I mailed off my ASHA CCC-SLP application at the end of May 2014. It’s now mid-July.
ASHA has a good excuse though. The new 2015 standards start this Fall and all ‘old standard’ applications must be in before September (I think, some actual date that I’m too lazy to look up). I get it, ASHA. I do. But these feelings of anxiety bring me back to 2011 when I applied for grad school and spent every day checking my inbox, mailbox, and any box that came near me.
It’s not hampered my summer vacation by any means. Oh no. Nothing can take the Alaska bliss away from me. My distinct blog post absence has to be a sign to you, oh wonderful readers, that I’m enjoying every minute of these 18+ hour days.
But I’m still checking my bank account for the day ASHA cashes that $280 check they are keeping hostage. I’ll call in a negotiator if need be. I’ll let you guys know how the situation plays out. Until then, enjoy these Alaska summer time pics. #stillwaiting
Bellow is a guest post by Brian Goldstein, Ph.D., CCC-SLP (Dean & Professor, La Salle University). His words echo my own thoughts on the issue I frequently discuss on my blog – admittance into SLP graduate programs. He has much to say, and we should all be willing to listen, digest, and act. Read on my dear followers…
In my almost 10 years as a University administrator, I have had occasion to talk to members of the Board of Trustees at two different Universities. You might expect that main topics of conversation with Board members might have been graduation rates, faculty hiring, new programs, or budgets. You’d be wrong on all counts. The most common topic of discussion with Board members has involved admission into the master’s program in speech-language pathology. As the current Provost of La Salle University says, “it’s easier to get into some Ivy League schools than it is to get into the master’s program in speech-language pathology.” For the Fall 2014 class at La Salle, we had over 400 applications for 18 spots. In 2011-2012, there were 52,339 applications to the 224 ASHA-accredited programs that completed the survey, http://bit.ly/1vY9ril. I’m sure I don’t have to do that math for you. I would suggest you read this report for this and other sobering statics such as average GPA and average GRE score.
We are all aware of the fact that the number of applications to SLP programs far exceeds the number of available spots. The questions are why the situation exists and what might we do to obviate it. I, along with many others, am deeply concerned that if we do not start working to fix this issue, then well-qualified students will choose not to go into SLP because they believe they will never get into a master’s program. The time to address this issue is now and there is no time to waste.
The limited number of spots in master’s SLP programs has engendered numerous blog posts (e.g., here, here and here) and Twitter discussions—the latter being the impetus for this blog post. In my experience as Program Director, Department Chair, Associate Dean, and Dean, I thought I would try and bring my perspective to this discussion. Here, I want to focus on 2 main reasons for this bottleneck: (1) faculty and (2) clinical placements.
One solution to opening up more spots in graduate programs is to increase the size of the faculty in existing programs and/or hire faculty to open new programs. There’s a problem though. There are not enough faculty. Period. OK, so it’s more complicated than that but let’s start here. In 2011-2012, ASHA (2011, http://bit.ly/1vY9ril) reports that there were openings for 135 full-time faculty, with a projected total of 272 openings through 2017. Approximately, 28% of the openings went unfilled.
What do these data tell us? There are openings for faculty but not enough faculty to fill the available positions. If there are not enough faculty to fill open positions for the programs that exist now, how would it be possible to open any new programs? On a side note, it is expensive to run graduate speech-language pathology programs—from faculty to staff to labs to equipment, etc. The expenses are significant and growing. Back to the faculty issue. Is it possible to educate and hire faculty who do not have a research doctorate? Yes, no, maybe. Take a step back and think about how and where current faculty are educated. They are largely educated in research Universities whose mentors were educated in research Universities and so on. The expectation is that after graduation these individuals will be researchers who teach and not necessarily teachers who do research. Yes, I am generalizing. However, the mode educational paradigm is research faculty educating and mentoring doctoral students in research institutions who will become faculty members at research institutions and perpetuate the line. I freely admit, by the way, that I was of that mindset as well. My sojourn about 5 miles up Broad Street in Philadelphia from Temple University to La Salle University has changed my perspective. Now that the disclaimer is out of the way…
I moved to Alaska on July 7, 2013. I’ve been here almost a year. I haven’t spoke of it much on my blog, mostly because I didn’t think people would care. But its become such a huge piece of why I love being an SLP and why I don’t want to leave, that I need to share – I need to you all to hear what is happening in Alaska….allow me to share with you, my readers, a piece of me. A piece of self that I found here.
If you’re currently in an SLP undergraduate or graduate program, Soundable is your new “Rosetta Stone®” for learning phonetics. I distinctly remember meeting in empty rooms with my undergrad friends taking turns yelling out words, then seeing who could phonetically spell it out the quickest. If only we had this app back then. Sure, you could practice workbooks or beg a friend to study for hours in the library – BORING! Read the rest of this review, download the app, go about your business, and let’s battle to the death playing Soundable!!! (or till we run out of tiles, details…details).
Cost: Free – there is an in-app purchase option to remove ads if you get tired of them. This app is only available on iTunes at the moment.
What is Soundable?
The best description of the game comes straight from the website, “It’s like Scrabble® for friends who can’t spell!”I’ve always been a terrible speller, which is why the normal Scrabble game makes me turn up my nose. Soundable takes away the spelling component and brings back those early phonics skills they’ve become automatic with reading. Since the developers are Tactus Therapy and LessonPix, the quality is excellent and you can tell they put forth great effort into making this game streamlined and easy to play.
How do you play? (video tutorial here)
You start by selecting an opponent by looking up their username. Mine is “slp_echo” so you have someone to play when you get started.
- Pick an opponent
- Pick a game type
- Use the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) or Phonics
- Spell words using sounds
- Battle your opponent until you’re an IPA and/or phonics master! #Soundable
Game Types: You can play a “Quick” or “Full Game” in Soundable. Meaning, you can play your opponent until the last tiles have been laid – OR – you can see who makes it to 200 first. Both have their challenges. In a quick game, you need to focus on getting the most points as quick as you can. In the “Full Game”, by the end, you might only have 1 consonant and like 6 vowels. Yikes! Either way, get ready for a challenge!
I love to type my thoughts out. I started blogging in 2011 and it wasn’t about who would read it. It was that I had these opinions and ideas that no one else was saying or sharing. Nobody wanted to address the lack of real information in the SLP graduate school world. It was all coming from one place – ASHA. While they certainly have their place and roll, that is by no means enough. Myself, Hanna B. SLP, and OliviaSLP were the only SLP students blogging.
People are searching, grasping for lines of truth from others who experience the same exasperation. I was fed up with not finding, and decided to share my own opinions. Who knew, 3 years later I’d have near 200,000 views and daily emails full of people wanting answers. I gladly answer each and every email, which lately, I’ve been receiving at least one every day.
I just read this question/screen shot from one of the blogs I read, and someone posed this question and then the response:
Just a few years ago, I was sitting in my un-classy apartment in West Georgia impatiently waiting to start SLP grad school. It’s been almost 3 years and I’ve learned one or 2 things. Last year, I wrote “Summer Reading List for New SLP Grad Students” . But, allow me to share something I wish someone had shared with me long ago…
SpeechPathology.com - ever heard of it? Maybe you have. I see their ads in my Facebook feed. Or in emails I didn’t realize I signed up for at an ASHA convention. But this one…this one is worth clicking on.
I’ve recently become fascinated by the SLP sub category on Reddit.com. It’s an open forum for questions, links, and information; in this sub-Reddit (as they say), there has been quite the discussion on “less competitive” SLP graduate schools. When I was applying, I didn’t think any grad school was less competitive than another. I thought they all had equally competitive application processes. And to be honest, I associate “less competitive” with “easy” “accepts lower GPA/GRE” or “less applicants”. And in some ways, I guess that’s true.
There are two threads of discussion on this topic that I’ve focused on.
- Reddit: On 4/9/2014, the question “What are some “less competitive” SLP grad programs” was posed to the group. Currently at 18 comments at the time of this post, it’s a great discussion.
- TheGradCafe.com: On 1/23/2014 a user started the “Fall 2014 “Less Competitive” Grad Programs Applicants Thread!”. Currently at 250 replies, it’s an amazing read if you want to scour the pages.
I think what interests me the most is the sheer number of people searching this type of information. I get lots of hits on my blog with similar search terms. People want to get into this profession, yet are blocked at the door. I’m scared for my readers and happy for the ones that make it. But there are so many applicants that are worthy and passionate. I just wish there was more room for everyone.
Give these threads a read if you are interested. My thoughts on “less competitive” grad schools is that truly, there aren’t any. Searchers looking for an answer, there are suggestions in these posts that “safety” school exist. I just don’t know if that’s solid advice. Maybe I’m just uninformed or cynical in the matter. But nothing short of hard work, experience, and determination will get you into grad school. And even that isn’t always rewarded with a ticket.
Keep at it readers. Keep asking and keep discussing. If others have success, learn from it and use it as fuel for your own fire.
It’s Research Tuesday! This week is all about grammar. I am up to my knees in grammar goals. Pluralization. Past tense. Present progressive. Pronouns. Possessives. It’s raining grammar in Alaska, folks…and I needed some guidance. Where better to get guidance than research. I didn’t get all that schoolin’ for nothin’ (excuse my grammar, ha!)
Article: Smith-Lock, K.M., Leitao, S., Lambert, L., & NIckels, L. (2013) Effective intervention for expressive grammar in children with specific language impairment. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 48(3), 265-282. [Open Access|
Useful content and strategies I can apply tomorrow:
- Narratives without appropriate grammar decrease timing and reference points to link characters to the story line. (I can use this statement in explanation of IEP present levels/evaluation write-ups)
- Utilize a specific grammar screener to determine potential treatment targets such as possessive “s”, past tense, present tense, and pronouns. Within the article, they pilot tested the screener on a group of typically developing same-age children for comparison.
- Focused stimulation, recasting, and imitation are all efficacious treatment techniques for grammar interventions
One thing about entering and graduating from a Master’s program at a relatively young age means that in a room full of experts, I tend to be the youngest one. It’s not a bad thing most of the time, and I’m probably the only one who quickly sizes up and estimates colleagues and parents’ age. Sometimes, when I’m about to share my evaluation report or discuss a recent diagnosis, I get nervous. And I start running down my list of personally-perceived short comings; my gut reaction is to think of my age.
I’m 25 and in a position that allows me the responsibility to diagnose and plan courses of treatment for individuals who have difficulties with communication. 5 years ago my biggest responsibility was waking up in time for my dreaded 8:00 AM Philosophy class. This CF year has been a huge transition in my life, both professionally and personally. I needed to mentally catch up with my new degree, new responsibilities, and new career. I’m still working on it…obviously.
Walking into a meeting where I am the expert on the child, the expert on his or her language, I am supposed to gauge how the next year will look on our plan of action. I need to remember my skills and my strengths when those moments arise and I think my age makes me appear weak or uninformed. I’m young, but I have education and research on my side. The experience will come in due time.
Until then, I am thankful for colleagues who share kind words about how well I do in meetings or how organized and on-top of things I seem. Only myself and you, my readers know the quiet inadequacies I need to overcome. Carry on.