You know those people on TheGradCafé forums or Facebook groups that have stellar stats like 4.0 GPA and 168V/160Q on the GRE and they somehow don´t get into grad school? And then you see another case of someone with a 3.2 GPA and 146V/140Q GRE and they get into 3 of their 5 schools?
Do you ever wonder how that happens?
How exactly do SLP grad schools evaluate applications?
I know I do! Especially now that I´m waiting for my applications to be reviewed.
Something I kept in mind the entire time I was preparing my applications was How do SLP Grad School Evaluate Applications? and I´m hoping maybe this info will help you all out (or at least be of interest).
First, check out why this info is useful
Then, take a look at the First and Second most basic criteria schools use.
Then, let´s look at some Case Studies of specific schools and how they evaluate SLP applications.
Why is this info important?
Why? Because if you know what grad schools are looking for, you know what to show them!
Now, I do not mean to promote application padding or only doing things because you think they´ll get you into grad school.
I mean for you to use this information to reflect on your experiences and find the ones that will be most relevant. Sometimes you´re not sure if you should mention XYZ on your application or you don´t realize how important a certain component is.
So, the first criteria… Likelihood of Academic Success
This is the first and most basic criteria – and it is a powerful one. Basically, schools want to know if you´re going to work hard and be successful as a student.
So, how can you prove this to admissions committees?
Your GPA is typically the biggest predictor of likelihood of academic success (that´s why schools care about it so much!)
If you have a low GPA because of a few rough classes or a rough first year of college, maybe it is worth it to address this (briefly) in your personal statement. Don´t offer excuses – tell a story about what you´ve learned from those failures and then show how you´ve improved!
Academic Letters of Recommendation also play into this. Faculty members (especially those in the Speech & Hearing Sciences) are ideal evaluators of your potential for success.
Finally, another strong indicator of potential for academic success is one´s reading/writing ability which is going to be demonstrated by your GRE Analytical Writing score and your personal statement.
The second criteria… likelihood of success as a Speech Language Pathologist
Some fields are more focused on knowledge for the sake of knowledge, but one of the things I love about SLP is that we want to help people with what we know and learn! So, it stands to reason that most programs will want to know how well you´ll do after you graduate.
In your application, you should find ways to show that you have professional qualities that SLP´s will need. This include things like:
- Strong communication skills (written and oral)
- Good interpersonal skills
- Respect for individuals with diverse abilities
- A desire to serve others
You can show these things in a variety of ways. Your personal statements can allude to these skills as can your resume of previous experiences. Letters of recommendation can also mention these abilities. Finally, your resume is a great and probably underutilized way to incorporate these skills.
Case Study 1: New Mexico State University:
New Mexico State University is a large, public university in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The school is ranked #106th for its SLP program by US News & World Report (in case that matters to you).
They published this 1.5 page PDF document in 2014 explaining (briefly) how they will evaluate applications. Take a look at the original here if you´d like.
Here is a table that basically summarizes how all of their reviewers are instructed to review applications:
Other key insights we can glean from the report include:
- “The undergraduate GPA may be computed on the last 40 hours of coursework in a communication disorders major if appropriate. For students without an undergraduate CD major, only a cumulative GPA will be used.” This is probably good for most CSD majors!
- “At least two of the three letters of reference must be from professors in your major” This really emphasizes how important academic LOR´s are.
- “The GPA rating will be multiplied by a factor of 2” This is good or bad depending on your GPA
The most mysterious and intriguing part of the document is this:
- “The CD Program Graduate Admissions Committee may consider multiple factors in addition to the application for admission score in order to determine who will be admitted to the program.”
What does that mean?
I understand it to mean 2 things:
- That the admissions committee reserves the right to override the other criteria if they think its necessary (based on something particularly outstanding in either direction: history of plagiarism, especially WOW personal statement, perfect GRE´s, etc)
- They consider “other stuff” like interviews; campus visits; “unmentionables” like race, gender, socioeconomic status, etc; gut feelings; social media profiles, etc, etc,
Case Study 2: San Francisco State University
San Francisco State University (SFSU) is a public university in San Francisco, California. SFSU is ranked #84 in SLP according to US News & World Reports.
The department publishes this statement (which I took a screenshot of) in their FAQ´s regarding the five criteria they use to evaluate an application:
Without more specific information on what they look for within each criteria, we can´t really make a complete evaluation chart for this one. BUT, you can review your own applicant profile to ensure that you cover or at least allude to these areas.
Under “Clinical Potential,” there is a link to an Essential Functions Guide which I´ve uploaded for you here. The header at the top says it is from the Council on Academic Programs CSD (CAPCSD). It lists 34 different functions one must be able to perform to be an SLP.
I´ve taken a few highlights for you here…
- Display mature empathetic and effective professional relationships by exhibiting compassion, integrity, and concern for others.
- Self evaluate, identify, and communicate limits of one’s own knowledge and skill to appropriate professional level and be able to identify and utilize resources in order to increase knowledge.
- Modify communication style to meet the communication needs of clients, caregivers, and other persons served.
Wrapping It All Up
I hope these two case studies helped you out. If you find more good info from other schools on how they evaluate applications, please send it to me so I can add more case studies to the blog!
Finally, please use this info to help you in preparing your own applications. Sometimes it is so easy to get stuck in one way of thinking about our own profile that we forget to ask ourselves, “how will the admissions committee see and understand this?”