Jump to content
K8eCastle

If you could go back in time to when you were applying for grad school and tell yourself one thing, what would it be?

Recommended Posts

I'm applying to grad school this fall and I'm extremely nervous! Do you have any advice that you wish someone had told you when you were applying? Thanks in advance! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I applied to grad school, I fooled myself into thinking that I would be one of the lucky people who gets accepted to a PhD program right out of undergrad. Big shocker: I wasn't accepted, and I had to scramble to find a few master's programs that were still accepting applications. While I had certainly considered master's programs, I thought I would get lucky and not need them. So learn from my mistakes! When someone says "you might not get accepted to a PhD right out of undergrad" listen to them. They're probably right. Have a plan A, B, and C. Hopefully you won't need a back-up plan, but it never hurts to be prepared. I was left in limbo for about a month and a half, and that was a stressful experience. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, K8eCastle said:

I'm applying to grad school this fall and I'm extremely nervous! Do you have any advice that you wish someone had told you when you were applying? Thanks in advance! :)

I love that question!

One thing is really think about if you would go to a school if you were accepted there. It sounds silly, but hear me out. 

When you´re applying, you´re a mixture of desperate and day-dreamy. You´re thinking, "I want to be an SLP so badly I´d do anything and move anywhere!" and you´re also thinking, "I´ll get a great job with a good salary after. I want to dream big" and you sort of throw pragmatism to the wind. SO, I applied to 6 schools that perfectly fit my profile. Two of them are private and crazy expensive. I knew the chance of getting financial aid would be pretty much zero. But while I was applying, I just told myself, "Get in first... pay for it later..." 

So, when I got my acceptances, and I really looked at the price tag I thought... there´s no way I´d be willing to accept this much debt. It was pointless applying there because $100,000 of debt was not acceptable to me. "Pay for it later" was a bad mentality that lead me to wasting around $200 in application fees plus paying to send 10 transcripts, and 2 GRE scores. So... about $300+ dollars total were wasted. I should have put that money towards schools I would have realistically considered attending. 

Hope that helps! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Going along with what mcamp said, remember that you are the consumer. Sure, grad school is hard to get into, but once you're in, you're going to be the one paying for and utilizing the materials to get through. If a school is down-right rude to you during the application process and comes across as really unprofessional, you might want to pick a different school to apply to. If a school is stingy with their info and expectations, that might be a deal breaker. Look for a good fit for you as well as a place that you can get into. There was a school that I was in the process of applying to that I didn't finish the application for because there were some red flags that told me we would be a bad fit. 

Also, chill out. Stressing about it every single day will not change the outcome. Sure, be organized and stick to your timeline of getting things done, but once those apps are with the adcomms, it's time to let it go until you get answers back. (I did not follow this advice and drove my family nuts.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would say the best thing I did was EMAIL every program I wanted to apply to and had back and forth conversations with the program directors.  There ended up being very nice program directors who steered me in the right direction as far as what schools to apply to, etc.  

I also would say apply to as many schools as you can from those emails and feedback you get from them.  I know money can be a problem with applying to a lot of schools, but if you really want to get in sooner, the bigger the net the better the possibility of getting acceptances.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, slporbust2016 said:

Going along with what mcamp said, remember that you are the consumer. Sure, grad school is hard to get into, but once you're in, you're going to be the one paying for and utilizing the materials to get through. If a school is down-right rude to you during the application process and comes across as really unprofessional, you might want to pick a different school to apply to. If a school is stingy with their info and expectations, that might be a deal breaker. Look for a good fit for you as well as a place that you can get into. There was a school that I was in the process of applying to that I didn't finish the application for because there were some red flags that told me we would be a bad fit. 

Also, chill out. Stressing about it every single day will not change the outcome. Sure, be organized and stick to your timeline of getting things done, but once those apps are with the adcomms, it's time to let it go until you get answers back. (I did not follow this advice and drove my family nuts.)

I totally agree with this that SLPorbust2016 said: "If a school is down-right rude to you during the application process and comes across as really unprofessional, you might want to pick a different school to apply to" 

I emailed a professor at a school with some very detailed and specific questions that were not answered on their website, and she replied very curtly: "I don´t have time to answer these questions - all of the information is on our website." And I crossed the school off my list. If she were my professor and I came to her with a question about material, would she say, "I don´t have time - Everything you need is in the book"? I didn´t want to bother to find out. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My advice would be to make a timeline for everything and stick to it.  Pencil everything in on your calendar and follow through.  It may seem early but your summer will fly by.  You should already be working on your SOP plus studying for and taking the GRE if you haven't already.  Also, a lot of people here created spreadsheets with each their potential grad school listed and all of the programs' info in one place.  I was less organized and had notes scribbled everywhere and had to go back to the schools' websites multiple times - no fun!  ?  

Start working on your applications and essays as soon as they open and do a little every day so you don't compromise your fall grades.  Make sure you get feedback on your essays from several qualified individuals.  I was actually surprised to receive very little critique from a professor of mine, when multiple individuals from other fields had a ton of useful feedback.  It's best to pick people who aren't afraid to critique you.  If you haven't already secured your letter of rec letters I would ask very soon after the fall semester begins - professors do not like last minute requests and some will refuse any new requests after a certain date they set.  Good luck!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, mcamp said:

I totally agree with this that SLPorbust2016 said: "If a school is down-right rude to you during the application process and comes across as really unprofessional, you might want to pick a different school to apply to" 

I emailed a professor at a school with some very detailed and specific questions that were not answered on their website, and she replied very curtly: "I don´t have time to answer these questions - all of the information is on our website." And I crossed the school off my list. If she were my professor and I came to her with a question about material, would she say, "I don´t have time - Everything you need is in the book"? I didn´t want to bother to find out. 

I just want to qualify this. I see so many posts encouraging people to email every school on their list. Even if only half of applicants took this advice, think about it logistically. Administrative teams are often fielding these emails for their department heads. Admins are some of the most overworked and functionally important folks on a college campus. They are actively managing so many things for so many already admitted and enrolled students. Getting 200-300 emails from potential students has to be an exercise in frustration, and yield a situation where many emails are unanswerable. If you have specific questions that are not addressed in any of the available materials (as was the case in mcamp's post above) and that are relevant at that moment in time, *by all means*, get in touch. But if you are sending an email with a bio trying to get on the radar, asking about things that are not yet relevant (e.g. Vague questions about program quality when you've already decided to apply regardless of what answer comes back), I wouldn't be off put by a curt answer or even radio silence. Apply anyway, if you are interested in attending. Read what's available, independently assess yourself to determine if it would be a good fit for you, and let that be your guide, rather than one email response. I know many will disagree with this, just a thought.

Edited by SouthernDrawl

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, SouthernDrawl said:

I just want to qualify this. I see so many posts encouraging people to email every school on their list. Even if only half of applicants took this advice, think about it logistically. Administrative teams are often fielding these emails for their department heads. Admins are some of the most overworked and functionally important folks on a college campus. They are actively managing so many things for so many already admitted and enrolled students. Getting 200-300 emails from potential students has to be an exercise in frustration, and yield a situation where many emails are unanswerable. If you have specific questions that are not addressed in any of the available materials (as was the case in mcamp's post above) and that are relevant at that moment in time, *by all means*, get in touch. But if you are sending an email with a bio trying to get on the radar, asking about things that are not yet relevant (e.g. Vague questions about program quality when you've already decided to apply regardless of what answer comes back), I wouldn't be off put by a curt answer or even radio silence. Apply anyway, if you are interested in attending. Read what's available, independently assess yourself to determine if it would be a good fit for you, and let that be your guide, rather than one email response. I know many will disagree with this, just a thought.

SouthernDrawl, I think that's a great reframing / balancing of my post. Thanks for that! You're totally right. I think that part of "independently assess yourself to determine if you would be a good fit" is especially true! Graduate education requires a lot of independent working and thinking. I wonder sometimes if the system is actually designed to force that upon applicants in some ways. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wish I was more realistic about the schools I chose. I applied to all out of state schools because I wanted to leave NY. I was willing to go anywhere and pay any price.  I didn't get into a single one, shocker! While my friends from undergrad were all getting into schools in NY. So I guess maybe have a good mix of both. I would think a school is more likely to choose a local applicant cause there is more of a guarantee that they would attend that school but that's just my theory. Last minute I scrambled to apply to whatever schools were still accepting applications and I got in to a school...in NY lol. I guess it wasn't meant for me to leave NY just yet. 

Edited by Cookie Hall

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Personally, I wouldn't email every school on your list. I figure professors are too busy for that. I think that's a really valid point. 

I only emailed one school on my list, and it was the one that I didn't finish the application for. 

I emailed them because their website specifically said to email them so they could send you further info. Since I had questions definitely not answered from the skimpy amount of information on their site, I emailed them thinking they'd send me a packet. Nope. They told me to check the website that told me to email them. :(

Their entire wording on their website was very off-putting to me. Grad school is an experience for people who can be independently motivated BUT it's also a huge collaboration between the professors, your cohort, and you. My gut told me that they were probably a bad fit just from their site. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/22/2016 at 0:42 PM, twinguy7 said:

I would say the best thing I did was EMAIL every program I wanted to apply to and had back and forth conversations with the program directors.  There ended up being very nice program directors who steered me in the right direction as far as what schools to apply to, etc.  

I also would say apply to as many schools as you can from those emails and feedback you get from them.  I know money can be a problem with applying to a lot of schools, but if you really want to get in sooner, the bigger the net the better the possibility of getting acceptances.

Thank you for your response! I emailed several schools that I am interested in about a month ago and have only heard back from one so far. It's a little discouraging, but like other people have said, I'm sure they get hundreds of emails and don't have time to answer all of them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/23/2016 at 9:03 PM, Cookie Hall said:

I wish I was more realistic about the schools I chose. I applied to all out of state schools because I wanted to leave NY. I was willing to go anywhere and pay any price.  I didn't get into a single one, shocker! While my friends from undergrad were all getting into schools in NY. So I guess maybe have a good mix of both. I would think a school is more likely to choose a local applicant cause there is more of a guarantee that they would attend that school but that's just my theory. Last minute I scrambled to apply to whatever schools were still accepting applications and I got in to a school...in NY lol. I guess it wasn't meant for me to leave NY just yet. 

I'm applying to schools in Oklahoma because I'm afraid of this happening to me! I would love to leave OK, but I'm applying to a few schools here just in case I don't get in to my out of state choices.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, K8eCastle said:

I'm applying to schools in Oklahoma because I'm afraid of this happening to me! I would love to leave OK, but I'm applying to a few schools here just in case I don't get in to my out of state choices.

Good luck! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Applying for grad school is like a job unto itself and takes a lot of drive.  It can be daunting, many will decide to sit it out and let the senioritis consume them.  But if you want this, you have to go get it.

Organize your stuff, get started early, think critically of every step.  You gotta play the game: get your professors to know your name, after all, they will likely be the ones you're asking for letters of rec.  Research assist, ask questions, be present in class- awake, off your phone, listening- they can tell, and be you.  Applying to grad school is an exercise in marketing yourself as a professional.

It's tough and exhausting, but you can do it.  Everyday, keep your eyes on the prize.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Tig said:

Applying for grad school is like a job unto itself and takes a lot of drive.  It can be daunting, many will decide to sit it out and let the senioritis consume them.  But if you want this, you have to go get it.

Organize your stuff, get started early, think critically of every step.  You gotta play the game: get your professors to know your name, after all, they will likely be the ones you're asking for letters of rec.  Research assist, ask questions, be present in class- awake, off your phone, listening- they can tell, and be you.  Applying to grad school is an exercise in marketing yourself as a professional.

It's tough and exhausting, but you can do it.  Everyday, keep your eyes on the prize.

Tig, that´s all SUCH good advice! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When picking schools to apply to, you may think that you'll be willing to go to absolutely any program that'll let you attend, but I ended up deciding after interviews that I wouldn't go to 2 out of my 7 schools even if they were the only option. I also turned down a 3rd school's offer to interview after some more thought. So out of 8 applications, I was only interested in 5 of those programs by the end.

I wish I had done more research before choosing where to apply. Two of them I could've easily nixed if I'd just taken a minute and asked myself "do you *really* see yourself being happy at that location?". Everything turned out well in the end, I just would've had a more pleasant application cycle if I had been more selective and didn't overestimate my level of desperation to just go *somewhere*.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So I'm curious... More than a couple people in this thread have said they wish they hadn't wasted time and money applying to schools they had no intention of actually attending. In other threads, people have stressed the "numbers game" aspect of acceptances and suggest applying to as many schools as one can afford. Is this just a matter of differing educational philosophies (quality vs. quantity), or are the two ideas not mutually exclusive (in other words, should applicants be finding as many schools as possible that we'd actually want to attend)? I realize that this process is all highly personal and subjective, so what works for one person might not work for another... but I've been too curious not to pose the question! :-)

 

I also wonder how much the rank or relative prestige of a school really matters when it comes to the job market. Maybe it depends on the specialty, type of practice/ desired work environment, geographical location, etc.? I suppose most people frequenting this forum aren't far enough past the education phase to know the answer to that, but it's worth tossing the question out there.

Edited by SopranoSLP
content

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, SopranoSLP said:

So I'm curious... More than a couple people in this thread have said they wish they hadn't wasted time and money applying to schools they had no intention of actually attending. In other threads, people have stressed the "numbers game" aspect of acceptances and suggest applying to as many schools as one can afford. Is this just a matter of differing educational philosophies (quality vs. quantity), or are the two ideas not mutually exclusive (in other words, should applicants be finding as many schools as possible that we'd actually want to attend)? I realize that this process is all highly personal and subjective, so what works for one person might not work for another... but I've been too curious not to pose the question! :-)

 

I also wonder how much the rank or relative prestige of a school really matters when it comes to the job market. Maybe it depends on the specialty, type of practice/ desired work environment, geographical location, etc.? I suppose most people frequenting this forum aren't far enough past the education phase to know the answer to that, but it's worth tossing the question out there.

I think it's important to spend some time reflecting on just how desperate you are to go to a graduate program. Would you go even if it wasn't a good fit? Would you go even if you hated the location? If going to grad school is your number one priority and all other elements of your life are going to take a back seat while you accomplish that, then I think it's absolutely fine to play the numbers game and apply to as many places as possible. If you think finding a good fit is really important and you'd rather spend a gap year or two working rather than going to a program you don't like, it's probably smart to invest a lot of time finding programs that suit you and only applying to ones that you're really interested in.

Part of what prompted my to apply to some of those programs I didn't actually like in the end was trying to find a "safety school" (because the acceptance rate was slightly better). I was doubting myself more than I should have and that led to me applying to places purely because it seemed like I'd likely get in. I don't regret applying to 8 programs (it is a competitive market, after all), I only regret that I didn't invest enough time into finding good-fit programs before sinking a bunch of time and money into applications and in-person interviews and the like. I definitely think it's possible to play the numbers game *and* be thoughtful and selective, it just requires a lot more effort from the applicant.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

mcamp: Aw - you gonna make me blush!  Thanks!

SopranoSLP: When I attended some "Getting ready for grad school" events that my department put on, they were adament to apply to quite a few, like six or so if I remember correctly.  The general criteria was to have 1-2 Mega Awesome Pie-in-the-Sky schools, 1-2 Super Fallback schools where you're almost assured to get in, and the rest in the middle somewhere.  

I made a list of all those schools, but quickly came back down to earth.  Due to my circumstances- really just scraping by day by day, daughter / day care, social supports, etc. - I couldn't afford anything but to take one, good shot at the school I was currently at.  

Having more schools would probably decrease the amount of pressure I was putting on myself- but then again if I got in to any of those other schools then I would stress on how I would get over there and how to manage my life & families time.  It sucked when everyone was finding out about their schools and I felt a total wallflower.  Around selection time everyone is stressing out and on high alert; I think my jealousy came in when people find out, good or bad, and then can continue on with life and not have it in limbo.  Not to say I didn't have a "B Plan" and a "C Plan" should I not have gotten accepted, but...

During another one of my classes we went over post BS life and what it means.  Of course, everyone had questions about grad school- and the professor is one of the coolest and realest people I have ever met.  She said that, really, once you have your C's then you're the same as everyone else with their C's.  I got the feeling it's like if you went to a really prestigious high school, how much would that factor into getting into grad school?  Eh- not much, they're looking to see if you finished XYZ with these grades and all this.  Similarly, if you have your C's, you're qualified to work: you did X hours at Z place and ASHA told the world that you were gold.

However, if you plan on continuing to get your PhD or your education, then where you go for grad school may impact the selection panel.  What you did and where would jump out on the application.  After all, they're looking to add prestige and profile to their department.

But again, that's just what I was told.  Who knows what they look for out in the world, let alone with specific panels in specific schools.

Hope this helps! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't worry so much!  I convinced myself so badly that I wasn't going to get in anywhere that I felt nauseous for 3 months.  I ended up getting into one school outright, and into two off of their waitlists.  It's not worth making yourself sick over.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As said above, try to relax... plan ahead, not in terms of completing applications (trust me, you'll get them done in time), but in terms of having something to occupy your time/mind/energy in the months between submitting apps and waiting for decisions. Chances are you will be a senior, you may even be part time, and suddenly you will go from the hugely active task of completing applications to the insanely passive task of waiting for responses. I would tell myself to sign up for a running race in early May and spend the spring training for the race. I would tell myself to set a goal of learning a new skill or hobby. You will need something to pass the time instead of just manically refreshing this website, CSDCAS, and the online portals for your programs. Something else, I would set a time (two times max) that I am allowed to check online for results/decisions etc. You will drive yourself insane refreshing webpages. Just relax! You have already done all the hard work! You will get in somewhere!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If I could go back in time I would have listened to the people who were trying to give me good advice, and I would have applied for a 2nd bachelor's degree sooner.  Also, don't be afraid of online programs. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If I could go back and give myself advice, I would have told myself to look into location of the schools before applying.  I was so sure I wasn't getting in anywhere and I would accept any place that I didn't really consider that at all.  I would tell myself to stop undermining my own achievements and thinking that I couldn't apply to "higher rank" schools because I didn't think my grades or resume was enough.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/30/2016 at 2:59 PM, SopranoSLP said:

So I'm curious... More than a couple people in this thread have said they wish they hadn't wasted time and money applying to schools they had no intention of actually attending. In other threads, people have stressed the "numbers game" aspect of acceptances and suggest applying to as many schools as one can afford. Is this just a matter of differing educational philosophies (quality vs. quantity), or are the two ideas not mutually exclusive (in other words, should applicants be finding as many schools as possible that we'd actually want to attend)? I realize that this process is all highly personal and subjective, so what works for one person might not work for another... but I've been too curious not to pose the question! :-)

 

I also wonder how much the rank or relative prestige of a school really matters when it comes to the job market. Maybe it depends on the specialty, type of practice/ desired work environment, geographical location, etc.? I suppose most people frequenting this forum aren't far enough past the education phase to know the answer to that, but it's worth tossing the question out there.

When it comes to the job market, I think it depends on the setting in which you plan to work. For schools, it doesn't really matter. For other settings, the school's local reputation may play a bigger role than the school's rank or prestige. For example, many SLPs who supervise students in their externships every year begin to develop opinions on SLP programs based on how well the students from that program are prepared and perform in the externship. The same goes for those who have supervised CFs. I have spoken with multiple SLPs in the field who have said that some schools are better known for preparing students/CF candidates than other programs. It's also important if you'd like to go into a certain setting, such as a hospital or private practice, that you know what type of adult externship you have available, or if you have options. Hospital externships may be limited, and if a program has few contracts with local hospitals, you may have to complete your externship in another setting. Some programs, on the other hand, have contracts with several hospitals and can almost guarantee you a hospital externship. That is not something I thought about when I applied to graduate school, but I think it's worth considering for those who want to work in a medical setting, but may not necessarily enter a medical SLP program/track.

I am completing my CFY in a school district, and there are people from prestigious schools to not-so prestigious schools, and we're all starting on the same foot, doing the same job. Most of the people I know who have completed or who are completing their CFY in a hospital did their externship in the same hospital, which goes to show that they typically want someone who they know can perform the job duties. CFY positions in hospitals are still few and far between, however. I don't want to say it's being in the right place at the right time, because you do have to be good at it. But you can be really good at the job and still not find a CFY hospital position, so it kinda is. But it can be worth getting your CCC's through a SNF or staffing agency, if that's where your heart's set. Personally, I loved my hospital externship, but I have a family, and the pay, benefits, and hours at a school just can't be beat (at least here in California).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.