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Extracurriculars SLP Programs Look For

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Hi all,


I'm planning on applying to a few programs for Fall 2016 (a little ahead, I know). I have a 4.0 GPA and I'm an out-of-field applicant double majoring in English and Psychology. While I haven't taken the GRE yet, I'm fairly sure I can get a decent score.


What I'm mainly worried about are my extracurriculars and was wondering, for those of you who have already been accepted, what kind of exracurriculars SLP programs are looking for and if there is much weight put on them. Here are my extracurriculars thus far:

  • Freshman Student Mentor (Fall 2013, 2014)
  • Research Journal Reviewer and Associate Editor (Fall 2012-Current)
  • Active Member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars (Jan. 2013 - current)
  • Active Member of Phi Kappa Phi (Oct. 2013 - current)
  • Volunteered as a note-taker for Student Disability Services (Spring 2015)
  • Volunteered at a Child Care Center with Junior Toddlers (2-3 years) (Spring 2015)
  • Nanny for a summer
I've also presented research at multiple conferences; however, none of these were related to speech language pathology. Does it matter that my extracurriculars are unrelated to SLP or do you think I'll be okay?
Thanks so much!
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Your experience with SDS is good because it shows caring and compassion for peers with disabilities in your community, so that's a keeper! Likewise with the experience with children, because it's one thing to say "I want to work with kids!" and another thing to actually know what it's like to do so. As far as research experience goes (including conference presentations), I'm pretty biased but I think that schools will want to see that. Is it in psych? If so, psych and CSD are pretty closely related, and research success in one often indicates potential success in the other. I'm not sure if you're interested in pursuing a research career, but any clinician who's research-oriented will do well with diagnostics and will probably be better at implementing evidence-based practice.


I'm saying these things as someone who's still an undergrad, so take it with a grain of salt... But based on the feedback I got on my resume and applications this year, that's the advice I would give you. I think you could argue that your extracurriculars are actually very well-suited to the field :) It looks like you're application is gonna be awesome, congratulations on that!

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pmarie, thanks so much! I was hoping they would be close enough and I really appreciate your response. Also, good luck with graduate applications!

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Even though I haven't technically gotten an acceptance letter yet, I can tell you what one of my CSD professors told me when I was first considering SLP 3 years ago. I was a Psychology major in undergrad, so to get more involved in and prepared for a career in CSD, I joined my school's undergraduate NSSLHA chapter, volunteered in the SLP unit of the hospital, and did the 25 observation hours required by ASHA. Some schools require you to have the 25 hours finished before you even apply, some don't. But in order to get the CCC-SLP, 25 of your 400 clock hours have to be observation anyway, so why not show admissions that you took the initiative to do yours early? It shows them that you've made yourself familiar with the field and that you're certain this is really what you want to be doing. If your school offers any of the prerequisites to the masters programs, definitely take those as well. You may be able to take them through other schools too. But again, taking the courses shows them that you know what to expect in the program/field and you've started to prepare for it. Different programs have different prerequisite requirements, but definitely cover those on the ASHA website that are required like a physical science, a biological science, etc. The non-CSD courses I took that weren't in my major but provided my transcript with more "enrichment" were things like Linguistics 101 and another Linguistics course called Language Acquisition and Development. As a psych major, take the course in developmental psych if you haven't already- different schools have different names for this course, but I think you know what I'm talk about. Your advisor might be able to offer more ideas for courses to take to give you an academic background that's in accordance with CSD. If you can't tell, my advice is mostly for someone planning to work on the clinical side and specifically with younger populations. If you're interested in the research side, you might not need some of my advice, but I would say the NSSLHA, Prereq courses, and 25 observation hours are still important regardless of the graduate degree track you choose!

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So I'm assuming you are applying to extended Master's programs that include the extra communication disorders pre-reqs that you'd need for grad school?  I'd say definitely get some directly related experience.  The extended Master's programs are more competitive than the already crazy competitive typical Master's programs.  Not saying that to scare you but if any of the competition has directly related experience a program will probably be more interested in that?  Although your grades and double majoring will probably speak highly towards your academic abilities.


I haven't heard of many people getting into programs without experience in the field, or coursework.  So i'd try to do one of those!  Have you considered a Post-bacc program?  That would allow you to apply to all universities.  You can even take the classwork online.


Good luck!

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I may be wrong, but I don't think there is actually that much emphasis placed on extracurriculars. Several of my schools didn't even ask for resumes (though I sent them anyway). Many schools seem to go mostly by the numbers, which you seem to be all set with. Though I was super paranoid with my extracurriculars and tried to fit a million research/childcare/language things in just in case.


I think some exposure to the field is necessary to help you write your statement of purpose, because schools seem to value that. If you have nothing to back up why you want to be in the field, your SOP likely won't be as strong. Right now your extracurriculars seem to be about average, maybe a little weak on the volunteering side. I would do more teaching/tutoring/childcare if you're interested in the school-based or EI side of SLP. Or get some volunteering in a hospital if you're interested in medical.


You don't say whether you've actually done the research you've presented at conferences, though I'm assuming you did, and if so, that is great! (assuming it's in psychology, English is less relevant). I focused on writing about my undergrad honors thesis in my SOP and the fact that I'd done independent research as an undergrad was favorably commented on in one of my interviews.


I know my response was a little contradictory, mainly because I guess I don't really know how important it is! I think you should use this summer to add a really good job/volunteering/research experience to your resume. In addition, maybe take a couple classes to get some prereqs out of the way and show you have some knowledge about/commitment to the field (online ones through Utah State are really good and cheap. But given your GPA, you'll probably be just fine whatever you decide to do!

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