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Accepted to a Social program? Please read!


SocPsycho
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Hi all! This is my first post ever, but much needed after the application season I've had so far. I applied to 11 social psych programs (interests: intergroup relations & social cognition), and unfortunately I haven't had any success. I had one official interview in Jan. (which I thought went really well), but the POI decided to go with someone whose interests were more in-line with his own. I am officially wait-listed at one school (and I suspect the few that I haven't heard from, but who knows?). This whole process has been really taxing, but it's nice to know I'm not the only one who feels that way. ANYWAY, the purpose of this post is to ask you lucky few who have already been accepted to Social PhD programs, how'd you do it? What kind of applicant do you look like on paper? You can message me if you'd rather not post your stats on here. I'd also like to know how you approached your personal statement, if you're willing.

Basically, I've given up hope on this application season. Having what I thought was a competitive application (Master's degree in Experimental psychology, UG GPA: 3.8, GR GPA: 4.0, 9 conference presentations, 1 submitted manuscript, 2 manuscripts in preparation, research & teaching experience, GRE: 1130) and then going through one rejection after the next, I've had to face reality and start thinking about getting a job for this upcoming year. But, I wanted to know how you successful applicants got those few coveted spots, so I can maybe improve my chances for next year's applications. Thanks for reading!

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Hi,

Your academic record looks sterling. Much better than mine, in fact! It's probably your GRE scores that let you down. While I don't think high GRE scores will get you in, low ones will definitely keep you out. Think of it this way: admissions committees receive hundreds of applications which they obviously don't have the time to look over in detail. What would be the easiest way of cutting down that pile? From what I know, 1350 is a safe number that should make your file stick in the future. If you want to talk more, you could PM me. All the best!

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Hi,

Your academic record looks sterling. Much better than mine, in fact! It's probably your GRE scores that let you down. While I don't think high GRE scores will get you in, low ones will definitely keep you out. Think of it this way: admissions committees receive hundreds of applications which they obviously don't have the time to look over in detail. What would be the easiest way of cutting down that pile? From what I know, 1350 is a safe number that should make your file stick in the future. If you want to talk more, you could PM me. All the best!

Agreed. I certainly didn't have stellar luck this year either, but I'll PM you.

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Seriously, the only thing on your record that isn't stellar is the GRE score, but with the rest of that your GRE score should have mattered less. So I'm going to assume one or a combination of a few things happened....you didn't apply to schools with the best fit (I'm looking at your interests and your footer with your apps and there are a few wildcards I don't understand and some places I'm really surprised aren't listed), your letters of recommendation maybe were asked from the wrong people (no clue here as you didn't discuss it), or your statement was not targeted correctly. I've been through this and now on the other side (seeing the apps and who we pick) and honestly your numbers are good, so I'm guessing it is another part of your application/approach that made it harder for you this season. That said--this was by far the most brutal application season I've ever seen. Applications were skyhigh (way more so than the normal increase over year to year) and the applicants were crazy impressive.

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Honestly, I think what did it for me was my GRE score (1530) and the fact that I'm a statistics double major. I feel like more weight was put on the GREs this year than normal for some reason... Your research experience is way better than mine. However, with that being said, I must say that I got into the schools that I thought were great fits (multiple faculty whose interests overlapped with mine) but rejected from all the ones that weren't as great. In my personal statement, I pointed out the fact that the school was a great fit and mentioned all the faculty and their research that I was interested in. But it was done in a coherent manner where I backed up and explained my interest in a certain faculty's research (rather than just saying, "I'm interested in [research] by [faculty]") and linked their research with the research of other faculty in a way that interested me.

Edited by svh
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My GPA is a 4.0, and my GREs are in the 91st (quant), 96th (verbal), and 98th (psyc) percentiles, and out of 9 schools I received only one interview (my absolutely lowest choice), and have yet to hear back from them. I have 2 conference presentations, and a submitted manuscript that will likely be published soon. I applied to at least 3 schools where the fit would have been excellent with more than one faculty member and still nothing. I worked on my personal statement with a number of faculty to make sure it was up to many peoples standards. I can certainly sympathize with your disappointment. I know I'm wallowing in mine...

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  • 2 weeks later...

I applied to 9 programs, and so far got rejected from 6. When the rejections were coming in, my only offer was from a "backup school" and I had lost hope that any of my preferred schools would be interested in me. However, I ended up receiving an offer to one of my top choices, which apparently only extended offers to 20 out of over 300 applicants. I still haven't heard from the third school, but I am not holding my breath.

My credentials are certainly not as good as yours: 3.6 GPA (my last 2 years was 3.8); no publishable research, although I had a variety of research and teaching experience; and 1320 GRE (Q: 750, V: 570, A: 3.5). I believe it ultimately came down to research fit and my POI's desire to have my skills in his lab. In my personal statement, I really sold the fact that I had a major interest in software and programming; I found out that my POI's lab is currently undertaking several projects that would benefit from having an in-house programmer. This was definitely a boon when coupled with our compatible research interests.

Like others have said, most likely you were overlooked because of your GRE score. If not, maybe your statement did not express your research goals clearly, or it really came down to your goals not being compatible with the programs/POIs you applied to.

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