gradschoolspeechie2020 Posted July 2, 2014 Share Posted July 2, 2014 Last year around this time, I was preparing to start my senior year of undergraduate work and getting ready to start the application process for graduate school. Through classes, NSSLHA meetings, and talking with students older than myself, I had heard time and time again that "the application process starts as soon as you get back to campus in the fall". I wanted to prepare myself for what was ahead early enough so that I could enjoy my senior year, do well in classes, and get all of my applications in on time, so I used my lazy summer days to research the application process, which is how I found GradCafe. This website and forum has provided me with a lot of great information. I found so many tips about staying organized, letters of recommendation, personal statements, GRE scores, etc., and it really helped me out before, during and after the application process. So I thought that now, while I have time in the summer before my rigorous graduate program begins, I could answer any questions that you all may have about the application process. I have been through it, succeeded, and am very happy with where I am going to be in the fall, and a lot of that is due to advice that I had gotten from people who had done it before me. What makes me qualified to answer your questions? I think the most important reason is that I went through this process and applied to 10 schools, got accepted to 8 schools, and was wait listed at the other 2 schools. The schools ranged in rank from top 10 schools to schools ranked in the 100s, and everywhere in between. During this time, I was able to keep a 4.0 average for my fall semester taking 15 credits, continue to exercise regularly, continue being active in an honors fraternity, and was still able go out to bars with my friends at least 3 nights a week. I didn't sleep much hahah, but I had a great senior year and was successful in the application process, and I want to help you do it too! Here are 3 of my top tips for the application process: 1. Use your time wisely. This seems like a no brainer, but hear me out. Don't spend every hour of every day that you are not in class fretting over your applications, but make the time that you do spend on your applications count. I couldn't tell you the number of times I talked to girls in my classes who said "I am going to go home and spend the next 8 hours on my applications; I can't do ANYTHING for the rest of the week because of these applications". The thing to remember here is, that they aren't spending all 8 hours doing those applications. They are checking Facebook, talking to their roommates, making dinner, or tweeting about how much time they are spending on applications. While this may work when procrastinating a paper that is due, this is not a productive use of time when you are applying to graduate school. Plan your days out so that you have a large chunk of time to specifically work on applications, and only applications. For me, this meant scheduling all of my classes to end at or before 12pm every day of the week. In order to do this I had to take an online class and get up earlier than I had in my college career, but it paid off. At noon I would leisurely eat my lunch while checking social media or watching tv (to get it out of my system) and then I would put my phone away and get to work on my application binder until about 4 in the afternoon. This process of applying to graduate school takes a lot of organization and double and triple checking of documents, so being completely focused on the task at hand is a MUST. By setting aside this large chunk of time in the afternoon to work on graduate school applications, I was able to say to myself by 4pm each day "I accomplished "xyz" today for grad school and it's only 4pm, I have time to do my homework, workout, hang out with friends, or just relax because I was disciplined with my time until now". Boom. Productivity and fun all in one. 2. Work for that 50% or greater GRE score. Disclaimer: I am but a mere student and am not claiming to be on any board of admissions, and the following advice is me recalling the information that I have gleaned from professors, students, and others in the field. From my own experience and that of my friends, I believe that this tip is so important to stress. While I know that other factors such as personal statement and letters of recommendation are important in the application process, the amount of weight that these factors get during the admissions process could first depend on your GRE score. Your great personal statement or stellar letters of recommendation might not even see the light of day if you do not meet the GRE requirement that the school has set. The argument to this is "I have a great GPA so that should make up for my low GRE score". This is my opinion on this statement: different schools calculate GPA in different ways, so this really isn't an equalizer for graduate admissions teams when they are deciding between two candidates. I know girls who had ridiculously high GPAs, couldn't reach that 50%+ mark, and didn't get into graduate school, or at least the ones that they really wanted to attend. Also, on a positive note, GREs are something that you CAN change and improve on right now! For me, I had a terrible freshman year grade wise. I worked very hard for the next two years to get my GPA higher, but it is really hard to makeup what you have lost. At the time I applied to graduate school my GPA was "only" a 3.6 (but if you had an undergraduate experience that was anything like mine, every other girl in the class seemed to have a 3.9). With the GRE, you can improve your chances of getting into graduate school by simply studying and taking the test. If you're reading this now and thinking about applying in the fall and you haven't yet gotten a score over 50%, you still have so much time to study and retake it! Albeit, the test is very expensive, but it is a "drop in the bucket" of the money that you will be spending and making throughout your lifetime as a speech therapist, and since you will be spending so much money on applications in the fall, you want to make them the best that you can so you are not wasting money applying to schools that won't admit you because you do not meet their GRE requirement. Every person is different in their learning style, and what works for me when studying for the GRE might not work for you. But whether it is classes, books, practice tests, or all of the above, take the time and learn how to get the best score that you can on the GRE, it will be worth it when you get that acceptance letter. 3. Personalize your personal statement (but not just the paragraphs about you). After talking about my outlook on the importance of the GRE score it seems like my advice would be that you shouldn't be concerned with your personal statement, but in reality I believe that schools do look at these statements thoroughly once you have passed the GPA and GRE requirements, so it is important to have a well written personal statement. The most valuable piece of advice that I received in regard to personal statements is that you should include a paragraph about why you want to attend THIS school. So many personal statements only talk about how many clubs a person joined, or how much volunteer work that the person did, basically focusing only on you the applicant. The trick is to turn it around and write about what you will bring as a student once you are admitted to the university and why you want to attend this university specifically. It is easy to copy and paste one very well written personal statement into 15 different applications and click send. But instead you should take the time to do research on what each university is known for and what the professors in your department are doing research/clinic-wise, and then write a paragraph for each of the schools that you are applying to that talks about what you found and how it interests you as a student. Also show that if they admit you to their program you will be a good fit for them because you are interested in the areas in which they are putting their time, money and professional resources. Most students have reasons why they want to attend the schools that they are applying to, and it is important to articulate them in your personal statement. You should spend the first few paragraphs talking about your accomplishments and skills to the admissions panel, and then use this last paragraph to turn it around and show your enthusiasm for their specific school. Compared to the rest of the areas of the application process, I personally spent the most time doing research on the schools and crafting each paragraph to articulate why I want to go to that specific school. In my opinion, I think this really made the difference and is why I got accepted to so many places, and it helped me picture myself at each university. These are just 3 of the tips that I have on this subject of applying to graduate school. The reason that I am making this post is so that you can use these tips and ask me other questions that you have about any stage of the application process, undergraduate classes, or whatever! Since the past year of my life was spent planning, applying and waiting, I have a lot of opinions and advice on those subjects. Again, like I said throughout this post, I in NO WAY am an expert on these subjects, and if you have differing opinions on the application process then that is great! I'm simply presenting this process in the way that I see it. Peace and Blessings. GeoDUDE!, kats, DeafAudi and 1 other 2 2 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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