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My sob story- HELP!


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So I researched a program of interest, reached out to the POI, and flew across the country to attend a recent graduate open house.

Everything was going well... Until I was told at the open house that applicants with a GRE subscale score below the 50th percentile are automatically discarded, which clearly contradicts the website. the latter explicitly brags that they do not use cut scores, regurgitates some platitude about "considering the whole person," and the states that the average score for a student in the program is 1200.

Backstory- I've been out of school for a while and I burned much of my PTO to reteach myself the otherwise useless GRE algebra that I haven't used in over a decade. I scored in the 81st percentile for V, 93rd for AW, and somewhere around the 97th for the psych GRE... And I potentially fall in the 49th percentile for Q (official scores are pending).

I work 60+ hour weeks (at a research gig, in which my commute is roughly 2 hours a day. Realistically, taking the GRE again with the expectation of gains in my Q without compromising my job performance is not really an option. To put things into perspective, there have been days where I have been in the office from 9 AM until 11 PM... I am honestly not exaggerating when I say my research job with high pressure federal contracts makes it *very* hard to put in significant time to study for the GRE.

Did I mention I spent over a thousand dollars in travel expenses to attend this open house?

I am devastated. Any ideas on what to do?

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Did they say anything else? It seems odd that you would be invited to an open house if they were planning on immediately tossing your application. You've already contacted your POI, presumably if they think you're a good fit for the program they would make sure your application gets looked at. Maybe contact your POI and see what they think?

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Okay, first of all take a deep breath. 49th percentile is not a big deal. In fact, even if you were 38th percentile I'd say to still go ahead and apply. But 49th? My god, you're in a tizzy over 1%? As long as the rest of your application is strong there is no way they're throwing your application out for that.


That being said I would never advocate spending $1000 to go to an open house! Save your money for interviews, open houses won't get you any closer to being accepted than if you hadn't attended. Just set up a skype or phone call with someone in lieu of that.

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So... WOW.

First and foremost, thanks for NOT judging my sad and embarrassing quant score.

I should also mention that the open house was open invite and that I got to meet my POI and his students while at the open house. I'm under the impression that there's so much rigmarole involved with the PhD application process that I cannot afford *not* to go above and beyond to meet my POIs, attend open house events, etc., especially given my sad Q score. Further, for me reaching out to a stranger in a POI context is awkward and weird... But less so if I have a legit excuse such as, "I will be in town. We should meet up."

Personally, I hate this process, and I wish they'd just look at my GPA, MA thesis, LORs, publications, conferences, and psych subject GREs, and then call it a day. > <

I feel a little bit less defeated after reading these responses. It looks like I can either (a) ask a current student that I developed a rapport with on how to approach the topic, ( b ) ask the POI, or ( c ) ask the department chair (who was the one that verbalized it at the event).

Her mentioning of the 50th percentile caught a few people off guard. At least two others (not me) probed the issue further during the Q&A period.

Edited by TheMercySeat
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You are still overthinking this. Plus you have an MA? That's a huge boost to your application. You really need to calm down about this process and just make your application the best it can be (and judging by your personality, you will). You can email the department about your GRE if you want, but you'll probably annoy them. You could address it in your SoP but that would probably just call undue attention to it.


If it helps you (and I know it won't), I didn't attend any info sessions, but got 7 interviews (out of 10) and from those 7 interviews got 7 offers. You DO NOT NEED to go to anything other than an interview. Attending the info session won't be the magic thing that gets you in. Really. It may just make you feel better about applying, but your money is worth so much more just saving for the application fee. Taking that $1000 and applying to 10 schools would have been far more beneficial. As someone who has seen behind the scenes of the admissions process for an R1 Psychology deprtment, I can tell you that coming across as too type-A in an interview (or whatever) is more likely to HARM your application than help it.


So breathe. Really. :)

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What was their response during the Q & A session when it was brought up?


Firstly, 49% really isn't bad (well, it's not bad at all; you're no worse than most test takers), and I absolutely believe it says nothing about your aptitude for doctoral studies. All the other parts of your application say far more about that, as you know.


I agree that you should consider getting in touch with your POI again and expressing your concern that an arbitrary administrative process may result in their overlooking the real merits of your application. I would highlight your assets, mention your times restrictions due to your research commitments, and if your grades in statistics courses have been good, I would cite those too, to show that you're most definitely capable of the kind of quantitative work that actually matters for grad school. I may also ask if they suggest getting in touch with the department chair with this query.


Finally, if it makes you feel better, I got in the 25% percentile in quant. (similar situation as you - I've been out of school for about 10 years and only had about two weeks to prepare) and still got accepted into a clinical program on my first try, plus I know several grad students who had quant. scores that were extremely poor as well. Obviously my saying this doesn't change their policy, but it does show that the people who would actually take you on don't really care about those scores (and that's something that's been echoed to me by several faculty members too).

Edited by DeltaSkelta
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So I have been "ghosting" this forum for some time and right now my biggest regret is not contributing and gaining some perspective sooner.

@iphi, you're absolutely right and I'm glad I concealed my surprise at the event. Some more self-disclosure: none of my friends, research assistant colleagues, or family members are going for PhDs, so much of this process is new turf to me.

@delta, there was a VERY awkward silence because the attendee pointed out the discrepancy, to which the prof eventually said "no, we don't select anybody below the 50th percentile."

Now I am starting to lean towards not mentioning this concern to anybody in the program.

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