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Should I just back away slowly?

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by Merlin Coryell, Jun 16, 2008.

  1. Merlin Coryell

    Merlin Coryell B.S. Psychology
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    Reading through some of the threads, Ive started to get a little down about prospects of grad school. Heres my story:

    I was a Sociology major, on a path in AFROTC towards a military career. 2 years into school, I changed my mind after taking several psych courses (then my minor). Anyway, I fell in love with the program, and really enjoyed the idea of being an instructor/practitioner someday.

    I graduated in May, but due to a previously unremarkable college career where I depended on a career as a military officer, I escaped with just below a 2.9 GPA.

    I currently work for Devereux treatment centers here in Houston, and have begun to network with various psychologists and social workers.

    So I know that my GPA is far from stellar, but I have plans for some post-bac courses, and plan to get as much experience through work and hopefully some RA chances in the next year or two.

    However, even with experience, some good letters, and a heck of a GRE, would I have a chance in heck at getting into a Clinical PhD program, or should I just slink away and not waste my time? Would a decent post-bac load or a masters help?

    Thank you.
     
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  3. Merlin Coryell

    Merlin Coryell B.S. Psychology
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  4. solar3000

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    I think there is hope. there was this guy at one of my classes who had a 3.2 GPA, he applied for a clinical psych program. now, I remember another girl who had a 3.4 gpa. both of them applied at the same school..
    the guy with the 3.2 gpa got accepted and she didnt...


    A few years ago this girl needed an RA for her senior thesis project. I went to the interview..she asked for my GPA and as soon as she saw my 2.9 gpa..she turned around and said "my teacher told me not to accept anyone with a gpa below 3.0...sorry...."
    I was upset that she didn't even give me a chance. Look at her now, what goes around comes around. :smuggrin:


    So yea, If this is what you want to do, just do your best. don't let others say you can't do it. good luck
     
  5. erg923

    erg923 Regional Clinical Officer, Cenpatico National
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    To be honest, your chances of getting into a Ph.D program directly are shot. 3.6-3.7 is probably the mean GPA of those accepted, 3.0 is the absolute cut off. However, if you take some courses and bump up your GPA slightly, get some good letters and good GREs...you would have a shot a doing a masters program in clinical first. You would have to make darn near a 4.0 in masters to make up for the 2.9 (and even it that it might haunt you with some programs), and get alot of research experience duri g this time to have a shot at Ph.Ds after the masters.

    Think carefully if this is a road you want to take, as it is longer (in terms of time taken to complete a Ph.D, since few classes even transfer), is generally more expensive (since most masters programs do not offer financial support), and still leaves the burden and uncertainty/anxiety of applying to Ph.D programs after the masters. You would be using the masters a "stepping stone basically." Psy.D is another slightly less competitve option, however, you would still have to boost up your GPA significantly before applying. Think carefully about why you want to be a doctoral level psychologist, and if you really need it to do what you want to do in your career. If you only want to do therpay only....I would recommend a host of other less competitive fields that will give you the opportunity to conduct counseling and brief psychotherpay with psychiatric populations (e.g.,MSW)
     
    #4 erg923, Jun 16, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2008
  6. JockNerd

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    2.9 is going to miss the cutoff at some schools. At my grad school, students with sub 3.0 gpas won't be admitted by the grad school, period. It might vary between programs, but I disagree with that article you posted, at least for your situation; if you intend on applying, contact every prof you're considering and mention the gpa before you even apply. Otherwise it's pretty likely they'll never see your app.

    I'd talk to an academic adviser from your UG, you might have more options. For example, where I went to UG students could apply credits toward a second degree; you'd be able to take your good BA marks and apply them to a BSc degree, take two years of classes, and get the BSc.
     
  7. myelin

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    You may consider the MA to PhD route. I think you'd be wasting your time with the post bac. courses. With a GRE of 1000+ and good letters of rec, you'd be good for a smaller MA program. I know of a MA program that accepts individuals with 900 GRE and 2.9 GPA with good letters of recommendation and research experience. You can apply to PhD, but as others have suggested, it would be very difficult to be competitive with your current GPA. Regardless, I'd contact the department before you apply.
     
  8. Merlin Coryell

    Merlin Coryell B.S. Psychology
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    My UG degree is a BS.
     
  9. KillerDiller

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    As others have suggested, I think you'd be a good candidate for getting your Masters degree first and then moving on to a Ph.D program. A good graduate GPA can counterbalance or even override a less than stellar undergraduate GPA. Unlike others, however, I recommend that if you are sure you eventually want to obtain a doctorate in clinical psychology you should go for an MS degree and not an MA in clinical psych (which often tends to be a terminal degree for those wanting to do therapy). Some members with MAs on this board who have gone on to apply to doctoral programs have said that they have had to explain in depth why they wish to obtain this higher degree. Some schools even frown on previous clinical experience if it happens to not be within their training model. Getting your MS, on the other hand, will give you a lot of research experience and you may even get funded while you complete your degree.
     
  10. JockNerd

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    Well, then, you'd do it the other way around :p Not the point; just see what the academic adviser says.
     
  11. Sarahanne

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    Something else to consider is that instead of taking additional postbac classes, retake the ones you have already taken and earn a higher grade. Some colleges (depending on where you go) will replace your old grade with the new grade. If they don't replace your grade, graduate programs will see that you retook those classes and earned a higher grade. I've heard its been helpful in the application process for some. Best of luck!
     
  12. Merlin Coryell

    Merlin Coryell B.S. Psychology
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    Does this hold true to elective courses? My worst grades were in courses which ended up having no bearing on my degree progress.

    I do like the idea of being able to take a MS program, or post-bac courses to earn/raise a higher GPA. If it never worked out, I would still have a MS and be able to find better opportunities than with the BS. I will contact the schools of interest and see what they would prefer, post bac or Masters.

    I will also revisit my campus and see what options they can reccomend for improving or over-riding my lower GPA.

    Thanks for the advice and encouragement, I look forward to a long relationship with these forums!
     
  13. Merlin Coryell

    Merlin Coryell B.S. Psychology
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    Just for the consideration of ease and cost, would a MSc in Psych from a school such as U. of Pheonix be acceptable in the scenario I mentioned or should I hold out for an established university?
     
  14. PSYDR

    PSYDR Psychologist
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    established program.


    they will read the distance thing in a poor light.
     
  15. Merlin Coryell

    Merlin Coryell B.S. Psychology
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    Thanks, just a thought since I wouldnt really plan to put the degree to use.
     
  16. erg923

    erg923 Regional Clinical Officer, Cenpatico National
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    I would also say unequivocally...NO! If you want to prove to the Ph.D crowd that you have what it takes, you cant take any shortcuts. Online programs and University of Phoenix stuff will likley be laughed at.
     
  17. Merlin Coryell

    Merlin Coryell B.S. Psychology
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    Thanks for the warning, it just means that Ill have to wait a bit if I begin the program, to afford it. In the meantime, I can work and get field experience, and hopefully find a way to find some RA opportunities once in Oregon.
     
  18. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty
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    If you are going for a Ph.D. and want to get a MS first (to increase chances, etc). It really should:

    1. Be in research or with a large research component.
    2. Be from a trad. university.
    3. Have a track record of consistently placing people in doctoral programs.
    4. At least middle of the road in regard to reputation (if they let anyone with a pulse in....it probably won't help you).
     
  19. Markp

    Markp Clinical Psychologist
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    You might be able to convince programs if you get your Masters degree and score well on the GRE. A strong performance in a master's program and a strong GRE score can explain away the mistakes of youth. The key is to get into the highest quality masters program you can swing in the Houston area and to get LOTS of RA and clinical experience. Couple that with some extraordinarily strong letters of recommendation and you can possibly overcome the undergraduate record.

    Kind of sucks to be honest, but that's the boat you are in. At least your chances are not completely shot. It is possible to get into a graduate program with a 2.9 GPA, but DIFFICULT, that said... if you can score a 1550 on your GRE and sell the GPA off as a youthful error, you might get in somewhere. Everything else would need to be stellar...

    An example of this is ASU's counseling psychology program which requires a minimum FRK score of 5.5 (but averages a 6.4); my FRK score was a 7.25 and I wasn't admitted.

    http://education.asu.edu/global/pdf/Rev6-07MEdCounseling.pdf

    "Applicants to doctoral study in Counseling Psychology must first meet the Division of Psychology in Education admissibility standard. This standard has been referred to in the profession as the "FRK index" and is calculated by the following formula:

    FRK index = Undergraduate GPA (or Jr/Sr. GPA) + (GRE verbal + GRE quant) / 400

    minimum FRK index of 5.5 is required for admission to graduate study in the Division. An FRK of 5.5 can be had, for example, by an undergraduate grade point average of 3.00 and Graduate Record Exam scores of 500 in both the verbal and quantitative areas. The FRK index formula permits higher GRE scores to compensate for a lower GPA and vice-versa.

    The average FRK index score of students admitted to doctoral study in Counseling Psychology over the past few years has been approximately 6.4; mean Jr/Sr GPA, GRE verbal, and GRE quant scores comprising the FRK have been about 3.6, 540, and 570 respectively."


    So for example to get a 6.4 FRK with a 2.9 GPA, you need a minimum 1400 GRE score. This is no small feat.

    Any one thing can be overlooked... even your GPA, but you have to sell it as an anomaly. With a GPA, which is performance over time, that's hard to do... but doable. I am going to assume, for a moment, that you did not graduate from an Ivy league school, that you probably won't be able to pull a 1550 GRE, and that you have no previous research experience. If that's the case, then the Masters program is what you will need to "prove" yourself as a serious scholar and researcher.

    Consider counseling programs, as many are very similar to clinical programs. They are also, on average, slightly easier to gain admission to (but not always!!!)

    Good Luck!!!

    Mark
     
    #18 Markp, Jun 17, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2008
  20. myelin

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    I can agree with Markp to a point, but I also want to emphasize the importance of meeting people in the field while you're in a MA program (if you choose that route). The numbers game is important, but equally important is who you know and who knows you. If you choose the MA route, get invloved with someone who is heavy into research (i.e. they publish regularly). Do this with someone who shares research interests with you. From there, network yourself. Researchers often work with other faculty at other universities, and if you can work/publish under them, it can significantly improve your chances of being accepted to a PhD program.

    All too many times I come across people who focus strictly on the numbers game and don't put enough attention to networking. I've known applicants with stellar GRE and GPA that didn't get into a top tier program. I've also known people who had sub-par GRE (1100 range) and low UGPA (low 3.0 range) who were accepted to top 50 programs because they met the person they wanted to work with at a conference or called them ahead of time and had a discussion.

    A side note, you don't have to be in a MS program to do research or to increase your chances of being admitted to a PhD program. I'm in a MA program and have been able to publish 3 times in 1.5 years (1st author as well). It's all about how bad you want it.
     
  21. myelin

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    The forumla should be:

    FRK index = UGPA + [(GRE VERBAL + GRE QUANT)/400]

    Tried it out with what you posted and went, what? :)
     
  22. Markp

    Markp Clinical Psychologist
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    If you follow the order of operations (properly.) Division comes after parentheses and BEFORE addition. ;)

    Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.... Remember. LOL. There is a reason we went into psychology and NOT math!!!!

    So FRK index = UGPA + (GRE VERBAL + GRE QUANT)/400 is technically correct.

    Mark
     
  23. Merlin Coryell

    Merlin Coryell B.S. Psychology
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    Well I think my best bet would be if I can get into a MS program at the same school I would like to try to get my PhD from. I have been interested in the University of Oregon, and it is the only school there with PhD in clinical.

    I wont be attending any grad programs here, I am planning to move to Oregon within a year as my girlfriend is looking towards Optometry school there.
     
  24. erg923

    erg923 Regional Clinical Officer, Cenpatico National
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    Oregon is a great program and Eugene is a great town. I applied there myself. But, do they offer terminal masters degrees in anything in the psych department? I didn't remember that they did. I'm pretty sure they just have Ph.D programs.
     
    #23 erg923, Jun 17, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2008
  25. Ollie123

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    If memory serves me correctly, they have an experimental-type MS(they may call it something else).

    Just to make sure you understand for when it comes time to apply Merlin...even the top candidates in the country generally have to apply to 10 or more schools. With a weak GPA, that may mean applying to even more schools.

    Not trying to be discouraging, just want to make sure you know that putting all your eggs in one basket isn't a good idea for anyone. Doing a master's at Oregon could definitely help you get into their doctoral program, but even if you had a 4.0 trying to stay in one location for a doctoral program is hard as hell. Do everything you can to get into University of Oregon (if you don't get accepted for a master's, see if you can find an RA job in the department or nearby - unless I'm confusing it with Oregon State, they have a Health Sciences Center there that does alot of great work). Just realize that if you were the perfect candidate right now, I'd still recommend casting a wide net when it comes to applications.
     
  26. myelin

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    Ah, good call! I still prefer the formula using brackets. :cool: Interestingly, I just got to order of operations in my GRE study guide. Wow do I feel like a goober!
     
    #25 myelin, Jun 17, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2008
  27. Merlin Coryell

    Merlin Coryell B.S. Psychology
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    Thanks for the advice, it has occured to me that if I really wanted to find a program quickly, I should try to apply to a dozen or so schools that I believe have a faculty I would fit well with. The UO option is only due to the fact that my girlfriend, by then probably wife will hopefully be attending Opt school there. If she finishes her 3-4 years there and I havent been accepted to UO, I can apply anywhere in the nation, even back here in Houston, where our clinical team is very well rounded.

    I also value the option of other programs, I do have an interest in developmental psych as well, with some profound instructors in that field during UG, and now working with kids in the Devereux Treatment Network, I get to mesh the clinical aspects with applied developmental issues. I would certainly consider acceptance into a developmental program valuable as well.
     

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