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About SarahTonin

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    Clinical Psychology

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  1. No, you are not doomed at all! I actually did have a publication from my undergrad, but I would say that I was the exception and not the rule. Plenty of people without publications also got into many great programs. While some people do achieve a publication of some kind if they stay in the same lab for like 2+ years, at the undergrad level number of publications doesn't always reflect the quality of the experience. I know plenty of people who had great research experiences, but for whatever reason, just never got a publication out of it. Obviously, it's nice to have a publication or a senior thesis or something like that because it is a quick way for a PI to sort of assess how serious your research experience was, but if you can talk about your experience intelligently in a personal statement/interview, there is no reason why you couldn't be competitive even without those things. Your experience is definitely still valuable. A little bit of bad news though - it is becoming more and more common to have publications, conferences, etc. Lots of people do 1-2 years of research in undergrad and then also do 1-2 years of post-grad research. If you are interested in top research-oriented clinical psychology programs, I would actually even say that 3+ years of research was the norm at the interviews that I went on with at least a conference presentation or something like that to show for it. So I wouldn't discount your volunteer experience if that's all you can get for now. Might still be worth doing.
  2. SarahTonin

    What are my chances? (Clinical Psych PhD)

    It sounds like you've gotten some great experience. I will say that it was a little hard to tell the way that you structured this post what were your individual experiences, but here's what I'll say. Your GPA is solid, GRE scores could be a bit higher but aren't bad. I took 2 years off after graduating to do research, and I will say that the majority of applicants at interviews with me were in the same boat. But there were a few applicants going straight out of undergrad, and a couple that only had taken a year off. I think that ultimately most of the people who got accepted to the program I will be attending this fall did take 2 years off. When I applied, I had 2 years of research experience from undergrad and 2 years after. I think most people who were accepted had around the same. Your clinical and shadowing experiences are great, but depending on what kind of PhD program you want to apply to, they may be very secondary to your research. If you can find an RA position, that's great. If you want something paid, check out the NIH IRTA Postbac Program. Feel free to message me if you have any more questions!
  3. I think that your second major in psychology and solid GPA leaves you with plenty of options. I did a late career switch because I thought I was going into medical school for a long time, and then decided on graduate school my final year of undergrad. I took 2 years off after to get research and clinical experience before applying, and that was critical to affirming my decision to go to grad school and my application success. I applied to and will be attending a PhD program, though, which I know is a little different. I do know people who applied to Masters and PsyDs though. This is all about the US, though. I'm unfamiliar with the UK. Masters degrees require less experience to get into. Many people even use a psychology Master's as a career-switching stepping stone to a PhD degree. The PsyD degree is a different degree, and it may not be worth applying because it doesn't sound like you have any clinical experience. Both masters degrees and PsyDs are an investment of time and, if you are applying in the US, lots of money. PhDs require even more experience, but I'm not sure you are considering that option. Basically, I think that you need to narrow down what you actually want. Nowhere in your paragraph do I see any mention of what career you want to have. "Counseling psychology" is a broad field that includes Masters, PsyDs, and PhDs, all of whom do different things. I would probably recommend that you take some time off and work in counseling psychology. Once I was able to figure out that what I wanted to do was psychology research, it became clear to me that a PhD was the way to go as opposed to a masters or PsyD. You could also find out that what you want to do is therapy, and then maybe a Masters is all you need. If you intend to do more clinical work, maybe the PsyD could be the way to go. Actual practical experience is the best way to find out.
  4. SarahTonin

    Clinical Psych PhD?

    I'll be starting a clinical program this fall. PsyDs are an option, but like you said, you may incur substantial debt going through a PsyD program. Another option that you have is to a less research-intensive PhD. I will be entering into a very research-oriented program, but PhD programs in Clinical Psychology exist that are definitely more clinically-oriented or more balanced. However, all PhD degrees will obviously require some research. My particular program is definitely intended to target training to people who will be staying in academic careers, but regardless plenty of people choose a different path. The clinical degree is very flexible in that way, which is one major reason why it appealed to me. I think that certain programs will be more ok with interests balanced between clinical work and research, while others won't. My program certainly only wants people whose main focus is research, so some interest in clinical work is great but a primary interest in clinical work over research is not. I would do some research into programs and see what they have to say about the balance between clinical work and research. Off the top of my head, I think Northwestern Feinberg and Fordham University are 2 relatively balanced programs.
  5. SarahTonin

    Contacting advisor the summer before PhD starts

    I basically did the same thing, and reached out to my advisor to ask if there is anything I should do, and she said no and basically said we'd set up a meeting later in the summer to talk about sort of what to expect before I get there and start grad school. I got the gist from her email that she basically didn't need to or want to hear from me until then. I would say that if your advisor hasn't indicated that they have anything to discuss with you this summer, then you should probably just save it all. You'll have 5+ years to talk about your potential ideas, and your PI likely just wants to focus on these manuscripts until then. Also, for your own mental health, do something fun and not grad-school related ?
  6. SarahTonin

    How to make the most of my undergrad years..

    So actually, I wasn't even a psychology major. I majored in neuroscience and did the pre-med track, and changed my mind very late in college (too late to change my major). Obviously most of the people who apply are psychology majors and I do think some schools require that, but I got into 2 really great programs regardless. I had a handful of psychology classes and psychology work experience, and I also took the psychology GRE and did very well. So, from my personal experience, you need to have a solid background in psychology and classes like stats, but no one was really concerned that I didn't specifically major in psychology because I had proven that I knew enough. If you want to do the clinical track because it will allow you to take the classes that interest you more, then go for it! It definitely can't hurt, and grad applications are all about fit so the more you "fit," the better. But if you are choosing, for example, to participate in the clinical track over having time to conduct research, I think research experience is weighted more heavily than a few classes.
  7. SarahTonin

    How to make the most of my undergrad years..

    My biggest advice to you is stay committed. From what I've seen, a few longer experiences are valued more than many shorter ones. This isn't like a hard and fast rule, but it sort of makes sense. Obviously, if your interests change or if you don't like the lab, then you should leave. But I stayed in my lab for 2.5 years (I started sophomore year) and as a result of that, I was able to present at multiple conferences and actually get a paper published in addition to building really strong relationships with my mentors. I think it would be hard to get that much out of like a one semester lab experience. Another piece of advice is to consider taking time off after undergrad. Not everyone chooses to do this for a variety of reasons. That being said, I would say the majority of applicants I encountered on interviews were at least 1 year out of college and had additional full-time research experience after graduation. I also found, personally, that it made time management a lot easier when I could focus on GRE/clinical volunteering/research/etc and not also have classes on top of all that. Good luck, and let me know if you have any more questions! It's definitely a good time for you to be thinking about this.
  8. SarahTonin

    PhD Final Decision Thread Fall 2018

    I took the GRE twice and did significantly better the second time. I tried a different study method, studied more consistently, and really targeted my weaknesses. For me personally, taking an exam the second time is always better if possible because it also makes the experience less anxiety-inducing once you get the hang of it. When I'm less nervous, I do better on tests. I think that your scores, though, are borderline acceptable, so if the rest of your application is very solid, it may not be worth it for you. That being said, if you have other weaknesses (I had a lower GPA for example), I would say that you should try to raise it. Ideally, for clinical psychology PhD programs, you want to hover around 70th percentile for quant and around 90th percentile for verbal, give or take. If you decide to retake it, I used Magoosh to up my score and got up from 50th percentile in math to 70th, and from 80th to 90th percentile in verbal.
  9. SarahTonin

    undergraduate coursework is lacking...

    I just got into a clinical psych phd program with a major in neuroscience. I'd taken a handful of classes in psych (minored in child psychology) but the majority of my coursework was biology, chemistry, physics, etc. I think you sound like a solid applicant, especially with all of your experience. My research experience, actually, was even somewhat unrelated because I did all of my research in animal models but I want to do human neuroimaging in grad school (and I will be doing that this fall). Some PIs didn't get it, but I did a good enough job selling myself in my statement and at interviews that I ultimately got into one of my top choices. My biggest piece of advice to you is to just do a good job explaining in your personal statement how you came to psychology and then really highlight all your psychological experience. Your "unrelated" background might even make you a unique asset to a lab in some way (for example: my biology background allows me to be a good translational scientist because I can understand basic scientific research; an economics background could give you strong quant skills, etc.). I was completely honest that I initially didn't think I was going to go into clinical psychology, and really only figured that out late in undergrad. No one really seemed to mind because of my years of research, clinical, and volunteer experiences.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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!

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