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Impostor syndrome is setting in hard...


dancedementia
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I'm applying to both clinical and counseling psychology programs (I chose programs based on my research interest). While I have generally good stats and broad experience, I don't think my research is going to be strong enough...

Undergrad GPA: 3.0 (first bachelor's in economics), 4.0 (second bachelor's in psychology)

Masters GPA: 4.0 (counseling) and 4.0 (experimental psychology)
(I did a dual-degree masters program so I could get both clinical and research experience!)

GRE: 165/165/5.0

Research experience: 

  • 3 years behavioral economics
  • 1 year vocational psychology
  • 2 years clinical psychology (multiple labs)
  • 5 (maybe more coming) poster presentations at national conferences (APA, etc.)
  • No pubs. I'm trying so damn hard but sometimes it's luck of the draw (e.g. had 1 manuscript rejected just last month)
  • 2 masters theses (I'm hoping to revise and publish but definitely won't happen before applications)

Clinical experience:

  • Community clinic (for lower SES population)
  • University counseling center
  • Eating disorders clinic

Other things to consider:

  • Research interest = disordered eating and exercise, particularly among athletes
  • Theoretical orientation = psychodynamic
  • I worked full time through my two masters degrees. Would not recommend doing this x____x;;
  • I am not at a research institution and because of geography, cannot collaborate with a research institution (literally, there isn't one within 25 miles of me...) Therefore, publishing ability is few and far between.
  • I'm applying widely to both "top tier" schools (e.g. UNC-Chapel Hill) and also more "match" schools (e.g. Kansas University)
  • Dream school = University of North Texas <3

I'm applying for Fall 2019, not Fall 2018, so I essentially have a year left to improve my application as much as possible. Any thoughts? I feel like my first undergrad GPA is going to be a thorn in my side, along with the lack of research productivity :(

Edited by dancedementia
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Advice from outside your field: I don't think a lower GPA in an unrelated BA degree should be all that important given your high grades in your other BA and both MAs. You also sound very motivated and like you're doing all the right things. I'm not sure why you think that your research experience is insufficient; you have a total of 6 years of experience, including five posters and two theses. That's not bad at all for an MA student. Most applicants will not have a paper published before their PhD. The main goal at the PhD applications stage is to show *potential*.

My main advice to you is to think about how you tell your story in a way that weaves all of your experiences together and tells a coherent and compelling story. You actually have so much experience that, if it were me, I'd wonder why you need two of each (two BAs, two MAs, to theses) instead of going the "usual" route; if your interests changed midway through that's fine and you concentrate on your more recent ones. If you just have multiple ongoing interests, the question will be how to tie them together in a way that shows that you can actually make them work and that you're not a risk (as in, that you won't change your mind and go do some other PhD program instead of your "first" one). I could be totally off here -- again, I'm from outside your field. But overall, that's my first impression. 

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11 hours ago, dancedementia said:

I'm applying to both clinical and counseling psychology programs (I chose programs based on my research interest). While I have generally good stats and broad experience, I don't think my research is going to be strong enough...

Undergrad GPA: 3.0 (first bachelor's in economics), 4.0 (second bachelor's in psychology)

Masters GPA: 4.0 (counseling) and 4.0 (experimental psychology)
(I did a dual-degree masters program so I could get both clinical and research experience!)

GRE: 165/165/5.0

Research experience: 

  • 3 years behavioral economics
  • 1 year vocational psychology
  • 2 years clinical psychology (multiple labs)
  • 5 (maybe more coming) poster presentations at national conferences (APA, etc.)
  • No pubs. I'm trying so damn hard but sometimes it's luck of the draw (e.g. had 1 manuscript rejected just last month)
  • 2 masters theses (I'm hoping to revise and publish but definitely won't happen before applications)

Clinical experience:

  • Community clinic (for lower SES population)
  • University counseling center
  • Eating disorders clinic

Other things to consider:

  • Research interest = disordered eating and exercise, particularly among athletes
  • Theoretical orientation = psychodynamic
  • I worked full time through my two masters degrees. Would not recommend doing this x____x;;
  • I am not at a research institution and because of geography, cannot collaborate with a research institution (literally, there isn't one within 25 miles of me...) Therefore, publishing ability is few and far between.
  • I'm applying widely to both "top tier" schools (e.g. UNC-Chapel Hill) and also more "match" schools (e.g. Kansas University)
  • Dream school = University of North Texas <3

I'm applying for Fall 2019, not Fall 2018, so I essentially have a year left to improve my application as much as possible. Any thoughts? I feel like my first undergrad GPA is going to be a thorn in my side, along with the lack of research productivity :(

 

We have incredibly similar research interests! I am about to submit an article for publication about disordered eating habits in a college population, focusing on athletes (particularly wrestlers). I think the population in terms of demographics might change, but I want to research in the ED area.  I am in a CMHC Masters right now, in my first year. I am wanting to continue to PhD as well, but I am finding a lot of my professors at my program are very discouraging about that and keep trying to emphasize how counseling and psychology are different, and if we want to do clinical phd later why are we in this program now (although i may go a counseling psych route, who knows).  We have an optional thesis as part of our program, and a lot of the professors keep saying "i recommend that you don't do the thesis" in class. When they talk about getting  PhD its almost always in the context of a Counselor Education and Supervision, which is not the path I think I want to take. How did you manage to get experience in an ED clinic? That sounds so interesting to me!

 

Honestly, it sounds like you have a ton of research experience to me (although since you did a dual MA in experimental maybe it seems like less compared to your experimental cohort?) Yeah not having any publications could be a mark against you, but if your theses are well done and you can explain them and answer questions about them, I think you will be okay.  I also doubt that your first GPA will be significant, considering how much you have proved yourself as a capable researcher and clinician.  You likely will have quite a lot more experience due to your multiple degrees than other candidates (although there is always someone better, but focus on being the best you can be and yada yada).  I agree with fuzzy that you might need to explain some of your decisions and why you have multiple degrees in different areas, but i don't think it will hurt you long run. Can you submit the rejected manuscript to another journal? or is there a professors research you could help with and get your name on in time before you have to apply?

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3 hours ago, meep95 said:

I am wanting to continue to PhD as well, but I am finding a lot of my professors at my program are very discouraging about that and keep trying to emphasize how counseling and psychology are different, and if we want to do clinical phd later why are we in this program now (although i may go a counseling psych route, who knows).  We have an optional thesis as part of our program, and a lot of the professors keep saying "i recommend that you don't do the thesis" in class. When they talk about getting  PhD its almost always in the context of a Counselor Education and Supervision, which is not the path I think I want to take. How did you manage to get experience in an ED clinic? That sounds so interesting to me!

Wow. Are you me / in my program? This is my EXACT experience. I come in to office hours and make very clear that I have decided to pursue a PhD and am looking for guidance, but so many of my profs encourage me to either 1) not do a PhD, or 2) consider Counselor Education & Supervision. Their arguments are the same - counseling/psych is different, Counselor Ed would be shorter, less work, blahblah. It's frustrating, because I didn't come in to be talked out of my career goals! I just need some support from my professors but it's difficult to figure out who I can turn to. My experimental psych professors are largely all neuro/cog/developmental, so they're not super familiar with the clinical psych landscape.

The ED clinic was my internship for the CMHC program :) We're required to do a minimum of 2 semesters of internship, but I will actually have 4 semesters worth just because of how scheduling worked out.

Edited by dancedementia
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6 minutes ago, dancedementia said:

Wow. Are you me / in my program? This is my EXACT experience. I come in to office hours and make very clear that I have decided to pursue a PhD and am looking for guidance, but so many of my profs encourage me to either 1) not do a PhD, or 2) consider Counselor Education & Supervision. Their arguments are the same - counseling/psych is different, Counselor Ed would be shorter, less work, blahblah. It's frustrating, because I didn't come in to be talked out of my career goals! I just need some support from my professors but it's difficult to figure out who I can turn to. My experimental psych professors are largely all neuro/cog/developmental, so they're not super familiar with the clinical psych landscape.

The ED clinic was my internship for the CMHC program :) We're required to do a minimum of 2 semesters of internship, but I will actually have 4 semesters worth just because of how scheduling worked out.

Yeah I am in the same boat. I actually just posted about me moving from the counseling field to psychology. Of course they want you to stay in the field but I dont think i would benefit much from it for my own goals IMO.

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On 10/11/2017 at 9:38 AM, dancedementia said:

Wow. Are you me / in my program? This is my EXACT experience. I come in to office hours and make very clear that I have decided to pursue a PhD and am looking for guidance, but so many of my profs encourage me to either 1) not do a PhD, or 2) consider Counselor Education & Supervision. Their arguments are the same - counseling/psych is different, Counselor Ed would be shorter, less work, blahblah. It's frustrating, because I didn't come in to be talked out of my career goals! I just need some support from my professors but it's difficult to figure out who I can turn to. My experimental psych professors are largely all neuro/cog/developmental, so they're not super familiar with the clinical psych landscape.

The ED clinic was my internship for the CMHC program :) We're required to do a minimum of 2 semesters of internship, but I will actually have 4 semesters worth just because of how scheduling worked out.

Haha i doubt we are in the same program, the nearest ED clinic is 2 hours from me so i think its outside of internship range. but thats awesome that there is one near by you could use for your internship! And thats exactly the same thing that happens to me! I almost wonder if you know any undergrad professors there you could talk to. Most undergrad professors have PhD's in psych/clinical stuff it seems like, or more of them do.  I definitely feel you about being unsupported from professors, i went to one who i thought I related to pretty well to try and talk over potential future plans and whether a PhD is the right option for me (i'm super bad at stats and math, so idk if i could handle however many stats classes are needed), and she said basically the same thing as the rest of the professors did, which frustrates me because i want them to at least entertain the option of my getting a PhD in Counseling Psych, rather than immediately shut it down. My undergrad professors were so supportive and willing to talk over my goals (even if they were brutally honest about if they thought i couldnt do something or get into a certain school, they would help make sure i knew all my options). 

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I had a sub 3.0 undergrad GPA (but did a Masters), not so much as a poster when I applied, but got into a fully funded decent program. 

Don't let the weaknesses in your application be your main story when you apply. Hit them hard with what your strengths are and apply intelligently (e.g. to labs that would be a good fit with your research experience/interests).

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