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Not much relevant experience

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I'm working on my statement of purpose for admission to a speech pathology masters program.  The thing is, I'm a stay-at-home mom, I haven't worked since I graduated 3 years ago, and I feel that I have very little relevant experience. The full story is that I dropped out of college after my junior year in 1997. I was already not doing well in school, and I was hit by a drunk driver over Thanksgiving break, which triggered a bout of depression that led to me taking a leave of absence, which became permanent.  I moved home and then got a job in Manhattan and moved there.  I worked full time for about 3-4 years (first as a program assistant at a non-profit in the education field, and then as an executive assistant to a finance CEO/ philanthropist) before I started taking classes again at night.  I changed my focus from English/Journalism to PoliSci, and made slow progress over the next few years.  In 2002 I both got married and lost my job.  I became pregnant before I found another job and my husband was able to support us, so I ended up not getting another job. I started taking classes again when my oldest was about 6 months old.  Over the next decade or so I had 4 more kids and slowly continued taking classes part-time until suddenly I was really close to my goal of graduating! I got into the competitive speech pathology program at my school and worked really hard to reach the finish line. I graduated in 2014, but I was pretty burnt out from juggling school and family. A couple of my kids have mild special needs (ADD/anxiety etc), which required a lot of meetings at school, therapy appointments, etc., in addition to needing more attention at home. I was the tortoise, not the hare. I reached the finish line slow and steady, but I was exhausted and wasn't even sure I wanted to continue in speech pathology. I didn't want to start grad school until I was sure I was ready to commit. Now my youngest is going into first grade, I've had a bit of a break, and I feel a strong desire to go out into the world and do something worthwhile. Speech programs generally admit in the fall, so I thought I would have a year to beef up my resume and re-take the GRE, but I have an opportunity to get into a program now on rolling admissions, which would allow me to begin a full year earlier.  I don't want to put all this personal stuff in my SOP. I want to focus on my academic success in speech pathology and my passion for it. I just don't feel that I have a whole lot to back it up. I was thinking of including some of my experiences with my own kids going to various therapists and relate it in general to things I've learned about patient care by being on the other side. Speech pathology is a very competitive field, so I'm nervous that taking 20 years to finish my degree combined with my lack of recent or relevant work experience is a huge negative. Any advice?

Edited by Mims
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  • 2 weeks later...

I want you to consider this: when you say "do something worthwhile," why is that worthwhile speech language pathology? It sounds like you're a passionate woman, and you'll want that passion to really show in your application.

As for the application itself.... Using personal anecdotes can be tricky. It will need to be crafted well. But, if it is crafted well, you essentially are telling the graduate school: your passion, insight into the field, your ability to synthesize knowledge & practice, and clarifying why your education took longer without needing to defend yourself. I think the angle your considering (the patient care side) might be a great direction to take because you can then synthesize the information better.

As an example, I did something similar going into my first masters, when they specifically wanted me to describe a "time when I helped someone." I described when my father came out as being transgender. I imbedded my personal experience with my academic knowledge on depression and stigma within the LGBT community. I knew that depression would be a concern, and her isolation would make it worse. So I bought her "her first Barbie" saying, "every little girl needs her first Barbie." It was a concrete symbol letting her known I was okay with it saying - a symbol that stays on her work desk to this day.



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