Blog Archives

Suggestions for Writing a Letter of Intent


Historically, I’ve written several posts on writing a letter of intent and responding to essay prompts when applying to Speech-Language Pathology graduate school. But I have more to share. I have opinions and ideas based on my reading of 45 letters in the past 3 weeks. Ladies and you few gentlemen, read on to hear my opinionated ideas on how to construct an epic essay.

SLP graduate school letter of intent - info

 Tuck It In

Stop using 10 words when 5 will do. The first thing I do is read through a paragraph and ask myself, “Was that easy to read?” or “Did I use too many words?”. This is the first impression of your writing skills; don’t show off with fancy fluffy words —- Keep it tucked it! AKA, don’t go on and on about one experience. Use one or two sentences to elaborate, and move on to something else. This is your resume in paragraph form. Woo them with your wordsmithing.

Vary Your Topics

To further expand on the above, don’t over-elaborate on your reason for entering the field, experiences, and interests. Make sure to cover them all, but don’t be like that one family member who can’t stop talking about that one experience in 1970 that changed their life. People care, really they do, but they don’t need every detail. Show your passion for as many topics as you can; our profession is broad so show your breadth of knowledge.

Explain Your Experience, But Don’t Brag

The line between explaining your experience and bragging on yourself lies somewhere between humble confidence and overt suck-up type statements. For example, if you have been working as an SLP assistant for 2 years, a quality sentence of explanation might be, “The direct client intervention techniques I learned during my word as an SLP assistant give me real-word experience in preparation for graduate school.” For those who take it a bit too far, it might sound something like this, “Working under Mrs. Fancypants SLP at the Esteemed school district prepared me for the XYZ graduate program as she previously ran the program. Her recommendation and feedback has solidified my determination.” Name dropping is good if you do it correctly. Be careful, but be your biggest fan. Make it obvious you know what you know and you’re ready to learn more from their program.

Avoid Certain Verb Tenses

I had been reading essays from quality students, but if I had been reading less quirky verb tenses, I might would have perhaps been less confused. — Ok…that was blatantly confusing. But seriously, avoid past perfect progressive and present perfect progressive tenses. It makes sentences wordy, and it just muddles up a quality essay and response. This is obviously just my personal opinion, but it’s my blog, so there it is :)

Be Personal

I don’t want to know your deepest darkest secret, but if you mention you have an interest in bilingual language development or pediatric dysphagia, don’t create a cliff hanger. For example, instead of just saying you worked at XYZ foundation and finally realized your love of the profession, elaborate some: “My work with XYZ foundation furthered my interest for working with individuals from multicultural backgrounds. I met determined children who were mislabeled and misunderstood, and I felt impassioned to reach them on a much deeper level.” Short, sweet, and you can sense the impact.

Let Me Read It

Ok, it doesn’t have to be me exactly, but let someone read it. Someone who has some experience with professional essays and honest critiques. I’ve never met you and have no fear of offending or critiquing your work. Better me than a review board. Be open to feedback about your writing. It’s so competitive to get admitted, and if your writing isn’t spot on, you’re one step closer to the rejection pile. Write a stand-out essay or response and put one more thing in your favor.  Contact me on my About Me page and ask if I’ll review. I’m always happy to.

Happy Writing!

Soundable: A Review


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).

Soundable
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.

  1. Pick an opponent
  2. Pick a game type
  3. Use the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) or Phonics
  4. Spell words using sounds
  5. 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!SoundableScreenshot_FB

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Deciding to blog about SLP


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:

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“Less Competitive” SLP Graduate Schools discussion


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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

 

Acceptance and Rejection


Were you accepted to an SLP graduate school? Or Did you receive one of those disheartening rejection letters?

Acceptance letters. I remember opening the email that held the golden ticket. I jumped up, screamed, and danced around my apartment. I tried calling my parents…no answer. I just sat there and cried. I had already been rejected from 3 other schools. I was feeling as if my life choice was the wrong one. And then I read that letter. The letter of acceptance. The joy and emotions cannot be expressed. I hope some of you…my lovely readers…have felt this same sensation as of late.

acceptance

Rejection letters. If you applied to multiple schools and have already received rejection letters, I wish I could hug you. Just thinking about that letter of rejection just makes me relive those moments of sadness, overwhelming helplessness, and feelings of inadequacy. All the hard work, accolades, and confidence just melt away in an instant.

Whether you are dancing for joy or reading this amid tears of rejection, remember those letters are just the beginning. The beginning of a 2 year graduate school journey. Or the beginning of waiting another year or shifting your goals. I don’t want to get cliché  here, rambling on about opening windows or when a door closes another opens. Blah blah…rejection letters just make you want to slam every door and break a window. But really, these letters don’t define your worth. You are worthy of your aspirations in this field.

Press on or move on – it’s up to you. But don’t let an acceptance letter boost your ego too much, and don’t let a rejection letter deflate all your dreams.

If you are waiting to hear back from various SLP graduate schools, then my thoughts are with you. Keep me posted and keep your spirits high!

What are my chances of getting into SLP grad school? Part 2


In 2012, I wrote “What are my chances of getting into grad school for SLP?”. It’s my most read post I’ve ever published. I know exactly why, too. People want to know if investing in a career as a Speech-Language Pathologist is easy or difficult and worth the investment.

In 2013, a joint publication by the Council of Academic Programs in Communications Sciences and Disorders (CAPCSD) and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) published survey data based on information provided by nation-wide SLP graduate programs. It’s the same survey I used to find the data in my first post. In this post, I wanted to compare the 2 documents and see what’s changed over the past few years. One thing to keep in mind as you read through these, many individuals apply to more than one university – the large number of applications does not reflect the actual number of people who applied, just the number of applications. Check out the resource and info below for yourself…

Table 1 shows GRE scores that haven’t been converted to reflect the new score reporting using the ETS Concordance Table. No data was available from the 2011-2012 report.

average verbal - quantitative scores for SLP grad school

Table 1

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A Must-Buy book for New SLPs


There hasn’t been a week during this first year as an SLP that I haven’t turned to pages in this book with an unmistakable urge to hunt down the authors and hug them forever.

Secord, W. A., Boyce, S. E., Donahue, J. S., Fox, R. A., & Shine, R. E. (2007). Eliciting sounds: Techniques and strategies for clinicians [spiral bound]. Clifton Park, NY: Thomson Delmar Learning. 

It runs about $50-$70. When I first bought this book, it didn’t feel important. It was almost like a leaflet you might pick up at a doctor’s office. Like an adult “Highlights Magazine”, except more expensive. Now days, it holds an esteemed place of honor in my top right hand drawer. Easily accessible. Always nearby. I would pay $100 for this gem.

I’m hoping this book is a standard required reading source in SLP grad school. If not, then buy it. You won’t regret it.

That is all for now. I’m cold…in Alaska…breaking news, huh? :)

In related news:

Interview with Wayne Secord on his book

Wayne Secord presentation on elicitation techniques

Eliciting /k/ and /g/ with help from Secord’s book

Which SLP university should I pick? – At least consider the debt


I’ve had a few moments lately where I started thinking about what I was thinking, and how I came to think that way. It has little to do with the school’s name on my diploma or how much it cost me. It has everything to do with the supervisors and professors who taught me there. Obviously the university hired the professors and paid them, then I in-turn gave them all my money. So thank you University of West Georgia. But really….a degree in Speech-Language Pathology is a 2 year mentor-ship, littered with independent studying and sleepless nights. Conveniently located on a campus where everyone else is just as mentor-dependent. 

The quality of a mentor does not directly correlate with the amount of debt you have to incur in order to achieve a degree in Speech-Language Pathology.

debt slp

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A follow up to “Craft a Stand-Out Application”


In the January 2014 publication of the ASHA Leader, there was  a post entitled “Student’s Say: Craft a Stand-Out Application” As far as my Google search of “ASHA + SLP grad school applications” took me, this is one of the first of it’s kind for ASHA. I’ve been blogging about these same issues for over 2 years. Giving similar hints, tips, and advice the author, Carol Polovoy, offered up.

What I particularly appreciate about this post is that she was able to interview and get recent statistics from SLP grad schools. For instance,   she reported “Montclair (N.J.) State University, for example, received 541 speech-language pathology program applications and accepted 38 (7 percent) for the 2011–2012 year.” 7%!!!!??? Woah. That’s depressing. But then she followed with another recent statistic, saying  “The University of Pittsburgh…received 339 applications for 2011– 2012, and offered admission to 94 (27.7 percent).” 27.7% is WAY better than 7%.

I’ve never claimed to be an expert, but in 2012 I wrote a post on the chances of getting admitted into an SLP graduate school. I collected my numbers from the Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CAPCSD). I’ve also written several other posts – here and here and here and here  – about the application process. It’s now 2014. The process has only gotten tougher and more competitive. People are interested in the field of Speech-Language Pathology. Applicants are frustrated, tired, and worn down by the process of applying and the potential rejection.

ASHA, I appreciate the post and the thoroughness the author went through to get the information. Now…what’s next? Are there any more posts planned on this topic? Because there are so many questions from students. They need answers, and not from me. My blog is only popular because these issues aren’t being addressed elsewhere. I hope ASHA has more posts like this.. real, heart felt, and research based.

I can’t be the only one blabbering on about the SLP grad school trenches. Let’s see what happens.

Good Student or Good Therapist?


I recently tweeted about an illustrated quote  by the gentleman over at ZenPencils.com; it’s called “Erica Goldson – Graduation Speech.” Nothing, as of late, has inspired me more than reading this quote ( please check it out before you continue). My SLP graduate school graduation is this Saturday, July 27 and I won’t be attending since I moved to Alaska about 2 weeks ago. After reading this, I reflected on my own graduate school journey. One question came to mind:

Am I a good student or a good therapist? 

zen pencils - work ticket

Excerpt from the quote

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