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About topsailpsych

  • Rank
    Espresso Shot

Profile Information

  • Location
    MO, USA
  • Application Season
    2019 Fall
  • Program
    Clincal/Counseling Psychology

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  1. topsailpsych

    Philosophy undergrad interested in Clinical Psych PhD. What are my chances?

    I'm a career transitioner like you, with limited psych courses in my undergrad - only 3 hours in an intro course and 3 in child development. I'm going to share my story in hopes that you can avoid some of the painful and delaying mistakes that I made and get an idea of what it may take to actually make it into a program. Most program websites state that they will accept students who do not have an undergrad degree in psych or that there are a certain number of hours of psych/stat/social science courses as pre-req (usually a fairly low number), so the first time I applied for a clinical psych PhD program, in 2012 (for potential admission in 2013), I had a solid GRE score, decent grades in undergrad (also a 3.4), and no research experience, and I was rejected. In that next year I took some Coursera courses in psych, took the GRE again for a slightly better score, attempted to volunteer in a research lab but worked full time and traveled a good bit for work so it didn't work out, wrote a number of successful grant applications for my job (worked in development for a small, private university), and performed some research through my job that was published in some higher ed journals but knowing what I know now, was not truly empirical research and was published as editorial so it was not peer reviewed. Rejected again that cycle. A retiring professor who had sat on the admissions committee agreed to meet with me and explain why my application looked so different. That was enlightening and terrifying because I began to get the full scope of exactly how far behind I looked compared to the average applicant. This included that I didn't have enough background in psych, and that my GPA in undergrad wasn't as good as I thought because of how competitive clinical psych programs are - getting into a mid-tier clinical psych program is more competitive than getting into Harvard medical school. Any individual applicant's chances of getting in during a single cycle (presuming they apply to the average of 10 programs) is less than 5%, and chances of getting into any single school during a cycle is 1-3% depending upon how competitive the school is (these are according to this professor in 2014, so they may be a little different not but likely not by much). Most successful applicants have some degree in psych, whether that be undergrad, grad, or post-bacc, at least 2 years of research experience, several posters and/or presentations at conferences, at least one publication in the works (in review or in press is most typical), decent GRE scores, and a great GPA - 3.7 or higher is what I have seen on program websites and been told by professors is the preferred minimum, but that a strong part elsewhere on the application or a change in trend during the undergrad career can make that number more squishy. After that cycle I took an online graduate certificate program in positive psychology to get more psych credits and shifted my focus to applying to a counseling psych program (I was location bound for all three cycles so I only had one university and two programs to choose from, which severely impacted my chances). I interviewed for the counseling psych PhD program and was accepted into the Master's program, which I started in 2016. During my master's, I worked on two different research teams, worked on a manuscript that was in preparation when I applied (we were almost done, but not quite), presented a couple of posters at conferences, got a 4.0, volunteered with two organizations that I thought would look good on my application - one with refugees and another working to combat moral injury in vets, and completed twice the required practicum hours at my site doing all sorts of extra stuff including teaching classes and developing curriculum which I thought would look stellar on my application. When I applied last cycle, I was super confident that I was going to get several interviews and at least one offer. I applied to 15 schools (13 clinical, 2 counseling), only got one interview and no offers. I was heartbroken to say the least because I thought my hard work would pay off. But I asked for feedback and was told my research experience still wasn't up to snuff, so I found a research training program out of Europe that I was accepted into and have been working with them since I graduated in May. The program itself looks rather fancy on my CV and I've had numerous professors comment about that attracting their attention, but I've also gotten numerous opportunities to present at conferences throughout Europe (I'm leaving for another one in Spain in just a few weeks), we have a publication that's in review right now, and I've received seminar training and mentorship from professors at top institutions in the US and Europe (some in-person and some online). I also sought out mentorship from professors outside of the field to get a broader idea of what appeals to academics, which resulted in me changing the formatting of my CV radically to better show myself off, and making some tweaks to my SOP to more blatantly point out why I would be perfect for a specific institution and what I would offer them (as opposed to my previous draft focusing on what the program could offer me). I've also enrolled in an IO online grad certificate program because there's an area of research I might be interested in exploring at some point that would cross between clinical, IO and career counseling so I wanted more training in the area of IO that would be required for that line of inquiry. This cycle I applied to 14 programs (13 counseling, 1 clinical - this shift in emphasis to counseling is super important because my master's is in counseling and those programs are more likely to pick me up than clinical because the programs know my program and the professors who wrote me LORs - in clinical programs those professors are basically unknowns), and I have thus far received 6 interviews. Sorry this is so long, but it's been a long journey for me, and will likely be a long one for you too (but hopefully you're smarter and can shave a few years off my timeline). But it's definitely possible to transition into the field from the outside, it just requires a lot of persistence, perseverance, and going several extra miles to be able to compete with people much younger than you who have been preparing for this since they were 18. I realized in 2012 that the one career which could satisfy all of the things that are important to me in life was being a psychologist working for the VA, and that has helped motivate me to to suffer anything necessary to attain that goal (luckily my husband has been totally on board with this wild ride). If becoming a psychologist is that necessary to your life, you'll figure out your path to getting there. Others have offered you additional suggestions for programs which might be easier to get into and would be much shorter if what really matters to you is just being in the mental health field because there are soooo many allied mental health professions available (other options that haven't been mentioned include becoming a psychiatrist - also a long road but long in different ways, becoming a substance abuse counselor - sometimes requires a specific academic program and sometimes requires just working in a substance abuse clinic and receiving mentorship, or becoming a nurse with some mental health training as nurses are doing large amounts of health psych counseling these days). TL;DR: It's possible to change careers to get into the field, I am doing it, but it's a loooong road. If you want it bad enough, you can do it. If not, there are other options.
  2. topsailpsych

    Fall 2019 Clinical Psychology Applicants (PhD, PsyD)

    Me too! I was worried the shut down would impact when we might hear, but it sounds like the Neuroscience program began sending out interview invites recently, so hopefully that means clinical will be soon as well!
  3. topsailpsych

    Fall 2019 Counseling Psych PhD Applicants

    I haven't heard anything from them, and I haven't seen anything on the results page yet either. I'm hoping they haven't started reaching out yet.
  4. topsailpsych

    How to request email over skype rather than in-person

    It's also allowed by the military, so if you're interested in working as a civilian for the DoD, you would be eligible (but I have never heard what sort of training the military requires to be eligible for that or if there are any restrictions).
  5. topsailpsych

    How to request email over skype rather than in-person

    If you're planning to go into the clinical practice side of the field and you would like to increase your income potential, you might want to look into states which offer prescribing privileges to PhD level psychologists (they usually require a little extra training in clinical pharmacology and supervision for several years). Mixing some prescription appointments in with your therapy clients in those states can apparently make you some very good money. There are only a handful of states offering it at this time, but the movement is growing nationally, so by the time we graduate there will likely be even more states in which it is allowed.
  6. topsailpsych

    How to request email over skype rather than in-person

    I would start the email with something about how excited and honored you are to receive the invitation to interview and how you really look forward to speaking with the faculty and students. Then continue on with how you're trying to figure out travel plans, but with the costs, you're not sure quite yet if you'll be able to make it. If there is a deadline by which you need to respond, I would let them know you will be able to let them know for sure in the coming days, and definitely before their deadline. Then see what they say, they may mention if they have travel funds (or if they will book your flight and hotel for you at their expense - this is rare in our field, but I have heard of some schools doing this for applicants), or they may suggest a Skype interview. Either way, it communicates to them that you are very interested and puts the ball in their court to provide information about assistance or alternatives available to you. I will caution you, while schools say that doing a Skype interview doesn't hurt your chances of acceptance, I have had many professors at different schools tell me over the years that the reality is that it does hurt your chances a bit because fewer faculty get to meet you and therefore you have fewer advocates when it comes time to make decisions. So if you possibly can attend in person, I would try to do so, at least for your top schools.
  7. topsailpsych

    Fall 2019 Counseling Psych PhD Applicants

    Mizzou's counseling program has finished contacting candidates for interviews, so if you haven't heard from them, I'm sorry to break the bad news. I also didn't get an interview there, and that was confirmed by a professor I'm familiar with there a few weeks ago (but that was not a surprise as my POI left the university shortly after applications were submitted).
  8. topsailpsych

    I is stressed *Non-Judgmental Space for PhD Applicants*

    Why am I checking the status pages for each of my applications every day? There's not going to be any good news posted there - that's going to come through email or a phone call. And if it's bad news, it's going to come to my email soon enough. I know this, and yet I do it anyway.
  9. topsailpsych

    Fall 2019 Psychology PhD Applicants!

    Thanks! I've been super lucky. We never lost power and my street is a priority street so it gets plowed first. We had family who lost power and came to stay for a couple of days (2 adults, 3 kids and 2 dogs....it was a party) but their power came back on last night and they were able to return home. Other than shoveling and going sledding at the neighborhood park, I haven't left the house since Friday afternoon and I'm cool with not leaving the house until I have to go back to work tomorrow (presuming the schools re-open by then).
  10. topsailpsych

    Fall 2019 Psychology PhD Applicants!

    If the program is anywhere in the mid-Western US, we just got hit with a record breaking winter storm and tons of places closed early Thursday and Friday due to the storm (and a lot of people have lost power as well). So if the school is in that area, I would give it to Wednesday before I would expect to hear back (1/3 of my city is still without power so even if POIs are safe at home, they may not have internet to send emails).
  11. topsailpsych

    Junior Researcher Programme

    Last year I saw a post here for a research training program, the Junior Researcher Programme, and took a chance in applying for it. This program has been absolutely life changing for me - my research skills have grown incredibly, I've been able to network with professors and researchers some some of the world's top institutions, I'm receiving opportunities to publish and present at conferences left and right, and most of the POIs I'm interviewing with have specifically mentioned this program having caught their attention and wanting to hear more it when I come to interview. So, I thought I would repay the favor and pass on some information in case others are interested in applying. Each research team is led by a Senior Researcher, doctoral-level or early-career researcher, who makes a proposal for a research project based upon that year's theme. Those selected are then assigned teams of junior researchers who are interested in working on that project and supervise the team through the design, implementation and dissemination processes. The program officially lasts for 13 months, but many teams choose to continue working together after that. It's a cool opportunity to have your own research team, but also have support from experienced professional researchers for when you need guidance. Applications for this year are due January 31, so if you're already in a PhD program (or recently graduated) and this sounds cool to you, I highly recommend you check it out.http://jrp.pscholars.org/getinvolved/research-supervisor/ For the Junior Researchers, you receive incredible training in research including the complexities of multinational research (my team is currently dealing with finding independent translators for translating and back-translation our novel measurement tool - and it never would have occurred to me before this program all the things that goes in to translating these tools), you'll be working with other junior researchers from around the world, and you'll have some really insane opportunities to present at conferences throughout Europe. Applications for Junior Researchers won't be open until after the Senior Researchers have been selected and they know what projects will be available for you to apply to. Those applications generally open in late March or early April, but you can find out more info here if you're interests: http://jrp.pscholars.org/getinvolved/students/ If anyone has any questions about the program, feel free to contact me! If your questions about about the Senior Researcher position and I don't know the answer, I'll pass them on to my team leader for you. Edit: because apparently I still think it's 2018... I applied for and began the program last year, not this year. I need more coffee.
  12. topsailpsych

    Bag to carry around during interview day

    I have a large purse that fits my padfolio and other things that I'll carry with me for interviews. I'll have a small emergency kit for the day in my bag with a power bar, an extra charge for my phone, tissues, deodorant, a small mending kit in case of clothing tears, and a book in case there's lots of time to sit and wait.
  13. topsailpsych

    Interview Attire?

    You want to be authentic in your interviews. You can choose to wear your ring or not, but almost certainly you're going to end up talking about your fiance at some point during the interview - to interviewers, fellow interviewees, or other grad students. It's highly likely that if you actively avoid talking about him that you'll come across as awkward or reserved (or worse yet, hiding something) which won't give you interviewers a good idea of who you really are and could hurt your chances. So, if I were in your shoes, I'd wear the ring and be yourself. (I'll be wearing mine for my interviews)
  14. topsailpsych

    I is stressed *Non-Judgmental Space for PhD Applicants*

    Flying in a day or two early (if you can) is a good idea. Also, talk to your doctor. There are some prescription medications that can help with altitude sickness that might be a fit for your situation.
  15. topsailpsych

    Fall 2019 Counseling Psych PhD Applicants

    Does anyone know if all interview invites for UT Austin or Texas Tech have been sent out? I saw a couple on the results page back in December, but they seemed to been from individual POIs and haven't seen anything since.

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