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About gnomechomsky22

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  1. Thank you all for contributing. I think taking these classes is the way to go because I called the department and they said my graduate GPA would be considered for admission. Therefore, if my graduate GPA is higher than my undegrad (which it should be) this could be more beneficial. I also agree with Jung in the sense that I need stronger LORs and right now I don't have any from the psych department. By taking these grad classes I think I will be able to make some further connections and strengthen my research experience. Jung, thanks for the shadowing suggestion. I never even considered that, but you're right. That could open some doors. I have tried speaking to the head of the lab, the graduate studies office, etc. If you want a paid position you either have to have a Ph.D./Master's degree already and essentially be hired as a lecturer/lab personnel or be an actively, degree seeking enrolled student. I don't know anyone working in the lab who is not affiliated academically with the lab. Eigen, I think the problem is the disconnect between our two fields. If given the choice between a student with a general master's in psych and a student with an HF specific master's degree, they will choose that HF student over me in the applicant pool to a PhD program (assuming that our applications are relatively the same). There are rarely (if at all) any positions at the bachelors level in HF. I'm saying that if by chance I am not accepted into a Ph.D. program and I need a contingency plan, a master's in psych might not put me in an ideal position to work in HF. HF is a lot more interdisciplinary than other fields in psychology. I would hate to spend two years earning a master's degree and then not even be able to work in the HF field if I am not accepted to any Ph.D. programs. That said my primary goal for getting the Ph.D. is not just employment. That is analogous to going to med school "to make lots of money." I know that its a financial and personal investment. I want to immerse myself in the field and work in research. Its a personal decision for me to go to graduate school; however, I cannot only consider my personal motivations but I must consider external factors as well. My goal in doing this certificate program was to see whether or not I actually was ready for graduate school and to get an inside look/perspective at what I will be doing. I changed my major so late in undergrad. I worked in one lab for a year and didn't have the experiences that most people have by the time they decide to go to graduate school. Also, as an undergrad, I didn't realize how important graduate school is for further study in psychology. At least after taking one semester of classes I have some knowledge of what its like to be a graduate student and I am able to ask faculty and other students about the process. My advising office in undergrad was full of "peer" advisors. Junior/Senior undergrad students telling you about what classes to take and how to get into grad school is essentially pointless. All they did was check to see if I had the right GPA and classes to graduate. I hardly had any real guidance, except from a few conversations with professors regarding what grad admissions are like and how you make the decision to go to graduate school. I am not making excuses, I am just saying, my reasoning for taking these classes goes beyond just "I want to make my application look better." They might not make a huge difference in my application. But at least I can say with authority that I know I want this now. I don't want to be the student that starts a Ph.D. only to find out I never wanted it in the first place and that I am doing it for the wrong reasons. Basically, I am trying to plan as best as I can. The classes I am taking are at a public state university, so while I am still paying a good amount of tuition, it is not an absurdly expensive amount to take a few classes. There are no other schools around me with grad level classes, so there are no other university labs I could work at. I have put in applications for full time research positions at local hospitals, but most prefer clinical experience or an RN degree. I was just looking for some outside perspective on my application. It helps to have more than one opinion on things and sometimes it helps to step out and ask others who do not know me personally what their experiences were like and what they think of the situation.
  2. Basically, did you read any graduate admissions books prior to applying to grad school? Was/were there any particular one(s) that stood out?
  3. Thank you jullietmercredi! This is exactly the kind of advice I was looking for. I really appreciate your input, the "academic cover letter" makes a lot more sense.
  4. How employable is a general psychology master's? Maybe I'm wrong but I don't see how it would be that much more employable than a bachelors of psychology, except perhaps in retail management or Human Resources/Business oriented fields? And even then wouldn't they want people with MBAs and Human Resources degrees? My goal is to pay down some of my debt prior to going for my Ph.D. (if I can even make it there at all). I see how accumulating as little debt as possible would be the way to go, but I also want to make sure that I am not blindly getting a masters in a degree area that isn't particularly employable....because that's exactly where I am now. Psychology majors are a dime a dozen where I live, my undergrad is known for its "degree mill in psychology." I want to be sure I can gain something if I'm going to be investing money in the long term. I am also doing research and working while taking 12 credit hours (3 grad classes and 1 undergrad). I would think this would factor in since I am working and doing research and taking full time classes? Maybe you're right but I feel like this gives me a better shot than just working at the restaurant waiting until I can take my GRE and apply for my master's. I am at least networking with faculty and learning the ins and outs of the lab. I have learned the hard way that networking is what gets you a job. You don't even have to be the most qualified person but if you know someone in the field and they know you are job hunting, it can be to your advantage. Also I'm not sure if this is the case at other schools, but unless you are a student, taking class at the university I am attending, you cannot volunteer or work in a lab at all. It seems to me that this is not the norm. But for whatever reason even if I just tried to work and volunteer in the lab without taking classes, they would not allow me to do so.
  5. Thanks Eigen; however, I am taking grad level classes. I asked the director of the HF Ph.D. program of my school whether or not these would factor into the application process. He said it was beneficial (given my lower undergrad GPA) because applications for grad school are intended to measure how well you can potentially succeed in graduate school. If I am getting As in graduate level coursework, despite my low undergrad GPA, it shows my potential. I initially started this certificate because it is somewhat related to my field of study and I also have the opportunity to take classes that HF grad students take and that some HF professors/faculty offer. Plus, I wanted to make sure I was ready for the commitment of grad school and the caliber of work it entails. I am working on research proposals and assignments that I did not have the chance to work on during undergrad. I think this has been beneficial in the sense that I am gaining feedback from grad professors on how to improve my work. I am also getting used to the seminar format of classes which is dramatically different from my undergrad experience (I was in classes upward of 300-500 students, in a gigantic lecture hall with very little discussion). This also allows me to gain research experience because I have a schedule that allows me some free time during the day to volunteer at the lab (if I was working a typical 9 to 5 Mon-Fri, I would not be able to volunteer at this lab). I am also reading research/journals outside my discipline and narrowing in on my research interests. From this semester alone I realize that my undergraduate education in psychology did not prepare me well for graduate school and I am learning what I need to do to fill gaps in my understanding and knowledge. Thank you for pointing out the pitfalls of my LORs. I will definitely take this into consideration. One is from a former graduate student that I worked for but whom has since graduated. I took her class in undergrad (she was the instructor) so I don't know if that counts or not, but to avoid the grey area maybe I should just ask a different person for a letter. I will do my best to find somewhere cheaper to live but I'm not sure they even offer a Master's in Human Factors at that tuition cost. All of the ones I have looked at cost at least $10,000-$30,000 a year. Was that with aid? I have not seen any schools that cost less than $10,000. I will do my research. I definitely think my problems with work had more to do with the fact that I was working until 3-4am and trying to balance homework and exams for my classes at 8am. I couldn't avoid day classes while working and some were only offered at weird times. I am much more suited to a job on campus where I didn't feel exhausted after an 8 hour shift and with regular, normal hours. This work schedule combined with my lackluster passion for pre-med coursework is why I didn't perform well. However, I realize that this even sounds like making excuses and I will just leave it off the application entirely. I know people who have worked full time and gone to school and still managed to get excellent grades, I virtually have no valid excuse.
  6. Thanks Bren, I will check things out on there; however, I tried looking at the Human Factors equivalent of that hfes.org but of course you need a membership to look at the job postings.
  7. Lypiphera & PsychGirl- Thank you. I really have tried looking for paid RA positions. All of the postings I have seen require a nursing degree or at least one year experience. I even called the local hospital HR department and she said they typically only hire qualified clinical professionals-i.e. nurses or physical therapists. I would love to gain experience in this but I cannot even get my foot in the door. I am not a "degree seeking graduate student" therefore, I am not eligible for any paid positions on campus, in any lab or in any discipline at all. There are no labs willing to pay me and because I have to eat and pay my rent, I cannot afford to give up my job to volunteer or I would. I want to go to graduate school to immerse myself in research: I am particularly interested in studying models of decision making, distributed cognition, team performance and situation awareness in various environments (i.e. the military). As I have said before, there are no relevant bachelor degree positions in Human Factors Psychology. I found an HF internship but it required previous experience flying planes/pilot license. I am unable to obtain a pilot license at this time. I have a few friends in graduate school for human factors and I/O psychology. I also know a few working professionals/professors. What they study fascinates me and I it’s a personal motivation of mine. I have always wanted to go to graduate school, initially for medicine. After some internships in the Emergency Room and underperforming in my pre-med classes, I found out I do not enjoy the clinical side of things and prefer research. Thank you for bringing up the LOR concern. I have a few professors in mind, but ultimately even though I have taken a few for several semesters, I changed my major Spring of Junior year. I had virtually one year to make connections and the most valuable I think would come from the grad students. I never had the chance to TA for a class and most professors flat out refused to write me a recommendation. I did not think using professors from my sophomore year would be advisable since I took mainly general education courses then. The grad student I am working with right now is always happy to offer advice and teaches classes at the university I attend. He knows how much I want to go to graduate school. I would ask my history professor but I doubt his letter would really hold much weight in the psychology department. I am taking classes because I was unable to find employment directly after graduation. I worked at a grocery store but I was unable to make enough money to support myself, so I went back to serving. I would rather take classes than explain a huge gap in unemployment on my resume. Plus, two of the classes I need for the Cog Sci program are not offered online or at night. I cannot take them at a community college because they are grad level courses in psychology. I am also taking one master's level elective course and it is only offered every Spring semester during the day. Scheduling wise I am taking the classes I need to strengthen my application and they are only offered at select times. Not all employers are willing to answer what I can do to improve my resume, etc. When they do respond it is all about experience-I do not have enough clinical experience, etc. I am overqualified for the minimum wage student assistant or housing positions I am trying to get on campus.
  8. RubyBright-Thank you, I had not considered using a temp agency but that may be a good strategy at this point. JungWild&Free-Thank you, I had not considered this before. I don't know if there is an equivalent but I will ask my professors and grad students in the field and see if they know anything. I tried doing an internet search but I was unsuccessful at finding any openings. I appreciate the info.
  9. Sorry I don't think I made it super clear in my first post that I am volunteering right now in a lab related to human performance, specifically team performance. Since I am not a "degree seeking" graduate student I am not eligible for any paid positions. I am working with a grad student on his dissertation study and he should be graduating this summer or fall depending on data collection. I have asked around at the lab and there are no paid positions other than fellowship/RA positions for degree seeking students. I am in limbo because I am not quite a "real" grad student but not an undergraduate either. There is only one local university-the one I am attending right now (and attended as an undergraduate). I appreciate the career center advice, but I have had my resume and cover letters critiqued by multiple people at the center. I go to the career center at least once a month and check the career site daily. I have had several interviews. All of the interviewers have said they were impressed with my interview and resume but unable to offer me a position and would keep in touch if anything comes up. It seems as though my bachelors is actually a detrimental factor when applying anywhere because I am "over-qualified" (or under-qualified for anything psychology related). The unemployment rate in my area is still pretty bad. I am doing everything in power to possibly make my situation better and its just frustrating. Now that I am taking classes finding employment is more difficult because I cannot work 9-5. I really appreciate your input on the master's program. I think this may be the best option at this point. I sincerely appreciate all of your suggestions and advice. As you can imagine, I am getting frustrated and impatient at my serving job. If I had the means to get a paid RA position I would. As for the other suggestions I can try and use them to supplement what I am already doing. I think the week off/plan of action idea is really great and I am definitely going to try that. Thank you.
  10. Thank you for your input. I just wanted to make sure I had a cohesive topic that doesn't sound like I'm making excuses. Maybe I could approach it from the aspect of my current graduate work. I am currently enrolled in a post-bacc certificate program. Maybe I should approach it from the stance that my interest in several different majors actually stems from an interest in interdisciplinary fields (I'm working on a Cog Sci certificate)? In this way I can describe how I am fit for graduate study at this particular school due to their interdisciplinary focus?
  11. I have already started studying for the GRE, but right now I am using Kaplan prep materials. Is there an advantage to using more than one prep book? Or are all the books pretty similar? I briefly browsed them in the bookstore but I didn't have lots of time to choose one when I did. I'm wondering if Barron's might be best? It seems to be the book used in most prep courses my campus offers. I've also been researching manhattan and that seems to get good reviews as well. I am looking for something that doesn't just focus on the basics as I have taken Algebra, Trig, Stats I, Calc I and Calc II
  12. I don't want to make the rookie mistake of choosing a poor topic for my SOP. The schools I am choosing to apply to primarily ask about future goals and plans (why you are choosing that school/faculty directly). I was thinking about elaborating on my undergrad experience in moving from a clinical focus to a more research-oriented academic path. I changed my major from biology (pre-med) to psychology. In pre-med I did lots of internships and volunteer work, from that I gleaned that the clinical aspects of psychology and medicine are not what I am passionate about. Do you think this topic is compelling enough for a strong SOP or should I go back to the drawing board? What kinds of experiences did you consider when first drafting your SOP(s)?
  13. Thank you both for the input. I am already taking graduate level classes in a post-bacc certificate program. I am doing well and it is covered by financial aid (some loans). My only concern is funding. I was under the impression that essentially it is impossible to get funding in an M.S. or M.A. program. I have a bunch of debt from undergrad and no stable employment options. I have been putting in applications everywhere and I can find nothing full time with benefits. I can't support myself on just one part time job and I really want to go into research. Volunteering in the lab becomes less plausible if I'm working two jobs to support myself and trying to pay off loans. Plus I don't see how working in a restaurant for 4 more years will really make my application stand out. In fact, I think it will just make me seem unfocused and unmotivated. My bachelors is essentially useless at this point. I'm afraid I can't afford distance programs. I was under the impression that you cannot get financial aid in a distance M.S. program? Plus, most graduate programs do not accept transfer credits from a Master's. If I want a Ph.D., I will have to start from scratch after spending money on a M.S. The bills will keep climbing up. I am aware that this is the case for graduate school in general, it will be expensive. I guess if I knew I could gain employment with a Master's I would like to do that to gain relevant work experience but I don't want to be in over my head in loans. My finances make me feel like I'm stuck. I would love to volunteer but if I'm working a crap job, my nights/weekends are gone. I really hate working in restaurants and serving. It is making me miserable. I'd rather find something that will look better on a resume and actually teaches me skills necessary for the workplace. But since I have only a little experience in a clerical/office setting I'm not getting any interviews for jobs in other fields, even with a degree. Its so frustrating. PsychGirl, thank you for your words of wisdom/encouragement. While I understand, I'm not trying to rush this. I just want to find employment and unless you have a graduate degree (at least a master's), you cannot get a job in the Human Factors field. If I put off going to graduate school I will be working tons of odd jobs just to make ends meet. And then I'm not even sure I would make it back to school because I would be so worried about staying afloat that school takes the backseat. Plus the longer I wait to get my Ph.D. the longer I will spend my time regretting my decision to forgo grad school in favor of trying to get experience in an irrelevant job. I'm just worried that my scores aren't even good enough for a Master's program either. That seems to be the trend I am gleaning from all the other applicants/online research I have been doing.
  14. I graduated college with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology last summer. I really struggled my entire undergraduate career because I funded my entire education by myself: through loans and working full-time, at various local bars/restaurants, and a small scholarship. I legitimately had no idea how I would pay for some semesters, so I just kept working as much as possible to compensate. I'm not making excuses, I clearly underperformed. I feel the stress of financing my education really affected my performance. (In high school I had an amazing GPA and was an I.B. student so its not laziness or lack of motivation). I originally wanted to go to medical school, but I soon realized that I am just not cut out for pre-med. I jumped around from bio to political science to psychology. I did ok my senior year but my overall GPA is a 3.0. I graduated hoping to take a few years off to work, but I have been unsuccessful in finding full time employment. I even enrolled in a paralegal certificate at a community college right after graduating hoping to find employment through that program, but I soon realized I hated the work and would be miserable as a paralegal. I really do have the drive for graduate school. I have the experiences to prove that I know this is what I want; however, on paper I look horrible to an admissions committee. I want to go to graduate school to get my Ph.D. in Human Factors Psychology; however, I had a meeting with the director of the program yesterday and I feel even worse about my chances. I have not yet taken the GRE, but he informed me they only accepted 4 of 40 students that applied for this year. Two were Presidential Fellowship scholars. I have approximately a year of research experience in the I/O psych lab and I am currently volunteering in a Human Factors lab on campus. I am attending grad school as a non-degree certificate student. I am doing well in my grad classes now, but I'm wondering if I'm just a lost cause? Will they even consider those as part of the admission process? Any advice on how I can strengthen my application? I am taking some experimental psychology undergraduate classes this summer and some higher level statistics courses. These are my stats: 3.0 overall 3.4 major GPA 1 year research experience GRE-will take in the next two months after studying/preparing No publications No awards/honors By the time I apply I will have: 2 semesters of grad classes in the Cognitive Sciences (a field somewhat related to HF) More experimental psychology and statistics courses 2-3 more semesters of relevant research experience 3 letters of rec (two from graduate students, my research experience is primarily helping them create stimuli and run studies for their dissertations) Hopefully competitive GRE score I really, really want this Ph.D. and I am willing to work my butt off. I just know don't how to get there and I feel really stuck.
  15. Thank you! My only concern is that I won't even make it because my GPA is so low. Most of the schools I am applying to have a cut off of 3.0, but the median GPAs of acceptances are around 3.8s. I'm considering 3 Ph.D. and 3 Master's programs. The problem is my state only offers two Ph.D. programs in Human Factors. Even if I got funding, the private school is out of the question. I could never afford it. As a whole there are not many HF programs around the U.S. Its cut throat and super competitive. I know getting a Masters may be the way to go, I'm just concerned about funding. Since I really love research and I thrive in those type of environments I know my Ph.D. is the way to go. I'm not sure I have the money to go from a Masters to a Ph.D. since I already have so many loans from undergrad and cannot find stable employment. Plus there is really no way to work in Human Factors unless you have a graduate degree. I have considered changing my academic course and going for a degree in another field, but this is really what I want to do. I also feel stuck with regard to the SOP. I don't feel like there is really anything that makes me unique. I don't have a stellar GPA. I have research experience in an HF lab, but so do all the other applicants applying. I do have some grad classes under my belt now, but I don't know how to convey that I should be accepted despite my crap GPA (other than the fact I know this is my calling and that I worked 50 hours at two jobs with a full course load of classes to put myself through school). It just sounds stupid. In hindsight I should have taken classes part time and focused on two classes and work instead of taking 4 monster science classes and hoping to pass all of them with As and Bs.
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