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About SarahTonin

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  • Application Season
    2018 Fall
  • Program
    Clinical Psychology

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  1. I would honestly probably recommend you consider a psychology masters program. Your GPA is quite low for psych PhD programs, so getting a great masters GPA will help. You also definitely need psychology research experience. Although computer science and quantitative skills are valuable, nothing about your current experience shows that you're interested in research, psychology or know anything about the field. After completing the masters, you could apply for the psych PhD. Getting into a "great" program, however, is extremely competitive and you will need a high masters GPA, high GRE scores, lots of research experience, and great letters of recommendation, preferably mostly from researchers in psychology and psychology-related fields.
  2. SarahTonin

    Question for prospective Clinical Psych PhD!

    I got into a clinical psych PhD program this cycle, so I can tell you a bit about what the other applicants who also got interviews were like. I wouldn't say that many applicants had Master's degrees. There were a few applicants straight out of undergrad, but the majority (myself included) had taken about 1-2 years off after undergrad to pursue full-time research. I think that is something you should consider, although your experience thus far sounds great. I would aim to have about 2 years of research experience, as the programs you intend to apply to are relatively research-intensive (or at least half-half). Also just FYI, NYU does not have a clinical psychology PhD program. If you haven't yet, I would get the Insider's Guide to Graduate Programs in Clinical and Counseling Psychology book. It's very helpful in comparing and choosing programs, and taking you through the process. I was advised to apply to at least 10 programs by my mentor, and I ended up applying to 15. I was a very good applicant, and I only got into 2 of those 15 programs. So I would recommend you expand your list if you can find more programs that are a good fit for your interests, especially since a lot of those programs are very competitive. Boston University, for example, gets on average 700 applicants and accepts about 8 people. The odds are against you no matter how good of an applicant you are, so try to stack them a bit more in your favor if you can. I don't say that to scare you; I do think you seem like a competitive applicant! I just think that for me, personally, it helped to have realistic expectations. So if you want to apply to only 5-6 very competitive programs, then just keep in mind that the odds may be a little against you and you may have to go through a cycle or two of applications before you get in. Feel free to direct message me if you want to talk more specifics. I know the application process is stressful and confusing.
  3. SarahTonin

    How much research is enough research?!?!

    You have plenty of experience, especially for a more practice-oriented program (but I'd say even for research-oriented). I am going to a very research-oriented program in the fall, and I can tell you that even for that kind of program, you have a very skewed idea of what experience people have. Plenty of people I interviewed with had 1 or 2 years of experience, and very few had any papers at all, much less first author papers. I will also say, although I am a good applicant with lots of experience, I got in over a candidate who, on paper, had much more relevant experience than I did. It goes back to the "fit" aspect of admissions. You need to sell them on why you are the best fit for their program, even if you yourself don't believe it (and let me tell you, I did not think I was going to get in). Basically, all that to say that you NEVER know what is going to happen and all you can do is try your best. Practice interviewing and feigning confidence, and definitely get some therapy if you think it'll help! I struggled with a lot of anxiety and panic attacks throughout college, and therapy helped immensely. Message me if you want to talk more specifics - I know this process is incredibly nerve-wracking.
  4. SarahTonin

    U of MN CSPR Application

    Hi there, I interviewed at UMN for the CSPR program (but accepted another offer), and I can tell you that my POI was making decisions on who to accept through mid/late-March at least. So it's entirely possible that final decisions haven't gone out yet. It wouldn't hurt to contact the program if you just want to be 100% sure, but if your application portal says everything was successfully submitted, then I would assume that everything was successfully submitted and they're just waiting for everyone to accept offers before sending out final decisions.
  5. SarahTonin

    It's almost over...lessons learned 2018

    Either! Some people interviewing hadn’t even graduated undergrad yet. Others were a few years out of school. But it seemed that most people had about 1-2 years total over all of their time.
  6. SarahTonin

    Pittsburgh, PA

    Officially moving to Pittsburgh this fall to start the clinical psych PhD program! Super excited. I've only lived in NYC and DC, so looking at this Pittsburgh rent prices is like I'm looking for a 1 bedroom apartment. If anyone knows of any good places to look or nice buildings/management, that info would be very appreciated!
  7. SarahTonin

    PhD Final Decision Thread Fall 2018

    I will officially be going to the University of Pittsburgh for Clinical Psych! V excited
  8. SarahTonin

    Area of psych you do undergrad research in matter?

    Oh it probably won’t be revolutionary, so don’t worry about that haha research experience basically serves to reassure the people you are asking to do a PhD with that you understand what a research career is like and can handle and enjoy the work. Also, if you pick up some useful skills before grad school, there’s less they have to teach you and you can bring some new or useful skills in to the lab. So basically, I used this book called “The Insider’s Guide to graduate programs in Clinical and Counseling Psychology,” which is a good starting guide to all PhD programs in those fields. From there, I used their scale of more or less research oriented to narrow to the more research oriented programs. And after that, I went on the website of each program and looked at their data on average admitted student GPA/GRE, and if they had faculty there that were doing work I was interested in.
  9. SarahTonin

    It's almost over...lessons learned 2018

    This is a great point. I also ended up getting into a school I thought I had no shot at. My GPA was below my school's average and my quant GRE was also slightly below their average, but I had a great research fit and lots of experience. Try to not get too hung up worrying about where you can get in numbers-wise (within reason) and focus on where you fit. Apply to schools you want to attend because you never know what could happen.
  10. SarahTonin

    Area of psych you do undergrad research in matter?

    Oh and to quickly add - independent research is very beneficial (if not critical) for admission. I didn't do a thesis because I published a paper, but most people that were at the interviews with me had either a thesis or a paper, so definitely a good idea as well!
  11. SarahTonin

    Area of psych you do undergrad research in matter?

    In my undergrad, I did animal research, and I just got into a Clinical Ph.D. program where I will be doing neuroimaging in humans. I think my situation is somewhat exceptional though. If I could go back in time, I would do research in a neuroimaging lab in undergrad because it would have made my application process much more straightforward. I don't think it needs to be a perfect fit, but if you're interested in working with a certain population or method, I'd try to start off by working in a lab that does at least a little bit of that. And if your interests shift and change, switch into a new lab and explore those new interests. Definitely consider neuroscience labs as well as there is so much interdisciplinary work being done these days. The lab you choose to do research in as an undergrad isn't going to make or break anything, but clinical applications are all about "fit" so the better your entire application can "fit" into labs that you can someday see yourself doing graduate work in, the easier your application process will be and the better you will do. Feel free to message me if you have any more questions about choosing labs or anything else like that!
  12. SarahTonin

    It's almost over...lessons learned 2018

    I would also like to add a bit about what I learned. First of all, SAVE UP SOME MONEY. This process is expensive. Anyway, I am a weird applicant. I majored in neuroscience and all of my research experience is in basic neuroscience (although I have a lot of clinical experience as well). I applied to clinical psychology Ph.D. programs, really not knowing what to expect since I lacked pure psychology experience. I sent out initial emails to confirm my POIs were accepting students (which like was said, is SO important to do - don't waste $50+ applying to work with someone who isn't taking students that cycle). I will say, I think I personally read too much into how enthusiastic POIs were about me as an applicant based on their responses to that initial email. Once interviews rolled around, I found myself surprised by who actually interviewed me and who didn't because it was not always the people I expected. I think my personal statement is what got me into graduate school though. I was able to tell the story of my weird journey from another field to clinical psychology, how my interests developed, and why my tangentially-related background actually makes me a great (and unique!) fit for the programs/labs I applied to work in. You're going to hear this a billion times but it's so true: it's ALL about fit. You won't get into a lab if it isn't clear how your interest in that lab developed from your experience. Oh, and yes, you definitely need research experience if you want to apply to a Ph.D. program. For research-oriented clinical Ph.D. programs, I would say most applicants that I met on interviews had 2 or more years of dedicated research in labs. And interviews, like everyone always says, are ALL about your questions. At one program I interviewed at, I did not get asked a single question. They had already phone interviewed me before I got there, so I guess that was enough for them. Have questions on questions on questions ready for your POI, other faculty members, and other students. And keep an open mind when visiting programs. I ended up not liking a program I thought I would love, and loving a program I thought I wouldn't be super into. I think GradCafe has been an awesome part of the process for me, though. This is just such a confusing and stressful process, and it's nice to have a bunch of confused and stressed out people virtually commiserating with you. Best of luck to everyone moving forward!
  13. SarahTonin

    Overwhelmed Undergrad: Gap Year and Grad School Advice?

    So if it makes you feel better, I just got into a great clinical psychology Ph.D. program with a 3.5 undergrad GPA, so it is absolutely possible. It will require a bit more work on your end in the other realms. I did well on the GRE, so I think that should absolutely be a goal of yours during the gap year. I also did well on the psychology GRE subject test, so that is something that you could also consider when looking to convince people that your somewhat lower GPA isn't an issue (and many schools require or recommend it anyway). I did research as an undergrad for 2 years, and then took 2 years off to do research full time. From what I could tell talking to other applicants at interviews, about 2 years of research experience with some of it being full time seems to be pretty standard (with some variation of course). I think that I was able to compensate for a lower GPA by having a lot of experience. Definitely be on the lookout for paid research assistant positions. If you are willing to move, the NIH Postbac IRTA program is a great option (that's what I am doing right now). It really gives you great research experience. I'm not sure from your description exactly how much research you have, but I hope that gives you a general idea of what is expected from research-oriented clinical Ph.D. programs. More clinically-oriented programs may be ok with less research experience, but that decision on where to apply is really up to you and what kind of career you want to have. Feel free to message me if you have more questions!
  14. SarahTonin

    Fall 2018 Clinical Psych Interview Invites

    I mean, you might have somewhat harmed your chances of working with the second POI, but if it isn't a great match (like you seem to say), then maybe that isn't something I would necessarily stress about anyway. It's just as important to know what is a good match for you. If I were in your position, I would send them both a thank you email for the interview (as usual) but in my email to the first POI, I'd maybe let them know that after speaking to POI #2, you see POI #1 as being a good match and that you're excited about the chance to work with them. Just basically letting them know that you weighed your options (which is completely fine and within your right), but that you're definitely still interested. I don't necessarily think you harmed your chance of getting into the program, so I wouldn't worry too much. These things can be such a tricky balancing act, but I think you did fine!
  15. SarahTonin

    Should I reach out again?

    Yeah, I think March is just this weird period of being kept in the dark. Sporadic acceptances, waitlists, people getting off the waitlist, etc. So much could happen between now and April! But it's definitely a practice in patience lol

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