Don’t Get Spooked By Grad School Applications

It’s that time of year again—grad application time!

Applying to graduate programs is no easy task. With the letters of recommendation, resumé building, transcript requests, and different application questions, students always have their plates full during this time of the semester. On top of that, COVID-19 is making the graduate school application processes even more confusing for undergraduate seniors. 

But have no fear! Last week, National NSSLHA hosted a panel of graduate students, faculty (who are familiar with the grad admission process for both AuD and SLP programs), and CSDCAS experts to share their expertise and experiences to help you conquer the entire process. 

For those of you who couldn’t make it, here’s a recap . . .

Completing Your Application

Where’s the best place to start in the application process?

To watch our panelists full answers to this question, start at the 00:06:23 mark.

  • Create a rough draft of personal and bring them to your school’s writing center to have reviewed multiple times. – Annie Hinker, SLP Master’s Student at the University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Make a checklist of different requirements for each program you’re applying to so you have everything mapped out. – Katie McGovern, AuD Student at Salus University
  • Consider taking the GRE during the summer before your senior so you have more time to study and prepare. – Daniella Shimoonov, SLP Master’s Student at CUNY Brooklyn College

What’s something that can make a student’s application stand out?

To watch our panelists full answers to this question, start at the 00:36:50 mark.

  • While not a deal-breaker, clinical experiences are limitedly given in undergraduate programs, so any student that can obtain this experience will definitely stand out. Being involved in student organizations, volunteer programs, or research projects are also great ways to showcase your strengths. – Yula Serpanos, PhD, CCC-A, Program Coordinator at the Long Island Doctor of Audiology Consortium, Professor at Adelphi University
  • There’s an online resource called Master Clinician that helps students receive shadowing and observation hours online. This is a great way to stand out. – Rebecca Thomason, MAHS, SLP Graduate Program Associate Enrollment Advisor at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences

What are some habits that students should avoid when applying for graduate programs?

To watch our panelists full answers to this question, start at the 00:52:25 mark.

  • Grammatical errors may paint students in an unfavorable way. Sometimes students will upload resumés with statements that were meant for other university applications. Be sure to proofread all materials before uploading and submitting them. You’ll be juggling different requirements and it’s easy to confuse materials. Also do not put a professor’s name into a recommendation request until you’ve asked the professor. – Joanne Cascia, EdD, CCC-SLP, CSDCAS Student Recruitment Committee Chair (CAPCSD), Graduate Program Coordinator/Assistant Professor at Kean University
  • Have a specific process with submitting applications to ensure there isn’t confusion with the order of submitting materials.  – Karen Jacobs, Vice President of CSDCAS Account Management

How many programs do you recommend applying for? (SLP and AuD)

To watch our panelists full answers to this question, start at the 00:14:05 mark.

  • There’s a lot of pressure to apply to a large number of programs because we think we need many safety programs. Pay attention to the quality of the program and how it matches your life. Applying to programs is expensive, so don’t apply to many just because you feel scared you won’t get in anywhere. – Daniella
  • There’s no right or wrong number. If you think you might be happy at a particular school or if you can see yourself going there, definitely apply. – Katie

What’s one thing you wish you knew before applying to graduate school?

To watch our panelists full answers to this question, start at the 00:24:17 mark.

  • I wish I’d reached out to students from different programs. I recommend seeing if the programs you’re applying to have student ambassadors who can share information with you. – Katie
  • Everyone brings something different to the table and we each only have so much time to devote to different things. Just because you feel like you’re lacking in one thing, you’re most likely excelling in other areas. – Annie

Letters of Recommendation

How do you recommend asking for letters of recommendation . . . especially right now with virtual learning?

To watch our panelists full answers to this question, start at the 00:11:29 mark.

  • Actively participate in class. That’s the best way to allow professors to create connections with you. – Daniella 
  • Some professors actually prefer to receive recommendation requests via email rather than taking the time to set up a meeting and formally getting a request in person. – Annie

What are some tips for asking professors for letters of recommendation when applying to graduate programs a 2nd time?

To watch our panelists full answers to this question, start at the 00:17:51 mark.

  • If you’re going to ask a professor that you haven’t seen in a while, it will obviously be someone you have a connection with. It’s always great to send a picture of yourself and your resumé just to help the professor remember you. There are so many students that professors see and showing them you care enough to help them remember you will help them write better quality recommendations. – Katie

Do all letters of recommendations need to come from professors?

To watch our panelists full answers to this question, start at the 00:39:54 mark.

  • They do not necessarily only need to come from a professor, but it would greatly help if it was someone in the field (research, clinical work, etc.) – Dr. Serpanos
  • Usually at least one letter from a professor is required. The others only need to be someone who can attest to your ability as a graduate student. This can include clinical work, research, or other aspects of the field. – Dr. Cascia

Personal Statements and Resumes

What are some tips on personal statements?

To watch our panelists full answers to this question, start at the 00:28:30 mark.

  • Start early. You might underestimate how long it’ll take; don’t forget it takes time to edit and have others proofread too. – Annie
  • Look over your CV/resumé to know what accomplishments you want to highlight in your personal statements. Don’t just list everything you’ve done in four years—give examples of your accomplishments with specific purpose. – Daniella
  • Keep your statements short and concise. You want to sell yourself in as few words as possible. – Katie

What are your tips for crafting a resumé?

To watch our panelists full answers to this question, start at the 00:41:22 mark.

  • Any work experience shows initiative and ability to work with others. What students have done clinically and academically helps show ability, but accomplishments outside the field show aspects of a well-balanced person who can work with others. – Dr. Serpanos
  • In the CSDCAS application, there’s a section called “experiences.” This breaks down aspects of each accomplishment for people who don’t have as much experience with crafting resumés. – Karen

Navigating CSDCAS (Online Grad School Application Portal)

Any specific advice on how to use CSDCAS?

To watch our panelists full answers to this question, start at the 00:09:15 mark.

  • Rely on your classmates who are also applying. Ask them questions about how they’re operating the website and share your experiences. – Annie 
  • CSDCAS is very responsive by phone if you have questions for them. They’re great about talking to students and are open to answering questions. – Daniella 

Admissions Interviews

How can students best prepare for interviews?

To watch our panelists full answers to this question, start at the 00:43:37 mark.

  • Do your homework before the interview. Learn as much as you can from the program’s website and/or from other students. – Dr. Cascia
  • Prepare for the types of questions that may be asked about your strengths/weaknesses, clinical experiences, knowledge, etc. – Dr. Serpanos
  • Have questions ready to ask the interviewers because interviews are a two-way conversation. – Rebecca

Thanks to Our Panelists and Sponsor

Once again, we want to thank our panelists and the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences for sponsoring this virtual event.

Keep Watching . . .

Be sure to watch the full recording of this virtual event to hear more graduate application tips and ways to keep your stress level low during the admissions process!

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