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Hey all! I'm planning on applying to grad schools for Fall 2017 and was just wondering what kind of volunteer work, experience, etc. everyone has on their resumes in order to distinguish them from other applicants. Is it mainly all just SLP-related experience/volunteer work? I've done some shadowing and currently have an internship, but I don't feel like that's nearly enough. I'd like to get involved in undergraduate research, but my university doesn't offer it, and I live in a town with limited access for volunteer opportunities in the field. I'm always on the hunt for new opportunities though! I guess what I'm getting at is how much overall experience/accolades does everyone have, what is it/are they, and how much is actually related to speech pathology? Any insight would be fantastic!

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What is your current GPA? Volunteering can't overcome a poor GPA. Also, I'd start GRE prep now! A strong GRE helps your application. In terms of volunteering, I'm not convinced it matters what you have-you should just have done something. Many SLP's don't have "volunteers", so related opportunities are often good (volunteering in special education, a hospital, etc).  The reality is, when you write about your experiences, there is really no way of knowing how accurate it is. I personally believe that the "letters of intent" are more a reflection of your writing ability, and the interest you have in the school.  Again, as I always say, this is just my personal opinion....take it for what it's worth!

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I'm a "mature" applicant with a family, so most of my volunteer experience is related to things that my kids are involved in. I have good grades and great GRE scores. I'm not sure how much it will matter, but I can report back after this cycle. 

From what I understand, AdComms want to know that you are personable and can deal with the public and individuals well, so I'd look for experiences that show that even if you can't find some that are directly related to SLP. 

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My GPA is a 3.71, and I'm hoping to raise it to at least a 3.8. I've also started GRE prep, but I just didn't know if it was common to have an extensive list of extracurriculars and/or volunteer experience because of the amount of applicants with great GREs and GPAs alone. 

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21 hours ago, kenz said:

My GPA is a 3.71, and I'm hoping to raise it to at least a 3.8. I've also started GRE prep, but I just didn't know if it was common to have an extensive list of extracurriculars and/or volunteer experience because of the amount of applicants with great GREs and GPAs alone. 

I would say that GPA and GREs are what get you through round 1 (not getting your app thrown out).  Then extracurriculars, volunteer experience, a strong statement of purpose, etc. are what get you noticed.  They're going to have dozens of applicants with 3.7 (or higher) GPA and great GREs.  You have to show schools why they should choose you.  Why do you want to go into SLP?  What attracts you to that particular school's program?  How do they know that you will be a successful, passionate graduate student and then speech pathologist?  Since this is a field flooded with applicants, you have to find a way to stand out.  There are lots of ways to do this though.  Extracurriculars and volunteer experience are just a couple.  Find a way to get related experience and show that you are a great fit for this field!

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On January 27, 2016 at 9:34 PM, kenz said:

Hey all! I'm planning on applying to grad schools for Fall 2017 and was just wondering what kind of volunteer work, experience, etc. everyone has on their resumes in order to distinguish them from other applicants. Is it mainly all just SLP-related experience/volunteer work? I've done some shadowing and currently have an internship, but I don't feel like that's nearly enough. I'd like to get involved in undergraduate research, but my university doesn't offer it, and I live in a town with limited access for volunteer opportunities in the field. I'm always on the hunt for new opportunities though! I guess what I'm getting at is how much overall experience/accolades does everyone have, what is it/are they, and how much is actually related to speech pathology? Any insight would be fantastic!

I honestly think that the SOP is what really gets an applicant truly "noticed" as long as the applicant's stats are in line or relatively close to being in line with the program's stats.  It isn't about the number of volunteer experiences, shadowing, internships etc...  It's about how you can turn the experiences you have had into a compelling and intelligently articulated portrayal of who you are and why you chose this path.  So quality over quantity.  

I'm also a "mature" applicant, and had limited volunteer and shadowing time - the two pivotal experiences I wrote about in my SOP that my critiquers really liked had absolutely nothing to do with my volunteer or shadowing experiences.  The program I've been admitted to specifically mentioned one of the two experiences as a reason I was offered early admittance.  That being said, a *complete* lack of volunteer work, shadowing, internships etc being mentioned anywhere in the application would certainly be a red flag.  

Do NOT start writing your SOP the month it is due - and DO get a lot of high quality feedback from people who are not afraid of offending you in their critique.  I'm not talking about your parents here - find current grad students as well as people with advanced degrees (think attorneys, PhDs, MDs etc) that have been through this process too.  If your first draft looks a lot like your final draft - you are doing something wrong.

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Thank you for the responses! So the bottom line is that it would be perfectly fine for me to simply focus on studying for the GRE and constructing my SOP since I already have some experience volunteering/shadowing/interning?

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Hi- I'm also in the Fall 2017 boat! :) Almost anyone you ask may give you a slightly subjective and different answer. You have to assess yourself and choose the path best for you. I am pretty much in the same boat with stats and EC's, and chose the GRE/SOP path like Jolie717 mentioned as I feel that will benefit me (and someone like you) the best. 

GRE: I would definitely assess your deficits in the GRE. I would do multiple GRE practice tests. I quickly realized where my deficit was, and where I was actually doing pretty well. Armed with that knowledge, I now have made a much better plan of what and how I need to study. I plan to take the GRE in August, with the bulk of hardcore studying done after the semester ends, and studying the portion I have a deficit on this semester. 

Schools: I have also started a spreadsheet of potential schools. I just started over winter break researching program fits, and making a spreadsheet of what each program needs. I would also look into websites on getting into SLP grad school, and even books about essays for grad school in general. 

SOP: I wrote down all of the prompts from this year for the schools I am interested in. Which I think is a pretty good lead in writing some very beginning rough drafts. I would also compile a list of folks to send your SOP to for editing. So I don't bug professionals or professors too much, I am probably going to make a list with "waves" of, as weird as this sounds, people who are less skilled at editing to more skilled. I would rather have someone less skilled (aka a friend) initially look at my SOP and critique something probably really blatantly off sounding. By the time it has been corrected many times, and has gotten to the very skilled at editing folks (aka professor)...they can focus on smaller parts rather than marking up the whole essay for something simple like vocab. 

Extracurriculars: I went through the same "not enough on my resume" crisis a few weeks ago. I chose not to add any additional extracurriculars, but am looking towards summer. I shadowed at a clinic last year, but stopped when Fall semester started. I plan to shadow there a bit over summer so I feel more comfortable asking an SLP there for a letter of recommendation as my face will not only be familiar, but also "fresh" again. I also plan to run for a leadership position in a relevant club (NSSLHA).  Finally, I plan to keep my current volunteer commitment through app season. 

Finally...it is such a relief to watch people go through the process on this forum this year. I feel ahead of the game just reading and taking notes off of gradcafe! 

Edited by jmk

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