Thank you all for your input on what you would like to read. I promise to always deliver what my audience wants because you all are the reason I write! This week’s post includes tips for smoothly preparing for Speech-Language Pathology Graduate School. This post is written from the angle that you are currently an undergraduate student majoring in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD).
You may be asking yourself, “Where the heck do I even start?” This is a question I found that I was constantly asking myself. Graduate school applications may seem like a newly discovered cave. You know you have to go into it, but no one is helping you light the way. Despite feeling alone and lost as you prepare to embark on this journey, let me assure you that I, Morgan Newton, am here for you. I will help you gather your resources (and yourself) to be best prepared.
My first recommendation while you are an undergraduate CSD student is to join the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, commonly referred to as ASHA. Because you are a student, you will choose the National NSSLHA* Membership option. Becoming a member of this national organization as an undergraduate student gives you access to peer-reviewed journal articles (a great source for any essay), a monthly magazine subscription to the ASHA Journal, member discounts, benefits, and other resources. This may not sound exciting, but I can fully attest to the fact that joining ASHA will help you as an undergraduate student preparing for graduate school. To join, all you have to do is create an account and pay the once a year dues. I know, I know. Dues,,, UGH! No college student wants to pay for anything unless it’s coffee or food, but please, hear me out. The dues are $60, and you only pay once a year. You are investing in your future because when you one day become a successful clinician, you will be required to be certified by ASHA, and because you will have been a member of NSSLHA, you will receive a $225 discount. Think of how much coffee and food you can buy for $225! All in all, it is important to be a part of the Communication Sciences and Disorders Community. Also, there is a section on graduate school applications that asks if you have ever attended a convention. Click HERE for the link to join.
This next tip comes easily after you join National NSSLHA. You should 100% attend an ASHA Convention if at all possible. These conventions are a CSD party! You learn a ton of valuable information from the different sessions and presentations, but my favorite aspect of the convention is there is an entire section of the convention devoted to networking with graduate school recruiters. It’s like speed dating for graduate school. The recruiter (usually one of the heads of the CSD department) sells the school and you get a chance to sell yourself. Schools from all over the nation are represented so the likelihood of your dream school being in attendance is high. This saves you from having to fly all over the country to the different schools you are thinking of applying to. Be sure to bring a business card to give to the recruiters. I attended in 2016 when the convention was in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the experience changed my life. The 2018 ASHA Convention will be held in Boston, Massachusetts starting November 15th and running through the 17th. Being an ASHA member (the National NSSLHA option) gives you a discount on registration, flights, and hotels. I’m doing everything in my power to attend this year’s convention. I hope to see you there! Click HERE for the link to see what the convention is all about.
We are now entering into the nitty gritty roll up your sleeves kind of tips. I know you have heard it before, but I cannot stress to you the importance of striving for the highest GPA you can reach. I know there are some tough courses and some even tougher professors, but do the best that you can. I find that some students spend more time complaining about professors than they do studying. Change your mindset to a positive one, and prove to yourself that you are capable of overcoming any obstacle (even your grumpy professor) that comes your way. If you need study tips or help, reach out to me. I have been in your position before, and I can fully sympathize with you and your feelings.
Thankfully, GPA is not the end all be all when it comes to preparing for graduate school. One of the best pieces of advice I have ever received was to strive to be well-rounded. Graduate schools are not just looking for someone who has an excellent GPA. They want a student that will shine and make their program even better. Join organizations at your university and be involved on campus with activities that relate to CSD. For example, join a volunteer organization that works with people of all ages. You will learn transferable skills that will help you as a graduate student, and the schools know this. There is even a spot on the graduate school application to include volunteer experience. Relatable work experience is also highly recommended. Apply at a Summer camp, day care, nursing home, or any other setting where you would work with a population of people that Speech-Language Pathologists work with. The application also has a section to insert work experience. Reading professional articles helps you become a well-rounded student and allows you to gain a better understanding of the concepts and vocabulary you are learning in the classroom. You can read the ASHA Journal magazines that you receive by being a member. Each month the magazine has a different theme so you will always be reading something new.
These tips are all ways to get started on your preparation for graduate school. Remeber to take a step back, reflect, and visualize where you one day see yourself in the Communication Sciences and Disorders field. This is vital because your reflections and visualizations are what will keep you going on those rough nights and early mornings. I hope these tips help you feel a little more prepared for your journey into the graduate school cave. Remeber, I am here for you and am holding a lantern. You are not alone on this journey. Let’s Explore together!
*NSSLHA: National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association