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Compiling a List of Colleges: Stick to West Coast or Go Further?


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Hi, I'm new to this community. I'm a 3rd year at a four year college in Southern California majoring in Communicative Disorders.  My total GPA is roughly a 3.7 and my major GPA is a 3.5, but I'm hoping to raise it a little further after this spring semester is complete.  I volunteer at a hospital near my house, a private clinic with a speech pathologist, and I'm an active member of my school's NSSLHA.  I haven't taken the GRE yet, but I'm currently studying for it and will be taking it at the end of May.  

 

I looked up a few old forums on this topic and the number of schools people apply for seem to range from 5-8.  My parents think I should apply for more than 10 because of my GPA and they have little faith my resume.  Should I be worried and apply for more schools?  How should I decide which schools to look at?  Older forums say to look at "safe schools", but what is a safe school exactly and how do you know it's a safe school?

 

My parents want me to apply for all the schools in California because we live there, but I think it's ridiculous and very expensive (there are 16 of them!).  They keep insisting that I apply for Chapman University, but Chapman University was only recently accredited in 2013.  Is it worth applying for a school when there is so little known about their history? 

 

I personally want to look at the schools on the west coast for applications, but I wouldn't mind applying for schools from New England, Virginia, British Columbia, Ontario, or Quebec.  I'm still considering if I should apply for a school out of country in Canada because I have relatives in Canada and my mother has Canadian citizenship.  I know this doesn't sound reasonable, but I like to look at schools based off their geographic location and climate.  I do not want to apply to hot/humid states like Arizona or Texas.  Is it wise to apply to more schools in state or should I spread out my list and apply for more out of state schools?   

 

I'm interested in applying for a program that puts emphasis on the public school setting.  I'm also interested in looking into programs that focus on autism and AAC. 

 

This is my incomplete list of schools I'm looking into: 

CSU Long Beach

CSU East Bay

CSU San Francisco

San Jose State University

San Diego State University

University of Red Lands

Portland State University

Western Washington State University

Queens College

Edited by rainsonata
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If you're considering New England, look into MGH Institute. You can get a concentration in autism!

 

16 schools is a lot, but it has been done before. I know what many people do (both in SLP and in other fields) is apply to a smaller amount (like your 5-8 schools), then if they do not get accepted anywhere, improve their application so that it will be better next time when they send out those 16 applications the following year. Perhaps that's an agreement you can make with your family if you do not feel comfortable sending out so many applications at once.

 

"Safety schools" are definitely not a thing, as you never know what could happen. But I would guess that a school like Chapman may have less applicants because it is a new program, therefore making it easier to get into compared to other schools in the area.

 

When it comes to applying in-state vs. out-of-state, I'd consider costs, being away from your family for a couple years, and where you can realistically see yourself living. I was originally considering a few Chicago schools but then decided that I don't want to be a plane ride distance away from my family in NJ. Also visit, visit, visit! There are many schools in my area that I decided not to apply to after I visited.

 

Good luck with everything!

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A 3.7 is not bad, but I would keep working to bring that 3.5 up. My best advice is to STUDY STUDY STUDY for the GRE! Look on their gre webiste at the writing samples, I did this and got one of the ones i had looked over. If you stick to the writing regiment they tell you (introduction, three paragraphs with three main points and three counter points, and a great conclusion) you'll do great. They are looking more for the ability to write structured than anything, since they read them so quickly. I took the GRE more than once and when I did this I scored much higher.

 

I would apply to a range of schools, in state and maybe some out of state, though that list looks great. If you do apply out of state - ask before hand about how many out of state applicants they accept. Some state schools only accept a small amount of out of state Students, therefore making it even more competitive for Out of State Students.

 

I agree there is no such thing as "safety" schools. All schools are very competitive now, and most programs are good. Definitely visit schools, e-mail the professors and even graduate students to see what they think of the program. Sometimes "top ranked" programs are not all they are chalked up to be, and often don't have the best professors, placements, etc. I would think about the type of SLP you want to be, what you want to specialize in and ask programs you're interested in what kind of placements they have in that area, what professors do research in those areas, etc. Talk to as many people as you can and get your name in. Do visits! It really can't hurt to apply to more schools (besides your wallet. I understand.) I've applied to 9 this year.

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Thanks for your answers!  So there's no such thing as a safety school.  I'm working hard to pull up my GPA this semester and hopefully I'll do fine on the GRE.  I checked out the forums on this website and I keep seeing warnings about applying for Cal States because they tend to favor their undergrad/post bac students. 

 

How many Cal States should I think about when applying then?  I'm naturally apply for CSULB because I'm going there right now, so I think I have a chance.  Long Beach apparently is known to very much favor their students?  I'm also thinking of San Francisco and San Jose and maybe San Diego.  I'm also looking at University of Colorado Boulder and Eastern Washington State because of the WICHE program.  I had thoughts of applying east coast but it's hard to decide which place to look at first.  Portland State is on my list for its proximity to CA and I'm also considering Redlands and maybe Loma Linda. 

 

Is anyone knowledgeable about Loma Linda's program?  Do they have any special program/concentration worth mentioning?  I tried going on their website but it was hard to navigate through it.     

Edited by rainsonata
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Your GPA is good, and if you can bring it up, even better. I wouldn't be too hard on yourself. Unless your goal is to get into an extremely selective, highly ranked program, I think your GPA will get you in somewhere. And if you have volunteer experience at a hospital and a private clinic, and you participate in NSSLHA, I don't know why your parents have little faith in your resume. Some of my schools didn't even ask for a resume, they just asked about relevant experience (hospital, private speech clinic, and NSSLHA would all count).

As for the school that was just accredited - if it passed its accreditation, that's all that really matters. You'll be able to get your license. :) If you'd feel safer somewhere else, though, then by all means apply somewhere else.

How many schools you should apply to really depends on how much money you're willing to spend, and how desperate you are to get in. I know people who applied to a higher number of less competitive schools because they had lower scores and GPA. With your GPA and volunteer experience, though, I don't think you really have to worry about not getting in somewhere. Look on Asha EdFind, and look on individual school websites. Don't apply to schools where you're too far below their accepted range of GPAs, because chances are you might not get in. But if you're applying to schools where you're within their GPA range, you'll be fine.

My undergraduate professors actually refused to write more than 5 letters of recommendation, so my classmates and I could only apply to 5 schools. You're good enough to get in if you apply to the right schools, so I would recommend NOT applying to very many. Not only does it cost a lot (can be almost $100 per application), but it makes your decision for where to go harder in the end.

Good luck!

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Thanks for your answers!  So there's no such thing as a safety school.  I'm working hard to pull up my GPA this semester and hopefully I'll do fine on the GRE.  I checked out the forums on this website and I keep seeing warnings about applying for Cal States because they tend to favor their undergrad/post bac students. 

 

How many Cal States should I think about when applying then?  I'm naturally apply for CSULB because I'm going there right now, so I think I have a chance.  Long Beach apparently is known to very much favor their students?  I'm also thinking of San Francisco and San Jose and maybe San Diego.  I'm also looking at University of Colorado Boulder and Eastern Washington State because of the WICHE program.  I had thoughts of applying east coast but it's hard to decide which place to look at first.  Portland State is on my list for its proximity to CA and I'm also considering Redlands and maybe Loma Linda. 

 

Is anyone knowledgeable about Loma Linda's program?  Do they have any special program/concentration worth mentioning?  I tried going on their website but it was hard to navigate through it.     

 

 

If I were you, I would look into the CA schools that you are applying to and see if you actually like the programs. CA schools are some of the most competitive in the nation due to the location and the cost of tuition. So, you want to keep that in mind too.

 

Here is what I know about some of the schools you mentioned:

 

SDSU - a long shot because of your drop in GPA but with your extracurricular activity and GRE your chances might increase. They will give you a broad experience and have amazing research. They have a bilingual certification and there are plenty of opportunities to get placements anywhere due to the programs reputation in the community. 

 

San Marcos - a school based program. So if you want a straight school experience this is not a bad program to go to. 

 

Loma Linda - a private college so the cost is through the roof. They do this special "student learning" experience where the students actually teach themselves through articles and books. This is done with a facilitator but its still kinda weird. Another problem you may face with the university is getting placements in the state. I will admit this is a rumor but apparently there is an affidavit that you sign saying you may be willing to go out of state for placements. 

 

Redlands - another private college. They are, from what I hear, a good school though. 

 

San Francisco - I have never heard anything bad but I don't know too much about the program. 

 

Chapman - there is no problem applying to a school that is recently accredited. The only problem would be that their clinical experience is not fully established. 

 

There is no problem in applying to out-of-state schools that fit what you are looking for and will give you the experience you want.The main questions you have to ask yourself (then the university) are: 

What kind of clinical experience do you want to have?

What kind of placements do you want?

Do you want the university to have its own clinic? 

Do you want to start getting your clinical hours immediately? 

Do you want the program to have research opportunities (it has been shown that colleges with a heavy research community are more likely to place a great emphasis on evidence based practice)?

 

Also, look at programs with a GPA cut-off and look at the average GPA accepted. I am not trying to be harsh but your GPA has dropped since you have been in the CSD major and that may look unfavorably. In regards to that, talk to a CSD academic adviser and see what they recommend to help you improve. 

 

You have the right mindset. You are getting involved in all the right places. You just need to put the rest of the puzzle pieces together. Study study study for the GRE. There are many people that recommend Magoosh. I didn't become aware of the site until the end of my studying but I did use a variety of different books (Kaplan, Princeton, Cliffnotes, ETS website). I spent approximately 2 hours a day studying for a month and a half. I took the weekends off to give my brain a break. I switched it up daily and timed myself frequently towards the end. Take it over the summer. If you aren't taking too many summer courses it is the best time because you won't be as stressed. 

 

Good luck! 

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