Dr. Lynn Friedman: Clinical Psychologist

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How to get to know faculty

At a major state university in which most courses are taught by graduate students or adjuncts, how does one get to know faculty? Getting to know faculty is very important - First, and foremost because one can learn a great deal. Secondarily, getting good grades and high GRE scores is not enough - to get into graduate school one needs excellent research experience and faculty references. So, how do you get to know faculty especially if your classes are very large??

Ideally, you should start getting to know faculty early in your college experience, in your freshman year. This is not always so easy in a large university. If possible, enroll in small classes which require written work. Take more than one course from a faculty person, particularly if you only have access to larger classes.

If you must take exclusively large classes, be sure to participate in class. Prepare to participate, you want the faculty person to remember you as a bright, articulate person. So, provide thoughtful responses. Do the reading prior to the class in which it will be discussed, and ask questions aimed at integrating the lecture with the reading.

On days when you have not completed the reading, silence is the better part of valor. The myth perpetuated that you can snow faculty without doing the reading is false. Nearly all faculty find this behavior to be highly annoying. However, many do not call students on it for fear that they will alienate the well read but more reticent students from participating.

Seek out faculty during their office hours. Come to talk about the material in greater depth. Come for advice about graduate school. But, in doing so, remember to do some groundwork. Do not ask faculty to do your homework for you; that can backfire. Remember, if you are graduate school bound, then you want to engender in faculty the sense that you are a self-starter. Ultimately, you want them to write references that say that you are able to work independently and that you know when to seek supervision. You do not want them to say that you work well under close supervision; this is code for "will require a lot of your time";. To wit, I am always impressed when students hit the web or the library before they come to me.

Beyond taking classes, another way to get to know faculty is to work with them on their research or on an independent study. If your university has a mechanism for this, it is essential that you obtain this kind of experience. You will NOT be accepted into any graduate program without research experience! I have a colleague who had 1600 on her boards, a 4.00 and 10 years of clinical experience, she was rejected from graduate school because she did not have the necessary research experience. She took a year to rectify this deficit, gained admission. Today is a nationally renown researcher in her field of clinical research. If you attend an excellent college in which faculty are devoted to teaching and not to research, you must take systematic steps to acquire research experience possibly in a local university school of medicine, in a summer program, or during a semester off. My column on research addresses strategies for obtaining this experience.

Psychology departments, Psi Chi Chapters and Psychology Clubs may republish these articles

This material is copyrighted. However, Psychology Departments, Psi Chi Chapters, Psychology Clubs and University and College Career Centers may republish any of the columns from www.drlynnfriedman.com/psychologylife.html free-of-charge as long as each column is reprinted in its entirety and without alteration. Also, along with any column, copyright and and the following byline must be attached: Dr. Lynn Friedman is a clinical psychologist, psychoanalyst and executive coach in Chevy Chase, Maryland. She is on the associate faculty in the Organizational Development/Human Resource Management Program at Johns Hopkins University. Web site: www.drlynnfriedman.com. She can be reached at: (301) 656-9650.

Psychology majors who read this article also found these articles helpful:
  • Getting to know faculty
  • Participating in class
  • Asking faculty for references for graduate school
  • Obtaining research experience and research positions
  • A sample cover letter for a research assistant position
  • Getting into graduate school
  • Taking GRE courses
  • Addressing deficits in your academic record
  • Applying for research positions
  • For psychologists and psychologists-in-the-making
  • Advice for Graduate Students
  • Career Development for Professionals
  • The Analyst's Advocate -- Outreach suggestions for Psychoanalysts
  • Connect with Dr. Lynn Friedman
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  • To learn more about psychoanalytically-informed, career assessment, Download Dr. Lynn Friedman's pdf file on this interesting tool.
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    ©   1998 Lynn Friedman, PhD.

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