Nightmare After Christmas: One Student's Application Process

Posted on December 22,2010 by jennymspp

'Twas a few days after Christmas, and Jenny was recovering from the busiest semester ever. Honors courses with 8 hours of homework per day, plus a thesis first draft to do. With all this on her mind, applying to graduate school seemed unimportant at the time. Hadn't written her essays, hadn't asked for recommendations. Hadn't searched other schools, hadn't filled out applications! When suddenly it dawned on her, she had to get going and apply to MSPP before the mid-January deadline! She went on the website, and filled out the forms. She wrote up her essays: an autobiographical statement and purposes and goals. She e-mailed professors, who lectured and whined. But Jenny made the deadline, just in time.

In mid-February, came happy news. She received an e-mail that her application decision was ready. She went on the website and was happy to find that she'd gotten an interview, scheduled for early March. On that day, Jenny was sure she wouldn't get in. There were many more qualified than she. She had minimal experience, just a high GPA. Thankfully, MSPP did not care and decided after 2 short weeks to let her in. But Jenny has always felt regret that she didn't give herself enough time to ask for letters and visit other schools.

Let ye who read this be warned: Start that application early! If you're applying to graduate school directly from undergrad, try not to overload yourself during first semester senior year like I did. You will need extra time to visit schools, talk to professors about recommendation letters, and start working on your essays. It might be even better if you start those things during the summer before senior year. If you're applying to the School Psychology program(s) at MSPP, it may be possible to apply late because this program is underpopulated. If I knew that, I probably would have given my professors more time to write the letters so they wouldn't have been angry. Mais, c'est la vie.

Essay tips: Do not stress too much over the essay. MSPP is very lenient over the particular style you choose. This should be the easiest part of the application process.

Recommendation letters: Professors expect you give them at least a month's notice. MSPP wants 3 letters, but you can request letters from up to 4 people on the application system. It's a good idea to ask 4 people in case one of them refuses. Also, send potential letter-writers a personal e-mail request or ask them face-to-face in addition to the automated e-mail you send through MSPP's application system.

Other schools: I highly recommend visiting other schools early on. If you choose MSPP, it will serve to strengthen your resolve. If you do not choose MSPP, then I guess you'll be especially happy you looked at other schools! :-P

GREs: Other schools require GRE scores, but MSPP does not (except for PsyD programs). They believe that your longterm effort as expressed by your GPA is sufficient. If you have a lower GPA because you slacked off in college, you might want to take the GRE as insurance. If you're applying to other schools, you'll definitely have to take the GRE.

Good luck! If you have any other questions about applying to MSPP or about the School Psychology program, please comment here or e-mail me via the address in my profile.