this is a long one. sorry boutcha.

21 Oct

I’ve had a request to post a lil’ about getting into graduate school. I’m giving a presentation next week to NSSLHA about this topic so I’m all ready to go! (ADDENDUM: I don’t know anything about using CSDCAS so don’t ask me!)

I’ll try to do this in steps so you can check things off as you go.

1. Make a list of schools you’re interested in and a pros and cons list if you have more than…six. I went to a presentation by Donald Asher my senior year and he said six was a good number. 2 reach, 2 safe, 2 middle of the road.

2. Once you have that list, make a check list for each school‘s requirements. Schools are weird, they can’t all just have a uniform manner in which they accept applications. Different deadlines, different costs, different expectations, different requirements. BE VERY CAREFUL HERE. If you eff it up, you’re OUT.

3. Compile. Get it together. Make a resume/Curriculum Vitae. Write a personal statement (I’ll blog a different time about writing a personal statement). Get your references in line. Start requesting transcripts yesterday.

4. Send in your actual application and fee as soon as possible. That way you’ll be on file and they’ll have a safe place to keep your stuff. The actual application shouldn’t be hard to do – it’s just the general things they need to know about you.

5. Ask people for recommendations as early as humanly possible. Schools vary on how many recommendations you need, but expect about three. I’d try to get them from people in your major who can write you STRONG letters of recommendation. Ask in person – “Would you be willing to write me a strong letter of recommendation for graduate school?”

6. Make the life of your recommender EASY. Give them a folder with everything they need in it. Supply your CV, your transcripts, your personal statement. Some schools may have a specific form they want your recommender to fill out, some may have an online survey, some just want a letter. Provide an addressed and stamped envelope and tell them the specifics about that letter. Some schools want YOU to mail it with all of your other stuff, but many want your recommender to seal it and sign it on the seal and mail it themselves. Once again, be very careful here, get it right the first time.

7. Also on that note, your school may require that you fill out a “waiver of rights” so recommenders may talk freely about your grades. Provide each person with a waiver about each school.

8. Transcripts suck. They take forever, they cost money, they never go to the right place. It’s a disaster so get started early. And remember to get transcripts from every school you attended – even if you did dual credit your junior year of high school through the community college.

9. Get your resume/CV together and edited by EVERYONE. You don’t want to look like a dummy with typos. And if your GPA isn’t AWESOME feel free to just mention the last 60 hours. (I mean, if they specifically ask your GPA, tell them, but on your resume you can put “3.45/4.00 last 60 hours”).

10. FOLLOW UP ON YOUR LETTERS OF REC. Ugh. Okay. This is the worst but it has to happen. Sometimes it is Christmas break, you gave all of your stuff to your recommender in October, and you get an email from your schools saying “We have two of three letters of recommendation” – sometimes they tell you who they’ve gotten them from. So it’s easy to narrow it down. You must hunt that person down and kindly, gently, nudge them to write that letter. They’ve likely just forgotten because they’re crazy busy just like you – they appreciate the reminder even if you feel awkward doing it. ON THAT NOTE – when you hand them the folders with all of the stuff they need – label that folder “YOUR NAME, The date you provided them with the folder, and the school it is for” – some people just do one folder for all their schools but I made an individual folder for each school and each professor.

11. Oh, and you can ask the same professor to write you multiple letters. And tell them which school you REALLY want. Professors want to help you, I promise.

12. Right, right, right before the deadline CALL the school and MAKE SURE they have received EVERYTHING. You might feel like you’re bugging them, but you’ll feel better once you do it. Especially if you applied to several schools. I’ve seen it happen where it is two days before the deadline and someone finds out a school never got their transcript. (Usually a school will accept an unofficial transcript until a real one gets to them – just FYI)

13. Once it is all said and done, you’ll start receiving notice in the mail (may go to your parents’ home) after spring break. And rejections come first. So if you haven’t heard from your number one school and it is early April don’t stress yet.

14. After that, write your thanks-you’s to the people who wrote your recommendations. Literally write them. On thank you cards. In pen. I waited until I got my decisions from schools because I didn’t want them to think I was sucking up to them (even though I sucked up to them all of the time any way because I am a suck up.)

15. If you get into multiple schools you’ll need to pick a school and write an acceptance letter by the date they give you. You’ll also have to write refusal letters. You can Google how to do that.

The end. If you want to know more about the types of graduate schools to apply to I wrote this last spring: for the chitlins

NP: Conor Maynard – Marvin’s Room (gorgeous. gorgeous. gorgeous cover.)

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5 Responses to “this is a long one. sorry boutcha.”

  1. anon October 22, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

    Thank you so much for writing this! If you’re taking a year off after undergrad, how do you deal with recommendation letters? You might find one people to write you one for the year you were off, but the other two will probably be professors. Do you tell them before you graduate “hey I’m taking off a year, but in half i year im gonna ask you for a letter of rec!” or just go back at october and be like “hey, remember me? well i need letters of rec”. Also what the acceptable people you can ask from? I mean, can you ask from someone that you worked for at an internship after freshman year in college that’s not even at all related to SLP (it was government)? You said for transcripts to “get started early”, around what month is that? Also when should you take the GRE (again, month would be most helpful)? Lastly, what do people usually look for in a grad school besides location?

  2. anon October 22, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

    For elaboration in the last question I had, what are the right questions ot ask when looking at a grad school? How do you find out what school is your “dream school”? I know looking at colleges was a lot easier because it was more commonplace knowledge, but looking for grad school for SLP is pretty different. How do you find out a school’s reputation? I know it’s odd to say, but I want to know who other people’s dream school / “shit-hole” is. So yeah, finding out what the “bad” ones are too is very helpful. What do people NOT look for?

    • weathersby October 24, 2011 at 8:37 am #

      You know, I’m not entirely sure about asking for letters of rec. I had a friend take a year off and I think she called the people and asked them (better than emailing, unless you want to send a precursor email saying “I’d like to speak with you briefly sometime, when might I call you?”). Then maybe in your phone call if they agree say something like “I’d love to come by and chat with you about this more and bring you more information” – I think in that situation you really need to make sure you provide them with your CV, unofficials, personal statement etc.

      As far as who to ask, some schools have a requirement like “3 people from your major” or “at least 2 people within your major” – if they don’t have a requirement I’d still try to stick with mostly professors from your major or others who know you very well. Also, an extra person never hurts anything – just make sure you meet the schools requirement. So if they say “Three people from your major” and you also want this internship-supervisor to write you one, then you’ll have four.

      I’d say start requesting transcripts in October/November, the same time you get started with everything else. Just don’t wait until last minute on those because they WILL get lost in the hubbub.

      I took the GRE in…August. I think some girls took it early October. I took mine earlier because I wanted plenty of time to get my scores. On the other hand, waiting a little while helps you narrow down what schools you’d want to send it to – you can send FOUR institutions scores at the time you take your test and after that you have to pay for them.

    • weathersby October 24, 2011 at 9:05 am #

      I thought I’d answer your second question HERE! 🙂

      Okay. SO picking a grad school can be tricky. Obviously you want to figure in location – in state will be cheaper, but often out-of-state students get a special scholarship that helps make up the difference. On that note, you’ll want to consider cost – grad school is expensive!

      As far as who thinks what about which grad schools it’s hard to say. I’d say ask your classmates (many of whom will be basing their opinions off the US News Rankings and we all know how I feel about that) and ask your professors! I had professors tell me “Oh I could see you loving THIS school” or “Oh God why are you even considering applying to THAT school?” – professors love to gossip and they are very opinionated so take what they say with a grain of salt.

      I think for SLP it is VERY VERY helpful to visit. If you can’t do it in the fall, apply to the places that sound appealing and then visit them all before you accept or reject your acceptances. Go with a list of questions you want to ask – How many people do they accept a year? What is their graduation rate and employment rate? How many clients does a student see in their time there? Do they do things in the community like hearing screenings or First Steps? What is the externship requirement like? How long is the program and when does it start? What are some topics that the professors do research in (and do those match up with your interests?)? Where do students typically live? What’s the clinic like?(I’ve seen some janky clinics)

      When I visited I saw everything from getting an hour long tour from one of the professors and a 15 minute visit from someone who was too busy to deal with me. I think that says a lot about the type of treatment you’ll receive as a student and it certainly helped me make some decisions. Email them afterwards with questions and thank you’s – the schools that email you back right away might have more interest in you and it helps them keep you in mind, you still seem interested after visiting.

      Also, when you visit take someone with you! I took my grandma and even though she didn’t know much about speech path, it was still really nice to have another set of eyes and ears because they will give you a LOT of info. And by visiting you’re helping them put a face to the name when they get your application in the mail.

      Pick schools that match up with your interests – don’t go to a school that seems to have a lot of emphasis on child language if you have interests in adult neuro. And if you do end up somewhere that doesn’t entirely jive with you, just know that ASHA mandates that all students get a certain knowledge base, so you’ll at least learn about what interests you on some level. And make the program yours – if you want a certain client, ask for them. If you want to do research on a certain topic – do it! The program you choose is going to be what you make of it.

      • anon November 1, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

        So I didn’t reply earlier, but know that I’m so completely eternally grateful!!!!!

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