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What do you wish you knew when starting grad school? Grad school advice!

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I'm starting graduate school next month, hurray! I am eager yet anxious to begin and would like to hear as much input and advice as possible. My situation is a little different than most as I am married and have a 9-month-old daughter, so I definitely want to start out with lots of advice on hand! Tell me, what do you wish you knew when you were starting graduate school? How did you balance classes with clinics? 

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I just posted a blog on ten things you need for graduate school. 

Things I wish I knew, You'll probably cry and its fine, its nothing to be ashamed of, you need to find at least one good friend, and when I mean good friend, like someone you can trust. It will make the difference, that you should put some efforts into building relationships with both your classmates and your supervisors. I wish I knew that, it was going to feel bad to not know anything but that feeling of being uncomfortable was just temporary. I wish that I followed my gut more, and wasn't so worried about what I was doing wrong or right and really just tried to connect with my clients that first semester. I wish I knew that there are SO MANY resources online. I underutilized my resources. I wish I had started working out my first semester and not just completely abandon my life! Also, that making lists and using priority lists for that matter was going to save me, you can't get everything done, its almost impossible. 

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I asked the same thing back when I started my SLP program, so interviewed someone who had just finished and got some advice: http://www.thespeechblog.com/tips-for-grad-school-success/  He was in a situation very similar to mine. Maybe you could find someone in a situation like yours and speak with them?

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  • Grow a thick skin. --Your supervisors will critique you in every way possible, suck it up. It's a learning experience...even if they hurt your feelings, their opinions do not define who you are.
  • Your laptop is your lifeline.
  • Connect your school email to every technology you own especially your phone.
  • Phonetics and speech-language development is worth knowing.
  • Get used to not being "perfect" in graduate school. You won't get kicked out for getting a B ?
  • Graduate school is not hard, it's just time consuming. 
  • Prepping for an articulation session takes longer than two hours (until you know your kiddo quite well and/or perfected a few habits).
  • Your classmates/professors/staff members are your colleagues. You do not have to like them but be respectful. Do not burn bridges.
  • Treat this experience like a job because it is.
  • Do not gossip.
  • Research is so important in graduate school. Learn how to read articles.
  • Be flexible. Everything you planned for in your session will most likely by altered by that little 5-year-old in front of you. Another clinician is currently using an item you needed? Find a different toy/activity that can still elicit what you want. Your client is having a bad day? you might end up tossing your lessons away and doing whatever to get them back on track.
  • You will find yourself doing the most silliest things ever just for that speech production. 
  • Even after a month of therapy, you'll still be nervous to see your clients and have NO clue what you are doing. LOL.
  • That two minutes you have until your session starts is still a lot of time. You'll adjust to working under pressure.
  • You're a natural, trust me. You know more than you think you do. 

GOOD LUCK! 

Edited by Louly

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Everything Louly said!  I'm also a parent and just did my first year in grad school.  I wasn't prepared for how time consuming it would be -the academic work wasn't hard (I'm a good student) but the meetings with supervisors, group projects, and my clients would be scattered through-out the week made things stressful.  Maybe it's just my grad program but they were constantly changing due dates and adding meetings.  Most of my cohort went directly from undergraduate to graduate so a lot of the talk was "when your in the real world"  . . . I would be prepared to be criticized (some is super helpful, some is because women in education are snarky), have a lot of family support/good nanny, advocate for yourself.  It wasn't a good self advocate and often ended-up getting the crappy times, etc.  I wish I had been more supportive.  Be friendly to everyone -alot of girls in my cohort new past grads so they knew what would be on tests, about instructors, etc.  Good Luck!  remember it's only for 2 years!!

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A lot of good advice has already been mentioned. Having been through grad school (almost done!) as a parent, my parent-to-parent advice is:

  • Schedule time away from your child and make the most of it! That could mean finding good help to look after her. There is time-consuming work to be done in grad school, and it's really hard to do it when you have a kid screaming for you... or at you...
  • Communicate constantly and clearly with your spouse! When you're married, have kids, and go to graduate school at the same time, it's a team effort. Your spouse needs to know when you have certain due dates for projects, meeting dates, etc. so they can plan accordingly.
  • Do the same with your teachers and professors! A lot of your teachers will understand and can be flexible when unplanned things happen like.. let's say everyone in the family getting Hand-Foot-Mouth disease...
  • Do things early! That way you can be prepared when the unexpected happens. Overestimate how long it will take to complete projects, homework, and studying.

I'm not going to lie--it certainly was a challenge to go through grad school married and with a kid, but remember you're not alone in this season. You have something your single classmates don't have. Savor those moments when you're not having a good day, and your child gives you a smile and hug. Cherish your spouse for the comforts they provide you... Best of luck to you!

 

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@Afternoonprogram Thank you! How old is your little one? I've definitely heard that my program adds things at the last minute and that I have to learn to be flexible, which makes me nervous. I am very organized and like consistency, so the thought of disorganized chaos makes me VERY nervous. Two years seems like such a short amount of time for a lifetime of reward and great career options. Thanks for mentioning the self-advocating. I find myself worried that I'm a burden that I hesitate to stand up for myself on clinic times since I have much more going on than my cohort peers for the most part. Good luck as you finish your last year. :)

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This may sound silly or redundant, but looking back I wish I knew that there are absolutely NO stupid questions. Ask questions while you are still expected to be learning! Also keep positive rapport and good relationships with the professors and supervisors you will have in the future-- it pays off and goes a long way in our field!  You will need them someday and they can also learn so much from you. ?  Best of luck to you!

Edited by koalalover1

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-Take time for you doing something you like, whether it’s getting your nails done or reading a book—helps reduce stress and gives you a well-needed break!

-Save resources professors give you, whether it’s powerpoints or research articles—you may need them later!

-TPT is a great resource for some pre-made stuff or a good starting template

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Posted (edited)

I had a horrible, racist and nasty clinical supervisor who was a control freak and backstabbed me on paper but was all polyanna in my in person interactions. I wish I knew how to advocate for myself to not be placed in a setting I didn't want. I documented everything the bully bitch did to me. Basically it came down to me acting and being like her or she would fail me instead of allowing me to be creative. All my other externships turned out fine. One thing I go out of that place was it demonstrated  how NOT to mentor a novice into the field. I got out of that backward, intolerant helhole part of the country.

Edited by ImHis

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If you’re struggling with some material, talk with the professor sooner rather then later. In my grad school experience, the profs wanted you to succeed too.

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Posted (edited)

Figure out how you work best and where. There's a lot of work, but it's manageable with good study habits. It takes me forever to get started on work, which means I usually do school work every day. It doesn't gave to he like that, though! If you're diligent, stay focused while working, and have a good study space, you can usually get at least one full weekend day without school stuff. When I really need to focus, I go to a quiet study room on the top floor of our building and just crank it out. It works great, but I don't do it often enough.

Also, if you're not great at working in groups (like me) you have to adapt because there are a lot of group assignments! Again, figure out how you work best within a group. Personally, I get a bit overwhelmed and scatterbrained when everyone's simultaneously adding to one Google doc. I've told people that I work better if instead I have one specific section to work on that's all mine. I also have taken on an unofficial role of editor/proofreader, which kind of makes up for the times when I don't write as much.

On another note, don't go overboard with school supplies until you figure out what you actually need and what works best for you. Before school started, I bought a planner which I use religiously, but I also bought two big white board calendars, where I thought I could write due dates and events. I just used the planner for all that and the white boards are almost unused.

One more thing: I know some supervisors (fortunately none of mine so far) will want you to come up with cutesy, creative clinic materials, and at first it will be hard to figure out how to adapt materials to a specific client,  so you'll end up making a lot of your own stuff, but DO NOT go overboard making stuff! In the real world you will not have the time to spend two hours on one activity for a single client, you will have to use whatever you have on hand and adapt it for 8 different clients throughout your day. Learn how to go minimal. If you have a kiddo client, use games and toys from your school or placement. If you have an adult, you can get away with almost no materials, especially if you're working at the conversational level. In my first semester, I spent about two hours working on materials for an activity that lasted 15 minutes. The worst part is I had taped Magnetic Poetry words to different colors of construction paper. I didn't want to lose the words, so after my session I dismantled everything and had nothing to show for 2 hours worth of work. That was a wake-up call. The rest of the semester I stuck with plain old word lists and artic cards from the materials room.

Edited by bibliophile222

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On 8/5/2018 at 8:36 PM, Swishfish22 said:

-Save resources professors give you, whether it’s powerpoints or research articles—you may need them later!

I absolutely agree with this. I save all the miscellaneous handouts and pdfs in dropbox, organized by area (fluency, aphasia, developmental norms, etc). You never know when it can come in handy!

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Oh yeah, one more thing that just came to me: make sure you date your data sheets and keep them organized! You may need them to write progress reports, and if they're not dated and organized by client it becomes so much more confusing. Also, each week when you do your SOAP notes, add the data to a cumulative graph or table. It makes the progress report soooo much easier!

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I love this thread!!   Thanks to all who contributed.  

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