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Posts posted by DippinDot

  1. Hello everyone,

    In the last week before the decision deadline, I am debating between a PhD offer and a funded masters offer. The PhD is fairly low tier/low ranked school for my discipline, and my adviser is just in the beginning of their career. My academic goal and my current interests are of course to do research at the doctoral level, so many people are confused why I am having any dilemma over the two. My problem is that the PhD program, for my specific department, has had questionable placement history. It's not so much that it's "bad" placements-- people were able to find jobs. They are almost all in teaching institutions and no longer doing research. While it's reassuring that many people were able to find jobs, it's kind of discouraging that no one from any of the graduating classes has been able to break into any R1 schools. I also asked about any students that have been able to obtain post docs, and so far it seems like only one student from our department has done so. Again, it kind of concerns me. The one big career positive that the school likes to talk about, however, is the prospect of industry jobs. It seems that people have had more success with getting research positions within some prestigious tech companies, but the recruitment and placement data they're referring to is heavily made up of cognitive grads. The PhD acceptance I received is for a discipline outside of cognitive or human factors psychology, so I'm concerned that I won't be able to make my work applicable enough to get hired by these industries. I know that the motivation behind doing a PhD should be the love of research in an academic setting, but I have to make sure I meet in the middle between my passions and my (and my family's) need for financial stability. Also forgot to mention-- the program isn't fully funded, at least not guaranteed. Everyone says they're able to get funding for the years that aren't guaranteed through other means, but this is kind of scary, especially when I know that many comparable universities usually offer full funding.

    So now that I've laid out the context of this issue, the dilemma is basically:
    I'm concerned that I'm going into a PhD program with a very narrow pathway for myself to get a job worth the return of the time/labor/opportunity cost of a PhD AND allow me to continue doing research beyond my degree. Specifically, it's highly unlikely at this moment that I would get a tenure track job at an R1 school from this program. Of course, I know this is a difficult position to obtain from ANY PhD given how rough the academic job market is, but it's demoralizing to see that no one from our department has been able to get into an R1 school, with or without post doc. What I would need to do, is go into this program with at least the idea to make my work versatile enough to eventually land me an industry job in case, but that's difficult to do as a non-cognitive, non-human factors student. On top of this, pursuing such a research trajectory is very different from what I originally told my adviser, and may blatantly seem like I'm trying to go after industry jobs. Also, I'm still in undergrad and I realized through this application process that my research interests have changed quite a bit. I didn't really know what was out there for me to consider, and now I'm rethinking the research match between me and my potential adviser. This is also another reason why I feel like I should gain some more research experience and reapply.

    Given all of these concerns, my other option is to turn down the offer and reapply after doing some intensive work to make my application a lot better. This is with the hope that I'll get into programs with better placement records. That way I don't have to feel like there's only one possible career path that is realistically available for me to feel financially secure about. Right now, I'm thinking of doing this through taking on the funded research masters as this program has a reputation for doing well in preparing students for quality PhD programs. I am also going to make sure I spend my summers taking up any volunteer research positions and programs, in case the masters isn't research-heavy enough for my purposes.

    Am I being too naive about this? Or conversely, am I thinking too much?
    Thank you all in advance! I'm really sorry for how long this post is. I need to learn how to write concisely...

  2. @brainlass Thank you so much for laying everything out so clearly! I really appreciate the advice.
    Your application sounds incredibly strong. I wasn't able to do any conferences or publications in my time as undergrad (although, there's still 2 months left and I may be able to do a poster in this remaining period). Thank you so much for that incredibly valuable piece about how admissions tends to reject undergrad applicants. I had the feeling that the trend tends to be that applicants with research experience outside of undergrad are more favorable, with the exception of those with outstanding applications, such as yourself. Your interview conversation seems to confirm this. 
    However, given everything you've said about masters vs gap year, would you still hold the same opinion regarding funded masters? That is, thesis-based masters that are 2 years fully funded with tuition remission and a living stipend. I understand the concern about wasting time is still present here as one could just gain the same research experience and publication opportunities in a gap year. It also seems in general, from what you've been saying, it's difficult to start and finish a publishable project in 2 years at a new institution when one needs to juggle coursework on top of the research. So I imagine that this problem would still extend to research masters that provide full funding. What are your thoughts?

    And my apologies if this is derailing the thread. If so, I will move my conversation over to private messages or a separate thread.
    Thanks in advance!

  3. Hello all, I'm also in a position of potentially doing either a gap year or a funded masters after an unsuccessful application season right out of undergrad. While my situation isn't directly what the OP asked about, reading everyone's responses has been helpful. Thanks for starting this thread!
    May I ask @01sonal why you feel that the OP shouldn't do a masters unless they absolutely have to? I hear a lot that people suggest a gap year over a masters, but I never really hear too much about why.

  4. Yeah I think the re-getting vaccines was what @TakeruK and I were thinking. It depends on the vaccine, but in most instances getting another one is safe and just acts as a booster. (again we're not professionals so asking your physician or the school would be the best bet).

  5. Something else I would add is that usually when people don't have documentations of their vaccinations, either your current physician or the physicians at your program would be able to run a panel that tests for antibodies in your system associated with the relevant vaccinations/illnesses. This antibody panel would act as documentation of what vaccinations you have received, and show what vaccinations you lack. Your situation is actually more common than some may think, so yeah definitely 1. talk to your current physician about your situation, if you have one. And if not you could consider going to same-day clinics or urgent care (you will have to pay out of pocket for the visit, however). 2. if you have no resources on your end, let your program know of your situation and they may be able to guide you with what to do from there (i.e. antibody panel, referrals). 
    I thought I had missing documents for vaccinations and was told by my undergraduate health center that the antibody panel is typically what they do for people who don't have proper vaccination records. But then I found my documents through lots of backtracking of hospitals I've been to since like age 5 so. haha yeah. The information pertaining to what to do when you don't have records still stands though. Of course I'm not a health care professional and I was already enrolled in an institution when that happened so take this info with a grain of salt. This is just what was told to me in my personal experience.

    Oh and what @TakeruK said. Some of the vaccines they can just give you another one and that'll fulfill the immunization requirement. It's not harmful and in fact acts as a booster (in some instances). So depending on the situation you might not even need to do a panel-- just get another shot. I did this for Hep A when I thought I didn't get it as a kid. Turns out I actually did, and the doctor said that it's totally fine and just acts as a booster shot. 

  6. Hey @tj1864! Thank you for the info, I really, really appreciate it!
    The range of courses sound really balanced! And that's so cool that the people you know were able to get positions at such great schools. Yeah it seems like there's no publicly available information regarding placement, but I keep hearing about the good track record that you spoke of. I'm really curious as to where this comes from haha. I'm not doubtful though, I trust that people have gone off to great PhD programs from there. 
    Thanks for telling me about the campus culture! :) yeah I imagine that the psych department/MA program tends to be liberal. Good to hear about the professors and students! It definitely reassures me that even if I'm not used to the conservative state of NC/the south, the area I'll be in might be a little closer to the sociopolitical climate of the west.
    I'll be sure to PM you if I have any further questions, thanks again!!

  7. Emails seem the most common, for all status updates (interview/acceptance/rejection). Phone calls are for interviews or acceptance. I think I've seen on here that some applicants received rejections through the mail, but it seems to be uncommon. This may vary from program to program, however. Most schools actually indicate on their website where you will receive correspondence regarding your application status. And yes, the application portal is always a good place to check on top of your email.
    This is info I've gathered from being an applicant this season, and from the posts I've seen in other threads on TGC. Hope that helps!

  8. Hey @Psygeek! Thanks for replying! :) Wow, your experience sounds so cool! I'm glad you've been able to do all of these interesting things and work on some papers that are up for publication!! The cross-cultural project sounds super awesome, I concur that that's a big achievement. I don't think anything you've done is a waste of time at all, both in a professional sense and in the sense of your self development/understanding. It seems like you've done a lot of work and gone through a lot of growth.
    It's really good to hear that your experience with an MA has been so positive and made you (and your ambitions) stronger. I hope that I'll also have a positive experience, should I do the MA. I'm sure that like many others, and like yourself, my research interests will shift and narrow during the course of a MA.  
    I really can't express how appreciative I am of all of this input. It really puts into perspective how valuable time and experience outside of a PhD is. I'm feeling a lot better about where I am/where I might be.

  9. Hello @b_l91! Thank you so much for the detailed response! I keep getting blown away by how organized and helpful people are on GC. :) 

    Yes, I keep hearing about how taking time off through work, research opportunities, or other cool stuff has really helped people. I totally see why people have such positive things to say about it. I don't think I've met anyone that's regretted taking time off-- most of the time it's people that went straight from undergrad to grad school that wish they did things differently. 

    Yeah, I was thinking about applying to a formal post-bacc program that emphasizes neuroscience or bio-psych as I wasn't able to take too many classes on these topics. In my case, I'm thinking of applying to clinical and non-clinical programs that allow me to do research on interdisciplinary topics related to mental health/well-being. That's why I thought doing more formal courses through a post-bacc on things like bio-psych might be helpful for admissions. The drawback is that I don't see a whole lot of funded opportunities in post-bacc because it's typically not a certificate/degree granting program. Apparently, something about this makes it hard for universities to establish federal/state grants or stipends and other publicly funded assistance. I'm not in a position to embark on opportunities that are out-of-pocket as a means of bettering my application, so I didn't look into post-baccs after realizing that. (But maybe I'm wrong about the funding/tuition waiving).

    I heard a lot of the same stuff for masters programs too! And yes, I agree that masters are usually not funded. I applied to WFU and W&M because they were the 2 programs that were known for preparing students in getting to psych PhD programs, and usually offer funding. Thank you for the congrats! :) It's reassuring to hear that someone in your cohort/interview group came from WFU's masters program! I think the main thing that I hear against a MA is that some PhD programs are particular about training students in a certain way that's specific to their program/their own philosophy of research (or practice), so they prefer people that haven't already been in a graduate program and received formal training/influence in that sense. I think the thing about gap years being more independent/showcase people's initiatives is coming more from students themselves rather than admissions. I've actually had grad students in my undergrad school tell me that a person with good enough stats (meaning reaching the threshold for being considered/getting foot in the door) and good enough research experience would be wasting their time/money at a masters program. I take this with a grain of salt though because their concerns were specific to non-funded MAs. I also get that research MA doesn't add much novel employment value to your CV, so if you do the masters and you don't go into a PhD program, it might not be much of an asset to you outside of the PhD and higher education space. When they say this they're usually comparing the MA to other non-PhD degrees, like an applied M.S. or licensing program.

    To give more background info about my situation, I had lukewarm stats that got me through that first round of immediate rejections (3.6 gpa, above 155 on Q and V GRE scores), and I had 1 year of research experience. However, the research experience I had wasn't always directly related to the programs I applied to this cycle. I also didn't get to do any posters/presentations, which I know is something admissions really likes to see. I think along with not enough research experience/unspecific research interests, I just didn't have a good handle on a lot of stuff surrounding the whole application process. Including how to pick schools and professors to apply to/assessing match. All in all, there's definitely a lot to work on before I reapply. I should work on getting a higher GRE score, perhaps make use of a MA or postbacc to help out my UG gpa with a high graduate GPA, and narrow down my interests through (directly related) projects and posters.

    It seems like the general consensus is that any option will give me opportunities to do research and build my application-- it's just a matter of what works best for myself and really using those resources to the fullest. Hopefully those things I hear about how an MA could work against someone is wrong haha.
    Thanks again for your help!! It reassured me that there's multiple paths to my goals. And if anyone else has insight on how one path might be "better" in a certain situation than another, please let me know! 

  10. Hey all,

    Has anyone heard anything (interview/rejection/acceptance) from the developmental PhD program at University of Washington? I haven't been contacted by this program in any capacity since I sent in my application. I didn't get an interview invite though so I assume I'm rejected, but I wanted to know if anyone else that applied has heard anything. I've been checking the results survey page regularly and nothing for developmental comes up under UW for this cycle. :( It would just be nice to get an idea of what's happening so I know how to move forward with my decisions/plans. I almost want to email my PI/the department to ask if I'm still being considered, but I know that can come off as pushy.

    Thanks in advance!!

  11. Hello all,

    I wanted to make individual replies but I didn't expect so many people to give such helpful responses!

    Thank you all for your valuable input and sharing your experiences. I understand the application/admission process a little better now and see how the factors you all mentioned come into play.

    @E-P Thanks again for your help! :) I will definitely reach out and ask about the weaknesses of my application. I'm glad I have the opportunity of doing the MA as a means of improving myself as a researcher and applicant. @+ve regard I'll definitely try to be more proactive about getting connections with PIs this round too!

    @dr. bubbles Thank you for sharing the tip about SoP! I definitely need to work on that for next cycle. I'm in my senior year of undergrad and I totally approached it too much like an undergrad college essay. I also didn't know anything about the application process, and had little to no help from mentors (grad students/faculty/department or career centers). I don't really blame this on them (grad students, my professors) though as I imagine they're super busy. I also wasn't the most persistent in getting help from those people, for that reason. The career center and psych department advisers however....... haha. I totally wish we had the built-in infrastructure/resources med students (sometimes) do for their application process. This is besides the point though. I basically just wanted to say I definitely agree with you. After going through the process once I definitely have a much better handle on what to do to be more successful next year.

    And yes, I asked this question because I've been a little skeptical of stories where people not getting any admissions despite 3+ cycles, especially if they claim to have been actively doing appropriate things to improve themselves. I am aware that there may be outliers from time to time of people who truly have amazing stats and seemingly good fit yet are unable to get in a program after years of trying. I guess it's not so much being uncomfortable with the idea that not everyone can get what they want, but more that these people seemingly don't have any obvious issues as an applicant... yet they haven't been able to get in, year after year. It makes me wonder, what about me could possibly be so different from these individuals for me to believe I could get in and have a better outcome than them?

    I definitely resonate with @Sherrinford's piece about being taught all our lives that if one to work hard enough, one could succeed eventually. Especially from a western/cultural standpoint. However, I do agree that the way of the world is that sometimes, some people don't get what they want. I also see what @lewin is saying about some people just not being cut out for grad school. Who knows, anything could happen and I could find out that my talents lie elsewhere or am better fit for a different type of learning/growing experience than a PhD program.  @wnk4242  also touches on this, but in terms of specific psych disciplines. I completely see where you're all coming from and will keep what y'all said in mind. I guess all we can do is just try our best to gather as much knowledge about the process, to try as hard as we can, and give ourselves the best chance of achieving our dreams. Me asking this question/creating this thread is one way of doing that. I just want to know more and learn from other people's perspectives on this grueling experience.

    Thanks again for all the valuable advice and perspectives! :) Hearing from everyone on this forum has been really fun and helpful.


  12. @E-P Thank you! I was surprised this username was open haha. :) ooo mint chocolate is great. My favorite is birthday cake! 
    And thank you for sharing your experience! It's nice to hear that people have been able to live their life/do other interesting things and still come back to school. I definitely hear you about being more prepared. I was talking to a grad student in my current lab that also took several years off between her undergrad and grad career. She said the same thing about feeling more prepared and experienced. Thanks so much for all your encouraging and reassuring words!!

  13. Hello everyone, 

    If you're reading this I hope you're doing well and trying to take care of yourself.
    As application updates are rolling in I've noticed a trend of unfortunate situations where posters have been in the PhD application game for a few cycles (2-3) and continue to be unsuccessful in their endeavors. I keep reading about experiences where they've gotten 0 offers time and time again, and it's definitely scaring me. I was wondering if this has anything to do with the specific field they're in, or the research they want to do? For example, I can see this happening for clinical psych PhDs simply because they're so dang competitive (~1-3% admission rate for some of the top schools). But what about other psychology fields that are non-clinical? Maybe I'm just asking because I'm hoping for someone to tell me that these are outlying or special situations, and that people will typically succeed in getting at least 1 offer after trying for 2 or 3 cycles (and doing productive things between cycles that actually make them a more competitive applicant ). And it would be helpful to hear about how this experience is in psych PhDs specifically. I know the general, underlying explanation for this unfortunate situation is that the combination of funding and match make PhD admissions almost unpredictable, but it's so hard (and scary) to believe that people who are working so hard, are well qualified, and are persistent still don't get any acceptances after years and years.

    Am I just being naive?

  14. @Applicant4788 Hi! Yeah those are good places to get info. I actually spoke with a director previously to ask about where people go after the program and the answer they gave was kind of vague, while retaining that this MA is known as a top psych masters for those trying to get into PhD. They also didn't offer to send me any specific data on outcomes. I got the vibe that they just wanted to keep the answer vague so I didn't push it further. I think this question might be a little awkward to ask faculty/directors because I don't know how they might interpret me asking, although I feel like this a reasonable curiosity considering that people do this type of MA to get to a PhD.  As for the current students-- yes, I've been trying to get in contact. The director said they would refer me to students soon so I'll update on here if gather new insight about the living experience/campus culture. Maybe I'll ask them about how previous cohorts have done in terms of PhD offers as well. Thanks for the suggestion!

  15. Hey @FutureResearcher, thanks for your input and for sharing your experience! :) congrats on the acceptance. Sounds like you really did a lot during your marriage and family therapy masters. I usually don't hear about people doing an applied masters and still pursuing research experience/posters at the same time, so that's cool to hear that you were able to do both. It's also reassuring to hear about many candidates doing interviews with a masters degree. Thanks for the advice about gap year too!

  16. Hey everyone,

    I made a post earlier regarding WFU's masters program in particular, but I wanted to make a thread about the general experience of what people have chosen to do when they're not going to a PhD straight from undergrad. I'm new here so I'm still learning the posting etiquette on gradcafe, but I apologize if this topic is too closely related to the other thread. I feel that this is a different question though, whereas the other thread was about WFU specifically. Hopefully this is OK.
    Basically, I was wondering what people's experiences have been with doing a non-PhD grad program or a gap year. Specifically, has doing a masters program before applying to PhD in clinical and non-clinical disciplines ever worked against you in the admissions process? I hear some things about how doing a gap year is better because it's very independent, whereas masters programs are often very structured. However, I definitely see a lot of people successfully going to great PhD programs after completing a research masters, so I'm sure this is just unfounded/hearsay. What's everyone's experience with this? Does anyone do any applied masters programs (like MS or a licensing program)? I also hear things about Post Bacc programs, although rare. Or alternatively, has anyone tried to do a paid job or internship for their gap year before reapplying?
    Thanks in advance!!

  17. Hey everyone,

    I was just accepted to Wake Forest's psychology research masters program. It's a 2 year funded program that's designed for those who need more time to narrow down their research interests and gain research experience before applying to a PhD program. I applied to the program as a means of making myself a more competitive applicant for future PhD application cycles. I've heard things through word of mouth, and on some forums, that WFU has a good track record for placing students in quality clinical and non-clinical PhD programs. However, I feel like there's not a whole lot of threads on gradcafe talking about this program. I was wondering if this rumor is true-- that WFU's MA is known for getting students into good PhD programs, and if so, where I could get a sense of this placement data. I don't see any information anywhere regarding what kind of programs people go into after WFU's MA program-- whether that be the actual names of the PhD schools, the location, or the type of psychology PhD (social, cog, clinical, dev, etc.). I'm just curious about where people get this information on WFU's supposed track record. I also wanted to hear about what it's like to live in winston-salem and that area of North Carolina in general. I'm from the west coast and this would be a big change for me, should I end up going. I was wondering about people's experiences with the diversity (or lack of) in the area, the living costs (especially relative to the stipend they give), the campus culture, and just whether or not you enjoyed being there. So yeah! Any and all input about the program or the school is welcome. I just feel like there's almost no threads talking about the program or the school despite the all the good things it's supposedly known for.

    Thanks in advance!

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