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?
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.
- Beef up your resume! Volunteer at events and activities related (even semi-related) to Communication Disorders or the service industry.
- Example: Your state has Speech-Language-Hearing Associations so connect with the executive board and volunteer!
- Example: Volunteer at an Apraxia of Speech Walk near you
- Example: Consider becoming involved with the NSSLHA Executive Council
- Example: Join or create an event similar to NSSLHA’s calendar
- 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**
- 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.
- 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!
- What to Expect When You Are Expecting…To Graduate (A PowerPoint with helpful Ideas)
- Writing a “Letter of Intent” – Edit Edit Edit! Have someone besides you read it for further editing. (see comments below)
- References (see comment below from B. Goldstein): Make sure the people who write your references will write a POSITIVE one!