How many times will you continue to apply to Speech-Language Pathology graduate schools before you stop and consider an alternate route or career path?
I’ve posed this question to myself since many friends and blog readers have commented and emailed me regarding grad school rejection. So when would you stop saying “I’m determined to get into SLP graduate school” and start saying “I’m desperate to get into SLP graduate school.” Where is the line between determination and desperation? After the first year of rejection letters? The second year? The third year? At some point, determination turns into desperation, and the anxiety eats away at the passion and excitement.
I’m not sure if I’m in the right person to post on this topic, but I also feel led to write it. If I had not been admitted into an SLP grad school by now, I wanted to pursue a respiratory therapist degree, or get my teaching certificate with an ESOL certification. I had back-up plans (or a Plan B as I called it in my previous post), but I was desperate to start a program as soon as I graduated. The odds aren’t in our favor that first time applying. The pain of rejection letters and wait-lists were like a knife to the heart. (Insert melodramatic, soap-opera tears). SLP is a passion and for a panel of university faculty to tell you “NO” or “You are our second choice, if everyone else says no” — that hurts, no matter how many reasons you find to say it doesn’t.
When to Say When
When a server says, “Just say When” once you’ve had enough of whatever they are dishing out, it’s at your discretion. No matter who you ask for advice (adviser, SLP, your cat), only you can say enough is enough. Your GPA is as good as it’s going to get. Retaking the GRE for the fourth time will only get you so far. Sometimes, it’s time to say When! But I can’t tell you when that is, you need to give yourself some boundaries and limits. How many times will you apply? How much money are you willing to invest in applications, testing, test-prep, and pre-requisite background classes? Pick a number or pick a year. Decide on a list of 3 or 4 schools that you will wait on. Then, stick to your deadlines and list. If you don’t draw the line, your cup might runneth over with desperation after all is said and done. Don’t loose your passion over years of rejection or waiting lists!
When Change is Not Giving Up
Once you reach your limit, you have to pick something else. Changing your mindset to take a year for an SLP assistant position, moving to a state where you can work without a Master’s degree in Speech, or pursuing an entirely different career (Astronaut, Karate teacher, Hobo) doesn’t mean you are giving up on becoming a Speech-Language Pathologist. For some reason outside of your control, SLP graduate school isn’t in your immediate future. At some point, a “new path” must be considered. Stop wearing yourself out over failure to be admitted and start considering what else lies ahead!
“If you want to succeed you should strike out new paths rather than travel worn paths of accepted business.”- John D. Rockefeller
When Passion Gives Way to New Direction
Don’t let rejection stifle your passion. I’ve encountered times where my failure to succeed at a certain intervention technique confounded my confidence. Before you know it, the passion that once inspired you now weakens and distresses you. What a startling realization once you reflect! The passion is not gone; rather, it requires a new direction in order to be brought to the surface again. I implore you to consider what your passions are to fill the void rejection letters, wait-lists, and anxiety of applications have offered over the past year(s).
There comes a time when our personal calling is so deeply buried in our soul as to be invisible. But know that it’s still there. – Paulo Coelho
I intended this post to be inspirational rather than disheartening. I hope you finish this feeling inspired, renewed, and determined. Speech Language Pathology graduate school is not the only outlet for those passionate about the profession. Sometimes, a new perspective, renewed vision, and new experiences provide the best insight for alternatives. Are you at the point of desperation or are you still as determined as ever? Wherever you are on your journey, take these words with you:
My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” ― Maya Angelou