Psych Undergraduate E-Newsletter

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1 Fall 2010 Editors: Jenna Cacciola Jill Booker, Ph.D. School of Psychological Sciences, University of Indianapolis Inside this issue: Message from Acting Dean, Dr. Rick Holigrocki Graduate School Admissions: A 3-Part Strategy When planning for graduate school it may help to put yourself into the mindset of a graduate admissions committee. Imagine a group of faculty members at a table with their laptops containing many applications. They read through the applications, trying to choose who would be the best fit for their program. How are these decisions made? What are admission committees looking for? Application committees want to admit students who they believe will successfully complete their graduate programs. How can they know who will excel based on the materials submitted to them? This answer will become clear when you think of the three academic activities that most students are involved in during graduate school. They are: 1. Coursework: Students attend classes directly focused in their area of study. 2. Research: Students complete dissertations and From the Editors 2 Psych Club/Psi Chi Spotlight 2 Practicum and Internship 3 Did You Know? 3 Registration Reminder 3 Practicum 4 Brief History of the World 5 Faculty Quiz Questions 5 Faculty Quiz Answers 6 Writing the Perfect Personal Statement By Drs. Christine Raches and Jacquie Wall Writing a personal statement can be one of the biggest challenges faced when applying to graduate school. Although there are resources to help, the uncertainty about how to compose a statement that clearly articulates one s worth and doesn t include anything inappropriate can lead to writer s block. To prevent freezing in fear we are sharing ten steps to make this activity easier. Following these tips can help you write a successful personal statement. A personal statement is designed to state your interests in the field of psychology, how you developed those interests and how additional education will help you meet your educational and occupational goals. The personal statement is also referred to as a letter of intent, an autobiographical statement, or a statement of intent. When writing: 1. Apply to schools where you sense you fit with the program. Each graduate program is unique, and students tell us that they use their perception of how well they fit with a program collaborate on faculty research projects. 3. Field Experiences: Students complete practica and an internship, providing them with hands-on and experiential knowledge. Graduate programs will involve students in these activities in one form or another, although the balance of research and field experiences may differ depending upon program. For example, programs that offer the PhD in clinical psychology, clinical science, or experimental psychology will usually emphasize coursework and research over field experiences. Conversely, master s degree in mental health counseling programs, social work programs, and PsyD clinical programs may emphasize field experiences over research. There is a great deal of variability. The book Insider s Guide to Graduate Programs in Clinical and Counseling Psychology, 2010/2011 Edition provides useful ratings of programs on a continuum from Practice Oriented = 1 to Research Oriented = 7. We rated our own doctoral PsyD program as a 3, suggesting a slight emphasis in practice over research. Message, continued on page 4 Although you may not know for certain until you visit a school, identify a preliminary sense of fit. Use available program information (e.g., online materials, Graduate Study in Psychology, 2010) to get an idea of the training model used, the curricula offered, and specialty areas of study to decide if the program will meet your needs. After thinking about these factors, if the school seems to match your educational goals, writing will likely be easier (and you ll have the foundation for your statement). 2. Consider fit with faculty. Take some time to learn about faculty members and their interests when you re reviewing programs. Consider whether you might like to study under or work with program faculty, and identify at least one when they make a decision about where to attend. Statement, continued on page 6

2 Page 2 From the Editors Is it really fall already? It seems like just a few weeks ago that we were getting back on campus, starting our classes. And now Fall Break is already over! We have a lot for you in this edition of the e-newsletter: two of our psych majors talk about their internship and research experiences; a brief history of Psychology at UIndy; information about our Undergraduate Handbook and other resources that you might helpful; and much more! We d like to hear from you about the undergraduate e-newsletter. Do you have any suggestions for a name for our newsletter? What articles do you like the most? What would you like to hear more about? We would like to make the newsletter more useful to you and more fun, too, so please, get in touch with us. We d also love to have a column written by a student. Any of you wanna-be writers out there, let us know! Psych Club and Psi Chi Spotlight Co-Presidents Caitlin Deranek and Abby Krug hope students will join the Psychology Club to gain companionship with other students. The Co-Presidents want members to understand how fascinating and diverse the field of psychology is. In order to meet this goal, the Psychology Club hosts events that provide a chance to have fun, while also teaching information students may not have the opportunity to learn otherwise. Recently, the Co-Presidents have been in contact with the Graduate Psychological Association in an effort to begin a mentoring program between undergraduate and graduate students. Although this project is in its infancy, the goal of the program is to provide undergraduate students who want to apply to graduate programs individualized attention and advice, which could decrease the difficulty of navigating the application process. The Psychology Club has begun a service project with Circle K and Writing Lab at UIndy, in which members are visiting a local nursing home, the Altenheim Assisted Living Center. Members are working one-onone with residents to record their memories and stories from their lives in their Life Journals. These Life Journals will help residents create lasting memories for their loved ones. The Psychology Club is also associated with Psi Chi. Psi Chi is a group for academically strong Psychology majors or minors who gather together to discuss their future goals. The purpose of Psi Chi is to honor academically focused students, and to assist them in preparing for their futures through offering events which focus on applying for jobs and graduate school and developing interviewing skills. Psi Chi hosts roughly four to five events per year, including the annual Psi Chi Induction Ceremony, which takes place every spring. Upcoming Psychology Club and Psi Chi Events include: October 26 th : Dr. Raches will present on "The Influence of Childhood Events. The meeting will held in Good Hall 306 at 9pm. November 9 th : Movie Night and Presentation: "Memento". This event will be held in Schwitzer, (Room TBD) at 6pm, and will feature a speaker from NAMI before the movie. December 1st (Schwitzer 004 ): Psi Chi will host a practice interview mixer event. If you are interested in joining the club or have any questions about Psi Chi, please contact Caitlin or Abby

3 Page 3 Research, Practicum and Internship The School of Psychological Sciences provides several opportunities to help undergraduate students to prepare for careers and graduate school. Some of our students work with faculty members on research projects; others get hands-on experience in job settings through practicum and internships. We talked to four of our students about their recent experiences and asked them to describe what they did, what they learned, and what advice they have for their fellow students. In this newsletter, Alyssa Lee talks about her research experience and Beth Hahn describes her practicum experience. In the spring newsletter, Chae Colbert and Jessica Beale describe their internship experiences. Spotlight on Research: Alyssa Lee Currently a graduate student in the Clinical Psychology program at UIndy, Alyssa Lee gained research experience as an undergraduate student at UIndy through working with Dr. Raches. Alyssa began working at the Riley Child Development Center (RCDC), assisting Dr. Raches with collecting and coding data gathered at the RCDC. The data coded includes demographic information, medical, physical, psychological, and if available, testing data, and family history information for children and adolescents seen by clinicians at the RCDC. The data collected by clinicians is used to diagnose children and adolescents with a variety of cognitive and psychological disorders, which then allows clinicians to make treatment recommendations. Alyssa s responsibilities included entering data into SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences), which could then to used to analyze information gathered on children and adolescents seen at the RCDC for research purposes. As she became more familiar with the data, Alyssa and a few other undergraduate students created a research project that examined the relationship between Disruptive Behavioral Disorder and family structures. The variables looked at included family structure, tests given, and specific diagnoses given to children seen at the RCDC. The study found children with DBD were more likely to live with adoptive families than with their biological family members. Alyssa and the other students to presented a poster of their study last year at the Mid-American Undergraduate Research Conference (MAUPRC). Alyssa believes the most difficult part of being involved in research is developing ideas for a project, finding relevant articles, and writing the literature review section of the project. Additionally, being involved in research is time consuming, and you have to be motivated to work on the project outside of scheduled meetings and outside of the work you have to do for class, which can sometimes be difficult. Despite the time consuming nature of being involved in research, Alyssa recommends becoming involved in research projects because it allows you to build closer relationships with professors, which is helpful when asking for letters of recommendation for graduate school. Research, continued on page 4 Did You Know???? We have an Undergraduate Psychology Handbook! It s available on Blackboard under the Psychology Undergrad Community check it out! You ll find helpful information about the School of Psychological Sciences, FAQs, careers and graduate school, getting a Degree Evaluation and much more! Thinking about grad school? In the Psych Office (Good 109), we have several books about getting into grad school and grad programs in psychology across the country, and Linda Overholt maintains a collection of flyers describing graduate programs at other schools. Please stop by to check them out! The Event Calendar on MyUIndy often lists events that provide job and volunteer opportunities. Be sure to check it out regularly! Registration Reminder The time has come to register for Semester II classes! Please meet with your faculty advisor prior to your registration week to discuss which classes you would like to take for the upcoming semester. Faculty advisors will have sign-ups sheets on their door, therefore, please reserve an appointment time, stop by during their office hours, or your advisor to schedule an appointment. After meeting with your faculty advisor, please sign-up for an appointment with Robin McClarnon during your registration week. Sign-up sheets can be found in Good Hall, Room 109 (the main office). Registration Times for Semester II: Seniors (Must have 92+ credits): October 20 th, 21 st, and 22 nd Juniors (Must have credits): October 25th, 26 th, 27 th, and 28 th Sophomores (Must have credits): November 1st, 2 nd, 3 rd, 4 th, 5 th, 8 th, and 9 th Freshmen (Must have 0-25 credits): November 10 th, 11 th, 12 th, 15 th, 16 th, 17 th, 18 th, and 19 th

4 Page 4 Research Continued Having research experience allows you to stand out as an applicant because professionals in the field are always eager to discuss others research projects, and your ability to discuss your research with other professionals conveys that you have had experiences in the professional world. Learning how to develop a project and speak about the project s findings and implications to the field teaches you to be part of a team, and provides insight into being a professional. Spotlight on Practicum Experience: Beth Hahn For her practicum experience, Beth Hahn, a senior psychology major at UIndy, is working with the guidance counselor at SENSE (Southeast Neighborhood School of Excellence) Charter School. According to SENSE s Website, SENSE offers education designed specifically to meet the needs of a diverse community. The SENSE curriculum emphasizes building reading, writing, math, and science skills. The curriculum also fosters the development of students interests and abilities, and provides opportunities to develop important life and social skills, setting the stage for bright and promising futures. While at SENSE, Beth works with children who live in under-privileged neighborhoods, and are continually exposed to issues such as violence and drug abuse. Beth s responsibilities include co-facilitating small groups with children who attend SENSE. The goal of the groups is to work on behavioral issues the children are experiencing, such as anger management issues, difficulties with friends or forming friendships, and other problematic behaviors such as gossiping, not listening to others, and misbehaving in the classroom. Through co-facilitating groups, Beth has witnessed how the environments in which children live impact how they interact with others, attempt to solve problems, and how they model their behaviors based upon how individuals around them are acting. Knowing how to work with children can be difficult; however, Beth s supervisor has served as a wonderful role model, and their open communication has taught her the skills she needs to aid the children at SENSE. Beth believes that learning more about the developmental issues children experience will assist her in facilitating groups. Her experience at SENSE provides real-life hands on experience, which will assist her when entering the workforce. Gaining an awareness of her likes and dislikes of a guidance counselor s role and responsibilities while in a safe and supportive environment will help her when she is choosing which jobs to apply to in the future. Beth s advice for other students considering an undergraduate practicum experience is to constantly maintain a level of professionalism and open communication with your supervisor. It is important to take the experience seriously because it is good practice for when you have a job in the future. Lastly, always promote an overall good representation of who you are as an individual, and remember you are representing UIndy as an institution. You can read about our APA accredited doctoral program at Message Continued doctoral.php). How can a graduate admissions committee ensure that you will be successful in these three activities that form the core experience of most graduate programs? 1. Predicting Success in Graduate Coursework: Indications that you may be successful in your graduate classes are your undergraduate GPA, GRE scores, and academic honors or awards. They will pay additional attention to your grades in courses related to the graduate area of study. 2. Predicting Success in Graduate Research: Your research potential will be assessed based upon your undergraduate research assistant experiences, presentations or posters, independent research, and grades in research methods and statistics. Quantitative GRE scores will also be an important criterion. 3. Predicting Fieldwork Success: Your fieldwork potential will be assessed based upon your experiences completing undergraduate practica, volunteer work, and work experiences related to the graduate area. Your statement of interest, letters of recommendation, and curriculum vitae will ideally speak to all of these areas. You can expect that the committee will carefully read these documents. Note that in many PhD programs you are admitted into a faculty member s research lab, so your statement should identify who you would like to work with and how your interests are in alignment with the faculty member s current research. The take away message is clear. When a graduate admissions committee looks over your materials, you can make their decision to offer you an interview an easy one. Have the pieces in place that show the committee that you will be successful in graduate coursework, research, and fieldwork. Keep your grades up, excel on the GREs, gain research experience, and complete a practicum or internship. Do not wait for someone to remind you or push you to gain these experiences, you must take the initiative. If you have done all of these things, you should have no difficulty finding letter writers who can speak to your strengths and your graduate application is sure to be viewed positively.

5 Page 5 A Brief History of the World (of Psychology at the University of Indianapolis) By Sarah Long It may seem that Good Hall, the oldest building on our century-old campus, has always been home to the psychology department at the University of Indianapolis, but you may be surprised to learn that psychology is a relatively recent major at our university and the School of Psychological Sciences has only been around since Although psychology is one of the most popular majors across the nation as well as at UIndy, its history within this university has been a slow and steady evolution from a set of three courses to the current two undergraduate and three graduate degrees awarded within the field. Although the doors of Good Hall opened to students at the beginning of the 20 th century, it wasn t until 1908 that psychology was offered as a course. In the academic year, two basic psychology courses in the Philosophy department and an educational psychology course in the Education department were offered within the College of Liberal Arts. At that time, the College of Liberal Arts housed 50 students under the direction of Dr. J.A Cummins, professor of philosophy and psychology. By 1924, six to twelve hours of psychology courses were required of students in the College, under the newly titled Department of Philosophy and Psychology. Six courses were offered within the field at that time, including General Psychology, Elementary Psychology and Social Psychology, but it wasn t until 1928 that psychology was offered as a major. In 1945 the student handbook described a forward-thinking approach to student counseling, stating that students should feel free to consult with dormitory matrons, their respective deans of men or women, the college pastor, and members of the administrative staff for personal and academic counseling. This first hint of mental health counseling took years to evolve into the current Counseling Center we are fortunate to enjoy: it wasn t until 1989 that the handbook informed students that a clinical psychologist was available for personal and spiritual counseling in the Health Center. Despite the slow evolution of clinical services available to students, psychology as an academic offering enjoyed a steady increase in coursework in the decades after World War II. The 1956 student handbook acknowledged the importance of psychology in any education, declaring that the University of Indianapolis seeks to give the student a better understanding of the world in which we live an appreciation of the people of the world and their history and psychology. In 1960 the handbook listed Diane Williams as the first Instructor of Psychology and by 1969 twelve courses in psychology were offered. The following year saw a change in the organization of the College of Liberal Arts: a new department, Behavioral Sciences, housed psychology, sociology and human relations courses. That same year the Humanics Club was developed by students in order to provide a broad understanding of social work psychology and sociology. This precursor to today s Psych Club demonstrated how far psychology had come as a discipline at UIndy and perhaps predicted the boom in the number of degrees offered at the university within the field. In the past two decades, psychology at UIndy has become recognizable as the important and integral subject that it is in college and graduate education. Psychology was first listed as a department within the College of Arts and Sciences in the student handbook. In 2001, the department became the School of Psychological Sciences, offering two master s degrees to students and the first cohort of the psychology doctorate program graduated from the School of Psychological Sciences. Today, SoPS offers two bachelor s and three graduate degrees, and over 100 sections of courses with more than 17 faculty members. Our students are fortunate to enjoy the product of the last century s evolution of psychology at UIndy, and as we begin the next decade we can look forward to new and exciting developments within the field. A sincere thank you to Christine Guyonneau and the Frederick D. Hill Archives for access to and assistance in navigating the historical information highlighted in this article. About Our Faculty... Quick quiz: (a) Which Psychology faculty member likes to bake? (b) Which Psychology faculty member loves Disney World and has a personal goal to visit all the Hard Rock Cafés on the planet?? (c) Which Psychology faculty member enjoys traveling and taking photographs? See Page 6 for the answers!

6 Page 6 Statement Continued person that you d really consider to be a valuable mentor. Then, incorporate the match between your personal interests, career goals, and educational aspirations to their stated interests. If you can find two people with whom your focus matches, even better. 3. Focus on specific educational and occupational experiences, rather than on personal experiences. Remember that your goal is to get into a graduate program, so if you can keep your interests closely related to your future educational and career goals, it can increase your credibility and potential success for graduate school. A personal statement is not designed to be a personal history. 4. Individualize your statement for each school or graduate program. Answer their questions exactly. This is not the time to believe that one statement is adequate for every school where you re applying. Different schools will have different requirements for the personal statement. You don t want to not get an interview simply because you didn t include the right information. 5. Highlight practical and research experiences that you have had. These activities are easily tied to why you want to study psychology. Including both volunteer and paid experiences related to a future in psychology will serve to strengthen your personal statement. It shows people that you are serious about your future and have already begun to consolidate your interests and goals. 6. Remember English 101 (or visit the writing lab). Nothing can turn a reviewer off from an applicant faster than reading a statement containing reading a statement containing poor grammar or noticing typographical and spelling errors. Your personal statement should be a first indication of the type of professional that you hope to become. Show that you care about your work and take pride in that which you ve accomplished. The University of Indianapolis (UIndy) has a Writing Lab, so have them review your writing. 7. Faculty get that you want to help people If you are applying to clinical or counseling programs, keep in mind that everyone else applying there also wants to help people. Use your personal statement to set yourself apart from others. Use the statement to highlight why you want to study psychology, to have it be your career and how you ve made that decision. Keep your own family s dysfunction out of the document. 8. Don't get fancy and keep it short. Use easy to read font (12-point, Times New Roman) and print your statement on white paper using black ink. The statement is a professional document preparing one is not a time to demonstrate how creative or original you are. Also, you don t want readers to become bored while reading, so definitely limit your work to no more than 2 pages. 9. Edit, edit, edit. Write a draft copy, let it sit for a few days, return to it, read and revise it, and continue this process as needed. Remember that the statement is a chance to sell yourself, so make sure that you ve allowed enough time to achieve the best statement. For example, if you re not a sesquipedalian (one using a vocabulary containing big words), your statement may not be the time to try them out. Nothing makes faculty chuckle more than words that are used incorrectly!! After you ve edited, ask someone else knowledgeable about graduate training in psychology (e.g., a psychology graduate student, a psychologist, or a faculty member at UIndy) to read and offer suggestions. 10. Let your true personality come out. This allows those reviewing your statement to see why you are a good fit and perhaps identify you as someone that they would want to work with for the next 2-4+ years. Writing a personal statement can be a daunting task. Keep in mind that following these tips will make a convincing case that you can succeed in graduate school and that you have the personality characteristics to become a professional (maturity, professionalism, motivation, etc). Again, remember that the end result is to be invited to interview at multiple programs, so that you have the opportunity to select between acceptances. About Our Faculty Answers (a) Dr. Warman. Her favorites are cookies, bread, muffins and brownies. (b) Dr. Taylor. So far she has personally been to 37 Hard Rock Cafés and has pins representing an additional 17 Cafés from 14 different countries! (c) Dr. Booker. Her recent travels include a tour of France and a couple of trips to Canada. And she has hundreds of pictures from each trip!

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