Whether you’re embarking on a PsyD or a PhD in psychology, you can look forward to an immersive and extremely rewarding graduate school experience. We’re proud of our strong record of success with psychology grad school applicants and have queried recent clients about how to get the most out of these years. Read on for their tips about how to prepare for and excel in graduate school.
#1. Explore different clinical settings and examine your responses to each. The more diverse your experiences, the broader your knowledge base will be—and the more information you’ll have about your preferences and your desired specialty as a clinician.
“I have loved getting to experience a variety of settings and populations (elementary school, middle school, high school, community mental health clinic, foster care and child welfare agency) that have prepared me to become a well-rounded and knowledgeable clinician.”
#2. Persevere through the application process in order to achieve your goal of grad school! Remember that you’re doing all this so that ultimately you can fulfill your career goals.
“The work you are about to do may seem tedious, such as writing essays, researching schools, practicing interview skills. As you put in the hard work and dedication, you will be one step closer to a rewarding and fulfilling future.”
#3. Once you begin school, practice sitting with discomfort. It’s no secret that graduate school can be taxing and stressful. The ability to withstand the emotions this provokes will not only enable you to succeed in school—it’ll also serve you as a clinician guiding patients to sit with their own discomfort.
“Grad school is stressful and will challenge you academically and mentally. A professor in grad school told me that a big part of grad school is ‘learning how to become comfortable with the uncomfortable.’ It is awkward and tiring to constantly be evaluated during this challenging time.”
#4. But don’t do so alone—reach out to others for help. Therapists need therapists, too! Plus friends, family, and any other support networks that you can muster. Put in place measures that will serve your mental health and bolster your confidence, from working with your own therapist to attending regular meditation classes.
“It may sound cliché, but believing in yourself is key because it can help you to move forward when things get tough, when you’re having a hard time achieving something, or when you are uncertain of where you’re going. Everyone has doubts and everybody makes mistakes, even the most accomplished professionals! Just know that seeking guidance and support from parents, teachers, counselors, or other professionals can help you learn ways to deal with these hardships and figure out what your next step could be.”
#5. Be prepared to be evaluated! Being a psychologist is an enormous responsibility, so you will receive a succession of evaluations and feedback throughout your grad school fieldwork. Be open to constructive critique in order to strengthen your skills.
“The most rewarding part is overcoming the evaluations and getting to a point where you feel confident in your area of specialty (even to a point where you become a supervisor who is giving the evaluations).”
#6. Take the initiative to connect with professors and mentors. Rather than waiting passively for professors to provide the information or mentorship you wish for, actively seek it out. Set up times to meet with professors outside of class, both to ask them questions and to build relationships you can call on in years to come. It’s perfectly acceptable to need help—and it’s their job to provide it!
“Even working online throughout COVID-19, I have been able to meet teachers and peers and receive appropriate guidance in my academic process. My main advice is that you trust and be patient with yourself and reach out to others throughout your journey!”
The psychology grad school application process is complex and competitive. Contact Collegiate Gateway if you would like guidance for any aspect of your journey. As always, we’re happy to help! Explore the upcoming presentations on our website or set up a complimentary consultation to learn about our services.