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What are my chances? (Clinical Psych PhD)


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I'm a little unsure as to whether this is the place to post a WAMC, so please let me know if I should move this post.

I'm unsure if I'd be considered a competitive candidate if I apply to graduate programs this upcoming application cycle, or if I need to spend summer of 2018- fall of 2019 gaining more research experience and then apply fall of 2019. My professor (who sat on my school's Ph.D. admissions board for years) told me to take AT LEAST 2 gap years, but the idea of being out of school that long scares me. Would I be wasting my time applying this fall? Have been unsuccessful in getting a job (planning on just being a volunteer RA--maybe continue as one in lab I'm currently in, as it aligns with my interests-- for now), so I'm not sure if that affects the gap year decision. ***Sorry about this being long, didn't know what all to (not) include***

I'm a senior who is majoring in Psychology
cumGPA: 3.745 // psyGPA: 3.856 (cumulative GPA will *probably* be 3.76 when I graduate) & Cum Laude
V: 156 Q: 156 and a 4 on writing..... because my scores aren't great, I plan on studying the entire summer and retaking the GRE at the end of the summer
no publications/senior thesis, unfortunately~~~
entered/coded/standardized data, did lit reviews for 1.5 years at an ADHD lab
-->designed my own research project at ADHD lab using their data and presented it as a poster at a national conference
-my minor required being in a fall/winter/spring cohort where I interned at an early childcare center while concurrently learning about child development in class; because of the classes/ECE center I:
-->developed and implemented an emergent curriculum based upon the children's developmental needs and current interests
-->collected data, analyzed, and wrote a case study on one child's development (in 3 domains)
-->learned and applied a specific early childhood education approach
-->I interned again at the center this fall (but was unable to come back due to having a lot of doctor appointments in the winter)
-for 1 month I examined data available at an HIV+ lab and wrote a concept paper, but was unable to continue due to evacuation for a hurricane *(I'm guessing that I should even bother putting this on my CV)*
-senior year: selected as 1 of 12 students to be part of a *highly selective* (prof told me to write that in my resume) year-long intensive developmental psychopathology research program, where I:
-->attended biweekly graduate level seminars (according to the description) in which research approaches (ie. interventions) in devel. psychopath. were discussed
-->joined a lab about parent-child interactions in military families: coded P-C interactions from videotape, transcribed parent interviews
-->shadowed at a stress/trauma/resilience clinic (clients were children/adolescents, but parents were active participants of the intervention) where I got to attend case conferences (providers would discuss the clients they were seeing today, what happened last session, and what they were planning on doing during their session that day; everyone gave advice on how to go forward--sometimes I got to chime in my opinion); also observed therapy sessions through a remote camera set up in the rooms
-->from military lab, designed own research project (along with another RA) using their data and was able to present as a poster at 2 undergrad research conferences at my college
-worked at summer camp for 5 years where I taught life skills to blind and visually impaired children/adolescents (does this count as clinical?)
-liason for a program where I biquarterly presented (my) sorority chapter info on sexual assault awareness/intervention/prevention
-campus tour guide for underserved elementary & middle schoolers for 1.5 years

  • will have 3 strong letters of recommendation

**interested in child/adolescent trauma (and getting the parents/family involved in interventions) 
Any help/advice would be GREATLY appreciated!!!

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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! 

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