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The 1000 Piece Puzzle: Picking Your Perfect SLP Grad School

13 Jul

Ahh, the joys of being a junior in the education system again. This period in anyone´s education career, high school or undergraduate, can bring on many questions and fears, as well as anxiety and excitement about the future. At least I can say I´m ‘experienced´with this, as it´s my second go around. I get to have to fun of diving into the university searching once again, investigating the options and questioning them later on until I´m certain Ive picked the best ones. At least I have figured out my passion in life and now it is simply finding the best school for my needs and interests, so that helps take a load off my short stature.

There are some similarities in looking for an undergraduate and graduate program, which do make the process somewhat similar and easier to navigate. But as with everything, even grad school searching presents some new challenges as well, such as: Do the ratings count? Medical or Educational focus? What makes a program superb and-or well-known? Are smaller, lesser-known schools just as good? What about online programs? … and I can probably list 100 more questions that have been gnawing at me since I began my search. (I´ve even had some dreams lately regarding graduate school. So the ´fun´just doesn´t end!) … Before you begin to worry, I´m completely fine! It´s simply that my mind loves to keep on thinking, even when my body wishes it´d rest for some well-deserved, non-SLP related sleep.)

I´m certain others are are in the same situation as myself, anxious to begin their search and visit programs, so I´ve complied a list of characteristics that may help narrow down one´s higher education pursuit and create a humongous, personalized grad school puzzle.

Location: There are actually quite a few things related to location that might weigh heavily in one´s decision on graduate school. First: the type of environment the school is in. Some may prefer city life or suburban/rural. And even within that… you may want the suburban feel, but with access to a city for entertainment and clinical opportunities. For me, I know I´d like to stay in the Eastern US due to proximity to family (although going abroad would be sweet). Second: Climate. Each area of the US and Canada is home to it´s own climate. If you´re a hot-weather-lover from Florida who hasn’t seen snow in your life, perhaps attending a university in Canada or New Hampshire isn’t for you. Even along that, you may be accustomed to Pennsylvania´s humid heat, but not Arizona´s dry heat. Third: Connections. Some opt to attend a university in the general area where they wish to work and live beyond graduation. This is great for building local professional networks before graduating!

Online vs In Person: Similar to the location puzzle piece, you may want to consider if you are able to travel and live in a different setting than you are now. Would you rather stay home, find clinical placements in your area and be near the ones you love? Maybe you have a family to take care of and your partner has a steady job that you’d rather not leave. Keep in mind, you may have a higher aptitude for learning in-person than online, or you may not have the self- motivation for solely studying online. Also, due to the increased popularity in online programs over the past few years, they have become quite competitive to be accepted into! Some are also fairly expensive, and don’t allow for research or other educational/funding opportunities.

Results: Check the program’s outcomes on the Praxis, employment and graduation rates. How many of each cohort graduate, pass the Praxis and are employed after obtaining their CCC’s. These are indicators of how well-prepared their students are with the education the school offers.

Size of Program: There are two things under this category that go hand-in-hand: school size and cohort size. Do you want to attend larger or more well-known university? Does having a more recognized school on your resume matter to you? …What about the number of students in accepted into your cohort? Each program allots for a certain number of acceptances, and even then only a fraction of those attend. Cohorts are generally small in this field, but they can still range from something small like 15/20 to a ‘larger’ group of 30/40 (some may be larger, I’m not sure.). All cohorts have their own sense of a family and level of tight-knittedness, depends on how large of a group you feel comfortable with!

Faculty-Research: Make sure the faculty are interested in the same disciplines as you are, especially if you want to research on the side. By having faculty interested in similar things you are, you are open to a wealth of knowledge that you can access and present questions to. If you wish to learn more about bilingual populations but no one in your school is well-versed in that, then how will you gain the knowledge you need to work with that population later?

Cost: For a number of graduate students this is a major issue. Most schools have a lower in-state tuition, which may want you to seek education in your state. Some schools offer great scholarship or assistantship packages. You have to keep an eye out for these types of things when you decipher the patterns in the graduate school puzzle. Of course, some also place cost lower on the pedestal if the clinical placement options are great. It’s up to you to weigh which is more important.

Thesis Option: Do you wish to do a Master’s thesis to research a specific topic you’re intrigued in or to begin your publishing career to build up your doctoral application? Some schools only offer the comprehensive exam option, so you’ll want to make sure it has this option. ALSO make sure the professors are well-published and well-known in their respective fields, and preferably still publishing and researching. You want them to hold PhDs, as well. These are those little color indicators in the puzzle that tell you this school is great for research and still cranking it out with engaged faculty.

 

These are only the edge pieces of the puzzle. Be sure to check back soon for the filler pieces that you may want to consider for completing the puzzle for your perfect school! Good luck to all you #preslp and #slp2b students in your endeavors!

It’s A Glottal Thing

30 Jun

Today I have an extremely small anecdote to share, but the linguist in me found it rather amusing. Let me take you back to a few days ago…

I had just sat down with my boyfriend on these unique benches in the local airport. They’re an odd shape, almost a horizontal cross-section of a boat with a dorsal fin in the middle for back support. My boyfriend had already taken out his laptop and I was in the process of mimicking his motions, as we had an hour to kill.

In the midst of sorting through my rather large tote (brought to be used as a beach tote for towels at our destination) I hear a rather odd noise. Of course, airports are a mecca of odd noises, even a small one like this. Several languages and dialects are being spoken, plates and cups are clanging on the tables, there’s pitter-pattering of small and large feet alike… so this shouldn’t have been out of what I’d normally expect, especially as I’ve heard similar utterances before.

All I heard was ” Now I thought I told you before…” What caught my attention was the extreme glottal stop usage of the man’s dialogue. Or perhaps his accent made it sound harsher and more apparent in speech. I can’t quite tell, but he was somewhere from the United Kingdom. Despite hearing British/ Welsh/Irish people talking before, I had never heard this much glottal-age in such a short sentence. (For those who might not be aware of what a glottal stop is, it is the ‘noise’ you make when saying things like ‘uh-oh’ or ‘button’, it’s more prominent in British English. It’s that quick “stop” you make in the middle of uh-oh. I’ll post a video below to help.)  I’ll attempt to transcribe it, but forgive me as it’s been a year since I’ve transcribed anything, and vowels aren’t my strong-suit. This is what it sounded like to me:

Aj  θɔʔ  aj  toʔd  ju  bifɔʔ

All I know is, I swear I heard that darn glottal stop at least 3 times. I even thought he pronounced it at the end of both ‘I’s too, but I left that out as it’s most likely my mind on sensory overload. Either way, my inner linguist is fairly satisfied right now, despite leaving the Basque country, a linguistic paradise, for the time being. Does anyone find it amusing to hear less-common American English (or your native dialect) IPA sounds? What’s your favorite IPA sound?

*Note: I’m not disrespecting British people at all, so i hope it doesn’t sound like that! It’s just amusing to hear accents. 🙂

Here’s a link to the promised video: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=uS4YZ_a3_ig     I think he does a decent job at explaining how the noise is made and giving examples.

Student “non-CEU” Classes

23 Jun

Remember how I mentioned that I registered for an online CEU company? Well, As of yesterday, I have now completed my first ‘non-CEU’ class. It is technically a CEU (Continuing Education Unit) course, but as I am not a professional Speech-Language Pathologist (yet), it doesn’t count for credit. But I still get a certificate of completion if I receive an 80% or above on the test that follows! And guess  what? This girl got a 90%! I’m so happy! If you aren’t on this bandwagon yet, I suggest you do so. Yes, it costs about $49/year for a student account, but there’s plenty of other aspects that make it worth the while:

-Applications– Grad school applications, that is. These classes are extremely great assets to have in your educational arsenal when applying to grad school. They will show that you are not just dedicated to this field, but you are really, truly dedicated to it. You are not only interested in learning within the school system, but you want to learn more on your free time. That should get some of those admissions officers eyebrows raised.

Knowledge– It’s always important to maintain and expand your knowledge– especially when it comes to the field you work in. Our field  has become so vast in the past years that there’s much to know, almost too much. Taking these classes will assist you in this never-ending, but fun, endeavor. Say you read something in the news about Autism or Animal-Assisted Therapy and you want to learn more about those issues within Speech-Language Pathology, you can look up some courses about that and take them! There’s plenty to choose from.

Education– On a similar note, these classes can act as fillers (possibly, not guaranteed) that provide extra information on topics you learning in school. Perhaps you’re behind or confused about a subject and want a different perspective, or you want to know some information before taking a class the upcoming semester. One way to accomplish those could be taking related classes through companies like these. Just make sure you get some sort of recognition at the end and ASHA approves of the company. One way to do that is by looking for classes on this site: http://www.asha.org/eweb/csdynamicpage.aspx?webcode=coursesearch

Variety of Methods– At least the website I use has a variety of means through which the learner may view the material. So, whether you are a visual, auditory, or text-based learner, there are  classes for you. In fact, the same class may be available in all three mediums, which is great. There are also live Webinars you may partake in, where you can ask the presenter questions while he/she teaches the material. I’ve also seen virtual conferences are available!

Extra Material- Many classes also have supplemental information for your benefit. You can save and print them out as you deem necessary. These are great to have for future reference and to jog your memory if you forget something later down the road. Of course, if you want to use them for therapy or handing out to clients, then you’ll have to ask permission from the presenter.

Those are just a few reasons to take some CEU classes for no credit as a student. I’m sure there are plenty more!

*I use http://www.speechpathology.com . This was not an endorsement or an expression of their opinions. These are solely my opinions.

ASHA Convention Volunteer ?!

22 Jun

Each year the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has a convention for all professionals whose work related to communication (speech-language pathologists, audiologists, speech and hearing scientists). Along with the professionals, students in the respective fields are invited to attend the event as well. There are a plethora of speakers to listen to, with many slots for attendees to choose from over the 3 day convention (Nov.14-16 in Chicago) . In addition to speakers, there is an exhibition room filled with booths from graduate programs, businesses, etc. Such a superb learning opportunity!

ASHA recognizes that students may not have the funding to attend this event, which is a relief. To aid students who want to attend, they have the opportunity for students to volunteer at the convention. Students can choose which area(s) of the convention they would like to volunteer in and get refunded the cost of the  convention. Not only does this help financially, but it gives students the opportunity to actually see what goes into maintaining and running the convention, as well as networking opportunities! Who could pass that up?

There’s just a small catch– only some students are selected. They also give priority to NSSLHA members. It’s understandable, as I’m sure they receive more than a couple boat-loads of applications! Plus, if you’re aiming on becoming a professional SLP, why wouldn’t you join the student organization? It does cost some money, but it’s a great thing to have on your resume and in general. You have access to Special Interest Groups and articles and much more.

With all this said, I sent in my application to volunteer… so excited! Now it’s just a waiting game until October 2nd. I guess this’ll act as a preview to grad school application season and the waiting!

For those of you who would like to volunteer, here’s a link to the application: http://www.asha.org/Forms/Convention-Student-Volunteer-Application/

Good Luck!

Boosting That Transcript and Gaining Knowledge

4 May

Now, lots of people might ask “why take classes you don’t need? Why torture yourself with some “classes” in the summer that don’t “count” for something? Well, there’s three reasons:

1. I’ll admit to being a nerd and enjoying learning. Crazy, I know

2. To go along with that, these classes will boost my knowledge of the field I want to work in, and related items.

3. It’ll boost my transcript and show I’m really serious about this, and not doing the bare minimum.

How will I go about doing this? Taking Continuing Education Credits (CEUs) that SLP’s have to take for their license, but without getting credits at the end. Since I’m not a licensed professional, I don’t need the credits themselves, so I’m just taking the classes. It’s fairly simple. You can search on ASHA for CEUs you’d like, online or in person,  and find their provider, then take the class through the provider.

One of the main online providers (which makes it easier) is speechpathology.com, and what’s good is they give a discount to STUDENTS! It’s only $49/ year for access to all of their courses, which can be text, audio or video! And then you can take the test at the end. Each class is worth a different amount of CEUs and is a different difficulty level and length, but most I’ve found are 1 hour long, so not much time at all! There’s even some classes related to audiology.

Another provider I’ve seen on ASHA (although it’s not for credits, I’d still prefer it to be accredited) is linguisystems.com. I’ve actually seen some SLPs mention this on Facebook… and they love it cause some of the CEUs are free! So even better. 🙂 That should be an easy way to gain more insight without having to hurt the college budget.

 

Those are just two examples to help boost that resume and just keep learning. Some even say it helped for finding a Clinical Fellowship Year (CFY) after graduate school. :)Check ASHA for other providers, or even take ones that might not be approved! If they don’t count for credits then it may not matter anyway. 🙂 Just make sure you jot down the courses and speakers to write on your resume!

 

 

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