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The 1000 Piece Puzzle: Picking Your Perfect Grad School Pt. 2

19 Jul

As promised, here is the second edition of hints for picking the pieces to finish your grad school puzzle. These are in no way to be weighed less than the previously posted characteristics for deciding on which programs to apply to/ attend. In fact, some of these may need more consideration than the others. Of course that is for you to decide, but if you wish to see the other list for comparison, then click here. There has also been great comments from others about factors to consider, so be sure to check it out. 🙂

Here is the second list of items that you may want to chew on (but don’t accidentally aspirate on them, please.):

-Opportunities Available: Most of these come down to money, but some come somewhat hand-in-hand with that along with educational gains. Research Assistant – If you wish to engage in research with a professor, make sure the school allows for this. After that, check to see if any faculty are currently open to supervise a student researcher. Most teachers have a limited number of slots for RAs, and those spaces often go to doctoral students. Graduate Assistant – Does the school also have spaces for graduate assistants?  Do they give preference to certain students? The school I currently attend for undergrad only allows alumni undergraduate students to be graduate assistants for the department. Student Teaching/ Teacher’s Assistant – are there opportunities to student teach or be a teacher’s assistant? These could be viable options. They also are great building blocks for your CV and may help with getting a CFY. On-Site Clinic Some universities don’t have on-site clinics. This may not be a huge issue, but having one may provide another site for possble work. Some universities have clinics in which students can work. Student Teaching.

GRE or MAT accepted: Although the majority of schools accept the GRE, some will accept the MAT as well. For some applicants this isn’t an issue, but for those who are not great at timed standardized tests, this can be a huge benefit. Most that do accept the MAT accept it in conjunction with the GRE, though. Luckily, there are some programs that don’t require the GRE, or just a lower score is accepted. For a list of these schools, click here.

Clinical Placements: This one is another multi-colored puzzle piece. First, as mentioned above, is there an on-site clinic? Some studente prefer having an on-site clinic available as a back up if off-site clinic placements don’t work or just for further experience and education. Second, what clinical placements are available? If you are interested in aphasia, are there clinical placements available that may have aphasia placements? What about bilingual/multi-cultural populations? Are there outpatient or inpatient facilities if you’re interested in those? Make sure placements that you want are available.

Research vs Clinical Orientation: There are some schools more research-oriented than clinically-oriented. This may impact your education and placements or opportunities/funding. This may take some dumpster-dive-type searching, but it’s good information to know.

Medical vs Educational Based: Many, many schools are geared towards education setting clinical education. There are few that actually focus on, or are more geared towards, the medical setting. This doesn’t mean both school types don’t offer clinical placements in the other setting or that if you go to one you will have great trouble finding jobs in the other sector, but you may be more well prepared for the specific setting. As far as I know there are a limited number that are medically based, of which you can view a list here. Also, the University of Pittsburgh offers a Clinical Doctorate (CScD) degree that’s medically based. You can find that (and 2-3 other ‘SLP clinical doctorate’ degrees (SLPD)) on ASHA’s EdFind, although I’m not sure if the others are medically-focused.

Specializations/Certificates: Generally, most schools have some sort of specialty. Gallaudet has Deaf Studies; Penn State is known for AAC. Depending on your interests you may want to find a school that fits that. On top of that, some schools offer Graduate Certificates in certain studies. You may want to check into that as well, as they can give you valuable knowledge.

Program Start Date/ Program Length: There are some programs who have Winter, Spring or Summer start dates. A good amount of these are online programs, but there are a some on campus programs who begin at these unconventional times as well.  I’ve also heard of a handful of schools with alternating admissions, admitting students every other year. You also may want to consider program length. This mostly pertains to those without a CSD degree or opt to do online programs, as these generally take an extra semester or two.

Accreditation: Lastly, and what I would argue is the most important piece of the puzzle, the one that ties everything in, is accreditation. MAKE SURE IT IS ACCREDITED by The Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA). If it’snot accredited by this, ASHA  will not recognize your degree. To find those that ASHA recognizes, you can search for schools viaEdFind.

Once you’ve put the puzzle together and found some viable schools that can fit into it, talk to current or past students. You can find some on the Facebook, GradCafe, and Twitter groups. You can view my post on social media

If you have any hints, tips or pointers as to how you decided between schools, please feel free to share as well!

education

education (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

for places to connect to people. You can also attempt to find professionals taht supervise clinicals for your prospective schools– they can give insight on how well prepared students are. This may be harder to do, but worth a shot.

Will Work For Reimbursement

16 Jul

It’s not question whether higher education is outrageously expensive or not, especially for those who pursue careers that require more than a Bachelor’s degree, like Speech-Language Pathology. Throughout my search I’ve seen some schools charge as much as $60,000+ for the 2.5 or so years of extra education needed for this field. Sorry, there’s no way I can begin to afford even thinking about the debt from that. For that to remotely even out I’d have to either run away to the circus with a dancing monkey, or pray that I managed to get a crazy scholarship amount of 50% or more in order to attend. Well, maybe I got a little carried away there. Some schools do hand out scholarships of up to 75%, which is great. Despite that, it’s a slim chance I’ll be getting that high of an amount. There’s also the fact that more money is handed out to doctoral students, slimming those chances even more.

Luckily, for those who are willing to put in some extra “time” and work, there are some other options for funding. There are some scholarships and grants available, but I’m not here to discuss those today. Instead, I’ve come across some unique opportunities for finding the needle in an intimidating large haystack that is limited educational funding.

First: State Department of Education Scholarships. There are several states, like New York, whose Department of Education will pay you to get your Master’s degree[1]. The catch? Well, there are quite a few, nothing outlandish, but things to consider[1]:

  1. For the NY Dept. of Education (and most likely all other participating state’s education departments), you must attend one of the schools they designate as an affiliate of the program, all of which are in-state.
  2. You must accept your spot in one of the schools before you are told if you receive the money. This may not be an issue for some cheaper schools, but those like New York Medical College, where tuition is quite a bit higher, this can be a problem for some. (But if you get the scholarship, then no problem!)
  3. I should’ve mentioned this first. You have to go through an application process. It’s not simply an apply and you will receive the money. There’s paperwork and interviews and such.
  4. As part of the agreement, after you are finished your education, you must serve at a high-need school for X amount of years. This may vary by state; I believe it was 6 years for New York. I’m not sure if they assign a school to you or you get to pick from a list.

Second: Federal Dept. of Education Scholarships. This one I know less about, but I’ll tell you what I do know. It’s similar to the state scholarships in that they will payfor your education. In addition to that, your end of the deal is working 10 years in a high-need school[2]. Other than that I’m not sure how the process goes or what universities take part in this exchange.

Third: US Military. There are a couple of ways that I’m aware of for this. You may either complete ROTC while in college so that you may study while training and then do reserves or active duty for some years after. Or you may do training/ reserves/active duty before you enter into college, that way you can focus on education later.  (There is the option of school then military, but I’m not sure if they reimburse your education that you do prior to your involvement in the military.) [3] Both options require serving for some time. Some people actually stay and become an officer and work for the military in their respective field.

Fourth: Unique University Scholarships/Grants. Some schools may give you a stipend, pay some of your education or pay all of your education if you partake in a program of theirs. One such example is a grant offered by Western Carolina University where graduate SLP students take 18 extra credits for training that covered the topic of providing SLP services to children with severe disabilities. As part of the agreement students “receive one year of in-state tuition and some professional development,” while in return they “commit to serve people with severe and other disabilities for two years and to mentor at least five people in communication services for people with severe disabilities.[4]” You may want to check into universities that interest you to see if they have any grants or scholarships similar to this.

mini graduation cap on money

mini graduation cap on money (Photo credit: SalFalko)

Fifth: Other. There are several other loan repayment options that are available. Some are available for those in the medical sector, others for educational settings. Many states have loan repayment programs as well. For a list of these, and other possibilities, check out this article’s compilation of money-savers[5]. ASHA also lists MANY options for loan forgiveness and the like, so you might want to take a look [6]. There are also different funding options available by state, which you can view here [7].

Of course there are pros and cons to all of these options. It’s up to you to figure out what yours are and which ones weigh heavier than others. Hopefully one of these, or receiving scholarships from your prospective schools will help your financial woes. Best of luck to all applicants!

Do you know of any other ‘random’ or ‘unique’ graduate school funding opportunities? Perhaps a business hat may offer scholarships in exchange for working several years for them? Or certain states/schools will give in-state tuition to out-of-staters in exchange for something? Or, better yet, money without any catches? (Doubt it, but worth a try! haha)

References/ Sites:

1. Scholarships, Incentives and Special Programs. (n.d.). Teach NYC. Retrieved July 14, 2013, from http://www.teachnycprograms.net/getpage.php?page_id=60

2. I actually am unable to find the site for this. Bad me, I know. Once I find it I will add it here!

3. Speech-Language Pathologist- Military Options. (n.d.). CFNC.org- Career Profile. Retrieved July 14, 2013, from https://www1.cfnc.org/Plan/For_A_Career/Career_Profile/Career_Profile.aspx?id=CS4kl9fuQq860zn2wusOXAP2FPAXQXAP3DPAXXAP3DPAX&screen=6

4. Peck, M.  & Lamb , H. (2013, February 01). Student’s Say: Why Take 18 Extra Graduate School Credit Hours?. The ASHA Leader. Retrieved Jusy 14, 2013, from http://www.asha.org/Publications/leader/2013/130201/Students-Say–Why-Take-18-Extra-Graduate-School-Credit-Hours.htm

5. Kinsey, C. (2013, April 15). Student Loan Forgiveness on ADVANCE for Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists. ADVANCE for Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists. Retrieved July 14, 2013, from http://speech-language-pathology-audiology.advanceweb.com/Features/Articles/Student-Loan-Forgiveness.aspx

6. Finding Financial Aid. (n.d.). American Speech-Language-Hearing Association | ASHA. Retrieved July 14, 2013, from http://www.asha.org/students/financial-aid/#Federal_and_State_Education_Programs

7. How to Pay For College. (n.d.). The Debt-Free College Guide – eLearners.com. Retrieved July 14, 2013, from http://debtfree.elearners.com/how-to-pay-for-school/IncentivesSearch.aspx

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!

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!

 

 

What’s Up Wednesday: Organization/Study Methods

3 Apr

As any aspiring professional, or at least I hope, I’m on a mission to gain as much knowledge as I can about my future profession. I want to learn it and retain it, every little bit. I just have some slight issues: note organization and retaining the mass of information. I’m able to remember the gist of things, and most details, but I want to remember it all so I have a great repertoire to draw from. As for organization, my notes from past and current classes are slightly organized in a few folders, but I’d like to have them better filed for reference. So how do I plan about doing these tasks? Here’s what I’ve come up with:

I know I tend to learn by writing, so this may seem tedious for some. But for me, this should lead to positive results:

-Take notes in class and from readings, either in a 5 subject notebook or one notebook for all classes (you’ll see why this doesn’t matter as much later). Star/Highlight anything said multiple times or pointed out by teacher.

-Re-write these notes more neatly, and more organized, in the designated single subject notebook for each class/topic.

  • color code all things that were starred/highlighted from notes: blue for terms/definitions; green for concepts; red for extra information pointed out or that seems important; yellow for assessment/treatment tests and techniques

– When it’s near test time, re-write the notes in a summarized form, with the most important information. This will be used to study for tests (and re-read the full notes a few times as well).

-Make note cards to use for random practice throughout year to stay up-to-date on information.

-Place the single-subject notebooks and any handouts in an accordion folder/ small box for safe keeping and future reference. If there is extra room in single-subject notebook, then rip out pages and place them in a folder with handouts to put in accordion folder. The extra pages can then be used for another subject, and the folder will save space in the accordion folder/box. Be a tree hugger!

I’m hoping that by using this system I can be more well organized and create a way to store/ review information when needed in the future. Hopefully you find this, or an adapted version, helpful for your studies!

What’s Up Wednesday: The SLP’s Role in Bullying

27 Feb

I was perusing through Pintrest earlier, as I do on a regular basis, glancing over new foods and crafts to try, as well as some SLP stuff. That’s when I came across this little ditty, which I think is vital information for a SLP, or anyone working with those who have impediments of any kind. Bullying. Although this brochure mainly pertains to the population of pediatric stuttering patients that are in schools, the general information is relevant to any SLP working with children in a school setting… in fact, I think all SLPs should know this, as medical speech therapy patients, child or adult, will come across some jokes or even bullying, and could use this information. Just knowing that their speech therapist is aware of these non-therapy issues is helpful for patients. (Even teachers and parents need this knowledge about better ways to manage bullying, in my opinion.)

According to Gordon Blood, professionals can use the acronym “STOP IT” to assess, deter and overcome a bullying situation. It goes as follows:

” S- stop the bullying immediately
T-tag and identify the behavior at once
O- offer assistance and social support to the victim
P- present immediate/appropriate consequences for bullying behavior

I- instruct witnesses and bystanders
T- teach students, personnel, parents and friends intervention strategies (Blood, n.d.)”

If we can implement this strategy and hand this poster up in our classes (or entire school), then we are at least taking one step closer to assisting patients who are victims of bullying and teaching others how to act in the situation. We probably can’t erase bullying entirely, but any attempt is better than no attempt!

If you would like more information on stuttering, bullying or stuttering& bullying, then check out the brochure, and the link for The Stuttering Foundation below:

The Stuttering Foundation

Brochure: Bullying & SLPs: Enhancing our Roles as Advocates for Students Who Stutter

Blood, Gordon, PhD. (n.d.) Bullying & SLPs: Enhancing our Roles as Advocates for Students Who Stutter [Brochure]. Memphis, TN: The Stuttering Foundation.

Literacy and Therapy

25 Feb

At first I was a bit apprehensive about taking a class about literacy for my “W’ (Intensive Writing) credits. As with most people, I have my own concept of what literacy is and I just thought we’d be learning about applying literacy to our lives and writing a lot; after all, the class is called “Uses of Literacy.” Maybe we’d just learn how it pertains to reading and writing, I thought… but it’s turned out to be much more than that, which I think is valuable for those who want to be Speech-Language Pathologist or just want to work with children or community projects.

 

It is known that there’s some amount of literacy building in a SLP’s therapy. Some clients has Dyslexia, some are little children still learning how to put the pieces together, some have trouble recognizing the symbols and connecting them with sounds and words. The list can go on. But have you actually thought about the concept of literacy in a broader, more socio-developmental sense? How does the area where one lives affect their literacy and language capabilities? What about identity and literacy. Your literacy can affect who you identify as, and visa versa. There’s also different domains of literacy, including technology, which has created a whole literacy type of it’s own.

 

If we can formulate an idea about how our client’s culture and identity affect language skills, then that could help us understand what approach to take for therapy. Maybe the client is more literate in one domain, like computers, but not as competent  in social “literacy.” Or, perhaps the community and culture surrounding this person and that have cultivated this person into his/her being have given way to a literacy that is different than what you are used to but is the “norm” where that person was brought up. This can be dialect, idioms, how they use language/ use it to express their thoughts, social behavior, etc. You have to be sensitive to all of these things in order to find the perfect piece to complete the therapy jigsaw puzzle. If you don’t account for these types of literacies and try to treat each client with similar problems in the same way, it might not always click. You need to customize it to their level and type of literacy.

 

Maybe you can ask you client some questions, like:

*What are your favorite memories of reading and writing?

*How did you learn to read and write? Did anyone help?

*What are some of your favorite traditions?

*What re some things you like to do in your town/community?

*How do you normally talk to someone (write, talk, sing, …etc)?

*What confuses you about language, reading, writing and speaking?

*When is it difficult for you to understand others, or for them to understand you?

 

Basically, just ask them anything to do with literacy. This can expand from just reading and writing; in fact, it includes much more than that. Try to think of  definition of literacy… does yours reference to sign langauges/body language or how culture, society and events maybe shape one’s literacy? There’s also literacy “events” (like, remembering when you first learned to read a book, or reading/decoding a street sign, eavsdropping and understanding someone’s conversation… basically anything can be a literacy event). Another thing is literacy sponsors… who or what has helped lay the foundation of your language and literacy skills? It can be people, places (school, library, home, travel), or things (books, websites, magazines, technology) or even abstract stuff like dreams,languages and age (your literacy changes as you age) .

 

Hope this helps you customize your therapy plans or understand a new way to tackle some speech and languages issues!

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