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How I got into Grad School (low GPA and GRE)


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Well, I promised myself if I ever got into grad school I would post on gradcafe to help others out there that are trying to as well. Hopefully this information inspires you to pursue your dream of becoming an SLP.  

Back story: When I was younger, I was diagnosed with a learning disability (auditory and visual processing). I always had to try harder in school than the average student. I went to community college after high school because I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. I always had a liking working with kids. In the back of my mind, I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, but I hated subjects so I wasn't sure how that was going to work out lol. After researching Speech Pathology, I realized I wanted to be an SLP. I observed a few SLPs before I made the decision to transfer to a University and pursue a Bachelors degree in Speech Pathology. I was only accepted into one school in California because my cumulative GPA was a 2.6 (did I mention I HATE subject courses). After two grueling years pursuing a Bachelors degree in Speech, I managed to graduate with a 3.7 CDS GPA and 3.2 cumulative GPA. During the two year program, I had the WORST faculty. They were not supportive at all and had their favorites. It was terrible and I am so glad I am not going there for grad school. 

Ok, so this is how I got into grad school: 

I worked my ass off during my two year undergrad program by volunteering at a school (classroom and SLP), hospital (child life department), NSSLHA events, reading program, and an aphasia support group. I applied to three grad school programs my senior year, scored extremely low on the GRE and didn't get accepted. I even applied to my undergrad summer SLPA program and didn't get accepted. I knew I had to take a gap year and work in a related field. After I graduated, I worked as a behavioral therapist. It has almost been a year now since I started, and honestly, it was the best idea. It reassured me that I was meant to work with kids and become a therapist. I don't necessarily love ABA, since I have long in-home therapy sessions, but I believe this experience helped me get into grad school. I applied to 12 schools this time. I retook the GRE and scored a little higher, but still low. V:140, Q:145, A: 3.5.  I researched literally every single program on ASHA edfind with low GPA and GRE scores. Also, I rewrote my letter of intent and had it proof read from sooo many people. I was determined to get in. I ended up being accepted into one school, waitlisted for 3 schools and rejected from the rest. The school that I was accepted to is literally my number 1 choice. I was in shock. I finally did it. 

So what I am trying to say here is that, YOU CAN DO IT. Don't give up. If you really want it, you will make it happen. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask me! Grad cafe really helped me research my schools and kept me up to date on the grad school process. I am so thankful for all the support on here. 

 

Edited by Kslptobe
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@Kslptobe congrats on all you have accomplished!! That's really great that you were able to succeed despite the lack of support from your undergrad professors. I love to read and talk to people who succeed despite the odds. Because I'm one of those people too! I have no learning disability but just have crazy test anxiety and landed some low gre scores as well (Q: 141, V: 152, AW: 3.5). I applied to 8 schools and after numerous rejections, finally got into one of my top choice schools. I'm so very glad to hear you got into your top choice school. I know you will succeed in your graduate studies! ?

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@Kslptobe

Congrats!  A lot of your story sounds eerily similar to mine!  haha Glad you were able to get into your top choice and that you kept on working towards your dream and your passion.  Thats all it takes is to continue forward! :)  Great story and inspiration for many to come!  

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@KslptobeYou sound so similar to me grade wise! It took me three separate application cycles to become accepted into grad school! It just shows we don't give up and work hard to get where we need to be :) I've done the same thing and have tried to write encouraging words to all us fellow applicants that have/have been discouraged by the application process! Congratulations!

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Your story certainly is inspirational, especially in the midst of all the posts talking about how competitive it is to get into grad school. Thanks for sharing.

What I am wondering though is if AshaEdfind is accurate with their GPA/GRE stats.

For Eastern Washington Uni, the stats are:

GRE:
Verbal reasoning: 154
Quantitative reasoning: 150
Analytical writing: 4.5
GPA: 3.32-4.0
 
Since your stats are lower, does that mean that one can get into grad school with a lower GRE and GPA listed  or am I missing something? I have not yet taken the GRE  and the GPA of one of my degrees is under 3.0 so I'm just wondering what my chances are (especially in light of your story) Thanks.
Edited by ashny
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Your story is actually extremely similar to mine as well. Similarly, I also have a learning disability. I have ADD and I wrote about this in my essays. I believe that revising my essays made the difference to help me get an acceptance this year, as well as applying broadly throughout the U.S.I also went to community college, didn't really have a plan, but when I transferred I kicked my butt into gear and managed to get a 3.7 CSD gpa (3.4 overall). I graduated in 2015, applied to 3 California schools, got all rejections and was devastated and felt lost. I got advice from a friend from undergrad and revamped my application. I completely overhauled my resume and personal statements and had over 7+ people revise/give feedback (including grad students and SLPs). I retook the GRE, scored 7 points higher and applied to 10 schools, this time 7 out of state. I also applied to a SLPA program last fall, but they randomly selected applicants and I was waitlisted and not accepted. For grad school, I got into one program off the waitlist, was put on the waitlist for 2 other programs, and was rejected by the rest. Thanks for sharing your story! It's awesome to read about others' journeys to grad school. :) Congratulations on all your hard work!

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2 hours ago, ashny said:

Your story certainly is inspirational, especially in the midst of all the posts talking about how competitive it is to get into grad school. Thanks for sharing.

What I am wondering though is if AshaEdfind is accurate with their GPA/GRE stats.

For Eastern Washington Uni, the stats are:

GRE:
Verbal reasoning: 154
Quantitative reasoning: 150
Analytical writing: 4.5
GPA: 3.32-4.0
 
Since your stats are lower, does that mean that one can get into grad school with a lower GRE and GPA listed  or am I missing something? I have not yet taken the GRE  and the GPA of one of my degrees is under 3.0 so I'm just wondering what my chances are (especially in light of your story) Thanks.

Thank you!! 

I did see that on asha edfind about eastern Washington, that's why I thought I wasn't going to get in. But because they had a lower gpa, I figured I would give it a shot. I was waitlisted before I got accepted, but honestly don't believe everything you see on asha edfind. Some schools may look at other things besides the gpa and GRE. That's what I think eastern Washington did with my application. Also, I did really well on my interview. So just prepare for your interviews and focus on your letter on intent! You can do it! 

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Stories like all of yours give me hope that round 3 next year will *fingers crossed* be my year!  I'm still kicking myself for not trying in undergrad!! Little did I know at 18/20 years old that GPA was almost more important than my Bachelors degree!

Question about GRE .. I took it twice (1st: V134, Q148, AW4.0   2nd: V149, Q142, AW4.0) and raised Verbal 15 points. I've been posting BOTH sets of scores to all schools....being that all of us in this thread seem to be in similar situations, would you recommend that I continue to send both scores next year (to schools I haven't applied to yet)?  I'm afraid they'll see that crap Verbal and the 142 quant score isn't awful. 

Thats also a question to ask when I contact all 200+ programs this summer haha! 

 

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On 5/9/2017 at 0:54 AM, Kslptobe said:

Thank you!! 

I did see that on asha edfind about eastern Washington, that's why I thought I wasn't going to get in. But because they had a lower gpa, I figured I would give it a shot. I was waitlisted before I got accepted, but honestly don't believe everything you see on asha edfind. Some schools may look at other things besides the gpa and GRE. That's what I think eastern Washington did with my application. Also, I did really well on my interview. So just prepare for your interviews and focus on your letter on intent! You can do it! 

Thanks Kslptobe. It's good to know that AshaEdfind's scores are not set in stone. Congratulations on your admission. It's a wonderful story and inspiration.

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On 5/11/2017 at 9:59 AM, PlieThenRose said:

Stories like all of yours give me hope that round 3 next year will *fingers crossed* be my year!  I'm still kicking myself for not trying in undergrad!! Little did I know at 18/20 years old that GPA was almost more important than my Bachelors degree!

Question about GRE .. I took it twice (1st: V134, Q148, AW4.0   2nd: V149, Q142, AW4.0) and raised Verbal 15 points. I've been posting BOTH sets of scores to all schools....being that all of us in this thread seem to be in similar situations, would you recommend that I continue to send both scores next year (to schools I haven't applied to yet)?  I'm afraid they'll see that crap Verbal and the 142 quant score isn't awful. 

Thats also a question to ask when I contact all 200+ programs this summer haha! 

 

Thank you! 

So for GRE scores, I would definitely send all scores. I did that and I think it helps because admissions can see if you tried again to take it. That probably looks good. 

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On 5/11/2017 at 0:59 PM, PlieThenRose said:

Stories like all of yours give me hope that round 3 next year will *fingers crossed* be my year!  I'm still kicking myself for not trying in undergrad!! Little did I know at 18/20 years old that GPA was almost more important than my Bachelors degree!

Question about GRE .. I took it twice (1st: V134, Q148, AW4.0   2nd: V149, Q142, AW4.0) and raised Verbal 15 points. I've been posting BOTH sets of scores to all schools....being that all of us in this thread seem to be in similar situations, would you recommend that I continue to send both scores next year (to schools I haven't applied to yet)?  I'm afraid they'll see that crap Verbal and the 142 quant score isn't awful. 

Thats also a question to ask when I contact all 200+ programs this summer haha! 

 

I agree with @Kslptobe send all scores taken! I did for my applications and I agree it shows the admissions you aren't giving up and trying to improve you score! My fingers crossed for you for the 3rd time applying! 3rd time was a try for me and that's when I got in to two schools! :) 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey, all! First post and super new to this, but I'm basically just seeking some advice for my third round of applications. After reading through several topics, some things I need to change are glaringly obvious, but I'm just looking for some input and dialogue really. 

I would say I've got below average numbers - Overall GPA 3.125, CSD GPA 3.4; Q-146, V-150, AW-3.5; I'm from Texas and have applied to UT Dallas, UNT, Texas Women's, SFA, and Houston.

Graduated in 2011 and have worked as an SLPA since. I gained less than a year experience in public schools, and have been in home health ever since. In that time, I have learned Spanish and now get reimbursed as a bilingual therapist. However, I have nothing to show for volunteer hours - something I am looking at getting started ASAP (both for my resume and just an overall general desire to spend more time volunteering). I did no volunteering in college, nor did I participate in anything NSSLHA related. 

First huge concern of mine in applications for this next round - letters of recommendation. I won't bore you with my personal trials, but my undergrad years were the most trying times of my life to date. Lots of chaos and dysfunction for 3 out of the 4 years I was in undergrad. As a result, not only did my grades suffer, but I never truly was able to make personal connections with any of my professors. Although I'm sure they were empathetic to my many different situations that I had no control over, I'm sure I was "that girl" always emailing and asking for extensions and having to leave town to be with family for weeks at a time. So, if they even remember me, it's probably for all the wrong reasons.

In my first two rounds of applications, I had three of my previous supervisors write letters for me. I was very close personally with all of them, and each of them were beyond encouraging about me pursuing my Master's. I don't doubt for a second that each of them spoke of me in high regards, but I realize there is a difference between previous supervisors and previous educators/professors. Another weird part of my story... I worked for the District Attorney in my home town several times throughout my college career, and she spoke very highly of me. So I did have her write me a letter as well, figuring it wouldn't hurt anything to include it, albeit random. 

WHAT DO I DO DIFFERENT THIS TIME WITH MY LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION?! I really am lost as to where to turn on this part of the application process. 

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11 hours ago, slpacceptme said:

Hey, all! First post and super new to this, but I'm basically just seeking some advice for my third round of applications. After reading through several topics, some things I need to change are glaringly obvious, but I'm just looking for some input and dialogue really. 

I would say I've got below average numbers - Overall GPA 3.125, CSD GPA 3.4; Q-146, V-150, AW-3.5; I'm from Texas and have applied to UT Dallas, UNT, Texas Women's, SFA, and Houston.

Graduated in 2011 and have worked as an SLPA since. I gained less than a year experience in public schools, and have been in home health ever since. In that time, I have learned Spanish and now get reimbursed as a bilingual therapist. However, I have nothing to show for volunteer hours - something I am looking at getting started ASAP (both for my resume and just an overall general desire to spend more time volunteering). I did no volunteering in college, nor did I participate in anything NSSLHA related. 

First huge concern of mine in applications for this next round - letters of recommendation. I won't bore you with my personal trials, but my undergrad years were the most trying times of my life to date. Lots of chaos and dysfunction for 3 out of the 4 years I was in undergrad. As a result, not only did my grades suffer, but I never truly was able to make personal connections with any of my professors. Although I'm sure they were empathetic to my many different situations that I had no control over, I'm sure I was "that girl" always emailing and asking for extensions and having to leave town to be with family for weeks at a time. So, if they even remember me, it's probably for all the wrong reasons.

In my first two rounds of applications, I had three of my previous supervisors write letters for me. I was very close personally with all of them, and each of them were beyond encouraging about me pursuing my Master's. I don't doubt for a second that each of them spoke of me in high regards, but I realize there is a difference between previous supervisors and previous educators/professors. Another weird part of my story... I worked for the District Attorney in my home town several times throughout my college career, and she spoke very highly of me. So I did have her write me a letter as well, figuring it wouldn't hurt anything to include it, albeit random. 

WHAT DO I DO DIFFERENT THIS TIME WITH MY LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION?! I really am lost as to where to turn on this part of the application process. 

I was in a similar predicament- my scores aren't the greatest and I graduated in 2012 and didn't keep in touch with professors. What I think really helped me this time around was taking a few pre-reqs I was missing (neuro and lang. science) and 2 grad courses with ENMU. I did that to 1. boost my GPA and show them I am capable of receiving A's and 2. build a relationship with current professors who can write LORs for me. I had 2 professors from ENMU and my current supervisor write my letters of LOR. Of course I re-took the GREs, worked hard on SOP, yada yada but I definitely think taking classes and forming new relationships with new professors helped me tremendously. 

Maybe you can re-take a class you have a low grade in or a pre-req some schools require that you are missing? Not sure if I would recommend taking grad classes because now that I've been accepted into a different program they may not accept the classes which is a bummer but some good came out of it so I don't completely regret it.

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@slpacceptme. I agree what the previous poster said about taking a class to get a professor letter. You have grown so much since you did undergrad, and those professors are probably not accurate representations of you. You could take a prereq or take a grad class in a similar field online. I was in a similar situation and i had a new professor write my letters along with my supervisors for my third try for grad school and i got in when i stopped using my undergrad professors. 

On a side note, have you thought about applying to "less competitive" schools in texas like wtamu or a&m-kingsville instead of utd or unt? 

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7 hours ago, tvl said:

I was in a similar predicament- my scores aren't the greatest and I graduated in 2012 and didn't keep in touch with professors. What I think really helped me this time around was taking a few pre-reqs I was missing (neuro and lang. science) and 2 grad courses with ENMU. I did that to 1. boost my GPA and show them I am capable of receiving A's and 2. build a relationship with current professors who can write LORs for me. I had 2 professors from ENMU and my current supervisor write my letters of LOR. Of course I re-took the GREs, worked hard on SOP, yada yada but I definitely think taking classes and forming new relationships with new professors helped me tremendously. 

Maybe you can re-take a class you have a low grade in or a pre-req some schools require that you are missing? Not sure if I would recommend taking grad classes because now that I've been accepted into a different program they may not accept the classes which is a bummer but some good came out of it so I don't completely regret it.

Thank you for your input! Great ideas and very much appreciated.

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5 hours ago, Speechster said:

@slpacceptme. I agree what the previous poster said about taking a class to get a professor letter. You have grown so much since you did undergrad, and those professors are probably not accurate representations of you. You could take a prereq or take a grad class in a similar field online. I was in a similar situation and i had a new professor write my letters along with my supervisors for my third try for grad school and i got in when i stopped using my undergrad professors. 

On a side note, have you thought about applying to "less competitive" schools in texas like wtamu or a&m-kingsville instead of utd or unt? 

For this third time around, yes, I am absolutely going to cast my net much wider and apply at less competitive schools, and not just schools in Texas, either. In both of my first two attempts, I applied to schools that were geographically close to me, but I realize I'm just going to have to let that go. Both you and @tvl mentioned taking grad classes online... that had never even occurred to me! I wouldn't need to be accepted into a grad program to be able to take those courses? Sorry if that is a dumb question! What kind of courses did you all take online? To the best of my knowledge, I have completed all of the prereqs I would need, but did end up with a C in a couple speech & hearing classes. Would I need to retake those at the school I graduated from, or do you think just retaking them period would be good enough?

Edited by slpacceptme
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Im not sure about the undergad classes, but i know those have to be paid out of pocket. You probably would have to be accepted to a grad program, but other programs are usually not as competitive and dont usually reject people. You can email the programs and ask if they will let you just take a class or if you have to be in the program. You probably have to be in the program to get FA. Just pick a couple of schools and look at the classes they offer and go from there! Good luck! 

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  • 5 months later...
On 5/8/2017 at 5:19 PM, Louly said:

Great job! I'm proud of your perseverance. --I had the same story, a cumulative of 2.8 and even lower GRE scores but worked my a$$ off to prove I've changed. Got accepted first round! 

What did you do to show you have changed. I just registered to retake some of my undergrad course but I'm just wondering if there is something more I should be doing?

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  • 2 weeks later...

@BCaBAbutwanttobeaSLP I retook some old undergrad courses (maintained a 3.8 on my last 60 credits), conducted research (presented at ASHA), joined leadership groups on campus, and volunteered with an aphasia group. Having a 2.8 overall GPA, I had to do A LOT to prove that I've changed but it was all worth it. Good Luck!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Wow, reading your successes is SO relieving for me!! Between working two jobs while going to school FT and going through a lot of chaos during my undergrad, my grade suffered TERRIBLY. I graduated with a 2.67 GPA :( After several year of not knowing what to do with myself, I decided to work as a CNA then as a teaching assistant. My experiences in both fields got me really excited about therapy. At first I wanted to go for OT but honestly I have always loved language so SLP fits my personality better. I had taken a few semesters worth of classes and ended up with a 3.47 GPA. I still need to take a bunch of pre-reqs and since I want to get my BA GPA up I will probably end up applying for USU's 2nd bachelors program. I'm hoping that by doing that and with having years of experience in healthcare and special education, HOPEFULLY some school will give me a chance!!!

Thanks for sharing your stories! <3

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  • 1 month later...

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