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Advice for someone considering a Speech Pathology Masters!


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Hi everybody,

I just wanted to get some feedback on my situation, and if I should pursure the time/money for a masters in Speech Path. I graduated with my undergrad in Business, spent a few years doing marketing, went back to school and obtained my MBA in marketing. After working at a market research firm, I was let go in Feb. 2011. I have been unemployed ever since!! Thats over a year!! Can you believe it? Terrible economy.

In the mean time of looking for jobs/going on interviews, I've had some thoughts on if I really want to stay in the business field! Its so unstable right now! In addition, I'll be moving soon to live with my fiance where SLP's are in high need.

Last August, I went to Northern Illinois's open house for their grad program in Speech Path, and was really impressed. I met with an advisor that October, and she explained to me what most post-baccs have to go through. A year of pre-reqs (full time), good GPA/GRE scores, relationships with the professors/LOR's will heighten your chances of getting into a program there.

My GPA in my undergrad in Business was terrible (2.9). I was pretty immature then. However, I proved that I could obtain a graduate degree with a good GPA (3.89) with my MBA. Also, I volunteered at the #1 rehab hospital in the US to see if this profession was something I'd like to do. I loved it! I worked in the hospital's Apashia research center. So I think that experience would help me begin to write a personal statement. In addition, I'm almost done with completing a Biology course (basic science) course iwth an A. I still need a Physics, and to take my GRE. The GRE scares me so much!!! I am a horrible horrible test taker. I pretty much failed the GMAT (after studying too). So, I'm just not sure what to do.

Soo - sorry for the long rambling post, but any post-bacc people out there? any career changers? this is like a 180 for me, but I think I'd love it....its just the competitivness and uncertainty that scares me (oh and the time/money, thats HUGE lol).

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It's definitely a huge time/money/energy commitment. To cover your pre-reqs I know a lot people have had good experience with Utah State's online SLP pre-req program. They offer all of the pre-reqs you'll likely need and offer in-state tuition no matter where you live since it's all online. A lot of people have managed to do that as well as work full time which can help save you from some of the financial investment you'd have to make in switching careers.

You mentioned the area you live in has a high demand for SLPs. Make sure you look into which area of SLP that is. I know many areas have a huge need for SLPs in the schools, but hospital positions are much harder to come by and highly competitive (which, based on your volunteer experience, sounds like it might be the direction you're leaning toward, but I might be wrong).

As far as the GRE goes, make sure you take some practice tests and time yourself while you do so. I found half the battle with the GRE was just getting comfortable with the format...I honestly didn't study at all and managed a pretty decent score but I did read lots of tips on the smartest ways to manage your time during the test and stuff like that which I felt really helped.

It sounds like you're doing what you need to do to get yourself set up for success in applying to schools. Make sure you go out of your way to make some connections with professors as you'll need solid letters of recommendation as well. My last bit of advice would be to make sure this is something you're really passionate about before you make the commitment--grad school is a serious commitment and everyone I've spoken to said it was the most stressful, busy two years of their lives and the only way to be successful through it if your heart is really in it! Good luck with your preparation and feel free to fire away with any questions you have along the way :)

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I'm in a post-bacc right now, and still deciding between multiple grad school acceptances. Speech-Language Pathology is a great field, and it sounds like you have some great experience in that aphasia center!

I would recommend applying for/registering for the prerequisite courses before you apply so that you can have some higher grades on your transcript to show that you have grown since your first undergrad degree. If you take them online, you can save money and have the flexibility to work while taking classes.

And don't be afraid of the GRE! Get yourself a good test prep book or two (different companies have different strengths - I like Barron's because of the material review and Kaplan for test-taking tips and methods) and work through it a little bit every day. Many test prep books even come with study schedules to help you pace yourself. Schedule your GRE test early enough that you can retake it if you are not happy with your score, and knowing you have that option will also help you relax as you take the test since you'll know you can do it again. Taking timed practice tests at home will also be helpful so you can become familiar with the format of the test and the types of questions to expect. To be a competitive candidate, you probably want to aim for at least 500 on each section - it's one of the parts of your application you have the most control over, so you mights well make it as strong as possible. If you're struggling in specific areas of the GRE, you could consider hiring a tutor (either a local college student which would be cheaper or a professional tutor).

Feel free to PM me if you want to talk more about applications. My situation is a little different from yours, since I went straight to my post-bacc after getting my undergrad in linguistics (I actually knew as an undergrad that I wanted to do speech but my school didn't offer it), but I'd still be happy to share what I've learned from the application process or what my fellow post-baccs have learned!

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I also did a career change, although not quite as drastic. I worked in behavioral health for a few years as a case manager before deciding to go back to school to get my post bacc done for speech. It is definitely a huge financial commitment. I went back full time for a year and had to finance the entire thing with loans. I was accepted to several grad programs, even with a low undergrad gpa, so I doubt you will have any trouble getting accepted somewhere. I knew that I was very unhappy in my behavioral health career and had worked with speech pathologists a lot through the years, so it felt like a very natural path for me. Just be sure that you are committed to the field because it really is a lot of time and money!

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Hey there!

I also decided on a career change after spending several miserable years out of undergrad wondering what I wanted to do with my life. I think the other folks here have been spot-on in their recommendations. I was lucky enough to complete my pre-reqs on a campus with a master's program, where I made it my full-time job to meet with as many professors as possible. I wanted to know more about the field, more about their areas of study, more about what my chances were of getting accepted in to ANY graduate program. It became my mission to develop relationships that would yield solid advice as well as solid recommendations.

If you're used to working a "real" job then jumping through these hoops shouldn't be a problem for you. It's perfectly reasonable for you to ask potential schools the major factors in accepting candidates. Some schools go straight by the numbers and others weigh elements of the application equally. Your MBA will be an asset as you apply.

Keep in mind that almost every program has been receiving a record number of applications. So if you're gonna go, go all out!

Edited by WannabeSLP
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