Today I’m linking up with some of my favorite bloggers, Shay and Erica, for their monthly “How We…” Wednesday. This month’s topic is technically “How We Mom Fail and Live to Discuss”, which is obviously a topic I have zero experience in, so I decided to change my topic to “How We Apply to Grad School and Live to Discuss”.
I chose this topic for a couple of reasons:
1. While I was applying to grad schools last year, I wasn’t blogging yet so I didn’t have the chance to document this crazy time in my life. I wanted to write about these experiences while they’re still (somewhat) fresh in my head so I can look back and read about them in years to come.
2. UT’s SLP graduate program interviews for the incoming class are this Friday and I felt like it was the perfect time to reminisce on my experience from this same day last year.
So here it is… how I applied to grad school for Speech-Langauge Pathology and lived to discuss!
During the Summer of 2016 (the summer leading into my Senior year), I worked as an undergraduate clinician for Central Michigan University’s Summer Speech-Language Specialty Clinic. This program provided me the opportunity to receive my very first client and begin my clinical journey a little bit earlier than usual. When applying for SSC my Junior year, I of course had grad school in the back of my mind. Not only did I want to be a part of this clinical program to finally apply the skills I had acquired over the past three years, I knew that this program would give me the clinical experience edge I was looking for as I headed into the most intense and competitive applicant pool. Plus, I knew this would be the best way to prepare for all of the upcoming clients I would receive in grad school… And SSC gave me just that! 🙂
You can read more about my SSC experience and other clinical placements HERE!
During the craziness of SSC, I spent a huge amount of time researching grad school programs because, to be completely honest, prior to researching I only knew of two schools that I knew I for sure wanted to apply to (and it’s recommended that you apply to between 5-10 schools HA!). Even though I wasn’t exactly sure where I wanted to be yet, I knew exactly what I was looking for in a program. I wanted the opportunity to receive off-campus clinical placements, to gain experience working with the Autism population, to not be too far from home, and to work with faculty that has experience in the areas I was most interested.
After over a month of researching, I decided to apply to seven schools that had everything I was looking for and so much more:
Central Michigan University
University of Toledo
Bowling Green State University
Michigan State University
Grand Valley State University
Western Michigan University
The GRE is *unfortunately* required to apply to any SLP graduate program. After I had taken a practice GRE back in April and continued to study all summer long, I finally took it for the second and final time (hallelujah!) at the end of this month. I luckily received the exact scores I had been hoping to get and was relieved to have one of the first big application steps checked off my list!
This was the month that I officially kicked it into gear and began the (insane) SLP grad school application process. The first step was to create my account on CSDCAS (The Communication Sciences and Disorders Centralized Application Service), which is where every part of an SLP grad school app is completed. Everything from my essays, letters of recommendation, resumes, GRE scores, personal statements, high school and college transcripts, and general applications were all turned into each graduate program from this site. For about 8 months, I had a very love-hate relationship with CSDCAS haha! From there, I began asking for letters of recommendation and drafting up essays.
October was a whirlwind of a month!
Back in September, I had received an invitation to tour Bowling Green State University and attend an info session about their graduate program. My mom and Connor came with me that day (on Sweetest Day!), and afterwards we shopped and went to lunch right downtown. This tour day made me even more excited for what was to come in the months ahead!
For the rest of the month, I continued to work on 11 essays, complete application requirements on CSDCAS, mail in transcripts, attend advisor meetings, and most importantly, gather advise and opinions from my favorite professors at CMU. And yes, 11 essays for 7 schools. That was not a typo. One of the schools required not 1, but 5 essays!! I somehow managed to stay calm throughout this process…
I started to feel a huge sense of accomplishment in November, as I completed 5 of my 7 applications! The only two that I had left to complete were Michigan State University and Western Michigan University. I had all of the motivation in the world to make this happen because right after my 21st birthday on the 11th, I was heading to the Bahamas on vacation with my mom! Laying on the beach in the Caribbean sun and drinking Corona was the ultimate reward after weeks of nonstop writing and revising essays, contacting universities, mailing transcripts, and so much more.
The last week of my Fall semester, I completed all seven of my apps! I don’t think anybody, except for everyone who has also applied to grad school, will ever understand the amount of relief I felt on this day! It was the greatest feeling knowing that I could head into a winter break full of pure relaxation. Now it was time to play the ultimate waiting game…
The first Thursday of the Spring semester (I specifically remember this because I was at the Bird in Downtown Mt Pleasant with Sarah when I got the email) I received my very first interview at the University of Toledo and I. Was. Ecstatic! (I may or may not have started crying tears of excitement right then and there) UT was my very first choice heading into the interview process and I wanted nothing more than to be accepted to this program. I spent the next two weeks furiously prepping for interview questions and asking just about everybody to mock interview me.
On interview day, I checked in and began a fully-booked afternoon. There were about 100 applicants present and after they provided us information and faculty introductions, they divided us into groups of about 10 students. From there, my group rotated around to the graduate student panel (to ask current grad students any questions we had), a tour of the on-campus clinic, a group activity that looked at our clinical, team, and therapy skills, and then finally, the interview. I wanted so badly for this entire interview day to go perfect… and it did! Not only did I leave interview day feeling on top of the world, I left feeling extremely impressed by this graduate program.
All that was left to do was play the waiting game again…
The second week of the Spring semester, I received an interview at Central Michigan University (my undergrad university). I was so excited to be moving onto the next step of their application process and feeling much more at ease for this interview than I had for UT. I knew I would be interviewed by faculty that I had already established close relationships with throughout the last four years. This interview was conducted in “speed dating style”, where a group of about 8 students rotated between 8 faculty every 3 minutes, each asking about 2-3 questions. I left CMU’s interview day feeling just as excited and confident as I did leaving UT!
Then, at the very end of January, I received an interview at Grand Valley State University. I wasn’t able to attend their interview day on campus so I was able set up a Skype interview with their SLP graduate program director. This interview went smoothly, but also provided me with the most unique questions I had received yet. This interview was comprised two components: interview questions and a therapy simulation. This was definitely a unique experience that I was lucky to have. I completed this interview confident and excited for what was to come!
February is the month that everything finally started to fall perfectly into place!
On February 15th, I received my first graduate school acceptance to the University of Toledo! I cried tears of joy, I felt the biggest weight instantly lift off my shoulders, and I couldn’t wait to celebrate. This acceptance made me feel so lucky for so many reasons: my very first admissions letter from a grad school was a positive one, I no longer had to wonder if I was going to grad school in the Fall or not, and I had just been accepted to my first choice graduate school. I truly couldn’t have been happier!
The following week, I received my second graduate school acceptance to Grand Valley State University. All of the positive emotions were running high, I was so incredibly excited!
Over Spring Break I took a trip with my sorority to Pine Mountain Settlement School and midway through the trip I received my third acceptance to Northwestern University! I almost couldn’t believe it. NWU had always been my “reach” school; the one I kept thinking of as the “we’ll just see what happens” school. Even though I knew this school was no longer the one for me, I felt accomplished in knowing I had achieved the goal I had set for myself during my sophomore year at CMU.
And finally, later that month, I received my fourth and final acceptance to Central Michigan University. I was so grateful to receive an acceptance to the school I had called home for the past four years, the school that taught me everything I knew about SLP up until that point. I loved absolutely everything that CMU had to offer and I could never say enough positive things about it’s SLP faculty. In deciding which graduate school to attend, I just felt it was time for a new chapter in my life with new clinical experiences in a new place with new people. It was bittersweet turning down this acceptance because for the longest time I had always dreamt of continuing to attend CMU for grad school. It’s crazy how life has a way of changing things and leading you to exactly where you’re suppose to be.
At the very end of March, I sent in my official acceptance to the University of Toledo!
I MADE IT!
Later that month, I toured apartments around campus, found my three perfect roommates, and signed a lease. It was all happening so fast!
The final step: Graduate with my bachelors degree in Communication Disorders!
(definitely a key step to maintaining your acceptance into grad school)
I don’t think I have ever relaxed more than I was during the Summer of 2017 and it. was. fabulous! I read so many books, I worked on the golf course, I vacationed, I hung out on the lake, and I soaked up every single second before the craziness of grad school began.
At the end of summer, I moved into my new townhome at Edge 1120 in Toledo. How could I not absolutely love living at this place?
At the very end of August, the time had FINALLY come to start what I had worked so hard towards for so long:
The crazy journey of grad school!
To read my post all about my first semester at UT, click HERE
And that is how I applied to grad school for Speech-Langauge Pathology and lived to discuss!