questions to ask a grad program

5 Jun

If you visit a graduate program I think it’s incredibly important to arrive with questions. It shows that you’re actively involved in the process and interested. Should you visit a graduate program? YES. It gives your name a face, it gives you contacts within a program, it gives you a chance to find out if you actually like the program as much as you think you do!

Do it.

So yes please bring questions. I think some of the most important questions you can ask are going to relate to clinical practicum. How long is practicum? How is it done? My program, for example, we had a year of on campus clinicals and one semester of externships. We have a longer medical externship than school based. Some schools however, you’re doing externships the whole time. You may have a semester or two of on campus placements and the rest of the time you’re off campus and taking night classes. I liked my program because I wasn’t taking courses while I did my externship. Also, I had the opportunity to go away. We had girls doing their clinicals all over the country. Other programs – if you’re taking classes you’ll have to do your externships in the same city. But with the extended off campus clinical time you really get the opportunity to try out many different settings and see a really wide variety of populations.

As I’ve said previously, ASHA mandates what sort of information you MUST be exposed to in a graduate program so that’s kind of predictable. Some programs offer EDHH focus or other extra classes for specific interests like AAC or craniofacial disorders. If you have a special interest ask if you’ll have an opportunity to take courses in that area. In my program we had no choice, we took all of the exact same classes. There were no electives.

It’s also important to know the set up of the program. How many people are in the program? My program was huge and I gotta say – I didn’t love it. I came from a small undergrad program and I just didn’t like so many people in my classes. Also if the program is large and you have a lot of on campus clinic you may see some panic for hours and available clients. It’s also good to know how many Ph.D.s will be teaching your courses and how available they are. Are they willing to supervise theses? Will they be gone for sabbatical? What are their research interests? These are the people who are guiding your education for the next two years so it’s good to know that they’ll be around.

I also like to just know little things about programs. Is their clinic set up on a sliding scale? How do patients get access to services in monetary terms? Do you spend time in the community doing screenings or volunteer work? Is the thesis required or an option? If it’s an option – how many students do it and is it supported/encouraged? Are students involved in NSSLHA nationally? Locally? State? Do students regularly attend conferences and is there funding for attendance? What sorts of clinic materials are available to clinicians? Is the clinic up to date in terms of technology support? Can you use iPad, Boardmaker, and AAC devices? Are there GAs and if so, how do you apply and get one? If you don’t get a GA, can you get a job? Where do students live most often?

This is a lot of information but you want to know the answers to these questions so you can make the best decision for yourself.

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