What if your grades are terrific, your research experience impressive, your graduate essay articulate and your faculty references superb - but, you have low GRE's? What if you've taken the Stanley Kaplan course or the Princeton Review but to no avail. What should you do? Should you set your sights on less competitive degrees or is there a strategy that you could use?
It's unfortunate that psychologists place such a premium on these tests, but they do. However, if you have a superb record and you write well. Don't give up hope. Here are a few possible strategies that
you might want to consider.
One possible strategy is to carefully decide which school is your very top
choice. Once you have decided, contact faculty at that school and seek a
research assistant position. After obtaining a position, work as hard as you
can. Establish your credibility. Impress the faculty person with your
intellect and tenacity. Tell them that you want to be their graduate
student and solicit their help in the application process.
A second possible strategy is to take a few years off, work with a
renowned clinical researcher. Make it your goal to publish several articles,
preferably with at least one first authorship. If your position is at a
university, then you can take courses for free. Continue to take courses
in statistics. Ask your boss to help you to gain entry into graduate level
courses, preferably in the clinical program. Work hard and do well. Seek
admission within that program and/or ask the faculty, (who you will impress
by out-performing their graduate students) for references.
A third possible strategy is to find out which schools do not have cut-offs
and apply to them.
A fourth strategy, is to use email to establish ongoing contact with
faculty at your top choice school of interest. Specifically, you may want to
establish a dialogue around a mutual research interest. After establishing a
relationship with this faculty person seek their advice on your graduate plans.
Finally, talk with your faculty
advisor or research mentor. They know you--your strengths and limitations--
seek their guidance.