When I started working on my grad school applications last year, I had no idea where to start. I knew I needed to take the GRE, create a resume, write a personal statement, and get recommendation letters, but I had no idea how to complete these items specifically for a speech-language pathology program.
I had so many questions … What programs should I apply to? What GRE scores do I need to get into the programs I’m interested in? What experiences should I include on my resume? And what in the world do I say in my personal statement?
If you’ve had some of the same questions while preparing for your applications, maybe I can help!
If you know you want to live in a certain area, deciding which schools to apply to may not be difficult. But, if you’re like I was and open to moving anywhere, the answer becomes a little more complicated.
Ask yourself… How many long is the program? Are there faculty research projects in your areas of interest? What clinical opportunities are available and how will they be assigned? What is the course sequence and are electives offered?
Once you decide what’s important to you in a program, start researching schools. I found it beneficial to make a spreadsheet of information about each program that fit my criteria. Don’t know where to start? Check out these resources to help you narrow down your options:
- ASHA EdFind: This tool allows you to search by institution name, degree type, area of study, and state. Results show you information about each university that matches your query, including info about class sizes, average GRE scores, and special programs/tracks (i.e., bilingual, study abroad opportunities).
- Grad Café: This is a helpful database of admissions results (i.e., applicants’ GPA, GRE, and timing of notification) and forum discussions.
- Professors: They have a lot of information about other schools’ programs and would be happy to share insights with you, if you ask.
- Program Websites: Once you narrow down the programs you think you’re interested in, check out each program’s website. They will give you information about faculty and additional opportunities available within the department. See if anything stands out to you!
When building your resume for grad applications in either audiology or speech-language pathology, add anything that’s remotely related to the field, including activities that gave you valuable “soft skills:”
- Definitely Include: Clinical and research experience, participation and/or leadership roles in activities related to the field (i.e., National NSSLHA, local NSSLHA chapter, or volunteering for a CSD-related organization), study abroad experiences, and bilingual skills. If you’re from a non-CSD undergraduate program, highlight how your knowledge, experiences, and skills translate to the SLP/AUD field and give you a unique perspective!
- Consider Including: Non-CSD related work or volunteer experience (include skills like adaptability, teamwork/collaboration, interpersonal communication, and planning), and involvement in organizations not directly CSD-related (i.e., Greek life, intramurals, or other professional organizations)
I did a lot of research when writing my first resume and came across these super helpful blog posts:
- How to Write a CV—ASHA Career Portal
- 7 Common Resume Mistakes on Grad School Applications—The Speech Blog
- How to Write a Resume for Graduate School, Part 1 and Part 2—The Speech Blog
Deciding when to take the GRE is really up to you. I took it the summer after my junior year—early enough that I’d have time to re-take it, if needed. I also wanted to avoid the stress of taking the GRE on top of my normal classwork and all the other tasks associated with grad applications. However, a few of my classmates took it in the fall. They set aside time to prepare as if it were just another class … and it worked for them!
At the end of the day, it comes down to taking the GRE whenever you feel most comfortable … just be sure to study! I used these tools to stay on track:
- ETS Powerprep Tests
- Magoosh’s GRE Vocab Flashcards
- Manhattan Prep GRE Practice Test
- 15 Tips for GRE Prep—NSSLHA Blog
Personal statement requirements vary from school to school, but typically look for similar information. Look at each program’s requirements well in advance to make sure your statement answers the prompt. Here are a few tips to writing a great personal statement:
- Elaborate: Don’t jam-pack everything into your resume. Use this space to elaborate on your experiences and share your unique story. Avoid clichés like, “wanting to help people.” We all want to help people, or we wouldn’t be going into these professions!
- Get Multiple Reviewers: Ask multiple people (who know what they’re doing) to review your personal statements. Don’t rely on your roommate or family—take it to your university’s writing center or one of your professors. They’re more likely to know what application reviewers are looking for and will give you honest feedback.
- Personalize: I don’t recommend writing one statement and tweaking it for each program you apply to. Specialize your personal statement for each program, making sure you answer the prompt. If there are research projects or professors’ work that you’re particularly interested in at each program, mention them! This not only shows you sought out info about their program, it helps give them a better picture of your interests.
If you’re interested in more resources about how to write a terrific personal statement, check out these blog posts:
- Pre-Writing Activities for your SLP Personal Statement—The Speech Blog
- How to Write a Personal Statement for Graduate School—Foster Thomas
- SLP Personal Statements: A How-To Guide—The Speech Blog
I remember how relieved I felt when I turned in my last application. And now, just months later, I’m in my first semester of grad school. Grad applications are challenging, but don’t let that overshadow the excitement of starting the next chapter of your AuD/SLP journey! Use the resources available to you, work hard on your applications, and you’ll be off to grad school in no time!