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One of the hardest parts about grad school applications is writing your statement of purpose (SOP). When I was working on mine last year, I had no idea where to start. So, instead of Googling it and ending up with a generic SOP, I attended three different open houses and asked a lot of questions to find out what schools really look for. In the end, the answer was pretty simple: Schools want to know that you can be successful academically, even when faced with obstacles.

With that in mind, I made a list of the challenges I faced throughout graduate studies and picked the ones I thought would best show the qualities that SLP programs seek: persistence, dedication, confidence, and a passion for helping others. I wrote about how I worked full time and studied at night, and how I still managed to make the dean's list. I wrote about how I did not initially qualify for any graduate programs, but found out what I needed to do and persisted in meeting those requirements.

"GRAD SCHOOL IS HARD!" This is what everyone tells us. Admissions committees just want to know that you are a candidate who will not give up when things get tough, and that you are a person who will go above and beyond to become a well-rounded clinician.

So before you write your SOP, make an outline:

  1. What made you want to become an SLP?
  2. What challenges did you face while working on the academic requirements, and how did you overcome those challenges?
  3. What qualities do you have that helped you face those challenges? (Focus on qualities important for SLPs)
  4. What are the things the school is most proud of? (Have a unique paragraph for each school, describing what specific things made you want to go there)
  5. Why is that school the best option to help you reach your goal of becoming an SLP?

When you have the answers to these questions, it will be a lot easier to start working on writing your essay.

Please add any additional tips below! I know I would have loved a thread like this last year when I started working on applications!

 

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Great post. My advice is to start early, ask different types of people for constructive feedback (I asked a nitpicky editor friend and a college professor friend), and revise, revise, revise. 

Also, be absolutely certain that you follow any formatting information that they have outlined in the requirements. 

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1 hour ago, slporbust2016 said:

Great post. My advice is to start early, ask different types of people for constructive feedback (I asked a nitpicky editor friend and a college professor friend), and revise, revise, revise. 

Also, be absolutely certain that you follow any formatting information that they have outlined in the requirements. 

Agreed! Sometimes it is hard to see the errors in your own work, especially when you are so familiar with it. At two of the schools I went to, the directors said you will lose a lot of points if your essay has grammatical errors. One director said she had received an essay addressed to a different school and immediately disposed of the application. :wacko:

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One thing that someone at my school's career center told me was to have specific career goals and to relate them back to the program, and it really helped me structure my entire essay (and figure out which programs to apply to!). It shows that you're passionate about the profession and organized enough to have a plan. Basically everyone becomes an SLP because they love language and helping people, so just listing that as a reason for wanting to go to grad school isn't really enough. If you're super interested in a specific area of SLP like aphasia or pediatrics then definitely write about it, connect it to your past experience, and to the school's program or research from some of the professors in the program. For me, I knew I wanted to work with underserved populations or bilingual communities (or, ideally, both), so I connected it with my past volunteer/activism experiences and the multicultural emphasis that the schools I applied to had. 

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