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Wrong decision made - Reapplying to the same school that I rejected?


qwertyuiop48

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Hello, just wanted some feedback on my situation here. Last application cycle I was granted admission into two totally different programs (PhD in Clinical Psychology and the other in Neuroscience), although two programs I was interested in. I obviously had a tough decision since both programs were so different and I knew I would be giving up something. The neuroscience program is the one I chose and I was unsure about that decision since the day I made it back in April. I had my reasons (I didn't have to move far, the stipend was way better, and the course load seemed more manageable with research being the main focus), It was a very hard decision for me though, but I can't help but think that those were not good reasons especially considering how unhappy I am in my current program. So my main question here is, I saw that the professor who offered me his first pick last application cycle for the clinical psychology program is again accepting a student for 2017. I am considering reapplying. Any thoughts on this? I would obviously plan on talking with this professor first to make sure this wouldn't be a waste of my time and to explain that I made a mistake (for the record, although I thought the professor sounded disappointed after my rejection the first time, we didn't leave it on bad terms, there was an understanding, or at least that's what I took from it). But how do you all think that this professor and the admission committee would react to this change of events? Do you think they would welcome it in a way that is: Oh look this really good applicant I wanted last time is applying again, they'll definitely be a top candidate to consider. Or more like: This person blew their chance the first time, and clearly  is not good at making the right decisions. How do we know that they are seriously interested? I know part of the battle here is how I frame it, I feel like I would explain my mistake and explain why I should have chosen this program to begin with, and how this mistake has bettered me in sense that now I know what the best decision was all along, and that if I were granted a position again with appropriate funding, I would most definitely accept, Thoughts? 

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What's making you unhappy in your current Neuroscience program? If possible, I would recommend discussing your concerns with your Program Director first. I'm sure the program is willing to work with you. If your dissatisfaction stems primarily from a strong disinterest in Neuroscience research, then it would be understandable for you to leave. In this case, the question becomes "Why do you think Clinical Psychology is a better fit for your career interests?" and you'll need to back this up with some solid reasons. Take some time to think about these reasons before reaching out to the potential mentor at the "alternative choice" Clinical Psychology program. When you do reach out to him, just be honest and explain your reasoning as to why you feel the Clinical Psychology program would provide the type of education and training you're looking for.

Good Luck!

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I agree with @JoePianist---it's pretty early on in your Neuroscience program. How do you know that you would be much happier in Clinical Psychology? It's common to feel doubt about your decision in the first few weeks/months of a new program. Usually this is because no matter how great a program is, it's may not be as good as the potential greatness of something else. In addition, sometimes we may have set our expectations on our program too high. 

Your post doesn't really say what the problems you are having with your current program and why you think the new program would be a great fit for your future. But maybe you have already considered all of this and just chose not to share it here. (That's fine, no need to share personal details). It's hard to judge whether the unhappiness you are encountering are typical problems a new student encounters, or if they are serious red flags that this is not the right program for you!

If you do decide to try to switch, I don't think declining their offer in the past will be that bad for you. Admissions at top programs are stochastic though, so even though you were a strong candidate before, you aren't guaranteed anything in the future. It may be also be a good idea to complete at least a year of Neuroscience program and/or a Masters degree (if that's available) before leaving. And you would want to leave your current program on good terms (i.e. with at least one person able to write a strong letter for you).

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