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.
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 🙂
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.