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!

The Last Frontier and Me, an SLP


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.

20140423_203300-MOTION

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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.

 

Being the Youngest Expert in the Room


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.

YOUNGEST expert

SLP Clinical Fellowship – Honestly


4 years of an undergraduate degree followed by 2 years getting a Master’s degree, all you really think about is that first payday when you start your Clinical Fellowship. Something about being paid for the work you are doing – it rights the soul. All those sleepless nights studying, worrying, writing, reading – ugh! If I had been paid for the work I invested in my education, let’s just say you could all come stay with me on my own Alaskan homestead.

Now, some honesty…

knight echo

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Clinical Competency for Soon-to-Be SLPs


Hot off the presses from the International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders. I want to share my thoughts on a recent article entitled Impact of placement type on the development of clinical competency in speech-language pathology students. 

The thing I enjoyed most about this article was how they described their “aim”. In summary, they wanted to see how the placement type for SLP students impacted the competency levels as they progressed through the program. I often wondered how I can be just as competent as my classmate when we observed different SLPs and were placed in very different settings. Yet many of us felt equally confident. This article helped shed some light on why different experiences can result in the same clinical competency. Here’s a quick look at the highlights I discuss below:

  • Caseload, setting, and placement intensity may impact clinical competence for soon-t0-be SLPs
  • Caseload appeared to be the most significant variable impacting an increase in clinical knowledge
  • No matter the setting, every placement provided opportunities for growth as a future SLP

clinical competency


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First Week – Clinical Fellowship


I made it. This was the first full week starting my SLP-CF here in The Last Frontier. I have about 50 + kiddos on my caseload and couldn’t be more excited. All the preparation in the world couldn’t have prepared me for sitting down at my desk in front of a cabinet full of working files, and figuring out how I’m going to make this work. On more than one occasion, I wanted to stop and ask someone, “Excuse me, could you tell me how to do my job?” But I gathered my newbie-baggage, shook-off the overwhelming feelings, and tackled my job. Sink or swim people…and the water is cold.

Matanuska Glacier 2013

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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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