At 22 years old, sometimes I wonder how I ended up at one of the best clinical PsyD programs in the country straight out of undergrad. Here I am, sitting next to people with years more experience in life and/or the field of psychology, learning from incredibly knowledgeable and well-known professors. How did that happen?
I'm sure you're just as curious as I am, so I'll share my story with you, and maybe that can provide some clarity for the both of us.
I always knew I wanted to study psychology since my freshman year of high school. I was fascinated by people and wanted to know what made them tick. Then in college, I took a few research classes, and was bored out of my mind. I understand that research is valuable, and that all good practice is based on research, but it just wasn't for me. Luckily, I found my niche elsewhere. I took a service-learning class at Wesleyan University that involved volunteering at Connecticut Valley Hospital, the state's largest inpatient psychiatric hospital, located just 2 miles from the campus. I realized over my three years of volunteering there that I really wanted to work face-to-face with people. I loved the clinical side of things, and my advisor convinced me to go for my PsyD instead of a PhD, and that sounded a whole lot cooler.
So the summer before my senior year, I studied like crazy for the GRE and explored every APA-accredited PsyD program in the country, noting which ones I liked on a rather obsessive and slightly neurotic spreadsheet. I took my GRE at the end of August, and began opening applications my first week of my senior year. I worked on all my essays, compiled packets to give everyone writing me letters of recommendations, and spent almost every weekend of the fall semester inside, working on my applications. Don't be fooled, applying to graduate school is almost a full-time job in itself. If you're writing a thesis, beware. You might want to start your application essays ahead of time.
Somehow, I survived the craziness of the fall semester, and by December 1st of my senior year, I had all of my 7 applications submitted. As early as 3 weeks later, I began to get interview invitations, and my very first was from MSPP. I was so eager to apply that I hadn't even realized that I'd applied early consideration.
I'm going to be honest. MSPP was NOT my first choice school. I had this romantic idea of leaving the northeast, moving to the west coast, and starting a new life out there. Going into the interview here, I wasn't very nervous, because I thought of it as more of a practice interview before I interviewed out west. Boy was I wrong. Within the first 15 minutes, I felt welcomed and nurtured. There was a beautiful breakfast spread, the admissions officer introduced himself by his first name, and all the other candidates were warm and friendly. It was weird. Something just clicked, and it felt like home. And that was before I even knew that the school was moving to a brand new, gorgeous building.
On my drive back to Wesleyan, I cried. I felt like I'd found that new home I was looking for. Having a strong sense of community and support is incredibly important to me. I enjoy feeling like I'm surrounded by family, not competition, and of the three schools I interviewed at, MSPP was where I felt most at home.
To those of you thinking of applying, come for a visit, and you'll see what I mean. And for those of you that have already applied, the same goes for you. Talk to the students at interview day. We'll be your new family.