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San Diego State University vs. University of Washington

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I got into San Diego State and University of Washington. Both are fantastic programs, but I can only go to one. I was hoping for some advice.

A little more about me- I am from CA, so I have family in SD (all of them want me to choose SDSU). I have been in Seattle as a post-bacc for the past 10 months and I love it up here! I am interested in working as a SLP in medical settings with adults. SDSU has the bilingualism focus, which is cool, but not really my cup of tea. I got into the UW Med program which is more in line with my career goals, but is also 3 times the cost!

Any insights/advice/information you can offer is super appreciated!

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First of all, congrats! Those are two excellent programs, so this is a good problem to have! I am from Seattle, and I went to UW, so I'm definitely biased toward UW. If I take my bias hat off, my advice is to take all your pros and cons into account for either school, and prioritize which factors are more important to you. Is being close to family most important? Or is it the medical focus that UW provides more important? Or perhaps the relationships you already developed with staff and prospective grad students is a factor? I recommend UW especially if you are interested in medical... I've heard great things about the MedSLP program, and the staff are great people. I may have put my bias hat on again. If all else fails, go with your gut, and don't look back! Congrats again!

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I'm also trying to make a similar decision- I'm currently leaning towards UW or Boulder, but because of recent financial and family issues, it might be better for me to go to SDSU and stay in southern California.  I'm still trying to list and weigh out each pro and con possible haha.  I'm really interested in AAC and bilingualism: SDSU would be better for bilingualism, but UW would be better for AAC.  SDSU's tempting because I think I got funding from them, but I do want to explore out of state.  Then there's also transportation, rent, extracurricular opportunities, and other things to think about... 

I'm still trying to decide myself, but good luck deciding where to go! :) 

Edited by talkingcake
typo whoops

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4 hours ago, talkingcake said:

I'm also trying to make a similar decision- I'm currently leaning towards UW or Boulder, but because of recent financial and family issues, it might be better for me to go to SDSU and stay in southern California.  I'm still trying to list and weigh out each pro and con possible haha.  I'm really interested in AAC and bilingualism: SDSU would be better for bilingualism, but UW would be better for AAC.  SDSU's tempting because I think I got funding from them, but I do want to explore out of state.  Then there's also transportation, rent, extracurricular opportunities, and other things to think about... 

I'm still trying to decide myself, but good luck deciding where to go! :) 

Congrats y'all on your acceptances! Which UW SLP program did you get into? I'm from the Seattle area, and the cost of living in Seattle is pretty astronomical, if that is a part of your consideration. Like just for rent for a one bedroom apartment, your rent is going to be upwards of $1500/month, not including utilities, water/sewage/garbage, etc. The traffic is also terrible in this area and getting worse in this area to be honest, and the bus system is not reliable AT ALL. Also the department is pretty much on university ave, which is a notorious drug/homeless breeding ground... :/ I would stay in Cali where it's nice and warm! And no out-of-state tuition costs, especially if you got funding, that's amazing!! Good luck with your decisions!

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15 minutes ago, otterbeaslp said:

Congrats y'all on your acceptances! Which UW SLP program did you get into? I'm from the Seattle area, and the cost of living in Seattle is pretty astronomical, if that is a part of your consideration. Like just for rent for a one bedroom apartment, your rent is going to be upwards of $1500/month, not including utilities, water/sewage/garbage, etc. The traffic is also terrible in this area and getting worse in this area to be honest, and the bus system is not reliable AT ALL. Also the department is pretty much on university ave, which is a notorious drug/homeless breeding ground... :/ I would stay in Cali where it's nice and warm! And no out-of-state tuition costs, especially if you got funding, that's amazing!! Good luck with your decisions!

I'm also going to struggle making my final decision...  As someone from Los Angeles however, the cost of living in Seattle is lower (especially with certain "off campus housing" opportunities - $1100 for a two bedroom apartment).  Traffic is definitely worse in Los Angeles, the homeless population is much larger, and I'm fairly certain drug problems are more prevalent.  San Diego is similar.

The dilemma comes down to this, for me at least.  How do you determine the true "value" of your SLP graduate education?  You only get one shot at this for the most part - no "do-overs" lol.  For example, will certain doors open that wouldn't have otherwise by going to a more expensive and more highly ranked / more prestigious university?  Will my salary be higher if I train as a medical SLP (in a medical track program) than if I had studied elsewhere, and will it make up for the difference in the cost of the program?  While I am not currently committed to pursuing a PhD or other doctorate degree, I might wish to do so in the future - how will my grad school choice influence my potential for acceptance into these programs?  

Additionally, the fact that it is impossible to predict finances and student debt throughout the duration of the program makes the decision especially difficult for me.  What if I turn down a more expensive program due to a lack of initial funding, without realizing I would be qualified for a fellowship or significant aid in the second year of the program?  Some of the scholarships I am applying for will not have final decisions made until late May or even June.  But most programs want a decision by April 15th - how will this factor in for me?  

UW has not yet given the accepted students any financial aid info - they do have "recruitment scholarships" available for select students that they will email us about later (for the MedSLP students).  This will be an important factor as well.  I have read many forum posts that state that our profession is so in demand, that it doesn't matter what school you attend.  This may be the case for many, but I don't buy it as a blanket statement of truth for all SLP majors.  I intend to speak to some of my professors to get their take on my acceptances and what they think.  Hopefully this will help me make my final decision!

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On 3/5/2016 at 9:28 AM, griffin391 said:

I got into San Diego State and University of Washington. Both are fantastic programs, but I can only go to one. I was hoping for some advice.

Congrats, those are two great programs!

After graduating with my M.S. and working for about ten years, I came to the realization that where you go to school doesn't matter anywhere near as much as I thought it did. There are bad schools, sure, but you'll get just about the same education at any of the top 100 or so schools. I realize this may surprise you -- it surprised me! I went to a very highly regarded school. I thought that was important. Since then, I've worked with colleagues from a few different schools, some in the top 20, others in the 50-100 range, and to be honest, there is very little correlation between school "rank" and quality of the SLPs they produce. The biggest correlation with SLP quality is social skills and attitude -- how well do you interact with your patients? While all top 100 schools do a great job teaching the science and theory, they don't do the greatest job of teaching interaction skills (it's hard to teach), and to be honest that's something that takes years to truly learn anyway.

One thing I have noticed, however, is an increase in young folks (gah, I sound old) spending endless time stressing about tuition costs. Many of these kids volunteer at my clinic, they get accepted to a number of good schools, and once they're accepted, they believe they should go to the "best" (most highly ranked) school they were accepted to, but that school is often out-of-state and almost always the most expensive. Let me give you the same advice I give them: go to the cheapest top 100ish school that will take you. We are lucky enough to be in a field that has great salary prospects, at least in the long term, but why saddle yourself with unnecessary debt and anxiety?

It's hard to avoid the draw of a top 5, top 10 school. Those numbers are marketing. Try to ignore them.

Best of luck to you!

23 hours ago, Jolie717 said:

For example, will certain doors open that wouldn't have otherwise by going to a more expensive and more highly ranked / more prestigious university?  Will my salary be higher if I train as a medical SLP (in a medical track program) than if I had studied elsewhere, and will it make up for the difference in the cost of the program?

In my experience, salary is determined primarily by your environment. Where are you working? (school, hospital, specialty clinic, etc) Everyone who works in a hospital makes roughly the same salary, no matter where they went to school. The MedSLP track is a great idea, but many schools don't (yet) have that track, and their students have no problems getting hired in hospital/medical settings. Did you do well in a top 100ish school? Are you a nice person with good social skills? If you can answer yes to both questions, you should have no problems finding a job in a medical setting.

That said, if you plan on living in a specific city after graduation, you may have an easier time finding your first post-grad job if you go to school in that city. Schools often have local connections. That doesn't mean you won't find a job if you move after graduation -- you will -- only that you might have to look around a bit more.

On 3/6/2016 at 9:55 PM, Jolie717 said:

While I am not currently committed to pursuing a PhD or other doctorate degree, I might wish to do so in the future - how will my grad school choice influence my potential for acceptance into these programs?  

I don't have a PhD, so most of this advice comes second-hand :) Where you get your PhD certainly matters. Academia is enamored by rankings, unfortunately. However, I don't think it matters as much where you get your M.S. Wherever you go, make sure you get involved in research. That's what gets you into PhD programs as I understand it. It may actually be easier to get involved in research at mid-ranked schools as those schools may have fewer students interested in research. Less competition for you. Note also that the mid-ranked schools are usually staffed by professors who graduated from top-ranked schools, so even at the mid-ranked schools you will find professors that do great research.

The PhD path is long and hard. Best of luck to you if you decide to take it!

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On 3/6/2016 at 9:55 PM, Jolie717 said:

Traffic is definitely worse in Los Angeles [than Seattle], the homeless population is much larger, and I'm fairly certain drug problems are more prevalent.

Just saw this after I replied above. I don't think this matters, since universities are usually pretty sheltered from these things. That said, as an ex-PNWer who hears lots of stories from PNW friends, I think you're underestimating the problem of homelessness and resulting drugs and property crime in Seattle. Their mayor just declared a state of emergency due to the homeless problem and Seattle is the #1 city for property crime. Here's one article from a local paper.

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On 3/6/2016 at 8:51 PM, otterbeaslp said:

Congrats y'all on your acceptances! Which UW SLP program did you get into? I'm from the Seattle area, and the cost of living in Seattle is pretty astronomical, if that is a part of your consideration. Like just for rent for a one bedroom apartment, your rent is going to be upwards of $1500/month, not including utilities, water/sewage/garbage, etc. The traffic is also terrible in this area and getting worse in this area to be honest, and the bus system is not reliable AT ALL. Also the department is pretty much on university ave, which is a notorious drug/homeless breeding ground... :/ I would stay in Cali where it's nice and warm! And no out-of-state tuition costs, especially if you got funding, that's amazing!! Good luck with your decisions!

Thanks!  I was accepted in CoreSLP, and I specified that I wanted to do the pediatric track in my statement.  I considered applying for MedSLP, but I wasn't sure if I really wanted to commit to specializing in hospital settings.  I am certain that I want to work with kids though!  I was told that Med students have priority for placement at children's hospitals, but there are sometimes spaces left over for Core students- it would be cool if that happens.  I'm actually eligible for WICHE/WRGP so out-of-state costs don't apply.  Even then, tuition is still kinda high :/  I'm also a timid driver and I hate traffic, so that's gonna be a problem haha.

On 3/6/2016 at 9:55 PM, Jolie717 said:

While I am not currently committed to pursuing a PhD or other doctorate degree, I might wish to do so in the future - how will my grad school choice influence my potential for acceptance into these programs?

55 minutes ago, greenerpastures said:

I don't think it matters as much where you get your M.S. Wherever you go, make sure you get involved in research. That's what gets you into PhD programs as I understand it. It may actually be easier to get involved in research at mid-ranked schools as those schools may have fewer students interested in research. Less competition for you. Note also that the mid-ranked schools are usually staffed by professors who graduated from top-ranked schools, so even at the mid-ranked schools you will find professors that do great research.

You raise a good point.  I'm also considering a PhD, but I'm not totally sure as of now.  Either way, I'd like to contribute to research during my Master's.  Now that I've been accepted, I'll try and contact professors to get more specifics on what research opportunities are available if I were to enroll.  (At least, I will after I'm done with final exams next week... ugh, the timing of these decisions!!!)

28 minutes ago, greenerpastures said:

I think you're underestimating the problem of homelessness and resulting drugs and property crime in Seattle. Their mayor just declared a state of emergency due to the homeless problem and Seattle is the #1 city for property crime. Here's one article from a local paper.

Wow, well that's pretty serious.  I'll definitely look that up and take it into consideration. :( 

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9 hours ago, greenerpastures said:

Congrats, those are two great programs!

After graduating with my M.S. and working for about ten years, I came to the realization that where you go to school doesn't matter anywhere near as much as I thought it did. There are bad schools, sure, but you'll get just about the same education at any of the top 100 or so schools. I realize this may surprise you -- it surprised me! I went to a very highly regarded school. I thought that was important. Since then, I've worked with colleagues from a few different schools, some in the top 20, others in the 50-100 range, and to be honest, there is very little correlation between school "rank" and quality of the SLPs they produce. The biggest correlation with SLP quality is social skills and attitude -- how well do you interact with your patients? While all top 100 schools do a great job teaching the science and theory, they don't do the greatest job of teaching interaction skills (it's hard to teach), and to be honest that's something that takes years to truly learn anyway.

One thing I have noticed, however, is an increase in young folks (gah, I sound old) spending endless time stressing about tuition costs. Many of these kids volunteer at my clinic, they get accepted to a number of good schools, and once they're accepted, they believe they should go to the "best" (most highly ranked) school they were accepted to, but that school is often out-of-state and almost always the most expensive. Let me give you the same advice I give them: go to the cheapest top 100ish school that will take you. We are lucky enough to be in a field that has great salary prospects, at least in the long term, but why saddle yourself with unnecessary debt and anxiety?

It's hard to avoid the draw of a top 5, top 10 school. Those numbers are marketing. Try to ignore them.

Best of luck to you!

In my experience, salary is determined primarily by your environment. Where are you working? (school, hospital, specialty clinic, etc) Everyone who works in a hospital makes roughly the same salary, no matter where they went to school. The MedSLP track is a great idea, but many schools don't (yet) have that track, and their students have no problems getting hired in hospital/medical settings. Did you do well in a top 100ish school? Are you a nice person with good social skills? If you can answer yes to both questions, you should have no problems finding a job in a medical setting.

That said, if you plan on living in a specific city after graduation, you may have an easier time finding your first post-grad job if you go to school in that city. Schools often have local connections. That doesn't mean you won't find a job if you move after graduation -- you will -- only that you might have to look around a bit more.

I don't have a PhD, so most of this advice comes second-hand :) Where you get your PhD certainly matters. Academia is enamored by rankings, unfortunately. However, I don't think it matters as much where you get your M.S. Wherever you go, make sure you get involved in research. That's what gets you into PhD programs as I understand it. It may actually be easier to get involved in research at mid-ranked schools as those schools may have fewer students interested in research. Less competition for you. Note also that the mid-ranked schools are usually staffed by professors who graduated from top-ranked schools, so even at the mid-ranked schools you will find professors that do great research.

The PhD path is long and hard. Best of luck to you if you decide to take it!

On that note, how easy is it to go work in a different state than where you went to grad school? I know there's some paperwork, but is it a relatively long and difficult process?

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13 hours ago, greenerpastures said:

Just saw this after I replied above. I don't think this matters, since universities are usually pretty sheltered from these things. That said, as an ex-PNWer who hears lots of stories from PNW friends, I think you're underestimating the problem of homelessness and resulting drugs and property crime in Seattle. Their mayor just declared a state of emergency due to the homeless problem and Seattle is the #1 city for property crime. Here's one article from a local paper.

That's good to know, however I am much more concerned with violent crime rather than property crime.  The article you linked attributed a 6% increase in car thefts to this new ranking, at least in part.  I had a brand new car stolen from me here in Los Angeles, and it was irritating, but honestly not that big a deal.  And only a fool would steal my beloved but beat up 2003 Honda Element, lol. :) Seattle doesn't even make the top 100 list of cities with the highest violent crime rates.  I live in an affluent neighborhood near UCLA in West Los Angeles - small 3 bedroom 2 bath homes (that need work) sell for well over a million.  (We rent, ha ha - and thank God for rent control).  That said, the homeless population has exploded here in recent years.  Not three blocks from me, a homeless "tent city" of sorts has popped up.  More tent cities are seen under all of the nearby freeway overpasses in our area.  Once you get near downtown LA, and other areas in LA, they become even more commonplace.

A young homeless couple was found "living" in my building's laundry room not too long ago, until our landlord put a lock on that door.  My dog started barking like crazy at our side window one night,  and my husband found a man with his bike and belongings entering our private backyard.  Lock number two was installed, and beware of dog signs were put up.  Sigh.  It's sad really - there needs to be more shelters and more funding for these individuals, many of whom are mentally ill.  I guess I can't really speak as to the drug problem in Seattle, or how it would affect me and my family.  What is your (or your friends) experience?  One of my younger brothers is moving there soon, so hopefully he can give some inside information.  I will likely try to visit as well.  

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19 minutes ago, Jolie717 said:

 It's sad really - there needs to be more shelters and more funding for these individuals, many of whom are mentally ill. 

I agree. I can't offer any information or advice to help with your dilemma, but I'm glad you said this. It just stands out to me that we are discussing how expensive it is to simply house oneself in some of these cities, and then also discussing the number of homeless people in the same cities... 

I lived in Chicago for four years and I'm not sure where that city stands on the list of violent crime or homelessness, but I was never a victim of any kind of crime. I've lived in Portland on and off for a total of six or seven years, and while it's a smaller city and I'm guessing it doesn't rank highly on the list of violent crime, it has a major "homelessness problem." Nothing has ever happened to me here, either. I don't know. While things obviously DO happen due to these situations (your story illustrates this), I would advise against making huge life decisions based on that kind of thing. So I guess I actually do have some advice, haha. 

EDIT: I just recalled that you have children and can absolutely see how these kinds of things might seem more pertinent to your decision than for a single person like me! I definitely understand that. 

Edited by Cowsy

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38 minutes ago, Cowsy said:

I agree. I can't offer any information or advice to help with your dilemma, but I'm glad you said this. It just stands out to me that we are discussing how expensive it is to simply house oneself in some of these cities, and then also discussing the number of homeless people in the same cities... 

I lived in Chicago for four years and I'm not sure where that city stands on the list of violent crime or homelessness, but I was never a victim of any kind of crime. I've lived in Portland on and off for a total of six or seven years, and while it's a smaller city and I'm guessing it doesn't rank highly on the list of violent crime, it has a major "homelessness problem." Nothing has ever happened to me here, either. I don't know. While things obviously DO happen due to these situations (your story illustrates this), I would advise against making huge life decisions based on that kind of thing. So I guess I actually do have some advice, haha. 

EDIT: I just recalled that you have children and can absolutely see how these kinds of things might seem more pertinent to your decision than for a single person like me! I definitely understand that. 

 

Yeah - housing is really crazy.  My parents live in the SF Bay Area, and my dad was telling me about an article he read recently about Stanford students living out of their cars!  Palo Alto is super pricey.  I discussed it with my sister, and she knew a guy who was a part of a summer internship she completed at Stanford, and he lived in his car for the summer - and that was two decades ago!  

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On 3/6/2016 at 0:55 AM, Jolie717 said:

I'm also going to struggle making my final decision...  As someone from Los Angeles however, the cost of living in Seattle is lower (especially with certain "off campus housing" opportunities - $1100 for a two bedroom apartment).  Traffic is definitely worse in Los Angeles, the homeless population is much larger, and I'm fairly certain drug problems are more prevalent.  San Diego is similar.

The dilemma comes down to this, for me at least.  How do you determine the true "value" of your SLP graduate education?  You only get one shot at this for the most part - no "do-overs" lol.  For example, will certain doors open that wouldn't have otherwise by going to a more expensive and more highly ranked / more prestigious university?  Will my salary be higher if I train as a medical SLP (in a medical track program) than if I had studied elsewhere, and will it make up for the difference in the cost of the program?  While I am not currently committed to pursuing a PhD or other doctorate degree, I might wish to do so in the future - how will my grad school choice influence my potential for acceptance into these programs?  

Additionally, the fact that it is impossible to predict finances and student debt throughout the duration of the program makes the decision especially difficult for me.  What if I turn down a more expensive program due to a lack of initial funding, without realizing I would be qualified for a fellowship or significant aid in the second year of the program?  Some of the scholarships I am applying for will not have final decisions made until late May or even June.  But most programs want a decision by April 15th - how will this factor in for me?  

UW has not yet given the accepted students any financial aid info - they do have "recruitment scholarships" available for select students that they will email us about later (for the MedSLP students).  This will be an important factor as well.  I have read many forum posts that state that our profession is so in demand, that it doesn't matter what school you attend.  This may be the case for many, but I don't buy it as a blanket statement of truth for all SLP majors.  I intend to speak to some of my professors to get their take on my acceptances and what they think.  Hopefully this will help me make my final decision!

I'm not applying to any of your schools, but I definitely see myself in this post. I think I've started to make myself and my boyfriend insane over how much I'm stressing about the cost of these programs. I'm also trying to decide whether it's worth it to stay in a location that I really dislike in order to go to a (potentially) cheaper program. I just don't know. It's an nerve-wracking decision, and I've never dealt with anything like it before. Blah.

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I’m having the same problem now, so your question really resonates with me even two years later.  While I would love to live in Seattle (and be somewhere rainy!), I worry that the supply of MedSLP students that graduate greatly outnumbers the need  of medical SLPs in the Seattle area.  Moreover, I’m sure that this issue may start even earlier—as a CF, will you find the placement you wanted bc of the limited positions and the number of other highly qualified candidates?

Initially, I would have chosen UW without a doubt, but after visiting SDSU and meeting students and faculty, I could see myself loving the program there.  Like a previous poster said, it’s a good problem to have—to choose between two incredible schools, both with top-notch programs.  I’m still hoping to visit UW before making a final decision.

I’m not sure that you would still be on this site after 2 yrs, but if you do see this, would you mind sharing which program you chose and your thoughts on it in regards to helping you towards working in the medical field?  Thank you :-)

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On 3/5/2016 at 9:28 AM, griffin391 said:

I got into San Diego State and University of Washington. Both are fantastic programs, but I can only go to one. I was hoping for some advice.

A little more about me- I am from CA, so I have family in SD (all of them want me to choose SDSU). I have been in Seattle as a post-bacc for the past 10 months and I love it up here! I am interested in working as a SLP in medical settings with adults. SDSU has the bilingualism focus, which is cool, but not really my cup of tea. I got into the UW Med program which is more in line with my career goals, but is also 3 times the cost!

Any insights/advice/information you can offer is super appreciated!

 First off, congratulations! 

I don't necessarily have insight on the programs themselves, but one of my friends graduated from San Diego State a few years back and she had a difficult time finding work in a medical setting locally, not due to her qualifications but moreso the availability. It seemed odd to me because now I've heard there is a high demand for SLPs in California (but the people telling me this are in school settings).

I know another poster mentioned that where you go doesn't necessarily dictate where you work, and I've seen that here in Portland as well. If you want to go to grad school where you plan to live after however, I would consider the demand of medical SLPs in each area.

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