If you are anything like me, you have been totally nervous about what to expect from grad school. Grad school is a big commitment, and who knows what we should expect from it?
Honestly, I didn’t think about what it would be like until I was determining which schools to apply to. That’s when I started to ask around and really inquire about what the next two years of my life might entail.
What is SLP grad school like? Here, I have compiled the gist of the SLP grad school experience. Enjoy!
You still take classes, but they become supplemental to what you will be doing in your clinical placements.
All of your classes are now realistic. No more general education classes. No more random electives that ensure a GPA boost. What you will be learning in class will be directly applicable to the clinical setting.
For example, you will learn about:
Case History Questionnaires
All of the various evaluations for speech & language of both children & adults.
Which evaluations to use with which types of patients (i.e., stroke, developmental delays, voice concerns, dysarthria, articulation errors, swallowing difficulties).
Multiple treatment theories and strategies for speech and/or language disordered clients.
How to figure out which parts of the brain/which brain processes may be impaired based on a client’s specific symptoms.
Much, much more!
Clinic will become your main focus.
Whether your school starts out as 1 clinic/semester or 3 clinics/semester, your main focus as a student will begin to shift.
It will shift from wanting to get all ‘A’s to thinking about how that new strategy you learned in class can apply to your Tuesday client.
You will learn how to write lesson plans, SOAP notes, and clinical reflections. You will learn about all the various resources clinicians use, and which games, questionnaires, strategies, etc. work best for certain kinds of clients.
You will also gain a great amount of flexibility.
You will have to let go of total control. As mentioned in the previous section, type A personalities are common amongst us speech pathology students. However, grad school is a whole lot of learning how to be flexible.
Clinic is my favorite part of grad school. You will get hands-on experience with all different types of clients. From kids with articulation concerns to adults with dysphagia, and everything in between. It. Is. Awesome. BUT…
It is impossible to plan a session that will go exactly as expected. Kids won’t always want to play the games you have formed your lesson plan around. Adult clients will have off days and may become frustrated with themselves for not being able to complete their tasks. These situations are where flexibility is key.
Flexibility is definitely a learned skill, and your supervisors will be the first to tell you that. They went through grad school before, too. They are there to show you the ropes and make you comfortable with stepping outside your comfort zone.
There is still time for work, relaxation, and fun.
Yes, you can still hold a job as a grad student. Many grad students have assistantship positions that help with tuition. Many also hold your everyday average student jobs typically held in undergrad. Some also babysit or tutor children within the area for extra money!
Yes, you can still have time for self-care. Most campuses have a workout facility where the cost of entrance is covered in your tuition. These facilities often house classes including yoga, dance, and others to help you de-stress. You can also create your own self-care routine to do daily or weekly at home.
Yes, you can still have fun. Grad schools send out a ton of information about the town they are located in at the beginning of the year. They’ll send you info about various parks, shopping centers, events, festivals, and other forms of entertainment that happen around town.
The graduate student government will hold social events, fundraisers, and networking opportunities for students to attend outside of class. Everyone needs a break from work and school to meet friends and have a good time.
If you are going to a completely new place and don’t know anyone at the new school, don’t worry! There are so many opportunities to meet other grad students.
You will meet some incredible friends. Whether you attend various events around campus or chat with the people who sit around you in class, you WILL make new, amazing friends! You’ll be surprised at how many people in your program are just like you. They have the same passion for helping others, and will also have some surprisingly similar personality traits.
For example, all SLPs are pretty darn type A… there’s just no denying it. Organization, grade/project perfection, ambition… sound familiar?
Let me tell ya, meeting your new class and realizing how much you get along is such an awesome and comforting experience. You will find some friends for life!
Enjoy every moment!