Being admitted into a graduate program for speech-language pathology is very competitive whether you have an undergraduate degree in speech-language pathology/communication sciences and disorders, or a degree in another field. When I applied to graduate schools I found out firsthand how tough it is to get into an SLP program. I received my bachelor’s degree in communication studies with a minor in psychology. My overall GPA was a 3.55 and my GRE scores were a 148 in the quantitative section, a 152 in the verbal section, and a 3.5 in the writing section. Since I did not have the highest GPA or GRE scores, there were things I had to do to make my application stand out and to increase my chances of getting into a grad program.
Below is part 1 of the top ten things I learned as I applied to graduate school
Number 10. If you can, take prerequisites before applying to graduate school.
Many schools have post-bachelor programs for speech-pathology. These programs allow you to take undergraduate courses in speech pathology and you can pay undergraduate tuition. These are good programs for students who are changing careers or who have a less than stellar GPA. If there is not a post-bachelor program in your area, then you may be able to complete one online. Once you are finished with this program, you can apply to any school in the country.
Number 9. If you can’t take prerequisites before applying to grad school, seek out programs that allow you to take prerequisites along with graduate coursework.
Not everyone may be able to get extra financial aid for undergraduate courses or have money to pay for school. In this case, you will have to contact schools to see if you can be admitted as a conditional student. If you are admitted as a conditional student, you will have to take prerequisites first and then you can take grad classes. The cons about this is that it places a limit on the schools you can apply to and it adds a semester to your program. Some good schools that allow conditional students are Emerson College and Eastern Michigan University.
Number 8. Find out how many applicants are being admitted into the program.
Most schools have this information available on their website or you can use ASHA’s EdFind here http://www.asha.org/edfind/search.aspx to find out this information. If it’s not available then I would suggest e-mailing the school. One of the schools I applied at was only accepting eight applicants. It does not make sense to apply to a school that is accepting less than ten applicants. Knowing this information will save time and money.
Number 7. Don’t worry so much about how a school is ranked.
Sure it sounds better to say “I graduated from a school that ranked number one” then to say “I graduated from a school that ranked number 300”. However, students must remember that these rankings are subjective. According to USNews.com, rankings are based on peer assessment surveys that are sent to deans and other faculty members at schools for a particular program at an accredited school. Deans would rate the excellence of a program on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being marginal and 5 being outstanding. In other words, how a dean or another faculty member feels about the program is what determines how a school is ranked. Praxis exams, clinical experiences, or research opportunities are not considered in the ranking. So before you stress out about getting into a school that is ranked in the top 10 make sure you look at how those rankings are decided.
Number 6. Make your presence known to the admittance committee.
Be persistent about e-mailing the director of the program. Find out when schools are having graduate open houses or sign up for an online seminar about the school’s program. It is always good to visit a prospective school so that the director of the program can put a face to the applicant and also so you can know how a school looks in person and not just online.
The top 5 will be coming up in a later post.
See you in the next post!