Dr. Lynn Friedman: Clinical Psychologist

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Excellent credentials - but, bad Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores

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.

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:
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  • Taking GRE courses
  • Addressing deficits in your academic record
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  • Advice for Graduate Students
  • Career Development for Professionals
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  • Connect with Dr. Lynn Friedman
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