An applicant is only allowed to put limited, watered-down information in an application for SLP graduate school. Then, schools may limit the number of pages per document. A one page resume here. A one page, single spaced letter of intent there. Send official transcripts over here and way over there. All this information rests in the hands of secretaries, clinical directors, and graduate school departments; it’s only your future and dreams wrapped into an envelope or “submit” button. No big deal (ha!). Interviews, waiting lists, and nail-biting email subject lines create a haphazard funneling process as hopeful applicants clamor for the few and coveted SLP graduate school slots.
Have you applied before? Have you applied more than once? Twice? Three times? Nothing breaks my heart more than the countless emails I have received over the past year and a half from fellow SLP graduate student hopefuls asking similar questions: “Why can’t I get into SLP graduate school?”…”Is it hopeless?” …”What’s the trick?”
You can’t showcase some of the best qualities in an SLP graduate student in one page resumes, letters of intent, GPA, and GRE scores. When you consider the funnel above, the circles inside the funnel are the only semi-objective ways schools tend to make decisions. The bubbles show the additional qualities and essential traits an SLP graduate student needs; but it’s hard to put these concepts on display when you want to highlight other qualities and experience. Some measures do not showcase level of commitment, number of observations, or how raising five children and being a loving wife or husband contribute to leadership abilities. If I knew a better way to objectively allow applicants to display their talents, I would share.
I used to play softball when I was younger, and my favorite part of the season was try-outs for the All Stars team. The best-of-the-best displayed their talents and waited to be chosen. Applying to SLP graduate school for any university is a similar situation, only with more education and more at risk. Consider how many potential applicants go through the same process for each university. It’s hard to estimate how many people have the right “package” the university is looking for from year-to-year, but sometimes you just happen to be #21 on a list where they only take #1-20. Higher GPA’s, higher GRE scores, or those with more experience happened to apply the same year. You tried your best, and continue to pursue your dream; each year is different.
GPA and GRE Scores
As much as relevant experience and undergraduate course work can work in your favor when applying, sometimes a lower GPA or GRE score can knock you down once schools begin making final selections. I’m not involved in this process, but how else can schools decide between two, highly qualified, experienced adults who both gave beautifully written letters of intent and stellar interviews. If one had a 3.5 GPA and the other had a 3.8, it might just come down to the details, despite your best efforts.
SLP graduate schools admit anywhere from 10-30 people per year, and some per semester/quarter. Given 100+ applications, 30 or so may be interviewed and narrowed down even further. Waiting for an acceptance letter, only to meet a polite yet short rejection email. Again with the list that was narrowed down from 100 to 20, and your slot happened to be #21.
I don’t have all the answers, and many of my responses may not apply to all universities. I do not want to end on a negative note, though. I wrote this post to reach out to those with lingering questions, those who’ve lost hope, and those who do not yet know the difficulties in applying to SLP graduate school. It’s hard, stressful, and a test of patience. Yet, there is a sadness with every rejection letter and hope in the ones that start with “Congratulations”. Whatever road you happen to travel, I hope you find your way and share your knowledge of applying with others going through the same struggles and excitements.