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What are my chances for getting accepted into MS-SLP program?

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I'm applying to some of the top programs in the country for MS-SLP (Vandy, UNC-CH, U of A, etc.) and I was wondering what you think my chances of getting accepted are? Any advice on ways to improve my chances?



4.0 GPA

GRE Score: 159 verbal (80th percentile), 158 Quantitative (74th percentile), 5.0 A.W. (92 percentile)

COSD major, psych minor (graduating a semester early)

Related volunteer/work experience (work 20-30 hours/week currently)

Leadership positions in my sorority

Lots of honors/awards

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I don't think there is a magic formula for any school, but based on numbers alone, your academic profile is great!  Having leadership, honors/awards are good too.  I see some related volunteer experience, as well.  I mean, on paper as your post stands, you are going to be a great SLP applicant.  The biggest thing you will need to focus on is convincing the admissions committee that you KNOW that SLP is the field you want.  Add something personal about you, something that makes you stand apart.  They're going to get TONS of applicants like you on paper, so make sure that you show what you bring to the potential class of 2016 (things that are unique, your own perspective, etc.) 


If you get a chance to go to any dept's info sessions and tours in the summer or fall, DO IT.  I went to UNC CH's info session and highly recommend -- they give you a lot of things to consider for writing your SOP.  They will tell you flat out that they are interested in YOU as a person, not just your numbers.  Yes, you're smart, so is everyone else.  Yes, you have leadership, so does everyone else.  (quite literally with UNC's applicants) -- what makes you, YOU?  What experiences do you bring to the table?  If you majored in COMD, what other experiences have you added to your academic career that can set you apart from other candidates?  In other words, they're going to see a lot of similar numbers, leadership, deans lists, etc, so what makes you special enough to make them want you in their class? 


Spend lots of time writing your SOP.  Spend lots of time getting second and third opinions on it from people you trust, professors, and even visit your university's writing center if you can.  


You mentioned graduating a semester early -- what are your plans for the semester "off" (spring 2014)?  Consider making those plans and writing about that in your SOP.  Can you shadow an SLP in whatever environments you are interested in?  Do you have 25 hours of observation that most schools require before you're allowed to be in their clinic as a grad student? 


Just some things to think about!  This field has become highly competitive in recent years, and high numbers aren't "everything" anymore.  As an example, the program where I am attending this Fall got over 250 apps for the distance ed program, and over 350 apps for the on campus program.  15 spots in distance ed, 24 spots in the on campus program.  


Above all else, be you... you don't want to get into a school that doesn't really fit you as a person.  Many people get accepted where they never thought they would, and rejected where they never expected anything but an acceptance.  FIT is key... look at what they are researching, if they have educational SLP or medical SLP focuses, what the course load is, where your internships are, before you apply; the status or ranking of the school is really secondary or tertiary to that.  

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I echo kcald716's sentiment.


The departments I visited mentioned they are looking for promising, future clinicians.  They want to know the characteristics of your personality that will help soothe clients when they are frustrated.  How will you adapt to the child who cries for 10 minutes every time mom or dad aren't inside the room?  How will you tell the terminally ill patient that the current treatment plan is to keep them as comfortable as possible during their last days?


Academic knowledge and numbers are a crucial part of the foundational background, but people skills are another key puzzle.  You could have the world's best methodology for curing a problem, but if you cannot explain it in a way the patient (or caregiver) can understand and execute with confidence, the knowledge you possess does not help the patient in the long run.


As kcald716 mentioned, fit is key.  Does the school's approach to therapy and treatment fit with how you envision yourself giving therapy and treatment to future clients?   Some programs focus on a play-based approach.  Some use a more traditional skill-practice approach.  Some use a mixture of both.  Obviously, each clinician is different, but think about who you want to be as a professional clinician and begin to develop your professional identity.  Read up on different therapy approaches and techniques to treat different disorders.  Observe what other clinicians do in their sessions.  You will see approaches and think, "Wow!  That really works!  I might steal that!"  Other approaches you will see and think, "Hmm... that seems counter-intuitive.  What research is out there supporting this?"


Don't be afraid to ask your professors how they approach therapy when working with clients.  Also ask how they approach teaching future clinicians.  You want to make sure that they way they teach matches the way you learn.  No use in spending big money to go to Big Name School with Big Name Professor if you don't feel like you won't learn anything.

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