Sunday, November 13, 2011

Application Kisses of Death

Recently found an article on the most common "kisses of death" applicants stumble into in their applications. This applies to personal statements, disclosures, letters of rec, and so on.

Some of the examples are also pretty funny: "One applicant admitted to feeling 'a thrill of excitement every time he/she steps into a morgue.' Another wrote 'a 10-page narrative of herself as Dorothy on the yellow-brick road to graduate school."

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Reddit + Undergraduate Mumblings

I recently joined the SLP subreddit as a moderator. There's lots of great links and thoughts over there. The subreddit is just getting started, so we'd love to see contributions from new members!

I also started an AMA (Ask Me Anything) to open the floor to questions about grad school. It hasn't gotten a lot of traffic, but I'll still answer any questions. That might be easier than having to email me back and forth.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Collaboration with Future SLPs

I've recently hooked up with Jourdan, the creator of Future SLPs ( We're planning out a collaborative effort to combine our resources into one mega-reference guide, including information on education, therapy ideas and resources, FAQs, and lots more. I definitely recommend checking out her website in the meantime.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

New and Old GRE Comparison

Just found that the format of the GRE was changed, so until I update my old GRE posts, here is a helpful infographic!Changes on the New GRE
Magoosh GRE Prep

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Questions to Grad Students

Another thing you might consider in weighing your grad school options is asking current graduate students and faculty focused questions about the program. Faculty will be able to answer "official" things, but grad students might be more willing to talk with you candidly.

Below I've laid out a few questions I asked grad students when I was applying. Some of these questions you could probably find the answers to online, but it's still nice to get the perspective of someone who's in the heat of it.

1. How difficult is it to get into the program?

2. Why did you decide to pursue a Masters vs. a Ph.D.?

3. What is the job outlook for the career based on the degree you'll have?

4. Will your degree affect your salary?

5. What is your course load like as a Masters student?

6. What's the quality of courses available?

7. Are the courses primarily theoretical or applied?

8. What were some factors that convinced you to go to XYZ school?

9. What sort of funding is available for grad students and how do you go about finding it?

10. What is the likelihood of receiving funding?

11. Do you work individually with a faculty member?

12. If so, did you research this faculty member before enrolling?

13. Is the atmosphere in the program competitive?

14. What are things you really like about the program?

15. What are some things you don't like?

16. What is the town like? (activities, transportation, housing, etc.)

17. Any other tips or pointers?

Friday, February 12, 2010

KASA: Physical Science Requisites

I've already mentioned KASA standards for certification in a previous post, but I think this issue needs a post of its own. KASA is the Knowledge And Skills Acquisition that all students are required to achieve to get certified, and it has a whole slew of differential subsections. Under Standard III-A it states, "The applicant must demonstrate knowledge of the principles of: biological sciences, physical sciences, mathematics, and social/behavioral sciences." Your department's degree requirements will usually match up pretty well with this, but there are a few KASA requirements that might not be covered by your degree. I find that biology, math, and social sciences are pretty easily covered by IU's SPHS degree, but because there isn't as much redundancy in the coursework for physical sciences, it's easier to have this requirement fall through the cracks. 

Anecdote: After taking a recommended 2 credit acoustical physics course that fulfilled my degree requirements, I found out that some graduate schools might argue that I hadn't actually completed my physical science requirement. Why? Because despite the class being part of the physics department, it was categorized as "Acoustics for SPHS". For whatever reason, some schools wanted the course to be completely outside of the SPHS department. Unfortunately, I was never able to find out which schools would care, so I went through with my scheduling and applications with the advice that I could show my syllabus to prove that I had indeed met my requirements.

Flash forward to when I received my acceptance letters. One school pointed out that I hadn't met the 3 credit requirement for physical sciences classes. Before reading this letter, I thought my problem was just an issue of classification, not course credit. Had I gone to that school, it would have meant I'd need to complete an undergraduate level course in some sort of physical science as a graduate student. I'm not sure if this is an issue with many schools, but I feel like applicants should know about the possibility.

Moral of the story: Make sure your courses are chunking away at the KASA requirements and that you won't get shortchanged because of some rule you didn't know about. 

Now What?

What to do now that you’re done? If you’re like me, you can waffle back and forth between nonchalance over it being out of your hands and frenzied obsession over the numerous mistakes you could have made. Regardless of what level of neurosis you find yourself subscribing to, there are still some things you can do.

Again, things get lost in the mail, professors are sometimes forgetful, or application websites malfunction. Check the status of your applications to make sure that all items have been received. If not, get in contact with the school to figure out what’s up.

Talk to your professors and peers to see what they know about admission decision deadlines. Several forums have posts from people who are awaiting reply or who have already heard back. One of my favorites is the GradCafe, which has an entire section on admission information for many different institutions and programs.

Because you’re likely to be asked to send in an official transcript after graduation, work to maintain your undergrad GPA. I’m not sure how common this is, but I’ve heard of students having their admission or funding revoked because of disciplinary action or slipping grades during their last semester of undergrad.

Cost of Applications

Maybe I should have realized, but no one ever sat me down and explained just how excruciatingly expensive graduate applications are. To give you an idea of your upfront expenses, here is my running total after applying to six schools.

This table obviously doesn’t include any GRE preparation tools I bought or any money I could have spent  going out to visit schools. There’s no getting around all the expense, but here are some suggestions to make it a little more bearable.

Because the GRE is so expensive, take it as few times as necessary to get an acceptable score. Again, it costs $150 just to take it, but this includes submission of your scores to four graduate schools. I could have saved myself a little money by having a better idea of which schools I wanted to send my scores to when I went to take the test. If this is outright just too much money to spend, go check out my post on schools that don’t require GRE scores or research how to get the test fee waived.

There are a couple ways that I’ve found to get the application fee waived completely. One is to research opportunities the school may offer to students who qualify. Get in touch with your prospective schools to see if you’re eligible.

Another option is to apply for the CIC FreeApp. The site lists participating schools and eligibility requirements, which are less strenuous than you’d think. The deadline is in November. Once I applied, I was contacted by the FreeApp Coordinators for my prospective schools. Depending on the timeliness of the coordinators, make sure to bug them for updates on your acceptance for the waiver. I played email tag with several coordinators for months before having to give up and just apply without the waiver. Keep in mind that once you pay the fee, FreeApp cannot reimburse you.

You can of course apply to fewer schools to save some money, but I tried to consider this a worthwhile investment in finding the best school for my needs and interests.