Jump to content

50% Applicant Increases in Some Graduate Psych Programs This Year


Recommended Posts

I saw on Twitter there is talk about 50%+ applicant increases to various graduate psychology programs this year.

https://twitter.com/jayvanbavel/status/1334558142240321544?s=19

I don't know how true this is across the board, but just wanted to post a heads up. If the programs you applied at saw these type of increases, you may end up with a more competitive experience than some of us had in past cycles.

Remember to be kind to yourself while waiting for and getting results. I'm rooting for all of you.

Edited by PsyZei
left out a crucial word
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • PsyZei changed the title to 50% Applicant Increases in Some Graduate Psych Programs This Year
1 hour ago, cccneuronccc said:

Whoa why did I hear the complete opposite that there are going to be a lot less people applying... I thought it would be less competitive this year, now I am anxious haha

I honestly thought it would be less this year, too. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

For what it's worth, I'm currently in a sociology PhD program (switching to social psych), and I learned this week that the applicant pool for our sociology program is noticeably *smaller* this year. Different discipline, of course, but shows it's possible that the increase in apps is concentrated at certain schools/certain subfields. The reasons for this, though, I have no idea.

Link to post
Share on other sites

There is generally an increase in applications to higher education in times of academic downturn.
There are still some programs accepting applicants if you find there are places you could see yourself and hadn't yet applied.
Cost should not be prohibitive--many institutions offer waivers for application fees (mine does). If you are interested in Learning Sciences/Educational Psychology at all, please let me know and I can help.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, JoePianist said:

WTF

This is par for the course for good clinical psych programs. Mines (top-20 U.S.) had >1,000 applicants for 10 spots pre-COVID. FWIW I'm a neuroscience PhD student in a psych department but our field is seeing similar increases.

I will however state that I've been talking to professors and the last time such an increase happened was during the Great Recession. Professors have told me that although there were huge increases in the number of applicants, there wasn't necessarily an increase in the competitiveness of those applicants. This is because most of these students deciding to apply are staring down the dire job market and applying to grad school as an alternative. Unfortunately for them, deciding to try for grad school on whim in Senior Year does not compensate for the years of experience that most of you presumably have been getting. I would not worry too much.

Edited by ManifoldsAreMadeUp
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, ManifoldsAreMadeUp said:

This is par for the course for good clinical psych programs. Mines (top-20 U.S.) had >1,000 applicants for 10 spots pre-COVID. FWIW I'm a neuroscience PhD student in a psych department but our field is seeing similar increases.

I will however state that I've been talking to professors and the last time such an increase happened was during the Great Recession. Professors have told me that although there were huge increases in the number of applicants, there wasn't necessarily an increase in the competitiveness of those applicants. This is because most of these students deciding to apply are staring down the dire job market and applying to grad school as an alternative. Unfortunately for them, deciding to try for grad school on whim in Senior Year does not compensate for the years of experience that most of you presumably have been getting. I would not worry too much.

This is good to know, and something that I was pondering. An increase in applications does not entail an increase in competitiveness. Have hundreds of amazing applicants with several years of research experience just popped up out of nowhere? Maybe, but I agree that it does seem like the bulk of these applicants won't have much experience. 

Another point to ponder, if any of the schools people applied to did require GRE scores, these programs may be less competitive this year? Purely conjecture, but something to think about. One of the schools I applied to required the GRE, so I am hoping this program may have their usual number of applicants this year (or maybe even less applicants). 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I heard another thought on this topic today: given the considerable increase in apps and lack of GREs, profs will likely be placing additional emphasis on other ways of filtering out applicants. Given this, is it possible that an applicant's possessing a connection with the given program (e.g. being an alumnus, reference from a resident faculty member) would be seen as a particular plus? Like an additional layer of vetting?

Edited by EileanDonan
Link to post
Share on other sites
48 minutes ago, EileanDonan said:

I heard another thought on this topic today: given the considerable increase in apps and lack of GREs, profs will likely be placing additional emphasis on other ways of filtering out applicants. Given this, is it possible that an applicant's possessing a connection with the given program (e.g. being an alumnus, reference from a resident faculty member) would be seen as a particular plus? Like an additional layer of vetting?

I'm not sure if that would be ethical in the reviewal process - like, that seems like borderline nepotism. That would only probably help your letter of recommendation in the sense that, if your professor knows the letter writer, that indicates that you have experience working in the field in some sense or have been able to build relationships with people in your field (such as PTSD research or whatever). They will probably place more emphasis on another aspect of your application, like GPA. 

Edited by pomegranateleaves
forgot a word
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/6/2020 at 9:00 PM, EileanDonan said:

I heard another thought on this topic today: given the considerable increase in apps and lack of GREs, profs will likely be placing additional emphasis on other ways of filtering out applicants. Given this, is it possible that an applicant's possessing a connection with the given program (e.g. being an alumnus, reference from a resident faculty member) would be seen as a particular plus? Like an additional layer of vetting?

FWIW - I think LORs in general carry a lot of weight, even pre-COVID, but may carry more weight now. If a POI knows your LOR writer(s), and they write glowing letters, I think that is a golden ticket. Some POIs engage in what I frankly consider unethical behavior, which is take students with whom they have prior connections, usually resulting in less diversification of our field b/c those students are typically people with great means (high SES, traditional backgrounds, have the ability to do lots of unpaid RA work in undergrad/MA programs, etc.). 

 

It's a big gamble for POIs to take students, in the same way you want to match with the best mentor possible. If a student a POI takes one year turns out to be bat s**t crazy, imagine how frustrating that might be for a POI. A year of a student lost, essentially, out of maybe, at most 35-40 years of training people. Having LOR writers a) know you SUPER well and b) know your ideal POI super well is key. It's kind of sad that's where we are at, as that also probably biases toward well-connected, resourced students, but it's worth knowing. As I have aged in my program, my PI has been frank with me in telling me they have rejected candidates for lab positions, other PhD slots, etc. almost always based on LORs that are not strong (OR say *negative* things... yikes). 

 

Tl;dr for future applications: ALWAYS ask LOR writers if they are willing and able to write a *strong* LOR for you. If they are ethical, they will be honest, and you need strong LORs as other metrics (e.g., GRE) go away. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, Clinapp2017 said:

FWIW - I think LORs in general carry a lot of weight, even pre-COVID, but may carry more weight now. If a POI knows your LOR writer(s), and they write glowing letters, I think that is a golden ticket. Some POIs engage in what I frankly consider unethical behavior, which is take students with whom they have prior connections, usually resulting in less diversification of our field b/c those students are typically people with great means (high SES, traditional backgrounds, have the ability to do lots of unpaid RA work in undergrad/MA programs, etc.).

...

Thank you for the thoughtful comment, this was my basic assumption as well. I'm certainly not one for nepotism myself (separate from legitimate networking), but I do feel bad for profs who are dealing with such a huge increase in applications and are desperate for a way to whittle things down. I wouldn't be surprised if this year's acceptances largely favored those who were fortunate enough to full-time RA at more prestigious labs this year or had the golden-ticket letter (on top of the usual research fit). Not that I would blame anyone for taking advantage of the opportunities at their disposal of course, but I can certainly relate to those equally competent applicants who simply don't have access to the same resources (e.g. due to financial or familial constraints) and are extremely frustrated at this hyper-selective process. 😕 It does feel rigged sometimes.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, EileanDonan said:

Thank you for the thoughtful comment, this was my basic assumption as well. I'm certainly not one for nepotism myself (separate from legitimate networking), but I do feel bad for profs who are dealing with such a huge increase in applications and are desperate for a way to whittle things down. I wouldn't be surprised if this year's acceptances largely favored those who were fortunate enough to full-time RA at more prestigious labs this year or had the golden-ticket letter (on top of the usual research fit). Not that I would blame anyone for taking advantage of the opportunities at their disposal of course, but I can certainly relate to those equally competent applicants who simply don't have access to the same resources (e.g. due to financial or familial constraints) and are extremely frustrated at this hyper-selective process. 😕 It does feel rigged sometimes.

The ironic part is, removing the GRE was supposed to make admissions less inequitable, but I do wonder if it's going to have the opposite effect. I think these are all very valid points!

Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, higaisha said:

Not to be crass but I hate this nepotism stuff and how it perpetuates inequitable access to the profession.

You're absolutely right, and I agree. It perpetuates inequity, and since clinical psych programs are already so difficult to get into, that's the last thing that's needed in the application process. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I would like to add that I met with a few PIs over zoom over the past few months. I have two bachelors degrees, my first one I graduated with a very low GPA and my second one I graduated with a very high GPA so my average over both is very mediocre. This is a topic I discuss with all potential PIs as it is an important part of my past and could be a barrier to entry for school. I got feedback that, at least with the specific PIs I spoke to, that they are looking for applicants with holistic experience. I personally have a lot of research and presenting experience, but they mentioned that it is something that is a privilege and not the end all for acceptance.

Who knows what will happen because of the influx of applicants, and maybe they were just trying to make me feel better, but my experience negates some of the nepotism concerns. It seems like it really depends on what PIs are looking for, 

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, higaisha said:

Not to be crass but I hate this nepotism stuff and how it perpetuates inequitable access to the profession.

Agreed. I understand why nepotism exists (the path of least resistance) but our field MUST change, and radically, or we are going to under-serve our patients and communities, broadly. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm sure nepotism will play a role in admissions this year, but I've also seen a lot of PIs, especially those interested in diversity/equity, talk about giving chances to people who may not have had the typical or expected research experiences. A lot of them acknowledge that access to research experience is influenced by privilege and are trying to look at other factors (e.g. work experience, goals and interests, intellectual curiosity) that might be applicable to graduate success. This probably isn't true across the board, and it might just be lip service, but I'm hopeful that faculty are going to use a more holistic and socially informed approach this year!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.