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Rejected across the board...


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I think I prepared myself for the very real possibility of getting rejected from every single program I applied to and so it doesn't really seem as upsetting as one would expect. I think I'm more pissed that the process cost around a grand and I have squat to show for it.

While I haven't heard official notification from every school, from the forums and results surveys its pretty much set that I didn't get even so much as an interview.

I applied to 16 schools (and while I could have cut maybe 4 off that list) I don't regret applying to them. At least two were rejections because recommenders never sent letters. Most were out right rejections and the rest are assumed rejections based on timelines.

In a way I'm happy. I can maintain my life as it is now for at least another year and have ample time to plan my next move.

But in a way I'm lost. I have to decide whether to include Psy.D programs in my next attempt (maybe apply to the school where I got my M.A.), settle for using my M.A. only, or just do something completely different.

I've learned a few things in this process:

- The process is pretty broken these days. Sure schools need to use numbers, scores, and grades to make some decisions but it seems like it's become a pure numbers game. The highest math scores, the highest undergrad GPA, and the most times your name is a footnote on a publication's list of authors wins the prize. And in a way that's ok. Schools are welcome to spend their funding however they want and dictate how they choose who gets that funding.

- My main goal for a Ph.D. program was to not have to take out more student loans. I'm drowning in student loan debt as it is and if I could get a Ph.D. for free I had to take the shot. I love research but for me it doesn't have the feel of making a direct impact and so maybe it's the way it is that I didn't get in...because now someone who wants to go deep into research for life has the chance. But I'm still a little bitter knowing some just gamed the system and will just leave with a shiny free Ph.D. and never look back to academia or research.

- My research interests and goals have a very direct and applied impact on the field of psychology as it relates to working directly with clients. And that probably isn't very appealing to research programs. To Psy.D. programs it probably is. But I can't change my interests to save a buck, I'd be selling myself and the field short.

- I didn't listen to a few mentors who strongly recommended I either apply to schools further away or apply to a few Psy.D. programs and now I'm waiting another year to try because of not taking that advice.

- If I use my time wisely in this extra year I have I'll be able to work on some side projects and other things outside the field.

So it goes I suppose...

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Sorry things didn't work out this year . . . I felt that a similar outcome was very possible for me last year. I don't know your field at all, but is there no way you could do the work you'd like to do in a Psy.D. program? At least in my current program, once you're admitted, there seems to actually be a fair degree of flexibility.

Edited by emmm
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I'm in the same boat, except I didn't prepare myself as well. This is the second time I've applied. The first time, looking back, I wouldn't have accepted me either. My application wasn't great, my research interests were all over the place, and I aimed too high. But this time I thought I had a chance. I'm not saying I expected people to be fighting for me. I just thought I'd get one acceptance. I have an MA. I have several publications and conference presentations. I have grants, awards, great LORs, etc., etc., etc. But I was still officially rejected from 7 of 10 schools, and I'm assuming the other three are also rejections, though I don't know for sure. And that was a huge blow for me.

The thought of applying again--the financial AND emotional cost--makes me upset. I don't want to go through it again. Especially if having a strong application is not a guarantee, which it clearly isn't. I don't know what to do next year, either. I've applied to lab manager jobs. I've applied to every job I'm even remotely qualified for (EEG tech at a VA hospital? Sure!) But I thought by this time I'd know what I was doing and where I was going to be in the next few months, and I don't, and I'm really struggling with that.

I agree that the system is broken. It's frustrating, it's discouraging, and it makes things extremely difficult. I mean, I guess things happen for a reason, I just wish I knew what the reason was.

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Perhaps ask one of your professors to tell you candidly what are the reasons you wouldn't be accepted somewhere?

I was honest to my professors and they helped me figure out whether or not certain weaknesses were worth talking about, or how I can mitigate the negatives associated with them (i.e., no pubs in undergrad--just an R&R; poor GPA due to bad grades first 1.5 years; mediocre GRE etc.). There are ways to manage 'damage control' and it starts with knowing how others perceive you.

Also, what schools did you apply to? Some re-applicants are unyielding of the types of school they apply to when it really is a mismatch (whether upwards or downwards). I got rejected from all the lower-tier schools I applied to (all with no interview), but I was surprised that the schools on the top of my list all wanted to interview me.

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- My main goal for a Ph.D. program was to not have to take out more student loans. I'm drowning in student loan debt as it is and if I could get a Ph.D. for free I had to take the shot. I love research but for me it doesn't have the feel of making a direct impact and so maybe it's the way it is that I didn't get in...because now someone who wants to go deep into research for life has the chance. But I'm still a little bitter knowing some just gamed the system and will just leave with a shiny free Ph.D. and never look back to academia or research.

I'm not sure if this is the case for clinical, but I thought that most psychology PhD programs give preference to applicants who express interest in a research-oriented career in academia. Is there any way to downplay your feeling that research doesn't make a direct impact? My guess is that openly saying this in a personal statement is a kiss of death, though I'm not positive. Also, if you aren't totally sure about research, I would definitely throw in PsyD programs next time around. My understanding is PsyD programs really prepare you for the clinician end of the spectrum, whereas PhD programs heavily focus on training you to be a researcher.

Good luck...and sorry about everything. This whole process is so confusing and bad for self-esteem. Keep your chin up.

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Perhaps ask one of your professors to tell you candidly what are the reasons you wouldn't be accepted somewhere?

I was honest to my professors and they helped me figure out whether or not certain weaknesses were worth talking about, or how I can mitigate the negatives associated with them (i.e., no pubs in undergrad--just an R&R; poor GPA due to bad grades first 1.5 years; mediocre GRE etc.). There are ways to manage 'damage control' and it starts with knowing how others perceive you.

Also, what schools did you apply to? Some re-applicants are unyielding of the types of school they apply to when it really is a mismatch (whether upwards or downwards). I got rejected from all the lower-tier schools I applied to (all with no interview), but I was surprised that the schools on the top of my list all wanted to interview me.

My advisor keeps telling me repeatedly that she is honestly surprised that I didn't get in and isn't sure why, other than the competitiveness of the field and lack of funding. She's not the type to tell me that just to make me feel better, either, so I'm not sure. I had a publication from undergrad, I have several from my masters program. My GPA and GRE aren't perfect, but they are definitely better than mediocre. I'm sure that for the ones with whom I had interviews, lack of confidence in myself might have been a problem, but that doesn't account for the ones that rejected me outright. I just don't know.

When I started re-applying (I started the process last winter, because I'm insane), I completely discarded my list from the first time around and started over. I felt like I applied to a pretty good range of schools--a few reaches down through some lower tier schools--and I tried to apply to places with the best research fit.

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My advisor keeps telling me repeatedly that she is honestly surprised that I didn't get in and isn't sure why, other than the competitiveness of the field and lack of funding. She's not the type to tell me that just to make me feel better, either, so I'm not sure. I had a publication from undergrad, I have several from my masters program. My GPA and GRE aren't perfect, but they are definitely better than mediocre. I'm sure that for the ones with whom I had interviews, lack of confidence in myself might have been a problem, but that doesn't account for the ones that rejected me outright. I just don't know.

When I started re-applying (I started the process last winter, because I'm insane), I completely discarded my list from the first time around and started over. I felt like I applied to a pretty good range of schools--a few reaches down through some lower tier schools--and I tried to apply to places with the best research fit.

My advisor keeps telling me the same thing. Right now I'm looking at another year of being rejected across the board, and I cannot figure out a part of my application that is flawed. My GRE isn't as high as some people's but it's definitely competitive. My GPA for both undergrad and grad are fine (competitive) and I have years of research experience, numerous conference presentations & a publication. I also did the same thing and discarded my original schools list and started from the beginning. I applied to schools of different levels, and I really made sure my research interests matched my POIs. It's just frustrating. I'm planning on reapplying next year (if needed) but I don't even want to think about that right now.

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Just got rejected all around too. It's not a big deal though, as everyone said, even if you do get a PhD, the competition gets even more intense afterwards when everyone's scrambling to get a professor job. CMU just hired one professor. They most likely received 200+ applications and only interviewed 4. All had worked at least 3 years as a postdoc, and the guy who got hired had worked for 6 (!), which means he got his PhD in 2006, just BEFORE the economy went to hell...

so just try to stay positive. I know it's hard, but just know that in the long run you're probably going to save yourself a lot of time, grief, and will instead spend time working and MAKING $ (instead of slaving away at research while trying to survive on $1400 a month)

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Just got rejected all around too. It's not a big deal though, as everyone said, even if you do get a PhD, the competition gets even more intense afterwards when everyone's scrambling to get a professor job. CMU just hired one professor. They most likely received 200+ applications and only interviewed 4. All had worked at least 3 years as a postdoc, and the guy who got hired had worked for 6 (!), which means he got his PhD in 2006, just BEFORE the economy went to hell...

so just try to stay positive. I know it's hard, but just know that in the long run you're probably going to save yourself a lot of time, grief, and will instead spend time working and MAKING $ (instead of slaving away at research while trying to survive on $1400 a month)

A phd is not just for teaching. There are other jobs outside of academia to be had with a phd. Besides, 5 plus years from now the economy could be back up and not as bad as it is now. It always pays off in the end. To get a lot of good things in life you may have to sacrifice ($1400 a month stipend and grad school woes). That being said, I'm sorry you did not get in anywhere. I'm still waiting to hear back myself. But I'm sure you'll do well and you can apply for spring or fall next year.
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It's depressing to read through this thread. I'm very sorry guys...

Some of you seem to have excellent applications and I feel surprised that such solid credentials didn't guarantee at least one spot. I have to say that professors and admissions committees are very opportunistic in the selection process and it's never possible to know how they'll treat your application even if you're brilliant.

Perhaps some of you can try looking beyond American schools? If you have an MA or MS, some European schools can be good options (they don't accept those with only bachelors degrees). Further away, there're some excellent research programs in Asia, where the economy is less affected and funding opportunities are abundant. In fact, some programs in Asia are attracting top-notch researchers these days with great grants and research projects so working with these people can be extremely promising for your future as well.

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A phd is not just for teaching. There are other jobs outside of academia to be had with a phd. Besides, 5 plus years from now the economy could be back up and not as bad as it is now. It always pays off in the end. To get a lot of good things in life you may have to sacrifice ($1400 a month stipend and grad school woes). That being said, I'm sorry you did not get in anywhere. I'm still waiting to hear back myself. But I'm sure you'll do well and you can apply for spring or fall next year.

yes, there are definitely jobs outside of academia to be had with a PhD, but there are similar, better paying jobs that you can get with job experience and a master's in statistics/MBA/etc, and there are more of the latter kind of jobs. Even if the economy gets better, there are so many post-docs out there working to get professor jobs that will continue to snatch the jobs from the newly graduated and it will stay that way for at least another 10-15 years...

I'm bailing though :) not sure if you had better luck than me, but good luck in whatever you decide to do!

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yes, there are definitely jobs outside of academia to be had with a PhD, but there are similar, better paying jobs that you can get with job experience and a master's in statistics/MBA/etc, and there are more of the latter kind of jobs. Even if the economy gets better, there are so many post-docs out there working to get professor jobs that will continue to snatch the jobs from the newly graduated and it will stay that way for at least another 10-15 years...

I'm bailing though :) not sure if you had better luck than me, but good luck in whatever you decide to do!

Well, of course. I could make tons of money if I'd only go in to computer science/business/statistics/whatever. But I would hate it. I haven't given up on doing something that I truly enjoy. I've made it this far on meager stipends and part time jobs. Why give up now? Yes, I'm frustrated, confused, and angry about how this application season turned out, and sure, the job prospects for a psych phd may not be stellar, but I still love it. So I won't be giving up just yet.

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Yeah I agree...people certainly don't do this for the money. I feel like it's important to know if a dream just simply isn't possible, but I'm not sure how indicative a couple bad application seasons are during this economic climate on your later success in academia. I think as long as you have a good publication record and apply broadly, your chances of finding a job aren't as dismal as you'd think (or so grad students have told me who are finding jobs now).

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Hey I was the same for a very long long time. My friends were all sick of me bitching bout grad school rejections!!! I just got off the waitlist 2 hours ago, and I am fucking excited. There is always hope! I never believe it when people kept telling me it will be fine, but it will actually be fine!!!! I hope your luck will turn soon!!!

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Hey I was the same for a very long long time. My friends were all sick of me bitching bout grad school rejections!!! I just got off the waitlist 2 hours ago, and I am fucking excited. There is always hope! I never believe it when people kept telling me it will be fine, but it will actually be fine!!!! I hope your luck will turn soon!!!

CONGRATS!!!!

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