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Some of you may have seen my previous posts trying to decide between Northwestern and UW-Milwaukee, which out of the 10 schools I applied to, were the only ones that accepted me. Neither were my top choice. I would've preferred Northwestern, but I really didn't want to be over $100,000 in debt. So I committed to UWM, but kept my name on a couple waitlists. I based my decision solely on finances. Now, I almost feel like I regret my decision. I know that it's the best decision in the long run. I know that UWM still has a good program that will get me to my goal of being an SLP.

I'm just not convinced UWM is the place for me. I've been told before that grad school is what you make of it, and it's a lot different from undergrad, so "fit" doesn't matter as much. I've also been told to just move somewhere after grad school if Milwaukee isn't for me. I'm someone who is very easily affected by my environment. I've visited UWM a couple times and while the campus was nice enough, I'm not sure I'll feel comfortable on campus. My mental health took a big hit my first semester of college because I wasn't comfortable with where I was (a similar situation where I had to prioritize finances over comfort). I really don't want that to happen again. I've cried quite a few times out of pure frustration about this.

I keep thinking about what I could've done differently. Should I have taken the GRE again? Retaken the class I failed freshman year because of my mental health (not a CSD course)? Should I have volunteered at the clinic more? Tried to find a job related to the field? Applied to more schools? I keep running through scenarios in my head. I feel like I've made a mistake and I'm going to regret something I did or didn't do. Did any of you currently in SLP grad school feel this way? Is it worth it to withdraw, take a gap year to improve my application, and apply to schools again? I just feel so defeated.

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Hey! Your feelings are totally valid!! There is so much unknown in our world right now, the unknown of what's ahead in grad school in just a few months does not make things any easier! What parts specifically make you believe that UWM will not be a great fit for you? The school/program itself? The Milwaukee area? I just ask because I lived a few blocks from UWM this year for school (didn't actually attend UWM). I'd would be happy to answer any questions you have about the area! I'm not from Milwaukee as well, so I had the experience of getting used to living in an entirely new city and could offer some insight/advice if you think it would be helpful :)

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I didn't get into my top choice school (in-state tuition, only 10 minutes from my house) and it was a huge bummer. I ended up picking an expensive school that required me to move a few hours a way over an even more expensive online program.

Do I still wish that I'd gotten into the in-state school and wonder what I could have done to get in? Absolutely. Have I been unhappy or unfulfilled with my current program? Absolutely not. It ended up being such a good program and experience with a really tight-knit cohort and supportive professors. I don't love everything about the area I'm now living, but I like it a lot and feel fine staying here at least through my CF.

I think you may always have regrets because, hey, that's life and hindsight is always 20/20. It doesn't mean you need to regret where you end up. Worst case scenario, two or so years of your life won't be great, but you'll still have decades of doing what you love. Best case scenario, it could end up being the perfect program for you and you'll make some great friends and connections. It's natural to get cold feet before a huge change in your life, but don't forget to be excited about all the possibilities life now has to offer!

And now, a philosophical note:

As I've progressed through grad school, struggled with money, etc, I've come to really appreciate the Rolling Stones' message that "you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you might find you get what you need". I haven't won the lottery or ended up at my top school, but time and again I've gotten what I need. It may not be as exciting as getting what I want, but it still allows me to be happy and fulfilled.

Sorry for the essay! I'm sleepy and procrastinating bedtime. 🙂

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Popping in from the MFA side of the site (saw this on the front page), and I wanted to weigh in on one aspect of your post.

3 hours ago, heyheyhey42 said:

I'm someone who is very easily affected by my environment. I've visited UWM a couple times and while the campus was nice enough, I'm not sure I'll feel comfortable on campus. My mental health took a big hit my first semester of college because I wasn't comfortable with where I was (a similar situation where I had to prioritize finances over comfort). I really don't want that to happen again.

I can relate to this a lot. I've always been sensitive to my environment too. That said, I'd caution you against thinking "this awful thing could happen again!" This is a new chapter of your life, you're older and more experienced -- so try to consider your previous crisis a difficult lesson instead of a bad omen. Knowing what you know now, what could you have done differently in undergrad? Now's the time to try those things.

I hope I'm not being too much of an armchair therapist here. But in my experience, you can get used to almost anything if you mentally frame it the right way. Of course, that doesn't mean you /should/ get used to anything, but from my distant third-person perspective, it sounds like this sacrifice will get you where you want to be.

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2 hours ago, sleepyslp2be said:

Hey! Your feelings are totally valid!! There is so much unknown in our world right now, the unknown of what's ahead in grad school in just a few months does not make things any easier! What parts specifically make you believe that UWM will not be a great fit for you? The school/program itself? The Milwaukee area? I just ask because I lived a few blocks from UWM this year for school (didn't actually attend UWM). I'd would be happy to answer any questions you have about the area! I'm not from Milwaukee as well, so I had the experience of getting used to living in an entirely new city and could offer some insight/advice if you think it would be helpful :)

Hi, thanks for your response. I actually grew up in a Milwaukee suburb and am quite familiar with the area. I was hoping to get some more time away from Milwaukee because while it’s home, I want a little space to branch out. I can’t quite express it, but I just don’t think UWM is a good fit for me. Some of the research professors are doing is interesting, but nothing that necessarily aligns with my clinical interests (I am considering a PhD down the line, but not 100% yet.)

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I totally relate to you! I picked Lewis based on distance+expenses when really I wish I picked Saint Marys or any other school...Lewis is a great program it was just the cheapest for me. I'm hoping I get into one of the schools I'm waitlisted at because it is my top choice. Honestly yes cost is a huge factor but no matter what program you go too you will get a job when you graduate. The job security for this profession is so high that you will pay off that debt.

Unfortunately it is too late to get your acceptance to Northwestern back, I'm really hoping you get off the waitlist if that's what you want to do. But remember grad school is only 2 years. It'll be tough and grueling especially hard if it wasn't your top choice but in the end it will get you to where you want to go.

Your feelings are valid. You're allowed to be upset and cry and hurt and confused. I personally wouldn't withdraw because you aren't guaranteed to get in the next cycle. I had the same exact thoughts as you because I was so disappointed in my decision. But I've sort of come to terms with it.

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Totally get how it's disappointing to turn down the more prestigious Northwestern option but think you dodged a bullet on that one - it is crazy expensive and not worth it for most. It sounds like Milwaukee is home for you and it might be an even bigger perk that you get to live at home. I'd try to look at getting into your local school as a positive rather than a negative, as many very qualified applicants would love to have that option. Anyways, your stats look great and if it's really not the right choice for you it might be good to explore some different options in the next cycle as many schools on your list are expensive and most are extremely competitive - OK to keep some reaches but add a few more safeties that you like better than UWM, eliminate the crazy expensive options. Good luck!

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3 hours ago, slpforme said:

many schools on your list are expensive and most are extremely competitive - OK to keep some reaches but add a few more safeties that you like better than UWM, eliminate the crazy expensive options. 

I felt like I had a pretty good shot at UWEC and UWW,  but I was waitlisted at both of those schools. I felt pretty good about Marquette and UW-Madison (where I am currently a senior, I am aware that it’s still really competitive but a large portion of my classmates got in). I’m not sure there is such thing as a “safety school” for SLP programs. 

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9 minutes ago, heyheyhey42 said:

I felt like I had a pretty good shot at UWEC and UWW,  but I was waitlisted at both of those schools. I felt pretty good about Marquette and UW-Madison (where I am currently a senior, I am aware that it’s still really competitive but a large portion of my classmates got in). I’m not sure there is such thing as a “safety school” for SLP programs. 

Agree 100%! With your excellent GPA and GRE scores you should be competitive at most schools and probably just a little unlucky at UWW and UWEC - hopefully you will get in off the waitlist and all will be good. Also "safeties" for SLP probably applies better to a small group of schools as opposed to one or two given the competitiveness of this field. I'm a CA resident and applying next year and know I may face a similar situation. Anyways I'm sure you will do great with whatever you decide and maybe the waitlist options will work out.

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I am in a similar situation because I ended up choosing a local school over a school I had dreamed of going to for basically my entire life. What makes me feel better is that I am going to try my hardest to make the best of it. I applied for a research fellowship and I am going to try to network as much as possible.

Also, it helped me a lot to think about practicality. None of us knew back in the Fall/Winter when we were applying that we would be knee deep in a global pandemic. The people who are still thinking COVID isn't going to affect grad school are being naive. Why pay so much money when in the blink of an eye, everyone's grad schools will turn into Zoom University and our clinical experiences will be on Simucase. This virus is here for the long run. It just isn't practical to be moving hours away when you cannot even effectively apartment hunt and adjust to life while the world around us is falling apart and trying to recuperate from this chaos. Grad school is stressful enough already. I've seen the grad students are my undergrad institution now, and they are always super stressed.  I think staying local is honestly the best option but I understand my views might be unpopular. 

 

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1 hour ago, littlet4lks said:

I am in a similar situation because I ended up choosing a local school over a school I had dreamed of going to for basically my entire life. What makes me feel better is that I am going to try my hardest to make the best of it. I applied for a research fellowship and I am going to try to network as much as possible.

Do you have any other suggestions for trying to make the best of it? None of the research professors are doing really interests me, and while I am thinking of a PhD in several years, I just don't know how I would be any happier doing research I'm not invested in.

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5 minutes ago, heyheyhey42 said:

Do you have any other suggestions for trying to make the best of it? None of the research professors are doing really interests me, and while I am thinking of a PhD in several years, I just don't know how I would be any happier doing research I'm not invested in.

I'm trying not to go in with a negative attitude because I don't want to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, so that's one thing. I'm trying to keep an open mind and going in knowing that I will be meeting new people and learning new things that will excite me for the future of the field. I would also try to connect with a professor who is teaching a class that focuses on the population/disorder you're interested in potentially researching because they can always offer you guidance down the road. I would also try to go in with an open mind about research because I did research undergrad on something I thought I was going to love but I ended up becoming interested in other topics when I took more classes on other disorders. 

You can also try reaching out to research labs during the summer and see if they need any help (either being a volunteer or a participant). That way, you can get your foot in the door that way. Also, going to a local school where research might not be an interest to the overwhelming majority can be good for you because even if you help a professor out with a project, you might be able to go to the ASHA conference (which is where ALL the networking happens)! Some of the "elite" brand name schools will have almost every student interested in research and not enough spots or opportunities for them, so consider this an asset. :)

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@littlet4lks this is honestly another reason why I’m considering a gap year. I’ve made it through online school this semester, but I just don’t think I will get as much out of online lectures and simucase. I’d rather wait and get the in-person experience. 

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I was rejected from my top choices and chose not to go to any NYC private schools because of the cost. When I visited my intended school I loved what I saw but I still have my doubts. I had everything planned out for living in NYC and where I’d work, live, and what I’d experienced. It’s natural to have regrets. But give UWM a chance. You might actually enjoy the professors and people there. If you don’t like it you can always apply to another school next year. I’m not sure how that looks but if you’re really unhappy don’t sacrifice your mental health for it. Also don’t think about what you could’ve done differently. I honestly think it’s the luck of the draw sometimes. One school I was rejected from I thought I would get into and I was waitlisted. You were accepted into two programs because they saw something in you they liked. Out of all those who applied YOU got in! At the end of the day whatever choice you make will be right for you.

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1 hour ago, Cece93 said:

If you don’t like it you can always apply to another school next year. 

I’ve thought about this, but how would schools I apply to react when they see I’ve already tried grad school? Could they think I’m just not cut out for grad school/SLP, or be nervous that I’d drop out again? 

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37 minutes ago, heyheyhey42 said:

I’ve thought about this, but how would schools I apply to react when they see I’ve already tried grad school? Could they think I’m just not cut out for grad school/SLP, or be nervous that I’d drop out again? 

I think given all the COVID chaos, schools would give you some grace. But be prepared for schools to ask why you left. 

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15 hours ago, heyheyhey42 said:

Do you have any other suggestions for trying to make the best of it? None of the research professors are doing really interests me, and while I am thinking of a PhD in several years, I just don't know how I would be any happier doing research I'm not invested in.

This doesn't happen to everyone in grad school, but you might be pleasantly surprised at how interests might change once you begin. I entered thinking I might want to work with adults, and aphasia/TBI interested me rhe most, but now I'm applying to CF positions in schools and have spent most of grad school doing research on childhood apraxia! I just sort of fell into research because I did well in a professor's class and it ended up being really interesting. The non-thesis research project I completed for a graduation requirement is still ongoing, and if I want to keep working on it after graduation we can hopefully get some articles published. I hadn't planned on doing a Ph.D, but if I ever do I'll have some solid research under my belt.

Even if you do know exactly what you want to research, and what your professors are doing isn't closely aligned, you could probably still choose to work with the one with the closest interests and branch off of their work. I'm sure they'd be happy to support you in that.

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On 4/27/2020 at 1:31 AM, heyheyhey42 said:

I’ve thought about this, but how would schools I apply to react when they see I’ve already tried grad school? Could they think I’m just not cut out for grad school/SLP, or be nervous that I’d drop out again? 

With all that’s going on, I would like to think grad schools would understand especially if you have to start your program online. You could always talk about how the school you left wasn’t a right fit and what you learned from the experience. One of my coworkers has gotten into 2 OT programs and looking to get into a 3rd that’s closer to home and the family he wants to start. So, it’s possible.

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On 4/25/2020 at 4:28 PM, heyheyhey42 said:

Some of you may have seen my previous posts trying to decide between Northwestern and UW-Milwaukee, which out of the 10 schools I applied to, were the only ones that accepted me. Neither were my top choice. I would've preferred Northwestern, but I really didn't want to be over $100,000 in debt. So I committed to UWM, but kept my name on a couple waitlists. I based my decision solely on finances. Now, I almost feel like I regret my decision. I know that it's the best decision in the long run. I know that UWM still has a good program that will get me to my goal of being an SLP.

I'm just not convinced UWM is the place for me. I've been told before that grad school is what you make of it, and it's a lot different from undergrad, so "fit" doesn't matter as much. I've also been told to just move somewhere after grad school if Milwaukee isn't for me. I'm someone who is very easily affected by my environment. I've visited UWM a couple times and while the campus was nice enough, I'm not sure I'll feel comfortable on campus. My mental health took a big hit my first semester of college because I wasn't comfortable with where I was (a similar situation where I had to prioritize finances over comfort). I really don't want that to happen again. I've cried quite a few times out of pure frustration about this.

I keep thinking about what I could've done differently. Should I have taken the GRE again? Retaken the class I failed freshman year because of my mental health (not a CSD course)? Should I have volunteered at the clinic more? Tried to find a job related to the field? Applied to more schools? I keep running through scenarios in my head. I feel like I've made a mistake and I'm going to regret something I did or didn't do. Did any of you currently in SLP grad school feel this way? Is it worth it to withdraw, take a gap year to improve my application, and apply to schools again? I just feel so defeated.

No matter what school you go to you will become an SLP. You could take a gap year if you want but that's another year before becoming an SLP. When it comes down to it its only 2(ish?) years of your life and you can get through it. What is it that you don't like about UWM? When you are paying your students loans back you'll probably thank yourself that you did not go to the super expensive school. You cannot change the past don't dwell on it. You got into 2 schools which is 2 more than a lot of people! Be proud of yourself. Try to focus on pros of UWM and not cons. Good luck in whatever you do I know this is a stressful, difficult time for us all. 

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On 4/29/2020 at 11:32 PM, 5678jg said:

When it comes down to it its only 2(ish?) years of your life and you can get through it.

That I am not 100% sure about. I am trying to stay positive and make myself excited, but I tried and failed to "get through" undergrad at a place I didn't love, and ended up destroying my mental health. I had to take a year and a half off from school before I felt ready try again. I don't want to be a self-fulfilling prophecy and am trying to be happy about my decision, but that will always be in the back of my mind.

On 4/29/2020 at 11:32 PM, 5678jg said:

What is it that you don't like about UWM?

I don't really like the campus or surrounding area. It feels a bit too cramped. And, as I grew up in Milwaukee, I was hoping to explore somewhere else for a little while. There are things I like about Milwaukee, but I'm ready for a change. I could just move after I graduate, but I feel like finding a CF in a completely new state could be challenging, especially when I could be competing with local applicants. I liked that Northwestern had connections to a lot of unique externship settings, and they have a lot of interesting research being conducted. But, it's too late for Northwestern. I'm happy about not having to pay off $100k in loans, but I still wish I could have gotten in at a school I would be happier at.

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1 hour ago, heyheyhey42 said:

That I am not 100% sure about. I am trying to stay positive and make myself excited, but I tried and failed to "get through" undergrad at a place I didn't love, and ended up destroying my mental health. I had to take a year and a half off from school before I felt ready try again. I don't want to be a self-fulfilling prophecy and am trying to be happy about my decision, but that will always be in the back of my mind.

I don't really like the campus or surrounding area. It feels a bit too cramped. And, as I grew up in Milwaukee, I was hoping to explore somewhere else for a little while. There are things I like about Milwaukee, but I'm ready for a change. I could just move after I graduate, but I feel like finding a CF in a completely new state could be challenging, especially when I could be competing with local applicants. I liked that Northwestern had connections to a lot of unique externship settings, and they have a lot of interesting research being conducted. But, it's too late for Northwestern. I'm happy about not having to pay off $100k in loans, but I still wish I could have gotten in at a school I would be happier at.

Is it possible to do some of your clinical externships in a different area? For example, I was accepted to UNH ( University of New Hampshire) and they have some clinical placements in the Boston/Massachusetts area. 

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36 minutes ago, MassSLPwannabe said:

Is it possible to do some of your clinical externships in a different area? For example, I was accepted to UNH ( University of New Hampshire) and they have some clinical placements in the Boston/Massachusetts area. 

That’s a possibility! I know the coordinator mentioned we can do an externship in every state but California. It’s ok if you don’t know this, but do you know what housing looks like for that? I can’t afford two leases, and I’m guessing lots of places won’t offer a semester-only lease. 

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19 hours ago, heyheyhey42 said:

That’s a possibility! I know the coordinator mentioned we can do an externship in every state but California. It’s ok if you don’t know this, but do you know what housing looks like for that? I can’t afford two leases, and I’m guessing lots of places won’t offer a semester-only lease. 

Well I know a lot of people around Boston do sub-lets and especially around the schools there are a lot of people who do a semester abroad and need people to fill their apartment specifically for a semester. Def takes some coordinating but its pretty common around here to get a subletter or be a subletter

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  • 4 weeks later...

I am feeling this too. I was between Marquette and Michigan State. I didn't get into my top two schools which were UT and Vanderbilt. I'm worried I made the wrong choice of choosing Marquette over Michigan State. Going to a Big 10 school would have been so cool and I could skate on one of the top figure skating teams in the country. However, I would probably only skate for 1 year due to grad school demands and the exams at the end of MSU's program seem excessive (an oral and written exam on top of taking the Praxis). I worked my BUTT off in undergrad and I don't want to make my life 10x more stressful

I try to look at what I gave up versus what I traded for. I say "okay, I gave up this and that sucks, but here's what I gave it up for"

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