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Clinical Psychology PhD Applications


missfleur
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I am applying to clinical psychology doctoral programs (this is my 4th go). In the past, I only applied to two or three universities. This year I'm applying to at least 10. I've been waitlisted in the past, so I am doing everything I can to not have to go through this again.

Here are my stats:

Undergrad GPA: 3.6

Masters GPA: 3.84

GRE: 157/157/4.5

I have over five years of research experience, both as an RA and working fulltime.

My concern, of course, is my GRE. I've heard of one faculty member at a high end (think ivy league) university who ruthlessly filters out applications if GREs are less than 160. That person could just be severe, but still, it settles to the back of my mind.

So, my question is, is it worth it to take the GRE again? I am planning to in mid-November to attempt a better score with studying with Magoosh and the official GRE books. I think it is feasible to do better.

Also, some misc. questions:

Do you personally put your research interests on your CV?

What about your GPA or course list (if you did a masters degree)?

Does anyone know a good resource for personal statements specifically for psychology students? I did get feedback once that I need to be more specific about the specific program I'm applying to. The thing is, I already had devoted 4-5 sentences to it. Is there something special they're looking for in that regard? I have limits this year of 1000 words to as short as 500, so I don't know what magical thing I'm meant to say here. I've mentioned the model they use, the specific mentor and why etc., for example.

Thank you for your help!!

 

Edited by missfleur
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Your GRE isn't bad at all in my opinion. Are you looking at ivy-league schools? I would definitely look at the average GRE scores for the schools you're looking at (find their student outcome and admissions data and it is usually listed there). This can give you an idea of where you are at in terms of the schools you are looking at and the past average GRE scores they accepted. I think this should guide your decision of if you should retake it. Everyone has different opinions and experiences of what others have said about GRE acceptance "rules" in the psychology world. If you want my opinion...if you have the time, resources, and energy to retake it, then why not. 

General rule for CV is to be listing your relative research/clinical/teaching experience as well as your past education. Your research interests are to be listed and discussed in your SOP. I recommend listing a final overall GPA for any degrees obtained, but that's just the advice I've been given (again, this can vary from person to person). 

This is a great resource for all the aspects of the application process, but there is a specific section dedicated to the personal statement. 

http://mitch.web.unc.edu/files/2017/02/MitchGradSchoolAdvice.pdf

Edited by Becks_Psych
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Thanks Becks for the link. I've already downloaded it!

To answer your question, I am applying to Ivy League schools, three in fact. And 7 others are probably high-middle of the road and a couple of safeties (as safe as you can get in this field). 

I have looked for outcome data. For the safeties, I'm well above. Some don't provide them, some do.

For Yale, for example. While I plan to apply, for 2015-16, their stats are of sight, especially with verbal:

Verbal: 167 mean, 165 median (obviously this means that there are people who had a lower score). I wish they provided a min/max (some schools do).

Quant: 162 mean and median.

GPA: 3.82 mean.

So while I'm applying to Yale, it seems like at least with GREs and GPA, it's a reach? I'm not sure if I'm deluding myself by applying. Harvard and Columbia, for example, don't share this data as far as I can tell. But I have seen Columbia's data from 2014-2015 once when I saw it posted somewhere and it was about 159 verbal and 154 math, so definitely lower. Harvard is probably more in line with the Yale stats above.

I will definitely remove my research interests from my CV. I agree it makes more sense to have it in my statement. I plan to list my GPA for my masters as well as relevant graduate coursework. When looking into Maryland - College Park, they said they did not want GPA on submitted CVs (which is odd), but that's all I saw in regards to that.

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24 minutes ago, missfleur said:

Thanks Becks for the link. I've already downloaded it!

To answer your question, I am applying to Ivy League schools, three in fact. And 7 others are probably high-middle of the road and a couple of safeties (as safe as you can get in this field). 

I have looked for outcome data. For the safeties, I'm well above. Some don't provide them, some do.

For Yale, for example. While I plan to apply, for 2015-16, their stats are of sight, especially with verbal:

Verbal: 167 mean, 165 median (obviously this means that there are people who had a lower score). I wish they provided a min/max (some schools do).

Quant: 162 mean and median.

GPA: 3.82 mean.

So while I'm applying to Yale, it seems like at least with GREs and GPA, it's a reach? I'm not sure if I'm deluding myself by applying. Harvard and Columbia, for example, don't share this data as far as I can tell. But I have seen Columbia's data from 2014-2015 once when I saw it posted somewhere and it was about 159 verbal and 154 math, so definitely lower. Harvard is probably more in line with the Yale stats above.

I will definitely remove my research interests from my CV. I agree it makes more sense to have it in my statement. I plan to list my GPA for my masters as well as relevant graduate coursework. When looking into Maryland - College Park, they said they did not want GPA on submitted CVs (which is odd), but that's all I saw in regards to that.

Yeah, just look around at the average scores at the type of schools you're applying to and figure out what is best for your case! Like I said, if you can afford it, have the time for it, and can put enough effort into studying for it to try to improve your scores, then there's no harm in taking it again (since you can choose what scores to send now). Also, you'll have to take it again if your scores are older than 5 years (I'm sure you're aware of that, but just in case!) 

And when applying, just make sure you read all the details of what each school wants for their app. Some have really specific criteria for SOPs, CVs, even letters of recommendation. So just follow each one precisely and you'll be set! I would recommend making an excel spreadsheet to keep yourself organized for each school and what you need for their app. 

Edited by Becks_Psych
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Thank you so much for your help!  Yes! Five years for the GRE. My last scores were 2 years ago. But I am planning to study like crazy and improve my scores. In the past, I've only studied lightly.

I have found this, but it puts GRE scores for psychology kind of low, in my opinion: 

https://magoosh.com/gre/2013/harvard-gre-scores/ 

https://magoosh.com/gre/2013/yale-gre-scores/

I would consider those ranges minimums at best.

I have an excel spreadsheet too. A column for each school. But I need to add a column for what each application requires. I want to be seriously precise about what they're asking for as I don't want this to be a reason I'm turned down.

I have reached out to a few potential mentors too (not all yet) and have gotten a decent response. I know it's controversial to do so, but I try to keep it brief. I do appreciate that now some universities are listing who is taking a student, so asking this question via email can be avoided.

If you're up for it, would you mind messaging me privately to tell me where you're applying and vice versa? I'd be interested to chat about it. :) 

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Here's my perspective as someone who just got into their top-choice PhD Clinical Psych program and as someone who worked closely with the DCT at my undergraduate instution. I applied to 10 schools right out of undergrad, interviewed at 7, and immediately accepted my top choice when they informed me of my offer of admission 1.5 weeks after my interview. (DM me if you want my personal stats... I don't like bragging about myself on here, especially as this advice is about you!)

 

1) GRE - the person you spoke with is not necessarily wrong, but a 314 combined is a good score. For the DCT at my undergrad, I know he told me (off the record of course) that he would never look at an application is the combined score was less than 310, and he was constantly looking for high GPA plus a GRE hovering right around 320+. It may ormay not be worth it for you to take it... hard to say without knowing your full application. However, taking it in mid-November is too late for this application cylce, as official (mailed) scores need to be mailed in by Dec. 1st (sometimes earlier for programs... I had a Nov. 15th hard deadline and "suggested" deadline at many schools. Take it mid-October at the very latest. 

 

2) Research interests/GPA in CV - I did as a brief summary statement and explained my experiences in depth (which logically connect to my new interests). GPA, definitely yes. Coursework, probably not since you submit a transcript anyways... maybe if you took a special course or seminar that was worth CEs? Even that is a bit odd for a CV, personally. More importantly, show how your interests and background dovetail with the mentor at each institution to which you apply in your personal statement. You don't need to go wildly overboard and write completely different SOPs and CVs for each place, but definitely invest time in making those connections perfectly clear. Schools are making just as big of an investment in you as a student as you are in yourself/them, so you need to make their desire to take you on the obvious choice that will pay the greatest dividends. 

 

3) Resources: I don't mean to be sarcastic, but Google is a wonderful thing. I found a TON of info about writing personal statements last year (most of which I promptly got rid of after the interview season was over because it was a "theraputic" cleansing of sorts. However, this is useful about things NOT TO DO. Here's a decent example of a good personal statement. I'm also happy to send you a redacted version of mine if you want to reach out to me over direct message... I am also happy to read what you have and provide feedback, provided that you send me a draft with at least a week to look at it. 

 

Hope this helps! It's a stresful time. 

 

Edited by Clinapp2017
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4 times? I have to say I'm a bit surprised given your stats and the research experience you have.

1. GREs. The top programs may have high cut-offs. If you've already applied 4 times, why NOT take the GRE again especially as you've devoted so much time towards this. Aim for at least 160 on Verbal. Math is a little less important but don't go below a 156.

2. Your Personal Statement...INCREDIBLY important. Talk to your PIs, psychology professors you like, your mentors. They are the people who know you and can give you good feedback on your statement. On that note:

3. Letters of rec. Do you have 3 solid writers? Or at least two really good ones that can attest to your research ability?

4. This in my opinion is the most important thing and where a lot of great applicants mess up. Are the experiences and skills you have, as well as your specific goals/interests, directly relevant to the research lab you are applying to? The better fit you are for a specific lab, the higher the chance you'll get an interview or ultimately get in. Apply smart! Quality over quantity in terms of apps.

I hope any of this has been helpful for you. 

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