Plan B for the #slp2b

Are you wanting to pursue a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology?

If you are getting your bachelors degree, applying to graduate school or have already applied, you might be thinking…What if I don’t get in anywhere?

You just spent $200+ applying to schools all over the place, yet the mailbox is still empty. Gradcafe.com has several accepted posts, your calls to the departmental assistants go unanswered, and the graduate admissions counselor still says “be patient”. You begin to question your references, GRE score, interview performance, and if they even consider you?!

And then it happens. You get the terrible, no good, very bad rejection letter from the grad schools of your dreams. (Insert weeping here). All the admissions deadlines have passed and you accept the reality it will be another year before you can take the next step to becoming a Speech-Language Pathologist. Now what?

let it be

So your GPA was 3.5+, your GRE was something to be feared by ETS themselves, your recommendation letters would make the Pope say yes, and your letter of intent implied you would literally be the best SLP since Rhea Paul; but you STILL didn’t get in. Makes you wonder “What are they looking for? Do they want a letter from the ASHA president herself?”

The truth is, many students fresh out of SLP or CSD undergraduate programs do not get in the first year they apply. I may be one of these exceptions, but I have plenty of friends who were forced to wait a year or two (or more) due to multiple factors: Inability to move due to family or children, low GRE score because of test anxiety, unable to raise their GPA because they are no longer in school, lack of outside activities on resume because they work full time and/or raise a family full time, and the ever popular “I just haven’t been accepted”. While many of you have already done the below things and still have yet to be accepted, I’m still hoping for the very best for you!

1. Make your self marketable. 

2. Participate in Undergraduate Research
  • Many professors, especially those that are tenured, engage in research projects and grants each year. Ask them about their research; show your interest and be eager to help. Even if you may or may not be interested in their topic, helping them leads to research experience, potential recommendation letter, and resume booster.
  • Professors won’t let you help? Create your own research! A professor of mine once said if you can’t find anything to research, you aren’t asking the right questions.
  • Here are some research ideas, free of charge: (1) Poll fellow classmates about career readiness and submit as an ASHA or state level poster presentation, (2) Hold hearing screenings on your campus and poll students on why they need their hearing checked, or (3) Use a likert scale to poll random students on-campus if they know what SLPs do or if they have heard of certain aspects of our profession.
  • ***When doing research, always check with a professor about obtaining approval from the IRB at your school**
3. Join a Sorority, Fraternity, or honor society
  • I will be honest, I’ve never been one for these organizations and nor did I think I had the money to join. With that being said, many of sororities/fraternities offer many opportunities to volunteer, serve others, and become a leader.
  • If I had truly known how competitive getting into an SLP/CSD graduate program was my freshman year, I would have been knocking down the doors of one. I didn’t join but thankfully was heavily involved with other things on my own. If that is you as well, then kudos.
  • These organizations give you a chance to show multitasking, problem solving, time management skills, and prioritizing; if you can maintain a 3.5+ GPA and do well on the GRE, you show the Graduate committees more of what graduate students are all about.
4. Consider applying for an SLP position in a school district 
  • Don’t wait until you get an acceptance/rejection letter from graduate programs. 
  • There are 7 states in the U.S. who allow a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree to work as a school-based SLP (some may require a teaching certificate and/or state license).
    • Check out ASHA’s State Requirements document for more information (these document may not reflect year-to-year changes)
    • The 7 are: Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, and Oregon.
  • If you are able to relocate, it will be well worth the year or two you spend learning with hands-on experience. Once you have some SLP experience, SLP graduate programs may place you at the top of their admittance list over other students without similar experiences. You never know!
 As I listen and talk with more undergraduates, I reflect on my own experience with admittance into a program. The anxiety and worry the #slp2b goes through during those months leading up to graduation are difficult. I hope the #slp2b can plan ahead, anticipate the competitiveness, and strive to be the few who can one day say “I am a Speech-Language Pathologist.”

28 thoughts on “Plan B for the #slp2b”

  1. This is awesome! I plan on applying next fall, after I finish a post-bacc program that I’m in to complete my pre-requisites. I hope to take advantage of more volunteer and research opportunities during that time as well. Grad school for SLPs seems to be getting increasingly competitive with the current economic situation. I will definitely have to implement some of the above ideas. Thanks for the useful post!

  2. I spent 2 years after my bachelors before enrolling full time in a graduate program. I was heartbroken at first, but I got a job as a paraprofessional (one-on-one aide) in a school district and then as an SLPA, I took a graduate class each semester at a local university and got to know professors. Eventually, I got into graduate school and even received a grant. Stay positive and do your best to improve yourself. Honestly, I felt so much more comfortable working with clients my first semester of graduate school than many of my classmates, and now I value my time between undergrad and graduate school! 🙂

    1. Hi! I was just accepted into a Master’s Program in Tennessee, and I want to work while earning my master’s. I see that you were a paraprofessional for an SLP. How did you go about that? And in what state were you allowed to be a paraprofessional without licensing? Also, if you don’t mind me asking, what was the pay like as a paraprofessional?

  3. While I was truly grateful to be accepted immediatly following my bachelor’s, I can agree that I saw my inexperience compared to my fellow SLP cohort members who had done the same as you “kt”. The program here really prepared me, but nothing prepares you quite like being thrown in, head first, and no floaties lol 🙂 Good luck to you both!

  4. This post is great (as always). I’d like to augment what you’ve said here with 2 items to (re)consider. The first is the personal statement. I’ve read hundreds of personal statements, many of which are incredibly poorly written. Please have someone read it who will give you constructive criticism, with an emphasis on criticism. The second is to be sure those who are writing letters of recommendation are willing to write *positive* letters. Students often assume if they ask someone for a letter of rec that it automatically will be positive. That is not the case. Paying attention to these two items will increase the odds of being accepted into an SLP grad program. Good luck to all. Thanks again for a great post.

    1. Thank you for the Feedback B. I updated the “Resources” at the bottom to reflect that as well. I recently wrote a post on writing a “Letter of Intent” specifically. Thanks for the critique 🙂

  5. Great post, Katie! So good that people will land here before they read your other posts, so you might want to add one more thing (at least in the comments): getting involved in the SLP Social Media arena.

    Some folks may think that until they’re an SLP, groups like the #SLPeeps on Twitter and Facebook aren’t for them: as a Non-SLP (not even undergrad SLP work!), I can assure you that’s not true. After about a year of interacting on Twitter with folks like yourself, Tanya, Mary and Jeremy, I’m pretty sure I could very quickly find places to volunteer, get involved and even get a related job just by asking.

    For example, when I got an invite to present at a show near Toronto, I got instant (good) advice from Tanya (in nearby Sarnia) in just minutes. On the flip side, I’ve answered questions like “Should I take this position in St. Pete?” with info about the area, weather and demographics.

    I’d give my usual (broken record) list of rules for getting involved on Twitter:
    1) Listen – before you open your virtual mouth, listen to the tone of the conversation by searching for #SLPeeps on Twitter or using HootSuite. It helps to know who’s joking around and who’s more serious.
    2) Learn – folks will answer your questions, but you’ll learn just as much from questions asked by others. Ask followups, post your opinion, get involved.
    3) Try to be Helpful – This is where you really become a member: and it doesn’t take long. If you have an answer, offer it. If you can offer your time/treasure/talent to something just go for it–even if you blow it, the fact that you tried is enough.

    Finally, read Tanya’s Twitter 101 before you get started:

    Again, great post!

    1. Thanks Bill! And yes, social media is a huge part of why I continue to blog. I’m constantly learning from and contributing to the #slpeeps community.

  6. Hi,

    Love the blog! May I ask where you got the info that those 7 states don’t require a Masters to work as an SLP? I’m just wondering exactly what you mean, ’cause when I google, it appears they all require a graduate degree. 😦


      1. I live in OR and graduated with an BS in CSD in 2007. I can definitely tell you from direct experience that the state of OR requires you have a Masters to practice as an SLP. I was genuinely surprised to see this information still on the ASHA website. When looking at the URL of this link, it appears that it’s an older file that’s still live on the site and was not pulled when updates to the site was made.

      2. Hi! Thanks for the comment. I realize the link is old and have been searching for an updated one. Until I can find something, readers…please double check with state associations before using my site and information as “the final word”. It’s a great starting point to know there are some states that do not require a Master’s degree to work as an SLP. Many school districts would also know this information as well wherever you are looking to move or work.
        Thanks for sharing your first-hand knowledge.

  7. Hi! I really appreciated this post, as I just recently found out that I did not get accepted into any of the Master’s programs that I had applied to. I still have yet to hear back from 1 (Nova Southeastern’s Online program), but apparently, they take 6 months to get back to you (I applied in January), and if you are accepted, you have to wait 1 year before you can begin classes. So, needless to say, I am now having to focus on a “Plan B”. I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing/Business Admin (regretfully so) 6 years ago, and made the decision last fall to go back for SLP after witnessing the work SLPs do with rehabilitation patients, as my dad battled tonsil cancer and worked with his SLP on his dysphagia and dysarthria. I knew that this profession is exactly what I want to do, and after I lost my dad in August, realized that this is exactly what I want to do, especially in honor of him. I enrolled in a post-bachelor’s pre-requisite program last August, and will finish my pre-requisites this July. So, when I applied, I had only had time to complete 3 pre-requisites. I was devastated having not gotten accepted into any of the programs, but I do realize that it’s probably best for me to finish the pre-reqs, as well as get a job that is relevant to SLP and get involved in relevant volunteer activities as well. I do have a question for you– I am concerned about finding a job that is relevant, because I live in a smaller town where there are not that many opportunities (my husband’s job is here). I have been told that there may be a few Teacher’s Assistant jobs for Kindergarten at a local school here, but I am wondering if that will be relevant enough to help my chances when I re-apply next year? Do you have any suggestions, and/or do you think working as a Teacher’s Aid in Kindergarten will be considered as relevant experience?? I am desperate to do anything I have to do to get accepted next year!! I have made all A’s in the pre-requisites, which has me at a 3.7 GPA (including my Bachelor’s Degree), and made a 960 on the GRE with a 4.5 writing score. ANY suggestions are very much appreciated!!

    1. I think working in the same setting or close to SLPs is a great, relevant position. I would definitely look into the Teacher’s aid positions and let them know that’s your interest. Even substitute teachers positions. That way, as you sub, you can chat with the SLP and ask to observe or even earn direct contact hours. You can enter graduate school with up to 50 hours – 25 observation, and 25 direct therapy. That will also help boost your resume and application next time around. The SLP must have his/her CCCs and sign off on any you do.

      You could also look into nursing or respite homes and facilities to volunteer or see if they have programs for activities of daily living. Those are programs that SLPs can be involved in or should be.

      Hope that’s helpful! Feel free to contact me with more questions!

  8. I came across this blog during my research for SLP Assistant programs as the first step towards hopefully becoming a SLP.

    One job that CSD graduates can get that is (A) in-demand (B) relevant to SLP and (C) will make the person a much more effective SLP after getting experience doing is working with autistic kids as an Applied Behavioral Analysis interventionist.

  9. Do you have any other job ideas related to the field that we can consider while trying to get into grad school? If we do not get an SLPA job? Thanks!

  10. pleaseeeee never delete this page! so helpful to me in my undergraduate career i always refer back to it 🙂 thank you!

  11. Hello,
    Thank you for such an useful info. I do have one question though which position I can apply for in order to get to speech-language pathology field? I just started to work on my bachelor degree and don’t have much experience. But really want to get into either as just an assistant or secretary in the agency. Please advise 🙂
    Thank you very much

  12. My dream of becoming accepted to an SLP masters program has failed once again after applying 3 years in a row since graduating in 2014. This is so disappointing. My list of qualifications are endless… graduating with a 3.6 with honors, member of NSSLHA, average GRE SCORES, volunteerism ,retook a class to improve my GPA, relocated to North Carolina to work for a speech language pathologist for 1 Year, relocated to Boston where I am currently working as a SLPA in a school system servicing 45 students between two schools. It is heart breaking to not be able to achieve my dream. I feel as if no one is looking at me as a serious candidate. I have tried to take my experiences and make myself more marketable. Feeling lost and contemplating on giving up due to mounting school debt and the need for a better paying job. Any thoughts or suggestions??

  13. No longer waiting for some organization or entity, to grant me permission to do what I went to school for, studied for and paid for. As far as I’m concerned I have a bachelor’s degree in SLP therefore I am an SLP. I have tried since 1999. I have taken more classes worked in closely related jobs etc to get into grad school but to no avail. I have helped many people over the years.

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