The old adage “If at first you don’t succeed…” can take on a whole new meaning when it comes to reapplying to graduate school. We asked current School Psychology student Daniel Schanck about his experience with applying to graduate school, unsuccessfully at first, and how reapplying and improving his application made a huge difference. He is now in his second semester of graduate school.
Daniel Schanck, student in the School Psychology (M.A./C.A.S.) program
“To those who have considered reapplying, I would suggest that they keep at it.”
In 2013, I obtained a degree in Psychology from my dream school, Hamilton College. After graduating and moving back home, I began to apply for graduate schools in and around New York State in various fields, including Psychology. When I first applied to graduate school, I didn’t the application process as seriously as I should have. I realize now that I should have worked harder on my statement of purpose and making myself marketable to the departments reviewing my application. Now I realize that a statement of purpose is often a school’s window into seeing who you are, what you plan to do while a student at their school, and it shows them your skill in writing and critical thinking. My grades were not the best and were not indicative of my skill and ability to succeed in school. I was not upfront about addressing my undergraduate grades: I could have addressed my struggles in school and addressed ways I could do better while in graduate school to show my dedication.
Of course, I was disappointed to not get accepted into graduate programs in my first semester out of undergraduate. The most desirable outcome for me at the time was to go to graduate school right after I graduated, but that was no longer in the cards. I had to wait for another year until the programs I was interested in would accept applications again. This included SUNY Plattsburgh’s School Psychology (M.A./C.A.S.) program, which was my top choice. However, despite my disappointment, I didn’t quit and told myself that I could always try again later on.
To bolster my application for next time, I decided that I needed to find work in the psychology field to valuable, real-world experience in the field, which I had very little of at the time. I started working at a local advocacy and resource center (ARC) to gain experience working with people in the realm of psychology and service, and to save some money to pay for graduate school. After applying for a second time and not getting yet again, I needed a further change of plans. After consulting with the Graduate Admissions Office at SUNY Plattsburgh, as well as with faculty in the School Psychology program, I decided that the best thing to do was to take classes as a non-matriculated student. This way, I could show the department that I can do the work required of me, and to become known in the department. I knew that taking non-matriculated courses did not necessarily guarantee me admission, but I was willing to try.
I ended up taking the maximum amount of non-matriculated credits I could take that could transfer in, which was 12. I worked with the Graduate Admissions Office at SUNY Plattsburgh to replace items in my application, as well as worked hard to improve my statement of purpose and resume, and now had great grades from my non-matriculated courses. I received an interview opportunity, and heard back a few weeks later… I got into the program! I couldn’t believe it. It was such an incredible feeling. To top it all off, I found out I won the Diversity Fellowship Award I applied for. This covered the cost of in-state tuition for my first year in school. It feels great knowing that my first year is covered and paid for!
Graduate school has been a difficult, yet very rewarding experience for me so far. I believe that I have really grown as a person through my work. I have learned to be an efficient worker, am more diligent, and manage my time effectively. I also now have a clear understanding of what I want to do in life. I cannot wait to one day work as a school psychologist in a school.
To those who have considered reapplying, I would suggest that they keep at it. If you are planning to reapply, though, make sure you make meaningful changes to your application, rather than keeping the same essays, recommendations, and such as before.It’s tempting to do, but improving on what you had makes you more desirable. I also encourage taking classes as a non-matriculated student, if possible, so applicants can get a taste for the work they will experience in graduate school, and highlight their ability to succeed. Make sure you consult with the program about what courses to take!
If you are interested in reapplying for graduate study at SUNY Plattsburgh, the Graduate Admissions Office is here to help! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.