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Ollie123

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Hi everyone,
This is my first post here, had the site recommended by some current graduate students. I apologize in advance for the length, but I want to be thorough. I don't expect anyone to have a definitive answer for me, but getting more opinions never hurts.

I'm going through the process of applying to clinical PhDs right now. Even knowing how competitive it is, I thought I would at least be considered at most schools, and most of my profs did as well. 3.9 GPA with a dual degree, 1250 GREs (not great, but not horrible) 740 subject test, tons of research experience (6 labs total, 2 years of full-time research since graduation). Only major weakness is as of right now I do not have any publications.

Anyways, I applied 13 places, but in reading this website and seeing that most places already did their interviews, it looks like I will only have interviews at 3 schools. 1 purely research-oriented school and 2 with more of an even split between research and clinical work.

I expect I will be accepted to at least ONE of these places, especially since my interviews seemed to go really well. My concern is if I am not accepted to the research oriented school, if I should attend one of the others or hold off and reapply. I want an academic career, preferably at a research university. If I'm accepted at the research school, its a no-brainer for me to attend. However, I match well with the professors at the even-split schools, and I don't think either are BAD schools. They're APA-accredited, solid programs, etc. They just don't have the track record of placing people in academic positions that some of the more research-oriented schools I'm applying to do.

Basically, I want to know if I would be shooting myself in the foot to go to one of these smaller, more "balanced" schools. I'm not opposed to having to work harder to find a way to still publish like crazy, find grants, get research training etc. while I'm there. I'll do a longer post-doc if need be. I just don't want to end up relegated to teaching at 4 year institutions or community colleges for the rest of my life when my primary interest is research. So I guess what I'm asking is whether or not you think it would be a wise decision to turn down one of those schools, find a better research job than I have now for the next year or two that will allow me to get multiple publications under my belt, and then try again? I worry about turning down an offer since there is no guarantee I would be in a better position a year or two down the line. If the 2 even-split schools seemed like weak programs I'd be more concerned, but I think I could be both happy and productive at either of them. I just don't want to graduate and find out I have no hopes of finding a tenure-track job because I went to a graduate school that isn't known for producing professors.

Thanks for any advice you have!
 

Jenny5

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Hey,

I think that you should go to any of the schools that accept you, whether it's purely research-oriented or not. In my opinion, the Ph.D. is a research degree (compared to the Psy.D., at least). So even if a Ph.D. program says that it provides balanced training, my guess is that it's more research-oriented than it may seem.
The other thing too, that I would consider is your potential mentor. Is s/he heavily involved in research. If so, there will be plenty of opportunities to get as much research experience as you want.
My boss has a Psy.D. but does only research because she took the initiative in grad school to get outside experiences.
Also, don't you think that balanced training is a good thing; in other words, clinical training complements research training and vice versa?
 

GiantSteps

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Ollie123,

Read the following recent article in the APA graduate publication. The truth maybe that no matter where you study, you might have no other option than to be an adjunct/ part-time faculty due to the changes in the jobmarket at academic institutions. The days of a career professor may be coming to an end. I think it is sad but read the article and the data.

http://gradpsych.apags.org/jan07/cover-market.html

Therefore, as long as you can afford it, follow an option you have now rather than postpone. The academic climate is changing.
 
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RayneeDeigh

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I'm amazed that you only had 3 interviews. That explains why I had none. lol.

I think for the most part Ph.D. programs prepare anyone for an academic job. You should be fine getting the kind of job you want whether you go to a more balanced school or one that focuses on research.
 

psychanon

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I know of some fabulous, well-known researchers who went to what I think of as balanced, non-super-research programs. At the same time, you are correct that academia is incredibly competitive, and you don't want any handicaps. I think I'd have a better time answering your question if I knew what schools you were talking about, since it depends how big the discrepancy is. If you don't feel comfortable posting them, feel free to PM me.
 

Ollie123

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Thanks for the replies everyone, I really appreciate it.

As for other points:
Jenny5 - I think the idea that balance is better has SOME merit, but it isn't necessarily what search commitees will be looking for. I'm 100% set on a research career. I can't ever picture opening a practice. I'd probably get my MBA and go into the corporate world if it comes down to me having to open a private practice. Knowing that, I worry a more "balanced" program would not prepare me for the kind of career i want.

Giantsteps - Read that the day I got it in the mail actually:) I'm not tied to being a professor, I just want to be a researcher. Since adjuncts don't usually get to have research programs (at least that I have seen) I assume if universities do move to making more and more positions adjunct that research jobs will have to move elsewhere (perhaps within NIH or departments of health?). The field is too research dependant and if universities stop doing research someone will have to pick up the slack - and that's where I want to be.

RayneeDeigh - Thanks. Wish you were on one of my admissions commitees;)

I just don't want to end up going to a school I'll later regret having attended. I LOVE research. I'll happily work 70+ hours a week to achieve that career, I just need to know its an option. Heck, half my recreation time I spend doing lit searches on things that interest me;)
 
5

50960

??Why do people think they have to do academics or hang a shingle to be a psychologist?? This is nowhere near the reality of practicing psychologists today in the US, and if you are being taught this it is sad.
 

Ollie123

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Psisci - I'm afraid I'm a bit confused by your post. I don't recall at any point saying I HAVE to go into academia. I'm well aware of what my career options will be with a clinical psych PhD. My point is that I WANT a research career. Therapy, teaching, etc. while I think will enjoy them, I see as more tangential to what I want to do. My focus is research. That's not just something I'm saying because I think it will help me get in, its really what I want to do with my life.

I hope that clarifies my stance for you. If I'm misinterpreting what you are saying, I'd appreciate any clarification you can give.
 

amy203

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Hi Ollie123 - I am also committed to a career in research and so I have considered a lot of the same issues you are facing. I had several professors in college (rather arrogant men, but successful) say that you need to attend a prominent university to have a career in research, and the book "Getting What You Came For" tends to agree. The main reasoning is that you need to work with an influential mentor, and you're more likely to find one at a "famous" school. However, I still applied to a few "middle-ground" schools if I thought I had a good fit with one of the professors.

Before you choose a less research-oriented program, I would consider the following questions: Is the professor you are applying to work with research-oriented? Does s/he encourage grad students to publish and what resources are available to help make this possible (e.g. large data sets or subject populations that are available to students)? Have previous grad students published? What opportunities will you have to network? What kinds of methods will you be taught - does the school offer a variety of stats/methods courses? Are there any grad students with goals similar to yours? Ask if you can speak with them. Finally, read the chapter in "Getting What You Came For" (by Robert L Peters) entitled "Choosing a School: The Thesis Advisor." The book is quite good overall, and is tailored more towards people who are interested in research than most books focused on Clinical Psychology programs (which, IMO, tend to be written more for people who want to be clinicians).

Also, consider waiting another year. I waited two years after graduating to apply and it's one of the best decisions I have ever made. I have been accepted to schools I don't think I would have had a prayer of even interviewing at if I hadn't waited. Think about what you can accomplish in the next 9 months or so - I was able to move from having 1 publication in press and 1 in review to 2 publications, 2 in review, and 4 in preparation. I also took a graduate level stats course and got a letter from the professor. Finally, I was really able to tailor my application towards the schools I knew I wanted to apply to.

I guess I'm not really offering an answer either way - it's such a personal decision. I can say that, if I were you, I would probably wait. Giantsteps is right about academia becoming more and more difficult to break into, but I see that as an even more important reason to set yourself up as best as you possibly can.
 
5

50960

I apologize as I was not directly responding to your post, but to a trend I see here of students feeling clinical=private practice, and research=academia. There are ALOT of great research opportunities available to psychs outside of academia, and there is alot of GREAT clinical experience to be had outside of of private practice. I want students to open their minds and horizons as they will seldom get this info from their professors...........................
 

Ollie123

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Thanks for the clarification psisci, I definitely thought you were responding directly to my post, so I was a bit confused:)
Amy203 - I'm actually already in my second year off, which is why I'm hesitant to take any more time off. Already expecting to be somewhere in the 30-35 range before I start a "real" career (i.e. job that I plan on keeping long-term), and given that I want to establish myself before I have a family, I'm really not keen on pushing things back even further. That being said, if it came down to it I'd rather push things back if it would mean I'd have more opportunities later in life.
Hopefully things will work out for me at the one research-oriented school that is still an option (though who knows - I still haven't been outright rejected by anyone but Yale, so maybe I'm just waitlisted and will get some last minute interviews). Barring that....it will be a tough call. I think my only major problems right now are my general GRE scores and the fact that the bulk of my research experience has been outside my area of interest (depression). Beyond that I at least meet if not far exceed the "average" acceptance stats for even the extremely competitive schools I applied to. I tend to do very well with interviews, so that helps too.
I just worry that I would wait 2 years and then STILL only get into the 2nd-tier schools and have essentially wasted 2 years of my life. I'd have to be sure I found a pretty spectacular job with a very big-name professor that would let me get on as many publications as possible for it to be worth it to me.
I'm going to talk to two of my letter writers over the next couple days and get their thoughts. They were both recently on search committees for new faculty so hopefully they can offer some insight on what my chances would be if I came out of a school like that.

Lastly - two new pieces of information on the less research-oriented schools that I will be considering and appreciate opinions on.
School #1 - While its more clinical than average for PhD programs, a LOT of their grad students have had success getting NRSAs and F31s for their dissertations. Is that as good a sign as I think it is?
School #2 - Did some digging and while the prof I'm applying with is young (graduated 4 years ago) he only has 11 pubs, and not a single one in a major journal. In fact, I can't even track down the full texts because not only are they not available online, our library doesn't even have paper copies of most of the journals hes published in. Is that as bad a sign as I think it is?
Thanks again everyone, you've given me a lot to think about.
 
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