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How important is undergraduate institution ?

psycholytic

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How important is undergraduate institution , when it comes to the chances of getting admitted into quality PhD programs?

Where did you guys go prior?
 

irish80122

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I go to the University of Notre Dame. I definitely don't think it is everything, but I think the name is helping me out somewhat. I have good stats, not great stats, but given my numbers I am actually doing better than I thought I would. I don't know if I should attribute that to my research, my gender, my statement, or my undergrad institution, but it personally think it has helped. I will let you know if it comes up on interviews.
 

psycholytic

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I go to the University of Notre Dame. I definitely don't think it is everything, but I think the name is helping me out somewhat. I have good stats, not great stats, but given my numbers I am actually doing better than I thought I would. I don't know if I should attribute that to my research, my gender, my statement, or my undergrad institution, but it personally think it has helped. I will let you know if it comes up on interviews.

Yeah, that woulod be great.
I believe, I have made a fatal mistake. Since I did not really know the education system way back when I started here, I declined an offer from the honors program I was in , to continue my Bachelor's studies at UCLA. I thought I could reach the same goals through a Cal State attendence. How stupid ! Today, I think that was my biggest mistake. Let me know what you think.

Might there be any way to fix this ??????
 
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Sorg1123

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Undergraduate institution doesn't really matter. Sure it'd be nice to graduate from Hahvard's honors program, but admissions committees will spend just as much time looking at your application if you went to UMass. This is in terms of grades, imo. Of course there's also what you did while in undergrad other than study (work, sports) to consider. If one applicant when to Hahvard, didn't have a job and dedicated all his time toward studying I hope that is reflected in there grades. But if another applicant when to UMaine and worked full time while putting himself through school and got high marks, well...
Of course in terms of resources some institutions will have more than others, but as long as you can take advantage of the opportunities around you (research, clinical work) you should be ok. Overall, there is so much to consider besides undergrad institution, I wouldn't worry about it too much. Just take advantage of the opportunities you have and study hard.
 

Psych_Ho

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It does matter in the sense that it is simply another factor that they take into account in evaluating you as a whole. However, it's not a factor you can do anything about in that by the time most people decide they want to go to grad school in psychology, they already are at or have completed their undergrad work! The overall rigor of your university and of the psychology department's program is taken note of, but again, it is just one factor. There are so many other factors that have a stronger influence.
 

Psyched4life

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When I began college, I had this idea that is was all about what school you went to, but over the years I realized that there is so much more to it. Even if you went to Harvard or Yale, there are so many facets of your application that need to demonstrate your ability and potential to do well in grad. school. If you went to a school that may not be that well know but you have a lot to show (ie. research experience, awards, scholarship....) then that is equally if not more impressive than an application with an IVY name stamped on it.

This is just my opinion. I believe thus far my institution has served me well and perhaps I am biased because I didn't attend an Ivy school so my perception is partial to my experiences. :)
 

Famousams

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I am also worried about this. I am going to interview at U of Central Florida this friday. In an email to all the invites i could see everyones email address. I got very intimidated becuase alot of them are like Upenn, cornell, UICUC, Pepperdine and other well known universities. I did my undergrad at SUNY-Binghamton. It is a GREAT school but doesnt really have the notoriety or wow factor. Whether it matters or not it is still so hard not to be intimidated
 

Sorg1123

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I am also worried about this. I am going to interview at U of Central Florida this friday. In an email to all the invites i could see everyones email address. I got very intimidated becuase alot of them are like Upenn, cornell, UICUC, Pepperdine and other well known universities. I did my undergrad at SUNY-Binghamton. It is a GREAT school but doesnt really have the notoriety or wow factor. Whether it matters or not it is still so hard not to be intimidated

At this point, interviews, undergrad certainly does not matter. The fact that you're invited to interview tells you that you're on par with the other applicants. The competition is over, just relax and look for your match. just my two-cents:) :)
 

psycholytic

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At this point, interviews, undergrad certainly does not matter. The fact that you're invited to interview tells you that you're on par with the other applicants. The competition is over, just relax and look for your match. just my two-cents:) :)



Okay, guys, I truly appreciate all your input. It's interesting to see how others deal with it and look at it.

I have applied to 14 universities for the PhD program (not all clinical) last year and only got into 2 programs (Masters).

I have 1.5 years of research experience, clinical experience (worked with kids with Autism) and years of work experience. I also worked while in school (not the whole time, but a good part) . My GPA is 3.80 . I am a second language speaker. I sucked on the GRE (850), but had good letters of ref.

I was told (by an evaluator for an international database that deals with American -based programs) a few days ago that Cal State graduates have a hard time getting accepted into UC's. I don't know how right or wrong he is.

My problem is, that I cannot apply throughout the country, I have to stay where I am at (which is of course a minus).

I thought already of getting a second B.A. at a UC , but then again,...who knows if I would get in then.


I have the chance to pay a lot of money and attend Alliant , L.A. (professional clinical PhD- acceptance !)

I know that my GRE is a very weak part. Any ideas what to do in this situation?
 

amy203

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I definitely wouldn't do anything as drastic as getting another bachelors until you have retaken the GRE. You're application sounds very strong otherwise - I would guess that you just aren't making it through the initial cut because of your GRE.

I have a friend who is in a fairly similar situation - she only started speaking English when she was 18 and, although she now speaks it perfectly and is an excellent writer, she just hasn't had the time to build up her vocabulary in order to score really well on the verbal section. She ended up pulling up her score to a 500 and scored very well on the math (which is a much easier section to study for). She also really played up her ESL experience in her personal statement, treating it as a strength. So far, she has interviews at four clinical PhD programs, all very good schools.

Also, did you check the out the changes to the GRE? I know a big one is they are trying not to place as much emphasis on vocab words out of context - this might be helpful for you.
 

psycholytic

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I definitely wouldn't do anything as drastic as getting another bachelors until you have retaken the GRE. You're application sounds very strong otherwise - I would guess that you just aren't making it through the initial cut because of your GRE.

I have a friend who is in a fairly similar situation - she only started speaking English when she was 18 and, although she now speaks it perfectly and is an excellent writer, she just hasn't had the time to build up her vocabulary in order to score really well on the verbal section. She ended up pulling up her score to a 500 and scored very well on the math (which is a much easier section to study for). She also really played up her ESL experience in her personal statement, treating it as a strength. So far, she has interviews at four clinical PhD programs, all very good schools.

Also, did you check the out the changes to the GRE? I know a big one is they are trying not to place as much emphasis on vocab words out of context - this might be helpful for you.



Yeah, thanks amy. I looked at the GRE changes and will retake it after they did, since I think, I will do better on the new one (hopefully).

My plan was, to attend the program that accepted me , even if it is expensive, retake the GRE , and then see what happens. If I can't get it up I will be at least in a program already. This might be crucial, because I can't move, and if I don't take their offer might be out for good alltogether, you know.
 

amy203

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You should ask some other people's opinions on this, but I think attending a professional school might hurt your chances of getting into a different school. I would just wait another year. Your app is very strong (other than the GRE) - I think you'll get into Alliant again next year.
 

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Its sounds like you have a great resume and that the only thing that may be holding you up are those GRE scores. Perhaps taking it over would greatly help out. I applied to 13 Ph.D programs last year and only had 3 interviews and 1 acceptance but what I am finding out is that my matches for those schools just weren't good. So now this time, after applying to only 5 schools I am already where I was last year and the only thing I changed was my selection of schools.
Although, you said that you are limited to one location?? So, I guess that could be a problem as well. I can only suggest taking the GRE over. I do not think you need to get a second degree if you already know what you want to do. Keep on trying.
 
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Therapist4Chnge

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In regard to the GREs.....have you tried taking a course, hiring a private tutor, getting more study guides? Everything else looks good. It stinks that they are often used as a cut-off point (before an in-depth review), but that is just how it usually works.

-t
 

psycholytic

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In regard to the GREs.....have you tried taking a course, hiring a private tutor, getting more study guides? Everything else looks good. It stinks that they are often used as a cut-off point (before an in-depth review), but that is just how it usually works.

-t

Hi T4C

Do tyou also think, it might hurt me , going to a professional school and then reapply to some UC's?

I was totally stressed and had tooooooooo much on my plate when I took (and prepared for) the GRE last time. I have all the books in the world though, lol. Since they change the test, what would you recommend? What do you think of Kaplan preps?

Where shall I look for private tutors, university? But there I won't know if the person tutoring really is up to it.
 

psycholytic

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Its sounds like you have a great resume and that the only thing that may be holding you up are those GRE scores. Perhaps taking it over would greatly help out. I applied to 13 Ph.D programs last year and only had 3 interviews and 1 acceptance but what I am finding out is that my matches for those schools just weren't good. So now this time, after applying to only 5 schools I am already where I was last year and the only thing I changed was my selection of schools.
Although, you said that you are limited to one location?? So, I guess that could be a problem as well. I can only suggest taking the GRE over. I do not think you need to get a second degree if you already know what you want to do. Keep on trying.



I have 1 perfect match, I mean really perfect. This prof does exactely what I am interested in, and I have sent that application last year, yet never heard back. Maybe they did screen me out due to the GRE scores. I would select this program again, because it IS the best fit.
Yeah, maybe a second B.A. is just nuts, huh?
 

Psychxiety

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I think the reputation of your undergrad institution is less important than the reputation of your mentor/ the lab where you have volunteered or worked. A lot of the big research institutions have less prestigious undergrad programs but simultaneously have some very powerful/ famous researchers. Don’t get me wrong…this is not the be all and end all but having a well known mentor really helps.
 

psycholytic

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I think the reputation of your undergrad institution is less important than the reputation of your mentor/ the lab where you have volunteered or worked. A lot of the big research institutions have less prestigious undergrad programs but simultaneously have some very powerful/ famous researchers. Don’t get me wrong…this is not the be all and end all but having a well known mentor really helps.



She (lab prof) is an ass, lol
 

blindblonde

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Yeah, I was wondering this as well, although I am not that worried about it. I go to a very small liberal arts school that no one has ever heard of (Oglethorpe University). Despite this limitation, I think the fact that the 4 profs in my psych department know me so well that I *hope* that they wrote excellent LoRs. I could have gone to a bigger school like Emory, but chose a smaller school--and am happier for it. The bottom line is that there are so many factors that go into this process and you don't really know what makes you "stand out". At this point, worry about the things you can control, which I am sure is enough for everyone at this point.
 

Psychxiety

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Ass or not... good LORs (from prof) and publishing rep (of your prof) are all that matter. Plus Blindblonde is right...nothing you can do about it at this point.

Also- Blindblonde- I've heard of Olgalthorpe plus I know someone coming from a similar situation who got into a top 10-15 clinical program. No worries.
 

psycholytic

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Ass or not... good LORs (from prof) and publishing rep (of your prof) are all that matter. Plus Blindblonde is right...nothing you can do about it at this point.

Also- Blindblonde- I've heard of Olgalthorpe plus I know someone coming from a similar situation who got into a top 10-15 clinical program. No worries.



That might be right, but I wouldn't ask an "ass" to write me one, since we did not like each other. Would be a bad idea. I asked other prof's. I only spend time in her lab, because no other lab spaces were available; probably because she 's an ass, lol.
 

Psychxiety

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That might be right, but I wouldn't ask an "ass" to write me one, since we did not like each other. Would be a bad idea. I asked other prof's. I only spend time in her lab, because no other lab spaces were available; probably because she 's an ass, lol.

Aww that sucks, never a fun situation to be in :( . At least you know what to avoid when looking at grad programs. I didn't know if you meant ass in general or nasty to you in particular...you were deff smart to avoid a rec from that one.
 

psycholytic

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Aww that sucks, never a fun situation to be in :( . At least you know what to avoid when looking at grad programs. I didn't know if you meant ass in general or nasty to you in particular...you were deff smart to avoid a rec from that one.

Get this, because I knew she was having some issues, I asked her to send a letter, stated that I did not need to see it, yet asked for a duplicate to my house, since one school wanted me to collect all material.
Well, of course, I opened it...believe me..I found what I was looking for. Prior to that, she had stated that she would be delighted (yes, delighted) to send a quality letter for me. So much for being an insecure, backstabbing bitch.

I wrote her an e-mail, after having read her "nice" LOR, and stated that I had a problem with a "prof" who did such and such , naming everything she had written, so she would know exactely that I meant her. I asked her what she would think my chances would be to file a lawsuit due to misleading, and screwing with a person's life. She said , she'd think, as long as I did not have anything in writing it would be a waste of time, to which I respondet , it would not be a problem since I had enough e-mails that would confirm my claims. I never heard from her after that. But at least, she knows what I think about her.

Nice story, huh?
 
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paramour

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Get this, because I knew she was having some issues, I asked her to send a letter, stated that I did not need to see it, yet asked for a duplicate to my house, since one school wanted me to collect all material.
Well, of course, I opened it...believe me..I found what I was looking for. Prior to that, she had stated that she would be delighted (yes, delighted) to send a quality letter for me. So much for being an insecure, backstabbing bitch.

I wrote her an e-mail, after having read her "nice" LOR, and stated that I had a problem with a "prof" who did such and such , naming everything she had written, so she would know exactely that I meant her. I asked her what she would think my chances would be to file a lawsuit due to misleading, and screwing with a person's life. She said , she'd think, as long as I did not have anything in writing it would be a waste of time, to which I respondet , it would not be a problem since I had enough e-mails that would confirm my claims. I never heard from her after that. But at least, she knows what I think about her.

Nice story, huh?

Real nice--hope you didn't sign a LOR waiver for that school and they find out about this later.
 

paramour

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How would they?

You can never tell what an admissions committee may dig up about you . . . including your posts on SDN.

Anyway, point being, IF you signed a waiver and then purposely tricked your professor into sending you one, then it doesn't seem like you're acting too professionally. Just my $.02
 

psycholytic

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You can never tell what an admissions committee may dig up about you . . . including your posts on SDN.

Anyway, point being, IF you signed a waiver and then purposely tricked your professor into sending you one, then it doesn't seem like you're acting too professionally. Just my $.02



Well, I think it was necessary , since I suspected how "professional" that prof would act. However, digging up some info from this board? Boy, you really think you live in an open society, don't you?

That's why I don't become a citizen.
 

paramour

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Well, I think it was necessary , since I suspected how "professional" that prof would act. However, digging up some info from this board? Boy, you really think you live in an open society, don't you?

That's why I don't become a citizen.

If you suspected it, then you should not have even asked for it.

And, I have known profs to lurk various sites for their students. I'm not completely paranoid. :D Hell, check the news--stories pop up periodically regarding some individual who was denied a job interview, an acceptance into a program, or whatever, because they posted some really stupid **** on the internet.
 

RayneeDeigh

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Well, I think it was necessary , since I suspected how "professional" that prof would act. However, digging up some info from this board? Boy, you really think you live in an open society, don't you?

That's why I don't become a citizen.


Actually, I was watching a Dateline or some similar show where they mentioned that both employers and Uni admissions boards are hiring tech services to dig up facebook, myspace, and other forum postings of people they're considering.

As for the letter thing, I know that universities take the waivers VERY seriously, that's why profs have to sign and date the envelope seals and everything. I would have just not asked her to write one for you if you thought that would happen.
 

psycholytic

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Actually, I was watching a Dateline or some similar show where they mentioned that both employers and Uni admissions boards are hiring tech services to dig up facebook, myspace, and other forum postings of people they're considering.

As for the letter thing, I know that universities take the waivers VERY seriously, that's why profs have to sign and date the envelope seals and everything. I would have just not asked her to write one for you if you thought that would happen.



I wonder why students should sign waivers like those anyway. If a prof is not willing to write a letter, he or she should just say so, if they are too wussie, that's too bad. Why put it on the student who depends on some of these people with the next five to six years of their lives?
Therefore in that case, I look out for myself.
 

RayneeDeigh

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I wonder why students should sign waivers like those anyway. If a prof is not willing to write a letter, he or she should just say so, if they are too wussie, that's too bad. Why put it on the student who depends on some of these people with the next five to six years of their lives?
Therefore in that case, I look out for myself.

I think it's because if you sign the waiver, the school knows that the prof is giving his/her honest opinion. If you don't, then they can't be sure of it.

It does suck. I know that when I picked up my stack of letters from my profs, there was nothing I wanted to do more than read them. But I trust the system, etc.
 

psycholytic

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I think it's because if you sign the waiver, the school knows that the prof is giving his/her honest opinion. If you don't, then they can't be sure of it.

It does suck. I know that when I picked up my stack of letters from my profs, there was nothing I wanted to do more than read them. But I trust the system, etc.



I don't. Comes with experience, I guess:laugh:
 

Psychxiety

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Yep, I would have deff felt guilty if I read my letters.

Also, I agree. I would be careful what you put online...if your prof isn't into facebook/online forums- you can bet their Grad Students are. They look...I promise.

On a side note- some sharp kids :rolleyes: on a band trip at my high school went crazy doing shrooms & other drugs while the chaperones weren't looking. Brilliantly one of them recounted the events of the trip on their blog. Sure enough some parent ran across it and about half of the band got suspended from school etc. This is a true story... (sadly) I actually knew these people.

Don't be dumb and air your dirty laundry on the net. It will come back to bite you.
 

RayneeDeigh

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Yep, I would have deff felt guilty if I read my letters.

Also, I agree. I would be careful what you put online...if your prof isn't into facebook/online forums- you can bet their Grad Students are. They look...I promise.

On a side note- some sharp kids :rolleyes: on a band trip at my high school went crazy doing shrooms & other drugs while the chaperones weren’t looking. Brilliantly one of them recounted the events of the trip on their blog. Sure enough some parent ran across it and about half of the band got suspended from school etc. This is a true story... (sadly) I actually knew these people.

Don't be dumb and air your dirty laundry on the net. It will come back to bite you.

I definitely agree. It's so easy to feel free and open online because there are no faces, just a screen. But that's what makes it so dangerous.
 

psycholytic

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Yep, I would have deff felt guilty if I read my letters.

Also, I agree. I would be careful what you put online...if your prof isn't into facebook/online forums- you can bet their Grad Students are. They look...I promise.

On a side note- some sharp kids :rolleyes: on a band trip at my high school went crazy doing shrooms & other drugs while the chaperones weren't looking. Brilliantly one of them recounted the events of the trip on their blog. Sure enough some parent ran across it and about half of the band got suspended from school etc. This is a true story... (sadly) I actually knew these people.

Don't be dumb and air your dirty laundry on the net. It will come back to bite you.



And how exactely would one prof find out who is posting and who I was talking about?
 

clinpsychgirl

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In theory, a student is supposed to ask their professor/mentor/etc if they feel confident writing a "good letter" and the professor should ONLY say yes if they can write a good letter. If they don't feel they can write you a good letter (for whatever reason) then, their response should be: "I'm sorry- I don't feel I know you well enough" or "I'm sorry- I have other committments" This is what SHOULD happen, but clearly sometimes it doesnt.

That said, the best rule of thumb here is to trust your instincts and ask someone you feel will not only write you a strong letter, but someone who is invested in your success. When you have a person like that behind you, you have nothing to worry about.
 

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I can understand the curiosity of wanting to read letters, but of course I waive the rights. I know my professors, and I had no doubt that they would write good letters for me. The unexpected thing that happened to me was that a professor actually gave me a copy of the letter by her choice. I of course waived my rights on the forms, but she made the choice to give it to me after she sent the letters to my schools. It was kinda weird to read it, I must admit. I don't know if grad schools frown at that....
 

docjohng

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One might be surprised at the amount of personal information one associates with a username on a public forum, in MySpace, or in Facebook. A few key details about you that I can pick up from a forum like this, and I can likely find out enough about you to figure out what your name is.

People totally overestimate their privacy online and underestimate how easily it is to associate one's online activities with their real life. It has sunk more potential work candidates than I can count, and you better believe it can have an effect on your ability to get into a grad program, internship, or job.

John
 

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I think that there's some confusion over what waivers mean. I believe it means that you waive your right to demand that the professor show you the recommendation before they send it to the school. You are not signing something declaring that you have not read the recommendation. Some professors like to give students copies of their letters. That's up to them. The point of the waiver is not to keep you in the dark about what your professors think of you, but to (as someone else mentioned) allow the professor to feel able to freely express his/her opinion of you without fearing they might offend you, and so that you can't pick and choose which letters to send depending on which are stronger. That said, I think that there's an implicit understanding that you won't read the letters unless the professor offers you a copy.

To address the OP's question- Undergrad institutions are somewhat important, but they are one in many considerations. It definitely seems like the weakest part of your application is your GRE. I don't think going to a professional school for a year and then trying to transfer is a good idea. I think you should work really hard on raising your GRE scores. If English is your second language, they may cut you some slack on the verbal, but you'll need to bump them up to at least 1100 (and if you're talking about going to UCLA, UC-San Diego, or UC-Berkeley, the only UC's with clinical programs, we're talking more like 1400+...those schools are among the most competitive in the country). If you want to get into school now, consider a masters program, to show you can do graduate work.
 

psycholytic

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To address the OP's question- Undergrad institutions are somewhat important, but they are one in many considerations. It definitely seems like the weakest part of your application is your GRE. I don't think going to a professional school for a year and then trying to transfer is a good idea. I think you should work really hard on raising your GRE scores. If English is your second language, they may cut you some slack on the verbal, but you'll need to bump them up to at least 1100 (and if you're talking about going to UCLA, UC-San Diego, or UC-Berkeley, the only UC's with clinical programs, we're talking more like 1400+...those schools are among the most competitive in the country). If you want to get into school now, consider a masters program, to show you can do graduate work.[/QUOTE]



Thanks for your reply.

I know that the GRE might be something I will be unable to raise to 1400+, and since I can't move , it would not make sense for me to get into a Master's program now (besides I have done one already with a 3.80 GPA). The reason is, that I am stuck with the same schools later on and only lose time. So, I guess, I will attend the school that accepted me for the clinical PhD in fall '07. Probably the best choice in my case.
 
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