The Short Version

The Really Short Version

I wanted to get into a Psychology PhD program that would fund my schooling.

All I had was a BA with a very unexciting average. No contacts, no research experience. Nothing.

I had serious doubts I could do it.

I put work into it for about a year, while working to support myself.

I did it :-) and so can anyone else. Including you.

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The Short Version

I realized that I really want to study psychology in a serious way. I had a BA from Israel with an unexciting grade point average ("B-"/2.8 GPA/80 out of 100), and I decided I'm going for it anyway. I had no connections anywhere. I had no external financial assistance, and was working to support myself.

I realized what area of psychology I'm interested in (Social/Personality). I got my hands on a few articles. I got more specific about my interests (willpower). I looked for professors across the nation that could give me some guidance. I found them on the web, and Emailed them. Most replies I got were heartwarmingly helpful. I kept on reading and learning with their occasional guidance.

I learned what the criteria for admission are: Grade Point Average (GPA), GRE scores, research experience, recommendations, a personal statement and a resume.

I realized that in order to make up for my BA average, I would need to do spectacularly well on the GRE, show very good recommendations, get solid research experience (of which I had none) and generally make them realize that my grades from 5 years ago don't reflect who I am now. I needed to make them see what a good "investment" I am.

In order to gain research experience, I Emailed a few professors in nearby universities (I was living in Manhattan at the time), explaining my situation and asking if I could work/volunteer at their labs. One of them agreed quite readily. I volunteered there, working with one of his post-docs, for over 6 months (8-15 hours every week). That professor ended up writing me a recommendation.

I decided to study for the GRE on my own (the courses cost too much You, and offered too few sessions) despite being very intimidated by it. I got a couple of books and one software package to practice with, and studied for 2-3 months. I took the GRE, and did very well.

I started visiting the universities I considered applying to, and met with the professors I considered having as my advisors. We had nice long talks.

I decided to take the Psychology GRE, got a couple of books and started studying. I took the test after 2 months, and did well (although not incredibly well).

I filled the application forms. I got 3 recommendations - 2 from people I've worked with in the past, one from the aforementioned psychology professor. I sent it all in, to the universities I picked.

I sat and waited. And waited.

I received answers - I was admitted to some universities, and not admitted to others.

I picked Stanford. I received confirmation that I was in.

I started breathing again :-)

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