It is go time! You are finally ready to dive into the application process. I have organized a To Do List that is made up of 10 steps to keep this process as simple as possible. Use this guide as a reference, and always be sure to read the individual school’s application process instructions.
- Create a List of Deadlines
The most important part of the application process is staying organized. Create a timeline with all the due dates for every single school you are applying to. Carry this with you at all times, and check this list daily.
2. Letters of Recommendation
Most schools require three to four letters of recommendation. (You can use the same people for every school.) I suggest asking at least one professor that is from the Communication Sciences and Disorders Department. A great person to ask is your advisor. The other people you ask should be professors at your university. As much as we all love the person we shadowed or work for, universities want to read letters from professors. The reason behind this is that the programs want to hear about how you are as a student. They want to ensure success at the graduate level. Ask the people you want to write the letters of recommendation EARLY! I recommend asking in September and no later. Applications require letters of recommendation to be submitted by a specific date. Whoever writes your letter of recommendation personally sends it to the university. Be sure you know what date this is and give the person writing yours a heads up because if the letter of recommendation is not submitted on time, your application is considered incomplete. You definitely do not want that happening. Be sure to check the box on the application that says “waive my right to review letter of recommendation”. This shows the program that you are confident that the letters of recommendation will be positive and in your favor. Make sure to thank the people writing your letters. They are doing you a huge favor.
3. Gather Your Personal Information
The applications all require general background information. You need all college transcripts (if you have attended more than one university, you need a transcript from each), GRE scores, and a personal vita/resume. Make sure you know how to obtain your transcripts from your school(s). You can find this on your school’s Registrar’s Webpage. Each university has a specific code that GRE scores must be sent to. I made the mistake of sending my GRE scores to the university’s general code when I sent them the day I took the GRE using the score select option (so much for getting to use the “free” option). This will not work! Look at the program’s application instructions. You will find the code there. Another document you need to submit is a vita/resume. I decided to use the vita format because I feel it is tailored specifically towards applying to graduate programs. I used the vita instructions from the undergraduate institution I attended (West Chester University). Click HERE for the format I used.
4. Upload Your Documents
This step may seem intuitive, but I know several people that had their documents from step #2 gathered and organized, and almost forgot to actually submit them. So please, submit your transcripts, GRE scores, and vita/resume.
5. Write, Revise, and Edit Your Essays
This step is one that is often skimmed over, but let me tell you, the essay makes or breaks your application. I highly recommend writing the essays one school at a time. You must write each essay response directly to the statement/question the program poses. I have heard from numerous professors at all different universities that the essay cannot be a cookie cutter. They have read thousands of essays over the years and know the difference between an essay that was well thought out and one that was without a doubt submitted to multiple schools. Use those skills you learned about in your writing 100 level courses. Brainstorm, write, revise, and edit your essays. Also, it is a great idea to have someone read over your essays. The writing center at your university is an excellent resource.
6. Check if a Supplemental Application is Required
Some schools require a supplemental application (in addition to the CSDCAS application). [If the school has a private application portal, skip this step.] If one is required, it will be listed on the application instructions page.
7. Do Not Rush
Remember this, as long as your entire application is submitted by the deadline, you are good to go. Schools will NOT open your application because you submitted it early. Schools will not even open their application submission files until after the deadline. I handed everything in 2 months early… it was great because I was finished early, but it made no difference than people who submitted everything 1 week early. [Thankfully I did not rush, I just spent a lot of time in September and October on applications.] The quality of your applications is more important than early submission.
8. Double Check, Triple Check, Quadruple Check
MAKE SURE EVERYTHING IS SUBMITTED, AND THAT ALL REQUIRED DOCUMENTS HAVE BEEN UPLOADED! (You can submit applications before letters of recommendation are submitted. I suggest submitting before letters of recommendation because the deadline for those is generally later than when the general application is due.)
9. Pay and Submit
This step is the simplest of them all. Pay for your application submission. Be sure you receive confirmation, and save it!
10. Check Your email
YAY! You have successfully submitted your applications. Congratulations. [I am happy dancing for you right now.] Check the email account that you put on your application at least once a day. You get emails with updates on your application. Some notifications may be crucial to your application such as an additional document being required. You now have some extra free time for yourself. Have fun and truly think of how amazing you are for doing all of this, and never forget why you want to be a Speech-Language Pathologist!