By: Megan Glassford
This blog entry specifically pertains to the people who have gone through the process of applying and interviewing for genetic counseling programs more than once. I think this is something important to discuss because it really does happen often. So, here is my story!
I knew that I wanted to pursue genetic counseling since I was in a junior in high school, but at the time, I definitely was not aware of how competitive the application process would be. As an undergraduate, I worked towards this goal by majoring in biology, doing research related to genetics education, volunteering for special needs programs, shadowing genetic counselors, etc. By my senior year, I could think of nothing else that I wanted more than to start my journey of becoming a genetic counselor! I completed the long and stressful process of applying and interviewing at three programs and anxiously awaited “D-day.” I was actually still in classes on this day, so I ended up getting called while I was driving to class and during two of my classes. Unfortunately, they all had the same news for me: “wait- listed.”
I do not think I have ever been more nervous in my entire life. My entire future was hanging in the balance for the next two days, while others were making their decisions. This time period was really hard for me, but I just tried to tell myself, “a lot of people get wait-listed,” and, “that one school told me I was really high on the wait-list, so that is a definite possibility.” As that dreadful three day period came to an end, I found out one by one that each of the programs had filled all of their spots. Just as a side note, no one ever told me how to respond to this. I was on the phone about to burst into tears while also trying to maintain professionalism and thinking, “What am I supposed to say? Thank you?”
After a couple of days, I managed to accept the reality that I would NOT be attending graduate school the next year. As one would expect, I was devastated. Eventually, I understood that I just needed to do more to become a better, stronger applicant. So, I set forth on finding a job and volunteer activities that would give me the opportunity to gain experiences that would better prepare me to become a genetic counseling student. For me, these things consisted of working with and teaching students with autism and volunteering on a crisis hotline for domestic violence, both of which I did not have time to do as an undergrad.
While applying for the second time, I applied to more schools and hoped that this, plus my new experiences, would push me to the top! I was less nervous for this round of interviews because I knew what the interviews would be like; including schedules, what questions they might ask, what questions I would ask, etc. So, I think having interviewed at programs the year before was a definite advantage for me in this sense. I also had a lot more to talk about that I could directly relate to genetic counseling!
Even though all of my interviews went really well, I am not going to lie, I was very hesitant to feel any kind of assurance. Fortunately, I was able to be home for this round of “D-day.” The first call I got was from Emory University—an acceptance, not wait-listed! They really wanted me! I was the one who actually had a decision to make. The rest of the day, and the next two days, were kind of a blur, but in a good way! Now, as my first year is coming to a close, I am thankful that I had that extra time to prepare for life as a genetic counseling student.
The moral of the story is that you should not be discouraged if you end up interviewing more than once for genetic counseling programs. In all of my interviews, the directors said, “You would not be here for an interview if you weren’t qualified.” It is important to remember that the programs are small, and they just don’t have enough spots to accept every person who is qualified. Some of the most amazing counselors I know are people who interviewed more than once. I hope this eases your mind if you are in a similar situation. On the other hand, if you are interviewing for the first time, please do not let my story discourage you. There are several people in my class who got in the first time they interviewed.
I wish you the best of luck during your interviews! You are all going to do great!