How to Prepare for Graduate School in Psychology

How to Prepare for Graduate School in Psychology


♪♪ -If you’re thinking about a career in Psychology, eventually you’ll need to get a masters or doctoral degree to really practice in the field whether you plan on doing research, being a clinician, doing consulting, or some combination of all of the above. What we hope to do in this video is to give you a few tips as far as your long term planing for graduate school. Although you may be new here to Portland Community College, we want you to start thinking strategically, start planning, and start acting now. ♪♪ A first and very important step to take in your career here is to make a face to face appointment with an academic adviser. This is not just for your courses that you’ll be taking in Psychology but for all your courses. The goal here is to have an efficient path through Portland Community College. The adviser can also help you know which courses will best facilitate your transfer to a 4 year college or institution. It’s important to do this frequently to make sure that you take the courses that you need. ♪♪ Another important point to consider is which sub-field of Psychology would you like to specialize in. Psychology is a diverse field with many sub-fields, clinical, developmental, social psychology, experimental psychology. If you don’t know now that’s absolutely ok, but don’t put off the process of finding out. Talk to your instructors, go to the American Psychological Association website that’s linked to our site. Find out as much as you can about the various fields, and do that starting now. ♪♪ Also start thinking about which Graduate Schools have programs in the field that you’re interested in and start researching those various Graduate Schools. Go to their websites, check out what their curricula are, and also find out what their entry requirements are to get in to the program you’re interested in. ♪♪ Another thing you will discover when researching Grad School programs is that all Graduate School programs have minimum GPA requirements. However, if you ask members of Graduate School Faculty personally, they will generally tell you the higher the GPA the better. Believe them when they say that, put energy into earning good grades now. Don’t wait until you are a senior in college to start getting good grades, start right now at PCC, studying hard and getting a good GPA. ♪♪ A very important part of your work in college is also to build relationships with your professors. This is true here, both at PCC and at the 4 year college you will attend. Get to know your professors, ask them questions both in class and after class, go to their office hours, find out if you can work on their research projects, get to know them so that they get to know you. Now why is this important? Well practically you’re professors will be the ones to write letters of recommendation to Graduate Schools that are a requirement. But even more importantly, is that your professors will educate you about the field, and some of them will actually become your professional mentors, guiding you, and giving you insights into the field of Psychology that you could never find in a book, online, or in a magazine. So build those relationships with your professors. ♪♪ Additionally, you will want to engage in some career related work, whether research related, clinically focused, or both. Certainly you would try to get some paid work in the field, but don’t pass up volunteer opportunities as well. Whether in a research lab, in a group home for children or developmentally disabled adolescents, in youth programs, in hospitals. Why should you try to engage in this kind of career related work? Well first of all, it’s important because it will help you clarify the fields of psychology that you want to actually pursue, and also just as importantly, which fields you don’t want to pursue. Secondly, this kind of work is a great way to expand your skill set, to push your own boundaries, to learn to grow. And thirdly, it really lets Grad Schools know that you’re serious when you apply. If you’re applying to be a researcher at a Grad School that committee will want to know that you’ve done research before. To be blunt, no Graduate School wants to give a valuable slot in its program away to a student who they don’t know is really serious about that field. ♪♪ That career related work experience will certainly be valuable when you write your personal statement for the Graduate School application. And all Graduate Schools ask their applicants to write a personal statement, which is a 1 to 2 page statement about who you are. What that statement really is is a chance not only for the graduate school committee to find out about you, but it’s an opportunity for you to really sell yourself to the graduate school. What makes you unique? What makes you stand out? Tell them about your life, your struggles, your victories, tell them your story. While this seems like that may be a few years down the road for you, start thinking about that now. What makes you stand out? And by the way, there are actually books on the market called “How to Write a Successful Personal Statement”. ♪♪ Most graduate schools will also require you to take the Graduate Record Exam, or GRE, which is like a Graduate School version of the SAT or ACT. You’ll take this sometime in your Junior or Senior year, Don’t put it off, find out about it, prepare for it, really practice for the exam. Because Graduate Schools look at the scores on the GREs and they take those scores very seriously, and so should you. These have been a few points that we hope will help guide you as you pursue your educational goals and your career in Psychology and Graduate School. Please remember that the psychology faculty here at PCC are here to help you and support you in your path. ♪♪

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