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How to rank/differentiate between programs


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Hi all,

 

I am a senior at University of Rochester interested in pursuing a Masters in SLP.  Unfortunately, my school doesn't offer any of the prereqs so my current plan is to take most of those classes next year and then apply to grad schools for Fall '14.  I'm not entirely sure yet if I'm going to take the prereqs as part of a formalized post-bacc program or just on my own at some school.

 

My biggest struggle right now is figuring out how to differentiate between the different grad programs.  I've been using ASHA's EdFind, but that basically just spits out a list of 244 schools - not overly helpful.  If location isn't a limiting factor, how can I narrow this list down?!?!  Does anyone know how much potential employers care about the "quality" of school your degree is from?  How can you tell what schools are "good" and "bad" if they're all ASHA accredited?  *minor freak out here*

 

I really appreciate any help/insight you can give me.  I've logged over 100 hours shadowing SLPs in different settings (in-patient rehab, out-patient rehab, private practice, old, young, etc).

 

Thanks so much!

 

 

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From my understanding, employers don't really care where your degree is from--that's not to say that some programs aren't better than others depending on your preferences, but most accredited SLP programs will equip you for the profession as much as school can.

 

Also, the surge in SLP applicants over the last few years has made most SLP programs competitive to hyper-competitive, even if the schools don't have overall name recognition.

 

Honestly? Apply where you feel comfortable living and potentially working. Many strong applicants ultimately choose based on location or tuition expenses.

 

There are good programs all over the country, and the biggest factor seems to be getting in somewhere, not necessarily where you earn your degree.

 

ETA: Just to give you an idea, some of the more competitive programs appear to be UWashington, Vanderbilt, Northwestern, Boulder, MGH in Boston, and Boston U to name a few. California public schools are hard to get into due to the number of applicants. Chapel Hill is nearly impossible to get into.

Edited by midnight streetlight
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I agree with midnight streetlight, it all depends on where you want to live/work (granted I don't expect to live in Boston after I graduate, but I was/am perfectly happy to be here for two years (maybe three or four should a good job/life events present themselves)). After that you will probably still have a long list and from there you should be able to answer your first question. Some programs will require a bachelors degree in speech and hearing sciences (or a significant number of pre-recs), some will only require 4 or five classes and some will require none at all. In exploring the long list you will be left with after eliminating states/cites you don't want to live in, you will figure out more about the school including what the pre-rec requirements. If it is a school that you think is worth all the pre-recs. The qualifications of a "good" school obviously differ for everyone but for me it was (in no particular order): location, reputation (as I know I wanted to be back in CA I wanted it to have at least a decent reputation), graduation rate, PRAXIS pass rate, research interests of professors, types of placements, any specialized tracks).  I know I want to work as a clinician so I wanted a school that would give me a strong clinical background, and a school where I would not feel like the only person NOT aiming for a PhD. It's a long process but as midnight streetlight pointed out, it is highly competitive so doing your homework will be beneficial.

 

 

Oh! and if you haven't already, get documentation (a letter on institution letterhead with dates (at least months and years) signed by the SLP WITH his/her ASHA number should suffice) of those 100 hours. You can only use 25 of them for observation hours but it's one "pre-rec" you have already done. 

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The US News and World report offers a crude ranking system if you are interested in raw numbers.  I do agree with some of these rankings regarding my previous master's degree (in teaching), and from the answers I have received from current colleagues in the field of SLP, these rankings are good in a broad sense.  Top 100 schools are perhaps more well-known or have been around longer, but remember ASHA doesn't certify crappy programs... the standards are very high to gain ASHA certification! 

 

If you're doing pre-req's through a post-bacc program and considering online courses, look at Ohio State, Utah State, and others.  I'm doing mine at Longwood University (VA) and started last May.  

 

BTW, I would advise going to an info session at UNC Chapel Hill if that is your top pick - they'll give you some good insight on what they want to see in your statement of purpose.  

 

 

 

In my opinion, here are some things to consider to create your own personal rankings: 

 

1) Do I want to live/work in that area (you will get massive job hook-ups during grad school)

 

2) Are there areas of focus that I want to pursue, and which programs have them? Or, do I even want an area of focus?  Is there a particular research area that this program has that none of my other potential schools have, and do I want the opportunity to study that area? 

 

3) What kinds of internship and externship opportunities are available?  Where are they?  

 

4) Tuition? (I know you don't want to think about this now... but ...) -- out of state tuition rate?  What about grad assistantships for funding or tuition reduction to in-state rates?  What about research assistantships to help pay for school? 

 

5) Do I have connections in the SLP world already, and is there a school near those connections?  (I have been working for 6 years in public education and let me tell you, connections and networking are EVERYTHING, even when your degree is equal in education to every other candidate out there)

 

6) Consider the weather/climate.  I personally would be miserable in the weather in Chicago, Michigan, the Northeast, etc ... so that makes any schools up there not quite as desirable even if I was to get an offer of admission. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Can anyone elaborate on why UNC Chapel Hill is considered "impossible to get into"? When I reviewed all of their admissions literature, it seemed as though they were looking for competitive applicants, but not necessarily the top ones ONLY.

 

Was I sadly misinformed?

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jmarti: Aside from the expected competitive nature of SLP admissions (Chapel Hill accepted 44 out of 341 prospects last year), I was told that CH accepts very, very few out-of-field applicants. Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but their site does heavily emphasize SLP prereqs, so I tend to believe that it's true.

 

You're not OOF (heh), and your academic and professional interests are aligned with some of CH's strengths. I don't think you're misinformed at all. You're a strong candidate for their program.

 

And I don't want anyone to read me wrong: I definitely think people should apply to schools they're interested in even if the acceptance numbers are daunting and admissions are highly competitive. You won't get in unless you apply!

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Thank you very much for clearing that up. I know some schools are virtually impossible (such as my undegrad institution) because they do not consider anyone with a GPA much lower than a 3.85. In those instances, I can't compete, no matter the other aspects of my application.

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Can anyone elaborate on why UNC Chapel Hill is considered "impossible to get into"? When I reviewed all of their admissions literature, it seemed as though they were looking for competitive applicants, but not necessarily the top ones ONLY.

Was I sadly misinformed?

From what I remember hearing at the UNC info session, they are interested in the candidate as a whole, not necessarily top numbers. Reaching the minimum gets your application to be reviewed. those without the minimum are likely tossed. They are looking for something more, something unique about each applicant so that their class of accepted students has a diverse set of interests, and I am not talking just about SLP interests. If you are out of field, you will have an equal chance ONLY if you have ALL of the pre-requisites completed or noted as "in-progress" when you submit your application. They will not allow you to enroll unless you have grades in for the pre req classes. Just FYI.

One reason I think they may be classified as a top program has to do with the variety of experiences you have for internship and externship opportunities. There are a huge variety of places, age groups, types of clients, settings... More than most of the other schools where I have looked. It helps that the medical "triangle" of NC is huge in Chapel Hill. I did both my undergrad (music performance) and MAT at UNC so I am slightly biased towards them. If you have any UNC questions, Chapel Hill questions,etc let me know!

Edited by kcald716
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