General Advice for Preparing for Graduate Education in Psychology:
"Not for Seniors Only!"
Be a person with a mission!
Psychology graduate programs will select students with clear intellectual motivation for pursuing a career in a selected field, and they will avoid students who merely "are confused and suffering persons, who want to help confused and suffering persons." Perhaps you are interested in learning more about ADHD (i.e., Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), which you began to study in your research seminar, and which you researched for your final project. The programs to which you apply will want to know that you already have a clear idea of what you are getting into - that is, you understand something about the deep intellectual issues behind particular psychological research domains, and you have some hands-on experience in the practice of research.
Volunteer in Research and Clinical Settings
It is a good idea to get some clinical and research experience if you wish to apply to a clinical, counseling or school psychology program. Similarly, it is a good idea to have experience working with children, as well as doing developmental research, if you wish to study development at the graduate level. The Psi/Chi web site lists some resources to help you get started. Most full-time faculty members have active research programs in which students may be able to participate. Faculty members are most likely to be receptive to such an arrangement if you have a demonstrated interest in the research topic and can make a serious time commitment.
Admission Tests (GRE's, MAT's, etc.)
Yes, standardized tests are alive and well, and used by every graduate program in North America as part of the basis for admissions. Even with their limitations, they provide one standardized way to help select individuals who have the necessary quantitative skills, reading skills, writing skills, and specific knowledge of psychology necessary to begin classes and research at an advanced level. The book published by the American Psychological Association, Graduate Study in Psychology and Related Fields, has a complete list of programs in North America and their admissions requirements. It is available for review in the main office of the Psychology Department. If you are planning to take the Graduate Record Exams, contact the Educational Testing Service directly for test dates and locations by the start of your senior year (see their web site http://www.gre.org or phone them at 1-866-473-4373).
Letters of Recommendation
Usually, you will need three letters of recommendation from your current or past instructors or supervisors. Your advisor -if you visit him/ her often - can also write a recommendation for you!
Your "Statement of Interest"
The "Personal Statement"- the letter you write about your interest as part of the application - is an important part of your application package. Always get another person to look it over and serve as your "Editor." A fellow student with good skill in written expression, your advisor, or a faculty member can provide comments and suggestions which will improve your personal statement. Also, always type and proofread your materials!