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What are my chances? Advice about application process


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Hi everyone! I will be applying for graduate schools this fall and I am super nervous about the application process, as programs are so competitive. I graduated last May from UT Austin with a 3.6 cumulative GPA and 3.7 major GPA - I worry that this is on the low end... During undergrad, I worked (not related to the field), shadowed at a pediatric speech and language clinic for a year (over 100 volunteer and observation hours), and did research one summer. Since graduating, I have been working as a bilingual SLP-A at pediatric clinic (I also see some of my kids at their schools) and recently started seeing a few clients through home health. Through work I have gained clinical experience and applied my undergrad foundation to therapy. In addition, I have had the opportunity to administer (with an SLP present) assessments. I have 2 professors in mind for LORs; however, I am planning to ask my SLP supervisor to write me a LOR too. Currently, I have been studying to retake the GRE...blehh. What do y'all think? I am trying to be as competitive as possible, and since this is my first time applying, any advice would be helpful! Thanks!

Edited by paceslp
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Check out individual program websites for average GPA of accepted students. Your GPA is great! For the very competitive schools, your 3.6 may be a little below their average but is still competitive. Your experience makes up for this. I don't know how high your GRE scores will be but from what you wrote, you are a very competitive applicant overall.

I recently realized I have to count some low grades post-high-school into my cumulative GPA for applications (the university I graduated from did not count this in my GPA.) This changed my overall GPA drastically. I freaked out at first, but I am finding many people on this forum that were admitted into programs without a stellar GPA. This makes me think that you are going to be more than fine, especially with all of your experience!

Side note: I have heard that admissions seems almost random - I have friends who got into top programs in the country and weren't admitted to the "less competitive" ones, so plan to apply to more than a couple of programs if you can.

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Play up the bilingualism, especially if you are fluent in Spanish since there is a huge need for Spanish-speaking SLP's. Bilingualism could get you in over monolingual applicants with higher GPA's (since a 3.7 shows that you are capable of handling the courses).

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Sounds like you've done everything you should and can do.  I know it isn't easy but put your mind at ease and realize you've actually already done a lot more than most applicants.  The research and 100 hours are unique as well as being bilingual. The GRE scores will keep you competitive as long as they are average or better!  I got into fantastic programs with the same major GPA 7th and 12th in the nation.  

So just make sure you write a compelling statement of purpose and apply to a good variety of schools (Location, location, location!!) things will work out!  Also do not use 2 professors and 1 SLP if the school asks for 3 professors.  They don't like that, if the school doesn't care about where the rec's come from you're fine but if they want 3 academic give them 3 academic.  The SLP won't matter to certain programs bc they want to know how you will do as a student not necessarily as a clinician (lame I know but true for some programs heard this first hand from a professor who is on her school's committee every year).

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I am still learning about the application process but looks like everyone here gave great advice. I agree with CBG321 - it seems like you are on target with bilingual skills, research, and observation hours! WOW!! :D

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Your plan is good and your GPA is fine. In your personal statement, talk about the obstacles that you've overcome to achieve your success. Working while you were an undergraduate could be one - depending on how many hours per week you worked. Your clinical experience and language abilities are also important. as is leadership experience, and contribution to diversity.

Good luck!

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  • 3 weeks later...

I think you sound like a competitive applicant! You have experience, a decent GPA, and are bilingual. I would be honest with myself about what schools I actually think I had a chance of getting into. For example, I knew that I would not get into the "Top Texas Schools", like TCU, UofH, or UT Dallas, so I did not apply to them. Many of my friends applied to them and were shocked they did not get in, even though they has average stats. I did not have luck with any schools in Texas, and I applied to just about every one. For some reason, I feel that Texas applicants have better luck going out of state. I know some schools in Louisiana have decent tuition for out of state, and Arkansas should offer in-state tuition for Texas residents. I would seriously consider these options if you are able. I would emphasize in your letter that even though you have all this experience, that you still desire to learn. I know everyone's application experience is different, but it took me a few rounds to get accepted, and have similar experiences as you. My story: The first two times I applied, I really emphasized all the work and experiences I had, used three professors as my LOR, and did not get in to any schools (about 15). The third time I applied, I touched on my previous experiences, but really emphasized my goals and plans for the future. I also feel like I had a more "real" approach to my letter, rather than all the "fluff" of trying to impress the graduate schools, if that makes sense. I took out all the "I, I, I..me, me, me" parts of my letter, picked some key points I wanted to portray, and focused on possible future application. I think this is a critical thinking aspect of the SOP that is often overlooked. I also did not use a single SLP professor for my LOR, even though all the schools I applied to required all letters come from SLP professors. I asked two SLPs and a professor from a different department. I did not use my SLP professors because I had already been out of school for some time, and I felt they had an older reference for me, and could not portray the personal/clinician growth I experienced in the two years following graduation. Needless to say, I got accepted into every school I applied to. I truly think I got in because I was able to finally stand out by changing my outlook of the application process and depicting myself as a person, and not as a painted perfect applicant, like I did years prior. I think it might be refreshing to committee members to see something different and you might stick out more because of it. Just my opinion. 

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@Speechster thank you! Congratulations on getting into all of those schools, especially after going through several rounds (I am trying to be as realistic  with myself about my chances/the universities I am applying to and how many times I am willing to apply until I go to plan B ). Your input was very helpful, especially regarding the SoP. I was hoping to ask my SLP supervisor to write me a letter; however, some of the schools I am planning to apply to prefer academic references. 

Edited by paceslp
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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...
On 7/18/2016 at 8:17 AM, paceslp said:

Hi everyone! I will be applying for graduate schools this fall and I am super nervous about the application process, as programs are so competitive. I graduated last May from UT Austin with a 3.6 cumulative GPA and 3.7 major GPA - I worry that this is on the low end... During undergrad, I worked (not related to the field), shadowed at a pediatric speech and language clinic for a year (over 100 volunteer and observation hours), and did research one summer. Since graduating, I have been working as a bilingual SLP-A at pediatric clinic (I also see some of my kids at their schools) and recently started seeing a few clients through home health. Through work I have gained clinical experience and applied my undergrad foundation to therapy. In addition, I have had the opportunity to administer (with an SLP present) assessments. I have 2 professors in mind for LORs; however, I am planning to ask my SLP supervisor to write me a LOR too. Currently, I have been studying to retake the GRE...blehh. What do y'all think? I am trying to be as competitive as possible, and since this is my first time applying, any advice would be helpful! Thanks!

@paceslp It sounds like you have all the right experiences. Your GPA is fine - is your GRE close to that? 

I'd really focus on turning those experiences into a strong personal statement. In the end, the experiences are meaningless if you can't weave them into a coherent and powerful narrative. After your GPA and GRE get your application out of the "automatic-no" pile, your SOP and LOR's will be deciding factors. 

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On 8/31/2016 at 6:50 PM, mcamp said:

@paceslp It sounds like you have all the right experiences. Your GPA is fine - is your GRE close to that? 

I'd really focus on turning those experiences into a strong personal statement. In the end, the experiences are meaningless if you can't weave them into a coherent and powerful narrative. After your GPA and GRE get your application out of the "automatic-no" pile, your SOP and LOR's will be deciding factors. 

I will be retaking my GRE in October

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