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What are some helpful tips for grad school?

I am currently a college student majoring in Speech Language Pathology. I want to know what some helpful resources or tips when entering grad school.

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Michelle’s Answer

Hello, Nene !

I am so happy to know that you will be going into one of the most admirable careers ever ! I applaud you for taking the steps towards a most rewarding and needed career and would like to touch upon some things that you may think about.

To begin with, I have left some links below for you about what scholarships and grants are available for you to apply to for grad school. In your reading, you may even come across some that will help you currently. There are a lot more than what I've provided, so it would be beneficial to do additional searches as well as check with your Speech Therapy Department at your current college. You are probably taking anatomy and psychology as I would recommend that for this field of work.

I wanted to bring up Deaf Services as you may be working with the deaf community being in New York City where there is a substantial population that you may serve. As a former human services case manager I obtained ten years of Deaf Culture training and I was basically the go-to Case Manager for our deaf clients. Our agency did have a full-fledged Deaf Services Department, however.

Some deaf individuals use ASL, some verbalize, some don't, some read lips and some rely on the written word and most who use ASL use the Sorenson video relay service with ASL. You will find that every deaf person is completely different in their communication preferences. It's just an idea because many of my older deaf clients were taught by speech pathologists how to verbalize and this may be a preference for some patients you may receive. If you haven't already taken a class about it, the website Coursera has an online course in American Deaf Culture. You can go to that website and do a search within the website for it. Working with the deaf population was the highlight of my former career. I have even acted in a play with a deaf actress once which was amazingly awesome !

Another population that your studies may have covered would be those that have Fluency Disorders (otherwise known as stuttering) . My advice is to explore all of the potential populations and do some supplemental reading about it, but I think Fluency Disorders would be heavily covered in your study path. So my advice is to just concentrate on your current courses and try to do amazing projects when you are assigned to do them. Gather all of the scholarship and grant information that you can now and keep it for future reference at the time you will be applying for grad school. Get a GRE practice book and get an idea of what the GRE exam will be like to enroll in grad school or see if your school still requires the GRE for your Masters. You can also figure out who you will ask for letters of recommendation for your application for your Masters.

I hope that these suggestion are helpful to you and I wish you all the best moving forward with your studies and an outstanding career !

Michelle recommends the following next steps:

GRANTS AND SCHOLARSHIPS POST GRAD SPEECH THERAPY STUDENTS https://speechpathologymastersprograms.com/scholarships/
SPEECH PATHOLOGY SCHOLARSHIPS UNDER AND POST GRADS https://www.collegescholarships.com/major-degree/speech-pathology-scholarships
GRADUATE PROGRAM SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SPEECH LANGUAGE PATHOLOGY https://www.speechpathologygraduateprograms.org/slp-scholarship-guide/
COMMUNICATIONS SCIENCES GRANTS https://www.asha.org/research/grants-funding/
GRADUATE SCHOOL SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SPEECH PATHOLOGY https://www.onlinemastersdegrees.org/financial-aid/scholarships/speech-pathology/
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Gina’s Answer

Good afternoon Nene,
Advice for preparing for SLP graduate admissions…..

I’m a speech pathologist and also a college professor in communication disorders, so I have reviewed many graduate school applications.

Since you are an undergraduate SLP major you will have all of the prerequisites for any graduate program. Most programs will require a fairly high GPA (often 3.6 but possibly higher), often but not always the GRE, a personal statement of interest in an SLP career and/ or the specific program you are applying to, and letters of recommendation (usually 3).

Most programs receive many more applicants than they have spots for, so admissions is fairly competitive. Ways to help your application stand out …..
* Include a well-organized resume to highlight your achievements, usually this isn’t asked for but it’s a good visual and looks professional.
* Get at least 2 strong letters of recommendation from college instructors who know you well, and all 3 letters from instructors if possible. ALWAYS waive the right to read these letters yourself, you will be able to select yes or no on this.
* Most personal essays tell the story of a student being introduced to speech therapy by a family member who needed speech services, or a client who inspired them. This is Absolutely Fine, but if you have a way to make your essay or story deviate from this, your application will stand out from the rest. If you have been involved in research at all, even in another area, definitely include this if it inspired you at all. If you are bilingual or from a non-mainstream culture, including this in your essay would be great. If you changed majors or have a unique background that led you to the path, tell that story, and how your diverse or unique background will help you be a better clinician.
* Also, if you began a college career, did poorly, and are now restarting in a new major on the pathway to becoming an SLP, you may want to highlight this and tell a story of what you learned along this path and how you are now successful in college and excited about graduate school. A program will review all of your transcripts.
*Review each program you apply to and if possible tailor your essay to that program. Show that you know and admire the program mission and strengths, mention faculty research areas you find intriguing. If you are applying using a generalized system with the same letter submitted to every school, you can’t so this so don’t worry about it. But if you visit a campus or are interviewed Definitely know all of this and mention it in your interactions.

When comparing graduate programs, always make sure each program is currently accredited by ASHA, our national accreditation agency. Go see the campus and department in person if you can, certainly for each program you are accepted into and seriously considering. Every program has a unique personality and ‘feel’ and some will appeal to you - you might really be surprised at the program you like best in person.

Programs will generally offer the same classes, but some will have specific tracks to choose, such as child vs. adult. Also, some programs may have specific strengths you may be interested in, such as Cranial Facial disorders (like cleft palate), Birth to 3 years old, medical speech pathology. These strengths can be in the clinical work, and in faculty and clinical supervisor areas of focus.

Also, some programs will have you begin your clinical work with clients your first semester, others will have you complete a semester or two of classes and then begin to get clinical training. Either is good, one may suit you best.

Speech Pathology is a great career! Best of luck, Gina
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Pina’s Answer

I don't know what I have to add to the above already excellent responses. I think it's important to become as familiar as possible with the different areas of the field, such as comprehension, including auditory memory and processing, motor speech issues and articulation, receptive-expressive language acquisition and disorders, fluency, voice, swallowing, both within normal limits and dysphagia, neurology, autism and neurodegenerative conditions. Any reading you can do will help prepare you for graduate seminars and to assist you in identifying and building upon your specialty areas. Good luck, and enjoy! Graduate studies in our field are a fascinating and very fulfilling ride!
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Katie’s Answer

Hi Nene,

Fantastic question! I went to graduate school for a PhD for a different field, but the best advice I have for anyone pursuing any type of graduate school is:

1. Interview current students of the programs you are applying to (you can often find their emails on department websites); email them and ask them if they'd be willing to have a short phone conversation with you, you can use the template I've written for you below.

It's important to have a phone conversation (or in-person if you're nearby and that can happen), because folks will be more candid and honest when their feedback is not in writing. During the phone conversation you'll want to ask the following: 1. If you could choose again, would you choose this school/program again? 2. What are the top 2 things you love about your program/school. 3. What are your top 2 complaints with the program/school ? Take their responses at face-value. Programs that treat students well will be evident based on those responses.

Hi <name>,
My name is Nene and I'm interested in pursuing <degree> in the same program that you are in. I'm gathering information on the program to see if it would be the right fit for me. Do you have 30 minutes in the next week or so to please have a phone conversation with me, so that I can ask about the program and your experiences there?

Thank you!
<name>
(if you have a linkedIn, you can include that link under your name in the email. If you don't have one that's okay too!

2. I also highly recommend you watch/listen to this podcast episode (I was a guest on it) where several of us give advice on things to consider when choosing a graduate school - and many of those things are beyond the academics. Cultural fit, and location are also important! https://pfforphds.com/healthy-wealthy-and-wise-choose-a-phd-program-that-will-support-your-personal-and-professional-development/


Best of luck on your journey!

Katie recommends the following next steps:

1. Reach out to current students in the program via email (See template above) and ask them for a phone call
2. Watch/listen to this podcast episode on how to choose a gradschool that's a good fit both academically and culturally: https://pfforphds.com/healthy-wealthy-and-wise-choose-a-phd-program-that-will-support-your-personal-and-professional-development/
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