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Top Choice

I’ve known my top choice practicum site since the summer. I’ve thought about it nonstop since then. The fact that this site is competitive (and that I know who my competition is– a strong candidate from my year) makes me want it more. I want to apply to do testing at UCLA. Specifically, I want to do autism testing there.

I am a person who does things in advance. I’ve had my resume updated since the summer. I’ve asked my recommenders for letters several months ago and now they are safely prepared in my email inbox, ready to go out at a moment’s notice. I also told myself that multiple people had to read my cover letter, or else.
I took a risk in my cover letter. For the first two lines, I talked about why I want to go into neurodevelopmental testing in the first place. I’d like to specialize in autism testing because someone close to me was given the correct diagnosis, and it changed their life.
*In the letter, I did write who this person was, but on my blog I’d like to maintain some modicum of confidentiality

From there, I transitioned into my relevant professional experience, but I wasn’t sure if I should take the risk of mentioning my personal connection to the field. My mom told me to exclude it. A girl from my current practicum told me to put it at the end. My boyfriend told me to keep it in at all costs. My brother seemed to think it didn’t matter either way.

I was going to write two different versions of the same cover letter and run them by two professors, but at this point in the semester I’ve completely run out of steam. I know I’m approaching burnout.

I told myself I’d have my family members read it instead, and if anything major needed to be fixed, I would take it further. My mom read my letter and loved it. She said that she hopes I get accepted, but then she said that she hoped I’d be doing what I wanted regardless of money. I think she’s worried that I’m following in her footsteps with this specialty because it makes a lot of money, but that’s not why at all. I am doing it because I’ve seen people with autism make huge progress from an early diagnosis. Currently I do neuropsychological testing (mostly dementia), but that doesn’t quite fill me with the same passion. What do I do after someone does get that dementia diagnosis– “ok, enjoy the next 10-15 years of deterioration?”.

Meanwhile, most people get diagnosed with autism in childhood, and their lives are just beginning. Rather than doing damage control, I’m able to help them become eligible for resources that improve their lives.
So, applying to this site has been really important to me. There have been other school related tasks, like the 70 page exam. I handed in the mock comp exam a month ago. Today we would get feedback. Because the professor was late, we played hangman on the board. One of the people in my friend group kept making the words dirtier and I was the absolute worst at guessing any of them. However, it was a very funny and lighthearted way of starting the school day.

The feedback for my comp was really positive. The professor straight up said that she’s read a lot of comps and she’s not worried about my case conceptualization. “No problem, professor,” I wanted to say. “I do enough worrying for the both of us.” The class ended early because my comp was reviewed first. I’m now at the gym.

I am going to keep writing regularly throughout December (my own version of Blognukkah). Catch you guys later!


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Hi everyone! I started my doctorate in clinical psychology in fall 2020. A google search revealed that there are no current grad school blogs for psychology students. Anyway, I happen to know a girl who wants to document her journey to getting a doctorate (spoiler: it's me). Welcome. Hope you stay awhile!

3 thoughts on “Top Choice

  1. I think that adding your personal connection to the field is a nice idea, as it shows your motivations for going into your field. It’s a different context, but I decided to share the story behind why I’m researching my chosen area in my Master’s thesis introduction, and my supervisor thought that was a good idea. A little personal touch can bring things to life. Good luck with your applications!


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