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Connect with POI prior to application (Clinical Psychology)


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Hello guys, 

I've heard mixed information about whether to connect the POI before you actually submit your application. I want to apply for clinical psychology for 2019 Fall admission. My top choice is very close to where I live right now. I want to connect with the prof the I want to work with for my PhD to do some collaboration work, or even volunteer as a research assistant in her lab. But I'm not sure whether this is a good idea. What do you guys think based on your experience?

Thank you!

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If they don't post on their website whether or not they're taking students, you should feel free to email them expressing interest in their work and inquiring as to whether they are accepting students. This is usually done in August/September. I wouldn't ask to volunteer in the lab.

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16 hours ago, psych0 said:

If they don't post on their website whether or not they're taking students, you should feel free to email them expressing interest in their work and inquiring as to whether they are accepting students. This is usually done in August/September. I wouldn't ask to volunteer in the lab.

Thank you for your response. What I've heard is that some profs tend to admit students who either volunteered in their lab before or did an honours thesis with them. So I'm just worried that I will lose the game if the prof doesn't know me enough. 

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23 minutes ago, hopetree said:

Thank you for your response. What I've heard is that some profs tend to admit students who either volunteered in their lab before or did an honours thesis with them. So I'm just worried that I will lose the game if the prof doesn't know me enough. 

It sometimes does happen, but not super super often, and when it does it almost always happens organically. I think in your case it will come across as a little forced or awkward, like you're just volunteering there to shore up your chances of admission. 

Edited by psych0
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49 minutes ago, hopetree said:

Thank you for your response. What I've heard is that some profs tend to admit students who either volunteered in their lab before or did an honours thesis with them. So I'm just worried that I will lose the game if the prof doesn't know me enough. 

Given you spelled "honours" with a "u," I am going to guess you are Canadian, no? Things may be different in Canada, but in the USA the practice of taking a former volunteer or honors student mentee to work with you for grad school is rare, if not flat out non-exisistent. People like seeing you having a wide array of training experiences, so training with the same person and institution does not accomplish that goal.

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I sent some emails to the professors I like to work with during summer prior to the application season. Some of them replied and gave me some background of the program and their research work. Not all professors update their website so it is nice to know more about their research work. For example, one of my POI's interest is in prevention instead of treatment. From the website, I couldn't tell. By knowing it, I put more focus on discussing prevention studies in my personal statement to match my POI's interest. I think it is very helpful. Regard being a volunteer in the lab, I believe the professor can tell your intention and it feels kinda pushy. I am not sure. I know some professors take students from his/her lab but others prefer students with more diverse research background. Definitely continue doing research but not necessarily with the one you have interest in.

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From what I've seen, when professor do accept students from their own labs, it's because the student has been in the lab long enough to grow and prove that they are qualified and that they are a good fit for the lab and the program. Because it usually takes time for professors to get to know new RAs and trust them with upper-level research projects through which they get the opportunity to prove themselves as researchers and writers, this approach would likely be much less effective if you were there for less than 1.5-2 years before applying. However, it really does depend on the faculty. Some faculty never accept from within and encourage their RAs to diversify their experience; others are totally willing to hire from within if they have an RA with a really good fit.

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On 2018/2/24 at 12:00 AM, hopetree said:

Hello guys, 

I've heard mixed information about whether to connect the POI before you actually submit your application. I want to apply for clinical psychology for 2019 Fall admission. My top choice is very close to where I live right now. I want to connect with the prof the I want to work with for my PhD to do some collaboration work, or even volunteer as a research assistant in her lab. But I'm not sure whether this is a good idea. What do you guys think based on your experience?

Thank you!

I would suggest for you to ask current students who are in your POI's lab. You can ask them did they contact the POI before application and how they did it. 

Does contacting POIs boost up your chances of getting admitted? It depends on how strong you are as a PhD student. If you have nothing to impress your POIs, a simple e-mail won't make a difference on you application, especially in Clinical Psych. If you have a lot of research experience and a great writing sample (don't need to be a publication) to prove that you have really strong research abilities, do contact them!

Edited by wnk4242
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