justme08

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I'm a nontraditional student, both in terms of age, and I'm completing my bachelors online. I have research experience in law, I was a paralegal and even investigator for many years. I lack any real lab research experience in psychology. I do have good clinical experience though.

I have a very high GPA (knock on wood that remains as I'm about to undertake my last 7 classes through TESC, which will be a new school for me).

My real question is, I see that research experience is looked upon highly. I am only interested in funded programs, or HPSP, or even USUHS, so, I need to be competitive.

I'm looking for suggestions on how to approach a place to gain research experience. I have a state university in my city, one that I would be interested in going to grad school at. Has anyone approached a school they were not a student at about this? Any suggestions on effective methods to go about this? I'm only interested, obviously, given very limited time, in experience or research that will help me.

I also volunteer at a state mental health hopsital. I'm not aware of any research going on there, but is there any way I can "create" a research project, or pursue something here? I have implemented and teach a new group along the lines of bibliotherapy, could I create research around this?

TIA for advice on this.
 

coloradocutter

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I am a non-traditional student in a PhD program. I obtained research experience at a state university near me. I had to take a leave of absence from my job to do it. I contacted the head of the department and bugged her to death about opportunities. I contacted other labs as well. It didn't take a lot of experience for me to get in because I had good grades in a bachelors and grad program and high GREs. I think that your grades and GRE scores will make up for you having a year or two as an RA or something like that. I am not sure about the online bachelor's unless it is affiliated with a traditional school - that could be a problem.
 

justme08

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Thanks for your reply. I haven't always attended online schools, I have excellent grades up until this point from traditional schools. It's just what I have to do in order to finish in any kind of timely or affordable manner.

That gives me some hope that the university took you on when you were not a student there. I can't work for free full-time though. So, I hope there are part-time options that are considered worthy.
 

justme08

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I will have the option to do a thesis. I'm thinking designing and implementing my own research should hopefully look favorably in the research category. I also have a semester of "independent study" in which I conducted literature research regarding resiliency in at-risk youth for a sociology professor. I almost forgot about that, because it was years ago.
 

PhDToBe

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I contacted two professors at a state university and asked if I could work in their labs part-time without having done my undergrad there. I asked if there was funding, but since this is not a top research school, I volunteer. If your job allows you to volunteer in a lab part-time that would be good experience, but I think you'd need a couple years of this. Also, it is possible for you to obtain a full-time research job, if you are okay with leaving your current job. These can be found at universities, but more so at hospitals.
 

Markp

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I'm a nontraditional student, both in terms of age, and I'm completing my bachelors online. I have research experience in law, I was a paralegal and even investigator for many years. I lack any real lab research experience in psychology.... I am only interested in funded programs, or HPSP, or even USUHS, so, I need to be competitive.
I assume that if you are considering HPSP that you are referring to USUHS as a military clinical psychology student and not as a civilian. I don't want to sound harsh, but I believe (and this is just my personal opinion and not the opinion of USUHS or as a representative of USUHS) that you would probably not have a chance at getting into USUHS as a civilian without university based research, the picture is not as bleak, but it still might be a deal breaker for even the military slots. That's just my 'gut' feeling, I have little insight into the selection process other than having been through it.

So yes, I would, if I were in your shoes work to find the best research experience you can get.

Mark

PM me if you need any additional insight with USUHS.
 

justme08

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Thanks for the thoughts guys. I will try my local school and see if I can get anywhere. I have some hope as it looks like a few people have been able to do this. I don't have a few years before applying, but all I can do is what I can do:)
 

justme08

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I figured I'd update this as I know I've been researching SDN for posts about undergrad research experience, undergrad thesis and/or papers, etc. And, I see there are some other posters out there having a hard time locating experience as well.

Let's see I've contacted so many people I've lost count over the past 6 weeks. Every professor in the psych department as well as other departments at the local unversity. Many of the people where I volunteer, past professors, anyone I could think of remotely related to psychology. I was able to submit one volunteer RA app, but the chances of landing a slot are very slim considering how many current students are interested as well.

I have had a few people ask me to check back with them closer to summer, so fairly shortly.

And, I've had one professor offer me data to analyze for my own paper/project, which is very cool:thumbup: So, at least I know I will be able to complete an undergrad research project and am still holding out hope to get "lab" experience as well. But, I feel a bit better as I'm thinking something is better than what I had before.

Good luck to others in a similiar situation. :xf: I'm not completely where I'd like to be yet. All I can say is ask, ask, and ask again if you are seeking experience.
 

justme08

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YES!! I landed an RA spot that I'm actually interested in (double yes). One more obstacle down. :thumbup:

So yes, even for nontraditional students in every sense of the word, there is a way.
 

psich

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I contacted two professors at a state university and asked if I could work in their labs part-time without having done my undergrad there. I asked if there was funding, but since this is not a top research school, I volunteer. If your job allows you to volunteer in a lab part-time that would be good experience, but I think you'd need a couple years of this. Also, it is possible for you to obtain a full-time research job, if you are okay with leaving your current job. These can be found at universities, but more so at hospitals.
Do you think having about a year's experience of this (PT work) would place an applicant at a severe disadvantage?
 

Markp

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YES!! I landed an RA spot that I'm actually interested in (double yes). One more obstacle down. :thumbup:

So yes, even for nontraditional students in every sense of the word, there is a way.
That's awesome news!

Mark
 

justme08

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Do you think having about a year's experience of this (PT work) would place an applicant at a severe disadvantage?
I think a lot depends on what it is you're actually doing, and how involved you actually are. I also think that depends upon the applicant, their total package. I think if you can do your own project off the data as well that will help, or your own thesis in addition to the year. And, it also depends on the programs you are interested in. Sorry, lots of depends there.

Thank you guys for your well wishes. I just hope to encourage others that are not in a major metro area, and/or attached to a university that it's still possible.
 
May 19, 2010
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i just noticed this thread. Im doing a distance course too....thats very encouraging that you were able to get work experience OP :)

Just wondering how are you planning on dealing with getting recommendation letters from your uni, considering doing distance learning your tutors wont know you well enough as they would if you had been in class with them? I know my year head will write letters, but they obv arent going to be very personal...just a general letter speaking about my grades etc..
 

justme08

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I have a professor from when I was doing traditional B&M classes that will write one. I also will be able to receive one from where I'm getting clinical experience. And now, I should be able to get one from my research lab. I think you have to be really proactive and seek real world interactions if you are doing school solely online.

Surely, you can't be the only person from your school though that has or wishes to go on to grad school. Is there a student discussion area, or somewhere you could get some tips, perhaps?