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ClinicalMan

Clinical Psychology hopeful...

8 posts in this topic

Hi Everyone, 

I am a third year undergraduate psychology honours student. Over the past year or so I have decided that I very badly want to be a clinical psychologist as helping people in this way would be an absolute dream come true for me. I don't know why, but theres something that just keeps screaming to me that I do not have what it takes.. I live in Fredericton New Brunswick, meaning UNB has a MA/PhD program available to me when I graduate, but everyone just keeps telling me how competitive clinical is to get into and I just feel as though i don't have what it takes to be honest. My GPA so far for my undergraduate degree is about 4.0/4.3, or about a 3.84ish/4.0. I absolutely love psychology and the idea that I could make a career out of it (and helping people to boot) but the the apparent competitiveness of getting accepted to the programs in Canada is so overwhelming for me because I don't want to feel like I'm chasing something that is not realistically within my reach. I haven't written the GRE's, so I cant comment much on that, but does anyone else ever feel this way? I'm sort of scared that I'm going to chase this dream with all my heart only to end up failing... I do not currently have much lab experience, but i think I'm going to work hard over the next two years to get as much as I possibly can.. Anyone have any advice or insight? 

 

Thanks so much for reading :) 

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45 minutes ago, ClinicalMan said:

Hi Everyone, 

I am a third year undergraduate psychology honours student. Over the past year or so I have decided that I very badly want to be a clinical psychologist as helping people in this way would be an absolute dream come true for me. I don't know why, but theres something that just keeps screaming to me that I do not have what it takes.. I live in Fredericton New Brunswick, meaning UNB has a MA/PhD program available to me when I graduate, but everyone just keeps telling me how competitive clinical is to get into and I just feel as though i don't have what it takes to be honest. My GPA so far for my undergraduate degree is about 4.0/4.3, or about a 3.84ish/4.0. I absolutely love psychology and the idea that I could make a career out of it (and helping people to boot) but the the apparent competitiveness of getting accepted to the programs in Canada is so overwhelming for me because I don't want to feel like I'm chasing something that is not realistically within my reach. I haven't written the GRE's, so I cant comment much on that, but does anyone else ever feel this way? I'm sort of scared that I'm going to chase this dream with all my heart only to end up failing... I do not currently have much lab experience, but i think I'm going to work hard over the next two years to get as much as I possibly can.. Anyone have any advice or insight? 

 

Thanks so much for reading :) 

I switched majors in my second year, and it took about a year for me to realize I wanted to do clinical (was initially interested in behavioral neuroscience). My GPA is actually exactly the same as yours, interestingly enough. I got into a great program on my first application cycle despite my late start (although I was initially waitlisted). Also, many people take a year off after undergrad to apply or go through multiple application cycles to get in. So two years is plenty of time to get the experience you need so long as you hit the ground running. Don't doubt yourself! 

Getting that research experience is essential. I had an honors thesis, a conference presentation, and a couple of years as an RA in a couple of labs. If I were going for a second application cycle I would have tried to go to more conferences, get that thesis published, and get some clinical experience. Clinical experience is not essential (especially straight out of undergrad), but it can help a lot if you can find an opportunity. As for the GRE, I strongly recommend Magoosh; it is well worth the money. Also, don't limit yourself to your alma mater; most people apply to 8-15 schools and while it's good to have a preference, it's best not to get all your hopes set on one place. Definitely do lots of research on the application process early on. There's a lot of information out there that will help you immensely!

Edited by metalpsychperson

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I totally get what you're feeling. I didn't decide on clinical until my third year, didn't have any research experience until then, and thought I had no chance at all. I ended up getting accepted to two schools this year on my first application cycle, and I'm realizing that I had a lot of misconceptions about the process. It might help to talk to one of the clinical profs at your school... I know my undergrad was full of rumours about clinical admissions, and speaking with someone well-informed really clarifies things. 

I think that the most important thing to do is to get high quality research experience. The topic of the research isn't as important as the skills you learn. Potential supervisors really want to see that you're familiar with different areas of the research process, that you're enthusiastic about it, and that you can articulate your interests and ideas for future projects. If you can get a publication or conference presentation, that's awesome, but don't worry about it too much if it doesn't happen. Also, you might want to consider taking a year off after undergrad to gain some more experience. I took a year off to work in my undergrad lab, and so did most of the people I met at interviews. It was definitely the best decision for me because completing my honours thesis/getting more experience helped me refine my interests and figure out what I really want to do. 

I would recommend applying broadly without limiting yourself geographically. You should definitely apply to UNB if you want to go there, but it's risky to put all your eggs in one basket. Some schools also limit the number of alumni they accept because they want diversity, so that's something to consider as well. At least a few months before you apply, you should research schools and identify faculty who you'd be interested in working with. It's important to make sure that they're accepting students; I didn't do this for one of my schools, and wasted the $100 application fee. 

Don't worry about not being good enough. I know it's hard not to feel unqualified when you look at the admissions stats, but there's no reason why you can't get in. You have a good GPA (mine was lower) and you have time to build your CV. Even if you don't get in the first time you apply, you can try again as a stronger applicant the next year. 

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1) Get as much as research experience as you can, RAing is great but try to get so involved that you can present at a couple of conferences (even if they are only regional), publications would of course be great (but it may be harder to pull off)

2) Work on an honors thesis or similar project that let's you conduct independent research under the supervision of a faculty member

3) Related to the other two, try to find three faculty members who are active researchers (even better if they work on things related to what you might want to work on) and work with them enough that they can write you three kick-ass letters of recommendation (many of the programs I applied to specifically mentioned my 3 great letters of recommendation from three active, well-known researchers as a reason they were so interested in me)

4) GPA and GRE are important, but it's Research Experience and Recommendation that get you accepted (GRE/GPA exist as a threshold, you need to do well on them but after a certain percentile ~85-90th it really isn't going to get you accepted over anyone else)

Edited by C is for Caps Locks

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I totally understand how you feel and it's common to a lot of us.  I think the best thing you can do is to apply everywhere you can think of (and figure out how to get there later).  That way you can be rejected 30 times or 50 times instead of just once hahahaha!  Seriously though, you have nothing to lose by applying and I would be looking at places that may have a quota of mature age students to fill (if you fit into the demo). 

http://psychologyaustralianstyle.blogspot.com.au/

I have a blog for my psychology studies here in Australia and some of the papers may be of interest to you, also if you have old papers lying around then I'd be happy to host them on my blog (with all credit going to you of course).  I figure that I've already done the work so I may as well put it out there! 

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There's just so many myths flying around. I've heard people tell me that if I didn't have a publication, good luck getting in anywhere. I've had people tell me that with my 2 national conference presentations + 3 regional conference presentations, that I'm a shoe-in. I've had people tell me to do research work only in my area of interest; I've had people tell me to broaden my horizons and get lots of different experiences. I would reach out to grad students at specific institutions you're looking at and ask if you can ask them a few questions. Most of them have been happy to help me out with the nuances of their particular school.

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I got into my program with average GRE scores, no publications, 1 international conference (and I wasn't even 1st author). But there was a lot of experience that, now, after applying, is turning into hella papers and publications. Shows that fit is EXTREMELY important and that if those things are in the works, you also might be okay.

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5 hours ago, jamiesclub said:

I totally understand how you feel and it's common to a lot of us.  I think the best thing you can do is to apply everywhere you can think of (and figure out how to get there later).  That way you can be rejected 30 times or 50 times instead of just once hahahaha!  Seriously though, you have nothing to lose by applying and I would be looking at places that may have a quota of mature age students to fill (if you fit into the demo). 

http://psychologyaustralianstyle.blogspot.com.au/

I have a blog for my psychology studies here in Australia and some of the papers may be of interest to you, also if you have old papers lying around then I'd be happy to host them on my blog (with all credit going to you of course).  I figure that I've already done the work so I may as well put it out there! 

There's a reason most people don't apply to any more than 20 clinical doctoral programs. You'd have better chances submitting 15 fine-tuned, tailored applications than 30 generalized ones. A really good, tailored application is time-consuming. And I can't imagine your letter writers would be happy about being asked to send out 30+ rec letters for one student. Besides, you can only attend so many interviews before you need to reject the rest due to schedule conflicts. I think 8-15 schools is a good range to aim for.

Edited by metalpsychperson

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