Feb 28, 2010
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Hey all,
If you look at stats out there, apparently if you apply to more than 15 or so sites, you're no more likely to match. This doesn't make sense to me. It seems as though if you end up with about 5 or 6 interviews, odds are in your favor and you'll match. So, wouldn't it follow that applying to more sites would increase the number of interviews you get, and thus increase your odds of matching?
 

Therapist4Chnge

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It is probably related to the idea of diminishing returns. Not all sites are created equal and while there may be a greater number of sites that can be applied to in a given cycle, that doesn't mean that the applicant is as good of a match at all of those sites. Focus on "fit" at the site, as an applicant may have wonderful stats and a great application…but not for all types of sites in all settings.

If you extend this out to 50 sites…the applicant would need to outpace the chance of a poor fit to gain a net positive result, otherwise the investment of time/resources would not yield the chance at a favorable outcome. I believe the premise of "Expected Value" can be applied to this scenario…for any poker/gambling fans.
 
OP
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Feb 28, 2010
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Psychology Student
I understand the idea of diminishing returns and the idea of being a "good match" for a site. However, I'm applying to university counseling sites, and they're all very similar. Individual/groups/crisis sessions/outreach/a variety of orientations/valuing diversity...each site might have a couple of unique aspects, but it's been pretty easy to adapt my experience to each site.

So while "fit" seems important to me, it doesn't seem to put a limit on 15 sites that are the best fit for me...It would seem there are way more sites that are a good fit for my experiences that I can apply to.
 
Last edited:
Nov 21, 2011
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If you apply to a lot of sites, please make sure to tailor your applications to each site. After reviewing a bunch of apps for the site I am at now, it cannot be stressed enough how important it is to be a good fit, and make that apparent in each cover letter. Generic statements about fit will not make the cut, so just make sure to take the time to highlight specifics about each program you are applying to. Good luck!
 
OP
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Feb 28, 2010
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Psychology Student
If you apply to a lot of sites, please make sure to tailor your applications to each site. After reviewing a bunch of apps for the site I am at now, it cannot be stressed enough how important it is to be a good fit, and make that apparent in each cover letter. Generic statements about fit will not make the cut, so just make sure to take the time to highlight specifics about each program you are applying to. Good luck!
Thanks--I've revamped my cover letter for each site I've applied to. This process has taken a few hours per each site I'm applying to--it's a pretty tedious process.
 

psychRA

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On a practical level, there is only so much time available for interviewing. So even if applying to a large number of programs directly increased the number of interview invites you receive, I think most people would reach a point at which they either physically can't attend every interview, or they are so burnt out and tired that they can't perform optimally at every interview. I have friends who got 11-12 interviews, and were absolutely fried.

Plus there is the fact that students in good programs with high match rates aren't encouraged to submit as many applications. In my program, our DCT suggested applying to 10-12 programs, with 15 being the absolute maximum. So students who are already more likely to match (because they're in good programs) are submitting fewer applications, while students who are less likely to match (because they're in weak programs or aren't strong applicants) are probably submitting more applications. Anecdotally, I've known a few people from weaker programs (not Argosy/Alliant weak, but mediocre PsyD places) who applied to maybe 25-30 sites in order to increase their odds of matching, but weren't realistic about choosing those sites. It was almost like the gambler's fallacy - they seemed to think that with all those sites on their list, a few of them were bound to work out. If you're primarily applying to sites where you're unlikely to make the cut, submitting more applications will not make you a more competitive applicant.
 
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I agree with you PsychRA. I had a friend who applied to 18 sites last year, and they were all reaches for her. She got 1 interview, panicked, applied to 2 more who were still accepting apps and new APPIC members, and got 2 more interviews.

So I'm making sure that a good number of my sites are "safeties," sites that receive few applications or have interviewed most students from my program who've applied there, but are not necessarily the most exciting sites.
 

cara susanna

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I applied to 20 because a good chunk of the ones I applied to are more "competitive." And I feel like I'm a good fit for all of my sites, so it was more just that I found some sites last minute that were good matches for my interests/goals.
 
Aug 7, 2013
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Plus there is the fact that students in good programs with high match rates aren't encouraged to submit as many applications. In my program, our DCT suggested applying to 10-12 programs, with 15 being the absolute maximum. So students who are already more likely to match (because they're in good programs) are submitting fewer applications, while students who are less likely to match (because they're in weak programs or aren't strong applicants) are probably submitting more applications. Anecdotally, I've known a few people from weaker programs (not Argosy/Alliant weak, but mediocre PsyD places) who applied to maybe 25-30 sites in order to increase their odds of matching, but weren't realistic about choosing those sites. It was almost like the gambler's fallacy - they seemed to think that with all those sites on their list, a few of them were bound to work out. If you're primarily applying to sites where you're unlikely to make the cut, submitting more applications will not make you a more competitive applicant.
This. I think this is one of the major confounds with the "no more than 15 sites" advice.
 

Ollie123

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Agree that match trumps all. More applications can't "hurt" though unless you aren't spending sufficient time on them because you spread yourself too thin or stretch how you define fit - some of the stuff out there discussing this issue shows a pretty embarrassing lack of understanding of the old "Correlation does not equal causation" adage.

I did 16 apps. My fits at each of them ranged from good to pristine. Pretty much all are extremely competitive (research-heavy VAs and AMCs), but I'm not a good fit for the less competitive places and probably wouldn't be as happy at them, so it just didn't make sense to apply. Colleagues who applied to "safeties" got interviewed at virtually all the competitive places and none of their "safeties" so I think once your credentials exceed a certain threshold there is sort of a "Go big or go home" situation that arises.
 

MCParent

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On a practical level, there is only so much time available for interviewing. So even if applying to a large number of programs directly increased the number of interview invites you receive, I think most people would reach a point at which they either physically can't attend every interview, or they are so burnt out and tired that they can't perform optimally at every interview. I have friends who got 11-12 interviews, and were absolutely fried.

Plus there is the fact that students in good programs with high match rates aren't encouraged to submit as many applications. In my program, our DCT suggested applying to 10-12 programs, with 15 being the absolute maximum. So students who are already more likely to match (because they're in good programs) are submitting fewer applications, while students who are less likely to match (because they're in weak programs or aren't strong applicants) are probably submitting more applications. Anecdotally, I've known a few people from weaker programs (not Argosy/Alliant weak, but mediocre PsyD places) who applied to maybe 25-30 sites in order to increase their odds of matching, but weren't realistic about choosing those sites. It was almost like the gambler's fallacy - they seemed to think that with all those sites on their list, a few of them were bound to work out. If you're primarily applying to sites where you're unlikely to make the cut, submitting more applications will not make you a more competitive applicant.
I think this is completely correct. I'm of the opinion that the stats used to pick 15 as "optimal" are flat-out wrong, due to problems with how people who are geographically restricted might be shotgunning every site in their city. I suggest for people to apply to about 15 sites, but to not artificially constrain themselves to 15 if they have good fits. i.e., if you are not geographically restricted, or don't care if you live in Nowhere Nebraska for a year, I don't see why you would artificially cut a site that you fit well at just to make an arbitrary 15.
 

cara susanna

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Just wanted to post that, according to the APAGS magazine, for the 2013 year the match rate was actually higher for people who applied to 21+ sites than people who applied to 15-20. However, APPIC said they still aren't revising their policy because it was only one time.