't see taking classes just for the heck of it because that isn't financially feasible at the moment. If I took classes, they would have to count towards a degree of some sort.

I feel for you. This whole process is difficult, and really isn't fair to us.

Have you ever tried meditation? Not yoga meditation(which is nice), but I'm talking about sitting meditation. What city do you live in? There are meditation centers all over the country.

I ask because this whole process had me feeling really overwhelmed about two weeks ago. I realized then that I had been neglecting meditiation for the previous two weeks(I have been meditating on and off for a little more than a year).

Anyway, the effect meditation has had on me since is pretty profound. I now feel like I can handle my life in a real way, and move forward one step at a time.

If meditation has taught me anything, it's taught me that the part of my brain that tries to figure out what to do next, what went wrong, what I could have done better, etc. will never stop whirling around, and will never find a real answer. It may seem like you are in a situation where stress is just a natural byproduct of the admissions process, but it doesn't have to be that way.

Any way, PM if you want to talk further. I'd be glad to help in any limited way I can. :)
 

BuckeyeAlum

5+ Year Member
Nov 2, 2009
87
2
91
Status
Psychology Student
That is definitely an awful position to be in. I'm sorry that those close to you aren't being more supportive. (And what your mom said is totally inappropriate!) There are a LOT of smart, hard-working people like you out there.

I think what helped me when I didn't get in the first time was to re-evaluate what I would need to make me stand out. When everyone is qualified, you have to go above and beyond. Focusing on my new plan and putting it into action helped in 2 ways: it got me distracted from feeling bad about myself AND gave me more confidence that my second try would be more successful.

Your application can be improved, but it may take time. You can certainly get more research experience; many people have over several years of experience. Accumulating a publication or two would help as well. When writing your personal statement, you also want to convince your readers that social psych is the ideal field for you, especially since you have a background in a different area. Lastly, you can still try to apply to even more schools. I have only applied to clinical programs, but social psych probably has some similarities.

And when all else fails, I listened to the song "Strange Cup of Tea" by Sister Hazel. Cheer up and Good luck!
 

McClinas

5+ Year Member
Aug 5, 2009
142
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91
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I am sorry to hear about this, and please know that you are not alone! There are SO many qualified, gifted people that don't get into these outrageously competitive programs from year to year.

First, I would say, don't give up hope. You haven't heard from three schools. You might get a call tomorrow or the day after, this process is unpredictable (and rather chaotic at times), and I think it's best to try and roll with it. Which leads me to echo the previous poster and recommend meditation!
 
Jan 22, 2010
235
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Psychology Student
Well, just because you have been rejected by 4 schools does not mean that you will be rejected by the remaining three. As people continually say on this forum, it only takes one.

I only applied to a few PhD programs in school psychology, and as a back-up, I applied to a couple EdS programs. I got into the PhD program of my choice, BUT I was rejected from an EdS program.

It is just a strange process. . . .

Did you make sure that you were a good fit for the programs research-wise? Did you apply to only the most highly selective social psychology programs?

I'm sure that if you show your fit with the programs you will get accepted--and hopefully this year.
 

Psycycle

Psychologist, ABPP
10+ Year Member
Jul 9, 2006
540
231
281
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Psychologist
Hang in there - as others have said, the rejections don't mean more positive news isn't coming your way. I was rejected from several of the programs I applied to, but got into my 1st choice. So you might have some good news soon.

I would say that your best bet for improving your application might be if you could get more research experience, especially in academia. Do you have any publications or posters?
 

psich

10+ Year Member
Mar 27, 2009
292
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I’m sorry that you are have a difficult time with this…this is definitely an emotionally draining process. I think it’s good that you have the self-awareness to know that you are a perfectionist and you critique yourself in ways which make you feel inadequate. I think you really just need to be easy on yourself. I know it’s hard, especially since you’ve worked very hard on your applications and you’ve invested so much of yourself in the process. But just be gentle with yourself. Unfortunately several qualified individuals get overlooked, sometimes due to reasons that are not in the applicant’s control. Getting higher numbers may have a positive effect on your application in the future if you don't get in this time, so aiming for a higher GRE score and getting research experience may help. This process is a crapshoot in many ways and sometimes it helps not to take it personally as a sort of deficiency on your part. Programs might still be handing out acceptances so don't lose hope!
 
Jan 7, 2010
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I know exactly what you're going through cause I'm in the same boat! It's devastating! Seek a support system that knows how hard you worked for this. It makes things just a bit easier. All my friends and family know how hard I've worked for this and they have all been there for me for the past 3 years of application season. Don't blame yourself too much-blame it on the system :) :) There are many applicants who are above and beyond superstars who don't get in. Who knows maybe it's politics, favoritism, games, or in my case a four digit number (GRE). Ask for feedback and don't lose touch with your connections. I vote that we start a not going to school thread for those of us who were rejected all around. However, from the looks of it you still have a few schools to hear back from.

Good luck!
 

deadmau5

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Mar 13, 2009
445
9
151
Great White North
Status
Psychology Student
heh don't worry I've gotten 7 rejections last year.

This year it will be 10 more. I understand their position, but sometimes you can't help but feel down. It's like they don't believe in you, when everyone tells you that you have so much potential. No problem, it won't stop me from doing what I want to do.
 

purplebutterfly

5+ Year Member
Jan 29, 2010
58
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91
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No problem, it won't stop me from doing what I want to do.
This is an excellent way to look at it. I'm 40 years old, have a master's degree (in a different field), and around 15 years of research (although not empirical) experience. I've sat on peer review committees, published up the wazoo (but not in psychology). None of this seemed to really count for at least 3 of the programs to which I applied, a couple of which valued research over clinical experience. So far, I've been turned down at 3 doctoral programs, accepted at a master's program, and am waiting for a decision from 2 more (one master's, another doctoral). Had I known it was going to be this competitive, I might have gotten so discouraged as to not apply at all. BUT, as others have said, all you need is one acceptance.

Also, I wonder (from one who is also a perfectionist and tends to be hard on herself): To what extent are you judging your qualifications/worth based on the fact that some of the programs to which you applied turned you down? If 4 of your 7 programs turned you down, it might just mean that those were not a good fit for you. To take a page from social psychology, if you attribute negative outcomes to stable, internal factors ("I'm not good enough"), you run the risk of falling into depression and/or not doing so well the next time you apply (if it even comes to that). Don't fall into that vicious cycle!

Your family doesn't sound all that supportive, which makes sense why you're feeling so down. If you can, try to surround yourself with others who really can be supportive and who see you for the wonderful person that you no doubt are. My family isn't all that supportive either, so I don't involve them much (especially not on issues about which I'm vulnerable or sensitive).

You are not alone....
 
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kapinkkidowski

10+ Year Member
Jan 11, 2009
144
2
0
Cambridge, MA
Status
Psychology Student
I feel for you; and no, you are not alone. As some others here have said, maybe some more research experience could help, and you should definitely think about fit. I think once you have the qualifications, that is the most important thing. Make sure you apply only to places that have research going on that is right up your alley, and prepare to prove it.

Also, 4 rejections says NOTHING about how good of an applicant or a student you are. I know it is hard to believe that when you're dealing with the sting of it, but with acceptance rates as low as those in psych, many very qualified people get rejected...a lot. If this is what you want to do, regroup, re-evaluate, and keep at it! Plus, you never know what will happen with those other 3 schools...

Good luck!
 
M

mas810

I understand what you're going through as I'm currently feeling the hurt of being rejected. Pm me if you want to talk. I know it hurts but good luck and remember a lot of qualified people got rejected and it will only make getting in next year that much sweeter.
 
Jan 5, 2010
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Psychology Student
I feel for you as I am in the same boat. I have equated getting rejected this year again and again to a punch in the stomach. I too feel very deflated after working my butt off in undergrad and now as I finish my Masters in Clinical Psych with a 4.0 while also working full time in the field, submitting a publication in the past year (which is now going through rewrite), going through practicums, sitting on a local board for a mental health organization and basically having no life because I devote every minute of every day to getting more experience...and I am still rejected I too wonder what more I can do.

I think there is always something we can do to make ourselves better. I too am a perfectionist much like you are so it hits hard to hear that through all your hard work you still did not get into the program of your choice. However, I have learned that if you want something bad enough you can make it happen. I know that is not easy to hear and it wasn't easy to tell myself either when I learned I will likely not be going to graduate school this fall (one waitlist left to hear from). But if this is truly your dream I would just start looking at options in your area which would allow you to add to your resume.

I plan on studying and retaking my GRE (my scores are not spectacular due to my lack of standardized test taking skills). I also have been checking job sites in order to find some part time work within the field that can help me beyond the 40 hours I already put in during the week.

Finally I plan on emailing my contacts to see if they need any help with their research projects and if all else fails in that department I will again try emailing professors at the different colleges in my area to see if I can be of any help. That extra work a year ago got me involved in a research project that got me listed as second author.

So you have options. If you want to chat further-feel free to PM me. I truly do understand what you are going through.
 
Jan 4, 2010
42
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Pre-Psychology
I understand this is tough. This process is hard on everyone, even those who make it though in the end.

I second.. or third the meditation advice. I recently (in the past year) started using mindfulness and it has been really helpful in the process. I would say it has been invaluable to help me get though the GREs, it makes the constant waiting easier, it helped me immensely in my interviews and it is helping me now with the stress of moving to some place totally foreign to me. I think it would be a great help to get you though this tough time. I would suggest looking up the principles of mindfulness and some of the practices.

My thoughts on how to improve your application: Your GPA is great, but unfortunately it is not going to get you into school. All is does it make people look at your application further instead of putting it in the "no" pile in the beginning. Your GRE scores also act the same way. I don't know what the cut off is for social psychology, but as long as you make the cut off (which I would assume you do) then it is probably fine. But you might want to find out what the cut off is in general/for your programs in particular.

The main thing is that you don't have a much research experience as a many others who apply. Any research experience is good, but if you really want to stand out, you should really try yo get research experience in the field you want to go into. Do you know what specifically you want to study in social psychology?

Social psychology Ph.D. is a research degree, so the teaching and counseling experience isn't going to get you in unfortunately. (Even though I think it is impressive :) ) Also, make sure that your personal statement is focused on your research experience mostly and how these research experiences led you to choose to pursue the social psychology PhD.

If you have any questions or thoughts, please feel free to PM me.
 

RejectClinical

10+ Year Member
Jan 22, 2009
226
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271
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I'm sorry to hear this!!! It is so hard to deal with rejection when you're such a great student and it is obvious you would excel in graduate school.

I too am from a small school. The first time I applied, I was unable to secure a position. I really think a big part of the reason I didn't was my SOP and lack of research experience. While I had presented two posters at conferences, I didn't have any experience working in a lab. Furthermore, while I had a couple of professors read over my SOP, I don't think it was what graduate schools were looking for. This year I utilized a post doc from Stony Brook to read over my SOP and that made a world of difference.

This past year (after being rejected from 9 schools) I was able to secure a research assistant job in the area of research I want to study in the future. I think this made the BIGGEST difference since every school that I applied to involving this area offered me an interview and 3 of them gave me an acceptance. If you can get research experience in the area you are looking to study in the future, I think your chances of securing a position will be much higher.

Also, don't lose hope yet. You could still hear back from the other schools. Feel free to PM me if there is any way I can be of assistance to you and good luck to you!!! If this is what you want, you can do it!
 
Mar 23, 2010
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Non-Student
Thank you to everyone who took the time to reply. A few days have passed, and I feel a little better. I'm trying to stay positive and accept what I can't change, while working to change what is within my control. I'm in the process of getting in touch with former professors to see if they have any research opportunities available in their labs that I might be able to partake in over the summer when my teaching schedule isn't so intense. I do have a very good idea of the types of research I am interested in and did spend time researching the programs to make sure they were a good fit. However, I haven't been too actively involved in research recently. It isn't that I'm unmotivated or dislike research (quite the contrary); I'm just overloaded on courses and trying to get by on an adjunct's salary in this economy. As I'm sure you can imagine, it's been tough. I don't expect teaching experience to get me into a research-oriented program, but I thought it would count for something since teaching is my primary career objective and there are tons of people who say they want to teach college but haven't spent a day of their life actually teaching. Some of them are quite turned off when they actually get out into the classroom and have to deal with some of the shenanigans that the students pull, similar to how I was turned off to counseling when I was actually working in that setting. It's a stressful and demanding job, and certainly not for everyone. That's why I was hoping that my year and a half of college teaching experience would be looked upon favorably and would make me unique in some way. I thought it might even make me a more attractive candidate for teaching assistantships. Work experience can never hurt, or so I thought. But alas, I'm just another number in this grueling application process. :)
 
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Psleepless

Member
Feb 16, 2010
28
0
0
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Psychology Student
Thank you to everyone who took the time to reply. A few days have passed, and I feel a little better. I'm trying to stay positive and accept what I can't change, while working to change what is within my control. I'm in the process of getting in touch with former professors to see if they have any research opportunities available in their labs that I might be able to partake in over the summer when my teaching schedule isn't so intense. I do have a very good idea of the types of research I am interested in and did spend time researching the programs to make sure they were a good fit. However, I haven't been too actively involved in research recently. It isn't that I'm unmotivated or dislike research (quite the contrary); I'm just overloaded on courses and trying to get by on an adjunct's salary in this economy. As I'm sure you can imagine, it's been tough. I don't expect teaching experience to get me into a research-oriented program, but I thought it would count for something since teaching is my primary career objective and there are tons of people who say they want to teach college but haven't spent a day of their life actually teaching. Some of them are quite turned off when they actually get out into the classroom and have to deal with some of the shenanigans that the students pull, similar to how I was turned off to counseling when I was actually working in that setting. It's a stressful and demanding job, and certainly not for everyone. That's why I was hoping that my year and a half of college teaching experience would be looked upon favorably and would make me unique in some way. I thought it might even make me a more attractive candidate for teaching assistantships. Work experience can never hurt, or so I thought. But alas, I'm just another number in this grueling application process. :)
Best of luck to you, r-monday! Hoping you get good news very soon. If you dont get good news this time, best wishes for next time. Try putting some of the passion (w/ slightly diff language obvi ;) from the quote above into your SOP if you havent already! You make a convincing case for a future in academia.
 
Mar 23, 2010
8
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Non-Student
Thanks. I am nervous. I don't feel very optimistic about getting into any of the three remaining schools. I'm sure that my research experience and GRE scores pale in comparison to those of some of the other applicants. Not to mention how late in the process it is. Shouldn't they have sent out all of the acceptance letters by now? I thought most schools sent them out by mid-March. Now, granted, these three schools I am waiting to hear from all had January deadlines (a month later than the schools that have already rejected me), so maybe they will wait until April 15 to send me a rejection. LOL.

This is crazy. The more I think of it, the more angry/frustrated I become. I have a Master's already, so clearly I'm capable of graduate level work. And I don't know many 25-year-olds who teach at two colleges and instruct anywhere from 4-6 classes per semester (on their own, not as someone's TA). I may not have publications yet or research experience out the wazoo, but I'm not a nobody, either.

I shared my plight with my students the other day because one of them inquired as to whether I had received decisions from any of the schools I applied to. When I mentioned the non-stop rejections, one of them asked if the departments that rejected me would accept a written appeal from one of my current students stating what an awesome professor I am. LOL. That made me smile.

I've been having such a great time in class and always leave with a big smile on my face because I totally love my job. But when I think of how much trouble I am having getting into a Ph.D. program, it seems like my goal of being a full-time professor is light years away, and I feel like crying.

The truth of the matter is that while I enjoy research and definitely want to contribute some empirical knowledge to my field, I don't see myself ever being one of those professors who is so intent on publishing, publishing, publishing that I totally neglect my role as an educator. We've all had those professors, and they suck. You know, the ones who show up unprepared for class and take light years to grade stuff because they're too busy in their labs... they should have gone into research instead. That's just my humble opinion. It would be nice if there were a few Ph.D. programs that emphasized teaching a little more and research a little less. Yes, the Ph.D. is a research degree, but if you're going to go into education then you'd better know how to teach.

These are some of the things that I've been contemplating as I reflect on my situation. Thoughts?
 

purplebutterfly

5+ Year Member
Jan 29, 2010
58
0
91
Status
Thanks. I am nervous. I don't feel very optimistic about getting into any of the three remaining schools. I'm sure that my research experience and GRE scores pale in comparison to those of some of the other applicants. Not to mention how late in the process it is. Shouldn't they have sent out all of the acceptance letters by now? I thought most schools sent them out by mid-March. Now, granted, these three schools I am waiting to hear from all had January deadlines (a month later than the schools that have already rejected me), so maybe they will wait until April 15 to send me a rejection. LOL.

This is crazy. The more I think of it, the more angry/frustrated I become. I have a Master's already, so clearly I'm capable of graduate level work. And I don't know many 25-year-olds who teach at two colleges and instruct anywhere from 4-6 classes per semester (on their own, not as someone's TA). I may not have publications yet or research experience out the wazoo, but I'm not a nobody, either.

I shared my plight with my students the other day because one of them inquired as to whether I had received decisions from any of the schools I applied to. When I mentioned the non-stop rejections, one of them asked if the departments that rejected me would accept a written appeal from one of my current students stating what an awesome professor I am. LOL. That made me smile.

I've been having such a great time in class and always leave with a big smile on my face because I totally love my job. But when I think of how much trouble I am having getting into a Ph.D. program, it seems like my goal of being a full-time professor is light years away, and I feel like crying.

The truth of the matter is that while I enjoy research and definitely want to contribute some empirical knowledge to my field, I don't see myself ever being one of those professors who is so intent on publishing, publishing, publishing that I totally neglect my role as an educator. We've all had those professors, and they suck. You know, the ones who show up unprepared for class and take light years to grade stuff because they're too busy in their labs... they should have gone into research instead. That's just my humble opinion. It would be nice if there were a few Ph.D. programs that emphasized teaching a little more and research a little less. Yes, the Ph.D. is a research degree, but if you're going to go into education then you'd better know how to teach.

These are some of the things that I've been contemplating as I reflect on my situation. Thoughts?
You sound like a really good professor already, and I hope you get in to one of the remaining 3 schools. Some schools are still sending out acceptances (I got one today). Did you interview there and did they tell you when they'd make decisions?

I totally hear you about the frustration, though. I have a master's degree already too, wrote a major thesis (that was considered the best in my program that year), and I've worked for some major policy research organizations as a researcher. I though that would surely demonstrate that I can do the work, but I didn't get in to most of the schools to which I applied. I think in my case, there was a fit problem (i.e., yeah, I've done lots of research, but not in the areas that were of interest to the faculty where I was applying). Plus, I suspect there's a bit of an old boy's (and girl's) networking thing going on. If you have good letters of recommendation from someone they know (or worked in a research lab for a colleague), or you already went to school there for undergrad (that was def. the case at one of my schools), you'd have a leg up. There's no telling what goes into the decisions. It could be very systematic, it could be just who they like (is this person like me?)--all other things being equal.

I hope you persist, though, because you're young and there's plenty of time (or at least it looks like that to me as I'm quite a bit older!). You CAN do this and I think it would be a big loss for future students if they were not able to benefit from your teaching.
 
Mar 23, 2010
8
0
0
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Non-Student
I was not selected for any interviews, but as far as I understand, social psychology programs don't really do interviews as part of the selection process (as opposed to clinical/counseling programs, which do them all of the time). I got my 5th rejection letter today. It's not looking good for next fall. :(

On an unrelated note, today was a frustrating day at work. Just to demonstrate some of the BS undergraduate professors have to deal with, I'll share a few of my favorite quotes of the day from students.

"I have to leave your class now to go get tutoring for my English class."

"Can't we just leave already? I think we took enough notes for today."

"Professor, you have my permission to continue speaking."

And that demonstrates the importance of getting teaching experience before one commits to a career in academia. If you can put up with that and still love your job, you are totally worthy of such a position. Enough said. :)
 
Jan 14, 2010
78
0
0
California
Status
Psychology Student
...

"I have to leave your class now to go get tutoring for my English class."

"Can't we just leave already? I think we took enough notes for today."


"Professor, you have my permission to continue speaking."

And that demonstrates the importance of getting teaching experience before one commits to a career in academia. If you can put up with that and still love your job, you are totally worthy of such a position. Enough said. :)
Wow, my first reaction was "What snotty little brats!" and then I realized that these are college-aged young adults who should have learned a little something called RESPECT by now. You're right, if you can handle taking those kind of remarks from students and love teaching, you deserve a good position in academia! Good luck to you, I hope you get in! :luck:
 
Mar 18, 2010
101
0
0
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Psychology Student
I work with hardened criminals and individuals who are homeless.. They give me more respect than the kids in your class! What's up with that??

I am not that far removed from undergrad- I couldnt imagine ever speaking to a teacher in such a manner... that's a tough gig you got there!
 
Mar 23, 2010
8
0
0
Status
Non-Student
It's community college. Many days, it feels like I'm teaching high school, though. Sometimes, I think that if high schools actually offered psychology and hired psychology teachers full-time, I'd go back for a degree in education and teach psychology at the high school level. It'd pay a lot more and I'd have benefits for the exact same type of work I do now. Being an adjunct is rough financially speaking, and it will be a number of years before I get accepted into a Ph.D. program, complete my dissertation, and land a full-time academic position (those positions are even MORE competitive than the Ph.D. admissions process, so just imagine how grueling and frustrating it will be).

Sometimes I wonder why I picked one of the hardest fields to break into. I know I have the capability to succeed, but the whole process is exhausting. The only thing that keeps me going is my love for psychology and my desire to see my students succeed. :love:
 

cognosco

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Apr 8, 2009
48
7
151
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Psychology Student, Psychologist
Like the others here, I sympathize with your situation. I can also relate to it; I was rejected from every single school I applied to my first "round." I began a master's program, applied midway through, and was rejected from every doctorate program I applied to the second "round" as well.

It is impossible for it not to feel like crap when this happens. Despite what people said to cheer me up, it still hurt. I blamed myself, cursed myself, called myself all kinds of names, and generally felt sorry for myself for some time.

After some time, I worked my way through the grieving process. I was able to think about the decisions that I had made that got me to that point in my life. Further, I made myself sit down and really think about the kind of decisions I needed to make in the future to improve my situation.

I do not know you personally, so it is difficult for me to give you specific insight about your situation. I can tell you two things I did that have helped me out tremendously. First, I spent as much time as possible learning what others who were accepted did and copied them. Second, I made sure that I surrounded myself with people who were doing the kind of things I wanted to do in the future.

I worked hard, made more informed decisions, and this year I was accepted to a great program working with a very well-known professor. I'm not telling you this to brag. I'm telling you this because I am no better than you, and I have little doubt that if I can accomplish this, so can you. I can tell from your initial posting that you want it bad enough, and that is perhaps the most important thing.

If you are accepted this year, I wish you the best. If not, take some time to reflect on what you need to work on over the next year. Do you need more research experience? If so, start knocking on professors doors until you find one who you like who will help you. Start working on research. Then go find another professor and do the same thing. Read journal articles until you can talk about them on the same level as your professors. Learn how to be someone people can come to when they need answers. This is what psychologists ultimately do, and this is a skill that can be learned, just like any other skill.

It took me three years to find a great place to finish my graduate education, and in retrospect I am glad for it because I have learned the hard way that what I want right now might not be what's best for me eventually. And if I failed to gain acceptance this year, I would complete the same process again next year, and the next, until I found a program that was the best for me. When you want something bad enough, it doesn't matter how you get there, or how long it takes -- all that matters is that you keep working until you get there and you never, ever give up. I'm sure you will do the same, and I wish you the best of luck with everything you do in the future.
 
Dec 15, 2009
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Like the others here, I sympathize with your situation. I can also relate to it; I was rejected from every single school I applied to my first "round." I began a master's program, applied midway through, and was rejected from every doctorate program I applied to the second "round" as well.

It is impossible for it not to feel like crap when this happens. Despite what people said to cheer me up, it still hurt. I blamed myself, cursed myself, called myself all kinds of names, and generally felt sorry for myself for some time.

After some time, I worked my way through the grieving process. I was able to think about the decisions that I had made that got me to that point in my life. Further, I made myself sit down and really think about the kind of decisions I needed to make in the future to improve my situation.

I do not know you personally, so it is difficult for me to give you specific insight about your situation. I can tell you two things I did that have helped me out tremendously. First, I spent as much time as possible learning what others who were accepted did and copied them. Second, I made sure that I surrounded myself with people who were doing the kind of things I wanted to do in the future.

I worked hard, made more informed decisions, and this year I was accepted to a great program working with a very well-known professor. I'm not telling you this to brag. I'm telling you this because I am no better than you, and I have little doubt that if I can accomplish this, so can you. I can tell from your initial posting that you want it bad enough, and that is perhaps the most important thing.

If you are accepted this year, I wish you the best. If not, take some time to reflect on what you need to work on over the next year. Do you need more research experience? If so, start knocking on professors doors until you find one who you like who will help you. Start working on research. Then go find another professor and do the same thing. Read journal articles until you can talk about them on the same level as your professors. Learn how to be someone people can come to when they need answers. This is what psychologists ultimately do, and this is a skill that can be learned, just like any other skill.

It took me three years to find a great place to finish my graduate education, and in retrospect I am glad for it because I have learned the hard way that what I want right now might not be what's best for me eventually. And if I failed to gain acceptance this year, I would complete the same process again next year, and the next, until I found a program that was the best for me. When you want something bad enough, it doesn't matter how you get there, or how long it takes -- all that matters is that you keep working until you get there and you never, ever give up. I'm sure you will do the same, and I wish you the best of luck with everything you do in the future.
This is one of the most moving posts I have read on this forum!
 
Oct 14, 2009
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Psychology Student
I was a math and English teacher of adolescents and adults for over a decade. It seems to me that, unfortunately, not all doctoral selection committees place a high value on teaching experience.

Regarding dealing with rejection, now in my mid-forties, I have lots of experience with rejection! I'm getting better at coping with it. Ten years ago, with dreams of working on Wall Street, I applied to a famous business school in New York City. I studied hard to earn a high GMAT score, worked very hard on an unusual project for my application, and revised my essays multiple times. I was invited to interview. Then I started doing everything I could think of to prepare for my interview. I was so nervous in the interview that I bombed it. Consequently, I was put on the wait list and then, by default, when the fall term started, rejected. I was devastated for many years. Whenever I heard the school’s name, which was often, I thought of that interview and what could have been.
Getting rejected forced me to think creatively. I accepted an admission offer with a generous funding package from a very good business school on the west coast. Still, I felt terribly disappointed because I knew that by attending this school I would have virtually no chance of securing a job as an investment banker. Fortunately, my professors at my school taught me how to write a business plan and how to use a statistical package as well as other useful skills. I was offered a job working as a financial analyst for a low-end retail apparel. I thought to myself, 'I cannot imagine a job less glamorous and further from investment banker.' With no other job options, I accepted. This job turned out to be so exciting that I sometimes voluntarily went to work at 4:30 a.m. to give myself enough time to do all the things I wanted to do each day! A few years later, I learned that I had a medical problem that required me to self-administer and undergo invasive treatment. After dealing with that, I started developing a health-related product to make the lives of people who went through this and similar treatments easier. My education at my “disappointment” turned out to be very useful.
Last year, aspiring to become a psychologist, I applied to PhD programs at a few schools. I didn’t apply to many because I was geographically limited by family. Although I really wanted to get a PhD and, at my age, felt as though I couldn’t apply many times, I felt much more relaxed than I did while applying to business school. In one day, I had five interviews at the university that was my favorite choice and also offered me my last, and virtually only, chance of getting into a PhD program. My feelings that day were almost the polar opposites of those I had in my interview ten years ago. This time, I felt happy and excited, even though I thought I had almost no chance of being accepted. I was excited just to be around a large group of professors and students who had made many notable contributions. This time, I came in with many ideas of fruitful life paths, both with a PhD and without. A week after the interview, I was informed that I was on the wait list. I assumed that I would not get into any PhD program. I felt unhappy for a minute, and then started working on my other plans. (I realized that rejection was an inherent part of an adventurous life. What many people call “failure,” I consider “learning” and a vital part of progress. When met with rejection, my thought is “Next!” My present attitude toward rejection is, “Glad I found out. Now I know what I’m going to do. Onto the next step!”) For a few weeks earlier this month, when people asked me if I had gotten accepted, I told them that I was on the wait list, didn’t plan to get accepted into any program, and was OK with that—and I was! Last week, while preparing for a research job, I was offered admission into my top choice of PhD programs.
Considering your skills and stamina, if you think creatively and view life as an adventure, I believe that you will be very successful and happy.
Best wishes!
 
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Aug 27, 2009
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This time, I felt happy and excited, even though I thought I had almost no chance of being accepted. I was excited just to be around a large group of professors and students who had made many notable contributions.

This is exactly how I felt at the interview at the school I ultimately got accepted in. In my first year of applying, I got 5 interviews and was rejected at all of those schools. I was so angry at the field in general (especially considering I had to buy 4 plane tickets and spend more than $3000 applying) and thought about quitting. But after reevaluting my situation and with a little coaxing from my then mentor, I decided to reapply again. This time I realized that a Ph.D was not my "end all, be all," and had a different attitude going into the process. For one of my interviews, like Katciao, I loved the program and thought I had no chance of being accepted, especially since I was directly competing with other students who went to more "prestigious" undergrads. But I did not care. I was happy to just be there and meet important people in my field. I was more relax this time and it showed (one of the professors in my interview remarked that I seemed very calm). I even had a good time and was pleasantly surprised when I got accepted three days later. The ironic thing is that I did not apply to this program my first year, since I thought (based on some misinformation) it was not a good fit for me. A year later, I realized it was a perfect fit. In retrospect, I am even glad I got rejected from the programs I applied to the first year, so I have a chance to go to this school.

So keep these things in mind: Rejection is part of this process, so don't let it get you down. It happens to most people (I only know one person who got into a clinical program in the first year of applying, and I know a very smart professor who had to apply three times to get into a program). Sometimes it even happens for a reason.
 
Jan 7, 2010
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I can't help but feel behind...hopefully next year will be different. Waiting 4 years to get into school is hard a pill to swallow. To the OP-hang in there!! You are not alone, but I know it's hard.
 
Mar 23, 2010
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Non-Student
I sincerely appreciate all of the support that I've received from the wonderful people on this site. These past few weeks have been really difficult. I seem to go back and forth between the attitudes of "my life is over now; I'm not smart/talented/driven enough to get accepted into a Ph.D. program" and "I don't even care about the rejections... oh well." I know that neither attitude is a healthy one. I wish I could snap out of this foul mood. I think that once I hear from the remaining 2 schools, it will give me a sense of closure, although I strongly believe that they will also reject me, and rejection never feels good.

I am looking forward to the end of this semester since the physical and cognitive exhaustion caused by my heavy teaching load is not helping my ability to cope with the situation and all of the emotional upset that it entails. I am hoping that over the summer I will have some time to reflect on everything and do some soul-searching to figure out what my next step in life will be. I don't want to give up on my dream, but I can't help but think that maybe I need to "reinvent" myself since I may not currently have what it takes to succeed in a field that is apparently overcrowded with talented intellectuals.
 

psich

10+ Year Member
Mar 27, 2009
292
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I sincerely appreciate all of the support that I've received from the wonderful people on this site. These past few weeks have been really difficult. I seem to go back and forth between the attitudes of "my life is over now; I'm not smart/talented/driven enough to get accepted into a Ph.D. program" and "I don't even care about the rejections... oh well." I know that neither attitude is a healthy one. I wish I could snap out of this foul mood. I think that once I hear from the remaining 2 schools, it will give me a sense of closure, although I strongly believe that they will also reject me, and rejection never feels good.

I am looking forward to the end of this semester since the physical and cognitive exhaustion caused by my heavy teaching load is not helping my ability to cope with the situation and all of the emotional upset that it entails. I am hoping that over the summer I will have some time to reflect on everything and do some soul-searching to figure out what my next step in life will be. I don't want to give up on my dream, but I can't help but think that maybe I need to "reinvent" myself since I may not currently have what it takes to succeed in a field that is apparently overcrowded with talented intellectuals.
It sounds like you need to take some time off, even for a day or two, to take a break from the stress of rejection and work.

Again, this process contains a lot of things not under your immediate control, and your rejections do not prove a lack of potential on your part.
 

ltj999

5+ Year Member
Mar 24, 2010
29
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Psychology Student
Rejectiononmonday, I think you will get in. So don't have the attitude of if, but when.

You are qualified, and you know it. Next year, pull out all the dam stops and apply to 27 school instead of 7.

And WHEN you get in. Be sure to post your success on this forum! : )
 

Buzzwordsoldier

7+ Year Member
Oct 31, 2009
468
27
161
The upper room
Status
Psychology Student
I would caution you not to idealize this field, especially the direct service aspect. Many (a word that only leaves you guessing, I know) clients can be hostile, manipulative and even dangerous, wildly ambivalent, unmotivated, flaky, etc. Coworkers can be petty, poorly trained and unethical. Workplace politics can be crushing. Community support can be MIA. You have to be prepared, as another post put it, to take all that as part of the adventure. A change of career can be invigorating and liberating, but it's important to take stock of the personal challenges that contributed to burnout (what you seem to be describing), resolve to master them, and foster resiliance. You will owe that to yourself and your clients.
 
Mar 23, 2010
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Non-Student
I would caution you not to idealize this field, especially the direct service aspect. Many (a word that only leaves you guessing, I know) clients can be hostile, manipulative and even dangerous, wildly ambivalent, unmotivated, flaky, etc. Coworkers can be petty, poorly trained and unethical. Workplace politics can be crushing. Community support can be MIA. You have to be prepared, as another post put it, to take all that as part of the adventure. A change of career can be invigorating and liberating, but it's important to take stock of the personal challenges that contributed to burnout (what you seem to be describing), resolve to master them, and foster resiliance. You will owe that to yourself and your clients.
I hear you. I experienced all of the above when working with clients. However, I haven't worked in the counseling setting for almost two years now, and I don't intend to go back. My career goals have shifted in the direction of academia. I have been working in the community college setting, commuting between multiple colleges and teaching anywhere from 4-6 classes a semester. The source of my burnout is constantly being overworked. I have well over 200 students, and that's a LOT of grading. Don't get me wrong- I LOVE my job, but being an adjunct involves a tremendous amount of work for extremely low pay and no benefits, which is why getting a Ph.D. (and eventually becoming a full-time professor, years down the road) is so critical. I find that my students energize me and I LOVE being in class, but the work I come home to is overbearing. Most full-time professors don't teach as many classes in one semester as I have been teaching. I don't get as much freedom as they do, either- I'm not even allowed to pick my own textbooks. That in itself is exhausting, teaching the same course from multiple textbooks and trying to keep all of the facts straight (different books sometimes have a slightly different take on things).

I don't mean to badmouth my job because I really do enjoy it. I'm just not feeling tremendously motivated at present, knowing that grad school will have to be put on hold for at least another year. It's the key to career advancement for me!