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Discouraged


manicc

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So here's my situation. I'm going to graduate this fall with a degree in Sociology. I haven't taken the GRE yet, but am planning on studying for it right after I graduate. I've had a few moments in school where I've realized that psych. fits a lot better to my interest than does soc. I took social psychology, and a prejudice class from the psych perspective (after previously having taken one from the soc. perspective. I'm incredibly interested in pursuing a degree in either IO or Organizational Behavior, working in an applied industry setting really excites me.

I've been obsessively crawling over grad schools for the past month. I've realized that I'm not nearly ready to be done learning and have a strong intellectual curiosity that I want to satisfy, and have decided on a path that will lead me to a Phd. Now, I've had a few hiccups in school, namely getting a C in statistics a few years ago when I was still immature in college. I blew it on one of the tests. The thing is, I find stats quite easy and incredibly interesting, so I feel its not representative of how I should have performed in the class. Also, being very displeased with a teacher in soc. theory, I got a C. I butted heads with the teacher a lot, didn't respect their methods at all. My early college years weren't focused: I was immature and didn't pay attention to the long term path that I'm currently very focused on.

All done and said, these are just excuses that don't matter. What does, is that I have a cum. GPA right now of 3.34, but am working hard this semester (I'm taking 21 credits) to bump this, and I hope to grind it up to the 3.5 range, but I should at least be able to make 3.4.

Speaking to my thesis advisor about entering grad schools, about my anxieties towards the competitiveness of all these programs, she told me not to worry. Having a pretty good relationship with her, she loves my thesis and is really encouraging me to pursue top-ten schools, assuring me that all my professors will help me along the way and write excellent letters of recommendation. While their support certainly helps boost my confidence, I'm still deflated. While I'm a pretty good test taker and am not worried about the GRE, my lack of a stellar GPA coupled with my lack of research, the lack of a strong psych. background seems to basically make me a 0 % chance applicant for any Phd programs.

So, would any attempt be completely fruitless in applying to IO or Organizational Behavior grad schools?

Edited by manicc
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The short answer I have is "no," I don't think it would be completely fruitless in applying to I/O or OB programs. You could be a competitive candidate and I wouldn't count myself out.

It seems your concerns are the following--

GPA/grades: yes, your GPA isn't extremely high, but it's not super low either. The highest cutoff I generally see is 3.3, and usually it's more like 3.0 for undergrad. You can point out in your SOP your GPA for the past 2 years (a lot people highlight this if they had a rough start in college but improved) without making excuses. I don't see your GPA as a deal-breaker at all, though it will be important to have strong aspects of the rest of your application, e.g. your GRE scores. Re: your stats course, have you taken any other math or research methods courses in college? If so, that could help offset that grade. Or, if you do quite well on your quant GRE, that will also show your math chops. If you haven't taken any other class that deals with math or stats and end up waiting next year to apply, you may want to take another course and do well in that. But again, I don't necessarily see that as a deal-breaker.

Background: majoring in sociology IS relevant to OB/ I/O psych, so don't discount your background. You likely have received a lot of relevant training, and you've had psych classes as well. Heck, I was a history major, and while I did get my master's in a related field (HR), I had very little OB training except for one course (and I never took social psych, etc). OB folks come from a lot of diverse fields; it's about your commitment to research in the area that matters.

Research: you say you're working on a thesis and have a supportive advisor, which indicates to me that you at least have some idea about research, what it entails, and are in the progress of conducting research. This counts! You may not have a lot to say about your thesis right now if you're in the early stages, but it will definitely be something to talk about in your application and for your advisor to discuss. If you end up waiting to apply until next year, or end up re-applying, you'll have even more to say about it then.

Another note: most OB programs (and many I/O programs) are looking to produce academics, so I generally wouldn't state that you want to go into an applied setting in your application. There are some exceptions; certain I/O programs have a practitioner focus, the University of Missouri- St. Louis comes to mind.

While I'm certainly no expert, my two cents is to go for it! If this is really want you want to do, you shouldn't count yourself out before trying. Also, know that if you don't get in this cycle, you can re-apply next year. Additionally, don't only focus on top 10 programs. I would broaden your search to a variety of programs that meet your research interests, and perhaps focus on more applied I/O programs if that's what you really want to do.

Good luck!

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