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Application Disappointment Support Thread


frazyfar
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Hi all  - 

I’ve noticed quite a bit of anxiety and heartbreak over in the ‘21 Clinical/Counseling thread. Since this is about the time of year when a lot of psychology applicants (of all disciplines!) start assuming or receiving rejections, I thought it might be helpful to have a central space where disappointed applicants can vent and receive support. I know that these applications are sometimes years in the making; we sacrifice sleep, health, and time with our loved ones to achieve our dreams. The jolt of hope when you go to refresh your email, coupled with the disappointment when there’s nothing new there...I know that dance well. 
 

For those of you who are facing that disappointment, I hope you will use this thread to reach out for comfort. For those of you who have been there and might have words of wisdom and experience, please share how you got through it!

Brianna Baker, through her YouTube channel Becoming Dr. Baker, posted a video today that I thought was timely: “Rejected from Everywhere I applied to: My story & How to Bounce Back from Graduate School Rejection”

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I was going to post the same thing. I've been wrestling with rejection and I actually cried during the first part of the video because she details EXACTLY what I've been feeling during this time. It's been so lonely and the video made me feel like I was apart of a community of people. She really normalized the experience of rejection in psychology PhD programs because no one talks about it.

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Warning - just a general vent, nothing productive to be found here!

I'm feeling frustrated by others (whether family, friends, strangers) saying they're surprised by lack of success in the interview process, even after I explain the low acceptance rates. It feels stressful to explain the situation to them. I acknowledge a few things - this is my first round applying, I did have one informal and one formal coming up, but it still is incredibly frustrating when I feel like I should be more competitive? Which again, I acknowledge is an incredibly privileged statement, considering just HOW qualified everyone is. Just feeling a little disenchanted with this general field - feels like I should have been preparing from 18 to garner the amount of experience necessary.

The general advice of getting more research through an RA position/post-bacc is harmful too - these jobs are usually low paying, with not much career growth outside of preparation for graduate programs. This is certainly not feasible for everyone. I'm lucky to have a good position, but am frustrated by the amount of times this is spouted off as the advice for being more competitive. I know this is not an okay reality for so many people.

This isn't ire towards anyone in particular, except for an incredibly competitive process with limited spots, riddled with gatekeeping, while incredible mental health needs exist. Rant over!

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5 minutes ago, psychgirl13 said:

Warning - just a general vent, nothing productive to be found here!

I'm feeling frustrated by others (whether family, friends, strangers) saying they're surprised by lack of success in the interview process, even after I explain the low acceptance rates. It feels stressful to explain the situation to them. I acknowledge a few things - this is my first round applying, I did have one informal and one formal coming up, but it still is incredibly frustrating when I feel like I should be more competitive? Which again, I acknowledge is an incredibly privileged statement, considering just HOW qualified everyone is. Just feeling a little disenchanted with this general field - feels like I should have been preparing from 18 to garner the amount of experience necessary.

The general advice of getting more research through an RA position/post-bacc is harmful too - these jobs are usually low paying, with not much career growth outside of preparation for graduate programs. This is certainly not feasible for everyone. I'm lucky to have a good position, but am frustrated by the amount of times this is spouted off as the advice for being more competitive. I know this is not an okay reality for so many people.

This isn't ire towards anyone in particular, except for an incredibly competitive process with limited spots, riddled with gatekeeping, while incredible mental health needs exist. Rant over!

I know exactly how you feel. I'm the first in my family to ~consider~ grad school. I have explained these exact things to them, but I still get the same "well you graduated from blah and you have a good GPA, I'm sure you'll get into tons of places." My mom says "well.... have you considered applying to [alma mater]?" except their clinical psych program is just as competitive (if not more) as others, and I don't have a POI there. My brother will tell me "well if it's so difficult then apply to CSU Chico," which doesn't have anything I'm interested in, but he sees as a cheaper school and is the solution. I also feel that I am so far behind my peers because I earned my bachelor's at 27, and this is why I will never catch up to being competitive or I will in my 40's and get my PhD at 50.

It's so frustrating that you are seen as gifted and talented by your family, but the field doesn't acknowledge your potential. Sometimes the gap between expectations and reality feels like gaslighting. It's so exhausting to explain to family and friends how arduous this process is because it's not considered as "elite" as medical school.

I encourage you to continue validating your own experience and feelings because they are very real. Also, remember to take care of yourself ❤️ 

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1 hour ago, PsychBear92 said:

I know exactly how you feel. I'm the first in my family to ~consider~ grad school. I have explained these exact things to them, but I still get the same "well you graduated from blah and you have a good GPA, I'm sure you'll get into tons of places." My mom says "well.... have you considered applying to [alma mater]?" except their clinical psych program is just as competitive (if not more) as others, and I don't have a POI there. My brother will tell me "well if it's so difficult then apply to CSU Chico," which doesn't have anything I'm interested in, but he sees as a cheaper school and is the solution. I also feel that I am so far behind my peers because I earned my bachelor's at 27, and this is why I will never catch up to being competitive or I will in my 40's and get my PhD at 50.

It's so frustrating that you are seen as gifted and talented by your family, but the field doesn't acknowledge your potential. Sometimes the gap between expectations and reality feels like gaslighting. It's so exhausting to explain to family and friends how arduous this process is because it's not considered as "elite" as medical school.

I encourage you to continue validating your own experience and feelings because they are very real. Also, remember to take care of yourself ❤️ 

Thank you for your kind words! I love the way you put that - it does feel like gaslighting by myself lol! Same, first person in my family to pursue a PhD. Sometimes the advice is hard to deal with! When I told my mom about the soft rejections, she was like "don't say that, you never know!". Well, I do know hahaha. I saw someone else say this and it resonated with me - in 10 years, you'll still be 40, degree or no degree. I relate to the impulse of feeling behind, but we're all on our own timelines.

I want to give everyone going through this incredibly difficult time a hug (or high-five) to be honest. Such a supportive environment full of future clinicians/researchers.

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3 hours ago, PsychBear92 said:

I know exactly how you feel. I'm the first in my family to ~consider~ grad school. I have explained these exact things to them, but I still get the same "well you graduated from blah and you have a good GPA, I'm sure you'll get into tons of places." My mom says "well.... have you considered applying to [alma mater]?" except their clinical psych program is just as competitive (if not more) as others, and I don't have a POI there.

 

1 hour ago, psychgirl13 said:

Thank you for your kind words! I love the way you put that - it does feel like gaslighting by myself lol! Same, first person in my family to pursue a PhD. Sometimes the advice is hard to deal with! When I told my mom about the soft rejections, she was like "don't say that, you never know!". Well, I do know hahaha. I saw someone else say this and it resonated with me - in 10 years, you'll still be 40, degree or no degree. I relate to the impulse of feeling behind, but we're all on our own timelines.

 

I feel the same way as you both. My parents immigrated to America and although they finished BAs in their home country, I am the first one to go on to grad school. When I say "they sent out invites today and I didn't get one so it's an assumed rejection as of now" my mom (and non-grad school friends) say "they wouldn't just not respond to you. You'll get an invitation. You're qualified, maybe they just are waiting to send the rest out" like no I'm sorry it just doesn't work that way. It's also so frustrating to hear, "It's not the end of the world just try again next year." Like yeah I know there are more chances but I genuinely want to do this and want to start ASAP. 

It's so hard for people to understand if they haven't gone through this process. I think people who only ever applied to undergrad assume that it is a similar process and structure like undergrad applications are. Even my friend who is in medical school says similar stuff and I'm like yeah it's easy for you to say that when you're already in the position to pursue your life goals! If I ever mentioned that clinical phds are allegedly harder to get into than med school though, he'd probably not accept that as fact at all haha. 

But hey we will all get there eventually :) Not sure if anyone else relates but the one thing I hate is how much this is somehow reminding me of sorority recruitment years ago back in undergrad. I know it's a silly comparison and even though this is a way more important part of my life, I can't help but to feel similar feelings of the anxiety of finding a "mutual match" that I will be happy at for multiple years. 

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Wow I relate so much to what everyone is sharing. People outside of the field just don't get how crazy competitive it is to get into Clinical Psych PhD program, and how this year is even worse than most years (for whatever combination of reasons). I do feel a little better at least knowing I'm not alone though :) 

We'll get through this, and no matter if we get in somewhere this year or not we're still worthy human beings and we'll get where we need to in life with time. (At least I'm trying to remind myself this haha). 

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