The SLP and Grad School Admission

Apr 30, 2013 by

The SLP and Grad School Admission

*****Sorry it has been so long since my last submission.  What can I say it’s been one assessment after another.  Thought I saw the light at the end of the tunnel but the tunnel got several assessments longer last week.  Take a look at my article, is this something you’ve heard about?

A friend’s daughter is an undergraduate student in speech language pathology, finishing her junior year.  Yesterday she mentioned that none of the seniors in her daughters program got into grad school.  I was rather surprised at that statistic.  Of coursed she probed be about working as a speech language pathology assistant while waiting to get into grad school.  I explained to her how assistants worked and how they were paid around here.

I think this situation should be a little concerning to all of us.  First, I am a little disappointed for my friend’s child who wants to go on to grad school to become an SLP but will probably have to delay that dream a year or so.  Second, if there are a lot of people holding undergraduate degrees in Speech Language Pathology the assistant jobs might be flooded.  We all know that speech language pathology assistants can not and should not be working without direct supervision from a speech language pathologist.  Schools are also slowly learning that assistants are not always the best bang for the buck.  Reason for this is they have to split the kid services, not to mention assistants do not to testing or paperwork and the therapist still does most of the planning.  Speech therapy assistants will probably make less than a first year teacher.  Not nearly enough to tackle those school loans.  Many of these students may end up waiting tables while waiting to get into grad school.  Third, many school systems are starting to see the light in regards to caseload and workload but they can’t find the therapists to fill there needs.  If there are not enough people graduating from grad programs (a stat I do not have) caseload numbers will remain high.

This may sound absurd but there is also the slight chance that at some point bachelors level training will be accepted.  Especially if they can’t find masters levels Speech Pathologists to fill the void.  Given what is going on in education with lowering the overall standards it’s not as far fetched as you might think.  I doubt ASHA would even get a say in a decision like that.  I attended one of the first combined undergraduate/graduate programs in the country, many many years ago.  Prior to that most SLP’s held bachelor degrees.  Those bachelor level therapists were grandfathered in.

I found this blog article written during the last ASHA Convention What Are My Chances of Getting Into Grad School For SLP?  The statistics were more staggering than I thought (but make sure you read the update at the bottom of the article, many apply to more than one program so the data is skewed making the situation not as bleak).  Based on the data in this article it appears that colleges are being a little reckless, almost promising something they can’t deliver.  I also have to wonder if there is a hidden agenda here.  Why would colleges be preparing so many at the bachelor level when a graduate degree is necessary but unavailable to many?  I know for a fact that my friend was never told the statistics around getting in to grad school for speech language pathology.  If she had I am almost sure her daughter would have considered other avenues or a least a minor degree with some potential.

Despite these statistics, Speech Language Pathology is still considered one of the best professions and is often written up in the media.  Are the statistics really as bad as proclaimed in the article mentioned above?  Perhaps the mainstream media didn’t get the memo.  If you’ve had experience with this please comment below.

18 Comments

  1. Jeanine

    I am a post-bac student in communicative disorders and have almost completed the prerequisites for graduate study, and I was just rejected from all four schools to which I applied this year. The year that I began my post-bac program, they notified us at an orientation meeting just shortly before classes commenced that many of us would not get into graduate school for speech-language pathology, and would have to go into other fields, such as special ed. However, I saw the GPA and GRE information on the persons admitted in previous years and figured I had a good shot. As a post-bac student, I am considered a graduate student and thus pay graduate fees and tuition (more $$$), although I only take undergrad courses. I’ve had several issues with getting the classes I want or NEED, as they have way more students than they can easily accommodate. I had a 3.96 GPA in my courses and a 311 GRE score, but my writing score was only 3.5 (I have a hard time writing under pressure). I still feel that I am a worthy candidate, and I am gaining volunteer experience and studying to retake the GRE before I apply again next year. It’s just so frustrating. I don’t want to be a SLPA, but I’m scared I won’t have a choice if things don’t work out next year. I chose speech-language pathology because I find it fascinating (I fall deeper in love all the time), but also because the prospects seemed great. There was nothing that told me it was anything but a wise decision. Now I am bitter and angry, but I remain determined.

  2. April

    I graduate with my B.A. in December. I contacted one grad program that I was interested in attending, they said they only accepted 2 students last year they were bi-lingual and had a 4.0. Everyone I have spoken to has had a difficult time getting accepted into grad school. It is very discouraging.

  3. Thanks for sharing my post and commenting on the competitiveness. Whatever the statistics, it is so difficult to know whether or not a Bachelor’s degree, a high GPA & GRE score, stellar letter’s of rec, and resume will get you into a graduate program. If the field is something you are passionate about, continue trying. Again, thanks for sharing my post :) Best of luck to other #slp2b

  4. Teresa Sadowski MA/SLP-ccc

    I really don’t know if being passionate about becomming a Speech Language Pathologist is worth continuing to try for. There are so many other avenues to take in education. Not many people can sit around and wait to get into grad school while life passes them by. It’s not like you are trying to get into a field that will assure fiancial gain, infact just the opposit. I am at the top of my field, as far as I can go in the public school setting and I am only a little bit better off than someone working only a few years. I couldn’t do this for a living if I didn’t have a husband making significantly more. I believe a lot of educators are in the same position. Yes working with the kids is rewarding but the lack of respect is only something I’ve recently been able to roll off my back. In fact I now leave jobs when respect for my skills is lacking or the position is not included as part of the team.
    Every year not getting into a grad program you are up against more and more people trying to get in. I am all for healthy competition and I don’t believe spots should be given away. However, when looking at SLP programs these stats should be given out and my guess is they’re not.
    I guess what I am saying is honestly Speech Language Pathology has been a good field for me but given the cost of college, I’m not sure the 4 year gamble is really worth it. I also find it very hard to believe that more grad school spots cannot be created. I also think ASHA should keep more tabs on this issue and encourage colleges to create more spots. Does anyone know if that is happening?

  5. Teresa Sadowski MA/SLP-ccc

    I received this comment from Maggie but was unable to publish from the site due to a glitch in the blog. Here is what she had to say. Thank you Maggie for taking the time to share your story.

    Comment:
    I graduated in 2008 with my BA in COMD. I applied to 6 schools and didn’t get in anywhere. I had a slightly below average GRE, a 3.9 in both my core classes and gen Ed courses, great letters of ref, great letter of intent, and extra curricular/volunteer activities. As upset and discouraged as i was, rather than sulk and just give up on this career goal, I decided to get my SLP-A license. Then in a few years, reapply to grad school after gaining practical real-world experience.

    I’ve worked as a SLP-A, managing a caseload of 32 clients, in a private clinic for 3 years this July. I finally decided that I was ready to endure the admissions process for graduate school again. I took a GRE prep class but only managed to improve my writing score. This was going to be my second attempt and probably my final attempt to get into grad school. I broadened my range of programs to apply to, looking all over the country. I also doubled the number of programs I applied to from round 1. Well I ended up being rejected from 8, wait listed at 6, and accepted at 2. Of the two I was accepted at, one was in face to face interview. I really think having the interview helped me immensely.

    I think more programs need to go the interviewing route for admissions. They have no idea what type of candidtate they are really getting by judging you off pieces of paper. I know the program I got into said they conducted interviews so they could find individuals who would be a good fit with the faculty and other potential students. A friend of mine, who graduated from Southern Illinois University in Illinois’ graduate SLP program, said their program ended up with groups of students in the past that just didn’t cohesively flow well. While they don’t do interviews, they have played a lot with their admissions criteria. One year they take a mix of students the next they take students with really high GPA/GRE or the opposite end of that spectrum. If programs would interview their applicants, they could see for themselves individuals communication, critical thinking, and writing skills first hand. I was asked a variety of questions that required adequate communication a
    nd critical thinking skills. I also was given an on-the-spot writing prompt and 5mintues.

    I think there are a lot of reasons why it’s so difficult to get into graduate school. First, programs are small and I read that this is due to there being a shortage of PhD level faculty members. Then since master level programs are so competitive, obviously it’s expected that there would be limited PhD level SLPs. However, I found programs that range from class sizes of 15 to 60. University of Texas at Dallas admits 60 students. The program I got into accepted 40. Second, I feel that, in my expeirence, a lot of programs take a good majority of their own undergraduate students. I applied Governors State University in IL. I even met with the program director to ask questions and give my file a face to remember. Well I was wait listed then rejectd. When I asked why,I was told that I had a strong file but there were a lot of strong candidates (typical general vague blanketed statement). When I asked how to make my file stronger, I was told to take grad classes as a s
    tudent at large at their school to “become more familiar with their program”. That basically told me they prefer their own students.

    As far as there possibly being an overflow of SLP-As due to students not getting into masters level programs, I think it just depends what state you live in. For example, I received my assistance license in IL and they only have 1 program in the entire state. I know there is a need for assistants, especially in the early intervention program in Illinois. It is hard to come by jobs though unless you want to do only home visits (early intervention). I was lucky to have found my job in a clinic. Jobs in the schools are scarce and private clinic jobs are just as difficult to find. However, if you don’t get into grad school the first time,I think it’s a wise decession to go the assistant route, gain practical experience, network a little with other therapists, and then go after graduate school again. If you truly love the field, you’ll do whatever it takes to somehow be involved in it, even if it’s not ideal at the time.

    Being an assistant has taught me a lot about the field and solidified my decession to pursue graduate school. As I said earlier, I manage a caseload of 32 clients and do home visits through early intervention. I write daily SOAP notes, 6-month progress notes, assist in implementing evaluations, and participate in co-disciplinary treatment sessions. As an assistant, at least in Illinois, I am required to be supervised every 10 weeks with 1hr per client. I think it comes out to roughly 10-20% direct supervision and 5% indirect supervision. Needless to say, I am relatively independent at work. It is a good avenue to take if you are serious about graduate school but can’t get in the first time, yet you still want to be active in the field. This will give you a realistic idea of what it would be like to be a fully licensed speech language pathologist.

    Don’t give up on your career dream! Apply EVERY WHERE and make sacrifices, if you’re able to. It’s only for two years. I graduated from undergrad in 2008 and will begin grad school this September 2013, 5 years later! I never gave up and gave it my all. If you really want this career, you’ll find a way to get there. A few helpful tips, look for programs with larger class sizes, inquire about going in for an interview, schools that don’t require a specific GRE score, and new programs. New SLP programs may not have had as much publicity yet and the number of applicants may be lower ths typical. GOOD LUCK!

    • Angela

      Hi, I was wondering where do you for a SLPA license? Do you get paid? is it enough to make a living?

      • Teresa Sadowski MA/SLP-ccc

        I really have no idea about the process. There use to be courses set up to train SLPA’s but these days most are people who have a bachelors degree in speech language pathology and have not completed a graduate program. Most schools will pay fairly well but not close to a teachers salary.
        Teresa

      • Maggie

        Angela,

        I received my SLPA training from the College of DuPage in Illinois. They have a specific program for SLPAs. I’m sure the training varies from state to state though. I received an associate’s degree in applied science concentrating in speech-language pathology. This enabled me to receive my SLPA license. As far as pay goes and making a living, it all depends on who/where you work. I worked for a private clinic and made enough to live comfortably independently.

      • Emily Garcia

        Some community colleges or even universities have SLPA programs. The CC have AA degrees that you get with your license. If you already have a BA, all you need are a few classes and your clock hours.

        I graduated in 2005 from community college with my SLPA.
        I received my BA in 2007. I applied to various universities and rejected from ALL of them. I dedicated myself to being the best SLPA I could possibly be. I worked in private practice, charter schools, K-12, in home birth -3. I gained sooo much knowledge.
        I finally decided to apply again and was accepted to graduate school.
        If you need help with finding SLPA schools or even need advice of what it is to be a SLPA, i can help.
        -emily

        • Teresa Sadowski MA/SLP-ccc

          Hi Emily,
          Could you mention the state you are in. I know the SLPA program at our rather large community college was dropped years ago.
          Thanks for taking the time to respond.
          Teresa

  6. Teresa Sadowski MA/SLP-ccc

    Here is another reply I received from S. who is both a speech language pathologist and the mother of a an SLP grad student. She offers a very unique perspective.
    On Wed, May 1, 2013 at 2:03 PM, S wrote:
    My daughter finally got into grad school in a small school in Georgia this past fall. She applied to many schools for three years and spent many hundreds of dollars applying. We are from Indiana and I am currently working as an SLP in the schools. Indiana does not have a caseload cap and I currently have 92 students on my caseload. We have several speech assistants that get hourly wages and no benefits. Our school system and all of the ones surrounding us have many openings for SLPs and no one to fill them. A school system near us is offering a 20,000 sign on bonus if the slp will stay for five years. I graduated many years ago from a speech program that allowed you to work in the schools after a BS degree. I think we need to go back to this model. Perhaps for slp’s wanting to work in early chilhood and the school setting there could one program and if you wanted a more medical model then it could be another program. At this time I don’t think a slp is prepared adaquately for either model. Thank you for allowing me to vent. S

    • bisugi

      I am currently in a grad program and it is terrible. I regret having spent any money or time in pursuit of this endeavor. I am at the point where I could continue to go on with consistently poor instruction or stop. There are so many girls in my program and the supervisors are so busy and overworked. The supervisors do not want to take any additional time to help someone in the way that they need it if they don’t get something the first time around 100% after a brief exposure to it. These grad programs are sending people through without them having appropriate clinic skills which is crucial to the job. The bulk of focus is on classwork, which the grad students have a hard time balancing with clinic, essentially leaving both areas with a knowledge gap. It is so sad. So many in my program go from cramming for tests to poorly preparing for therapy sessions. When asked if they know what to do with other clients with other types of disorders, even though they’ve had classwork in this area, they don’t know what to do. I’m getting a “drive thru” education and it is shameful. I would not want any of my classmates working with any family member, because the majority of them don’t know what they are doing…It would have been a blessing in disguise if I were not accepted into this horrible program. Something has got to change with this field, which appears desperate for therapists, but really is mostly the case for school placements…many classmates who just graduated can’t find jobs in any other area but school therapy.

      • Teresa Sadowski MA/SLP-ccc

        I am sorry to hear you are having such a terrible experience. If you feel this strongly about your program I would suggest you write a strong but calm letter to the American Speech Hearing and Language Association, expressing your concerns. Grad school is suppose to be challenging and independent but also is suppose to provide a comfortable level of guidance. I would first suggest discussing the situation with you program advisor and explain your concerns. As I’ve gotten older, I tend to confront work related issues head on rather than letting them fester.

        Teresa

  7. bisugi

    The schools want money and don’t care if it comes in the form of undergrad or grad money- as long as it’s cold hard cash. . The money appears to secure the university employment positions and research that some profs do. It is sad but true. The undergrad money is the steady stream… the school knows what it is doing and it will continue to get away with it; almost anyone can declare a speech/hearing degree and they know well that not everyone can go on… It is an evil, flawed system that needs to be set up to where you go in and take all the classes you truly need at the undergrad level and do clinic at this level- not just observe professionals. It is set up to put the universities in a comfy position so that they can justify their existence and continue to take money; what they truly do best.

  8. Rico

    Hi… so I reached this site totally on random while reading some ASHA articles (I meant I searched on Google; this site isn’t linked to ASHA at all) and basically I’m very encouraged by the post and the replies on this thread. I think one question I have is… I’m a male post-bac Comm Disorder student and will be applying for grad school this coming fall to hopefully start grad school in the Fall of 2014, and as much as I hate pulling the male card out… is it REALLY true that male prospective students get much more weight in all this? Also, for those who are in grad school, how many guys are actually in your cohort? Where do males fit in this entire world of SLP’s? I have volunteered and worked in a few speech therapy environment and have probably only met 1 male SLP who have been in the field for about 8 years. Other than that, everyone else that I’ve met are females! (not that I have an issue w/ that =P)

    • Teresa Sadowski MA/SLP-ccc

      Hi Rico
      I really don’t know if males have an advantage over females when it comes to getting into grad school. I would think that most programs would want a guy or two in the program if possible. However, I’m under the impression that getting into grad school is so competitive that you’d also have to have the grades, recommendations, experiences and a killer essay. I’ve glanced at a couple article on the male SLP subject one is listed below.
      While almost all my professors in the early 80ies were older men with advanced degrees. I never even knew to question how much actual clinical experience they had. There were two women who ran the clinical aspects of the program. I think in over 28 years I’ve worked with or consulted with only a couple of male SLP’s, one just recently. I have a few opinion on why this happens. It’s really the same for teaching in general, way more women than men. First of all until recently girls were often directed toward nursing or teaching as the only career choices possible. Honestly the schedules for both these professions are usually predicitable and a little flexible. People in education may make decent money but think about it, there is little to no room for advancement based on performance alone, no salary increase for doing a stellar job, not a chance in the world of receiving a bonus (although some charter schools are starting to do this) and other than an occasional pizza lunch or a parent generated pot luck no perks at all. In private practice and in hospital clinics it might have a little better structure for advancement in position and pay but not much better. A lot of women stay in the teaching profession because they carry the benefits for their families. I know very few teachers who are single throughout their careers. I believe that if this was a male dominated profession, things would be very different.
      Good luck, I hope being a guy does give you a bit of an edge, but I still work on that killer essay.

      Teresa

      Why the Scarcity of Male SLPs—and What Can Be Done

    • T

      Rico – I am in the same boat as you and have started to apply to a few graduate schools for SLP. I am also a male and hope that my gender and multi-linguistic background will be in my favor. A SLP coordinator told me that if I don’t get into the school I want to go to, I should apply to schools that offer the graduate degree in SLP but also, look for the competativeness in that program. Online school is also another way to get the degree, as there are many college/universities that offer the MS in SLP via disatant education. On a different note, Nova Southeastern University offers the program via online and does not require GREs.

      • Teresa Sadowski MA/SLP-ccc

        I would be very interested in knowing how you both make out with Grad school. Just curious, how does an online program do practicums?

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