Finding schools to apply to

A few things to consider when determining what schools to apply to

Your cohort size, the ratio of faculty to students, your supervisor and professors areas of expertise, thinking about what is the main focus of your program, in my case its most definitely research based, and also thinking about what other opportunities they offer. Do they have any special programs that you’re interested in? Also its important to consider where your school is, in my case its in the DMV area which is amazing because we have so many different opportunities to work with different types of populations and have a variety of outplacements to choose from. The cost of living and also if your program gives any assistantships, scholarships or financial help. Luckily everyone in our program received some type of assistantship whether it was within or at the university. I

It is of most importance to review the faculty of the school you’re applying to. This will tell you a lot. Especially take note of the clinical supervisors, they are the ones that are going to supervisor your clients so they might not take on clients outside of their speciality areas.

If you’re interested in doing Aphasia, then look for schools that have some supervisors that specialize in Aphasia. Keep in mind however, that you may go into graduate school thinking you want to do one thing and come out first semester not knowing what you want to do! That is my case, I know what I definitely don’t want to do.

Lastly, find some current students and talk to them! Ask them questions and get some first insider details that only they would be able to provide!





My First Semester of Graduate School


It felt like I was going to die? Is that a good way to commence a blog post for aspiring students? Yes. Its realistic.

With that said, I did have a 20 hour GA that I juggled with my already full course load. Graduate school is hard, but for all the right reasons. You learn a-lot in an a small allotted time frame, you have REAL people as clients that you feel this sense of obligation towards and somehow you’re expected to balance your personal life, clinic and academics. Its a-lot to handle. This post would be the most efficient if I came up with some lists, Ten Things I’ve Learned, Ten Things I Wish I Had Done Sooner and the Ten Things I Couldn’t Have Survived Without.

So lets go!

The 10s.

Ten Things I’ve Learned

  1. ADVOCATE for yourself and for your sanity. What do I mean by this, I mean, if you are overwhelmed and you need an extension on something ask for it, your supervisors are a-lot more understanding then you give them credit for. It will avoid any miscommunications and also maybe put into perspective things that are happening not only to you but to other students, you’re not alone. It might also make you realize that your priorities aren’t lining up, its normal, you’re not supposed to have it all together the first few weeks.
  2. When in doubt, ask your Cohort, you’ll be surprised at the information they can pull out of you and that they can pull out of thin air. Sometimes you just need someone to bounce ideas off of. There were so many times when I felt stuck on what to do in therapy or when I didn’t get something and they were always there, breaking things down and sometimes helping me overcome my own mental blocks. Plus they are all so smart and talented, you wouldn’t be in graduate school with them if that wasn’t the case.
  3. No one understands you except your Cohort. This couldn’t be truer, its that simple. Not even your spouse will understand why you’re ranting about something that happened a day ago, but if you text your cohort members, they get it and they are right there with you.
  4. Your Clients are Angels sent from Heaven to assist you in becoming a better Clinician. They understand that they are at an Academic teaching center, they get it. They aren’t nearly as fragile or scared of you messing up, they get it. They’ve most likely been through the process if they are seasoned clients and are open to helping you out as much as you are helping them out. They know you don’t have it all together but they know that you care more than most people do and that you’re going to work your ass off to make sure that you give them your best.
  5. You may think you’re going to die, but you probably just need food and sleep. There is nothing that food and just some sleep can solve. Seriously, take a nap. There were times were I just couldn’t think anymore but I was so adamant about powering through that I wasn’t taking care of the basics.
  6. No one knows a damn thing. That person in your class who seems like they have it together? Yeah they aren’t saying anything because they are shit scared like you’re. If anyone knew what they were doing they wouldn’t be in graduate school. Period.
  7. Find the strengths in your cohort and find your own strengths, everyone is good at different things. Rely on each other for those things. I had a girl in my class who was a linguist, she was a bad ass, someone else was good at Kid things, and someone had so much experience with autism, rely on these people and use their strengths. More than likely they are good at these things because they enjoy them!
  8. Turn things in on time. Do your best to turn things in on time, one, you’ll get more feedback and two, you wont get the reputation of being that student who didn’t turn in their things on time. It also helps you fly beneath the radar. I on the other hand, was that not the person who turned in things on time and I did catch heat for it. Lesson learned. It really boils down to maintaining  your professionalism as a student.
  9. Always keep:  1. Some type of pain medication, 2. Snacks, 3. Caffeine and 4. a frozen meal just in case. You have no idea how many times these things will be asked for, and even if they aren’t for you its nice to know that you can help someone else. In turn, trust me, these people will be there for you as well.
  10. Let your guard down, and don’t take yourself so seriously. Graduate school is fun if you make time to laugh and just realize how messed up your life is.

Ten things I wish I had done sooner

  1. Consistently worked out. Seriously. Even if it was for fifteen minutes a day, It was so hard to think about fitness but I think it would have helped my mental state of being.
  2. Trusting myself and being sure of who I was. Once I was more comfortable and was myself during sessions I noticed that I could start building my relationships with my client, which in retrospect is the most important aspect of clinic.
  3. Eating healthy. LOL. Grad school is a pitfall of chips, bad food and cookies. Its hard not to crave sweets when your entire life is stressful.
  4. Requested more feedback. You can never have enough feedback. When my supervisors made it optional to meet with them I thought it was the best thing in the world, I wish I hadn’t given up that time to talk to them, even if it wasn’t about my clients.
  5.  Scoped out some good resource websites, I found some way too late! They could have saved my life.
  6. Checked out the materials cabinet and its full range of inventory. Too late did I find out that we had a hungry hippos! I think the problem was that most people kept things in their box and you just never knew it existed!
  7. Bought a laminator for home. Yeah. It was great. I could prep at home, in my PJs and live some kinda of home life, even if it meant that I was just cutting and laminating things out.
  8. GOOGLE CALENDAR reigns supreme. Seriously. You’ll need a way to keep a tab on everything you do, it definitely helped to plan things out.
  9. Pretending I knew everything. Yeah. You don’t know JS and that is fine, pretending to always have it together is exhausting. When I just let myself be a mess I felt a-lot better.
  10. That there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  I wish I had seen it earlier. There were times were I just felt so exhausted I lost track of what the goal was, just being a first semester student. You know nothing, no one expects anything else of you and its okay to make mistakes. This was the hardest thing to learn.

Ten Things I Couldn’t have Survived Without 

  1. Recorder. Get one, it will save you when you need to listen to your session at the end of the night because you blanked out, due to sleep depravation, on collecting data.
  2. A white board and dry erase markers. There are so many activities you can do with a white board and dry erase markers, its limitless. It was the best tool!
  3. A watch, you’ll need one to see as the minutes of your life waste away. No, but seriously, you’ll be spending most of your time in these drab rooms with no clocks and no sense of time.
  4. A portfolio, to look professional of course because no one should know its empty like your dreams of success. No but seriously, a nice portfolio, preferably one where you can stuff papers into, because you know, being an SLP means that you have to print out ten million things and kill god knows how many trees.
  5. Some kind of family support, for me it was my husband, for others just someone that you can have on your side that can remind you of how smart you’re and why you’re doing this in the first place. You’ll need someone who gives you, as we say in spanish fanfaria, which translates to fanfare, or someone who is yelling ” YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH WOOOOOooooOOO”.
  6. Having a few tote bags. These are nice to pre assemble your materials for individual sessions so you can just pre arrange them and go on hectic days.
  7. Making your materials last, yeah it seems like a pain in the ass to have to laminate everything and put velcro on things but I can’t tell you the amount of times I have reused my materials! All because I spend a few extra minutes making sure they were durable.
  8. My cohort- for asking questions, for support, for materials, for ideas. I mean these girls are a well of information. Make a few good friends, open up to them and build yourself a fort of trust and support. Invest in these relationships, go out of your way to help one another and just watch how they are going to be there for you when shit seems impossible. You’ll also want to go out and enjoy some sort of life, its great to do this with them, so you can bitch and rant about things that no one else gets.
  9. One good supervisor. You don’t need them to all like you, but find the one you vibe with the most and make a conscious effort to nurture this relationship. You’re going to need someone that believes in you and someone that you can go to incase something happens.  I had something happen to me this semester that I needed the support of my supervisors and faculty about, but that is for another blog!
  10. Food. Snacks. Food. Snacks. Food. Diet Dr. Pepper, Diet Coke Zero, Food. Pretty much just having food around that is portable and on the go. There can’t be enough said about just having something to eat or snack on, most of time that you feel like you’re going to punch someone, its probably because you’re hangry.

And when the semester finally ends, you’ll be in disbelief, mostly by the fact that if someone asks you some kind of speech related question you can probably bullshit your way through it whereas before you really had no clue. You’ll also be surprised by the friendships you made and the high and lows that a human can experience in a span of a short semester. You might also definitely either be surprised by the amount of weight you’ve gained if you didn’t take into account my things I learned bullets about eating healthy and working out, for me that was 7 pounds, for my friend she lost like 10! Stress affects different people differently, I am envious of her. Lastly, you’ll be glad that you made it and didn’t give up! Apparently its all easier from here on out and you should feel like a seasoned student at this point with some sort of knowledge about the general workings of your department and the temperance of your superiors, e.g. Mrs. so and so, I can turn that in late, Mr. So and so, yeah I need to have that in like now. It helps when attempting to plan out what from your list of ten million things you’re not even going to get to that day.

Good Luck to you all and feel free to shoot me an email if you’re looking for some motivation or just have general questions.

Forever a servant to the people,


Master Clinician/Pre-Reqs


Besides currently working three jobs I also had to take some pre-reqs before entering graduate school in the fall, both-HESP 417: Principles and Methods in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology and HESP 313, 422, or equivalent: Neurobiology for Speech and Hearing.

Being out-of-state has been painful and taking these two classes at UMD would put me out a total of about 4 grand….shriek..that is what nightmares are made of.

So, I decided to get on the grad cafe forum to search for some online equivalents I could take. It would be less expensive and it would offer some flexibility which given my most recent circumstances would really help with life.

I ended up finding out about and enrolling in Longwood University Online Program which offered both PCSD 489:  Introduction to Clinical Practice and PCSD 455: Neurology for Human Communication which were both approved as equivalents. WOOO HOOOOO!!

Here the website if youre intersted in checking it out:

The cost also would be about 2k instead of 4…that is called a win when you’re paying out-of-pocket for your own classes hence why I work three jobs.

It was through Longwoods Clinical Practice class that I found out about the website Master Clinician. Most of my previous observation hours were done in a hospital setting. I was a bit uneasy and worried that I had not been exposed to the entire scope of an SLPs practice, especially since I mostly observed adults and not children.  Master Clinician allows you to watch pre recorded therapy session online and its been amazing. It has been a great experience and there are a variety of videos. You can search specific types of sessions-AAC, children, adults, TBI etc. whatever your heart desires. The cost was 35.00 for the year if you’re a student and thus far it has been a great experience. The best part is that you can watch from any device at your own convenience. I’ve even watched some sessions while working out on the elliptical.

If you’re looking for somewhere to get some more hours of observation or just want to gain some more experience with other types of therapy sessions and techniques Master Clinician is a great resource. There are a lot of comments you can read from other students and many of the therapists tell you there objectives and give you a history of the client they are working with in their summary or during the videos.

The classes at Longwood have also been great and they are flexible enough to study on my own time.

Besides that the summer in DC is getting HOT and I started working at the school speech and hearing clinic which is in itself has become a  learning experience. As the summer creeps by I continue my summer reading list-I’ve added about four other books to my list and they have all been insightful , informative and overall great reads. I recently bought a shirt from politics and prose-my favorite bookstore- that reads ” so many books so little time”, that sums up my summer reading, I’ve devoured four books and bought another five 🙂



Pre Grad School Summer Reading List- The SLP edition 

After being accepted to Graduate School this year, 

 -I can imagine like everyone- 

I went to the forum boards to find out what I could do to prepare.

I think most, for the most part,  are over achievers and will  do anything and everything to have a leg up on our course work. 

The ambiguity and suspense of it all serves as the driving force. 

What should we be doing? 

Should we be reading?

Should we be working more?

Should we be learning something? AHHHHHHHHH


Well after hours of scurrying , going through grad cafe forums and talking to current and former students  they all seemed to have one big message.


Well, that was uneventful.


That’s really hard to do if you’ve been working your butt off like I have to get into graduate school.

It’s really hard to do. 

I did find that there were a lot of book suggestions to read before starting and books that were assigned in graduate courses. 

Finally an activity that fills my need to do something and simultaneously serves to RELAX me. 

I begin my journey to relaxation and  compiled a list,  so far Its been great and definitely insightful. I am actually learning things too, even if it’s how to better relate to future clients. 

So drum roll please!

Here is the list of books I am reading this summer in no particular order.

Schuyler’s Monster: A Father’s Journey with His Wordless Daughter by St. Martin’s Griffin

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death by Jean Dominique Bauby 

Where is the Mango Princess? A Journey Back from Brain Injury by Cathy Crimmins

Look me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s by John Elder Robinson 

So far I’ve finished ” Where is the Mango Princess?” and started “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”. 

 I’ll be posting follow-up blogs on each novel with some tad bits and reviews. 

So far, “Where is the Mango princess?” has served as an insight into a patient’s and his families perspective and journey with TBI! 


FINALLY-I got into Grad School!

Currently living on cloud-9

When I decided three years ago to change my career I felt lost. Deciding not to pursue medical school was hard, especially since my family had really pushed me to do so for so long. I felt I was disappointing them but after working in the ED, being a medical assistant and a scribe for so long, it lost its appeal and glamour. Being a doctor is anything but glamorous and although romanticized, its hard work. Unless you’re very passionate about medicine it a lot of long hours with little reward all while working against a system that seems to over work you.

I married one-a doctor, and he actually loves what he does which is why he is able to endure the 87 hour-long weeks.  He is passionate about helping others, loves neurology and went into medicine for all the right reasons. Some other physicians I’ve met are miserable, went into it for the wrong reasons and hate their lives. This is what I realized three years ago when I finally decided to close the door on pursuing medicine. I kept putting off applying, either because I felt I wasn’t ready or that I needed to retake my MCAT, it was always something and I instead hid myself by working and telling myself that I was getting experience and that when I was ready I would apply.  The reality was that I  wasn’t happy with the work I was doing in the medical field and I was watching first hand the truth of being a physician,  I spend most of my day trailing behind the doctor while we saw patients all day. I decided to soul search and really look for something I was passionate about and for the first time in my life I had someone who supported me and encouraged such growth without boundaries or refrain, my husband. He was really the first person that told me I should follow my heart and that if I didn’t want to go to medical school it was okay, that it didn’t mean I was a failure. For so long I had been scared of what others would think, why didn’t she just apply, why didn’t she want to be a doctor, doesn’t everyone want to be a physician? Are you a doctor? lol it seems like being a doctor makes you some kind of protegé, society really romanticized a job that is very tough, demanding and doesn’t reward those who dedicate their lives to helping others.

Then one day while you know, searching the internet for jobs, I stumbled upon speech language pathology. It had never even crossed my mind but it included all the things I was passionate about, neurology, research, clinical work, language..I could go on. I decided that I would apply to a post bacc program and get my  pre-reqs. We moved to baltimore-where my husband matched to residency and while working full-time attended night school.I worked my ass off, made all A’s and if you’ve read my previous blog, was straight up rejected the first time I applied.

For about eight years now I’ve felt like I’ve been in this black hole, with this cloud hovering over me that was constantly telling me, get your shit together. I am going to be thirty this year, and I know that it’s not supposed to be a big deal and it doesn’t feel like it but its hard when I look at my peers and they all seem to be excelling in their careers. When I learned that I was accepted at one of the top 10% SLP programs in the country, I felt this great sense of relief. I’ve been on cloud nine since then. All my insecurities and feelings of not being good enough have melted away but I also realize that it just didn’t happen for me, I worked hard and I’ve made a lot of sacrifices, including not having children, these sort of things, moving away from home, sacrificing having a full time job-I am a part-time nanny. It was hard-working forty hours and doing night school, it was hard working part time and doing research and its been hard to keep myself motivated while being rejected to my face. It’s really a testament to endurance and setting goals. But most importantly to the thought that we should follow our hearts, I knew while doing pre-med in undergrad that it didn’t seem like it was the right thing for me, but I let others influence me and made it feel like it was my choice. I also let the burden of disappointing others get in the way of my own happiness. I can’t change anything but if I could tell my younger self something it would be like, ” its okay to make mistakes and be afraid but you just have to try” or ” step out of your comfort zone and speak up for yourself, you’ll be okay .

I am not nervous about starting grad school because I feel like this is what I love and this is what I want and who I am supposed to be. I haven’t felt to certain and motivated about something ever, well something that wasn’t food at least.

I’ve made it and now I will have more relevant things to talk about, which puts me over the moon. I can change my name from aspiring graduate student  to actual grad student. *Jaw drop.

*shrieks and that goal I’ve been writing in my journal for the past three years that read -get into grad school  can finally be crossed off. I’ve moved onto a new goals-getting a graduate assistantship, presenting at ASHA and getting into the cultural and linguistic diversity program. Cheers to the next three years.

For those who stumble across my blog to find my stats for being admitted to UMD: GPA: 3.8 Post Bacc from Loyola Maryland, GRE: 157V, 152 Q, 4.5 W, have eight years of clinical experience,  3 years of research experience including the last year doing research with Dr. Gordon-Salant at UMD,  Bilingual with an emphasis on diversity within the field.



George Washington University Open House-Speech Language Pathology

Speech Language Pathology Open Houses

Open houses are an opportunity for students to get to know faculty and an institution better, they are usually open anywhere from Dec-March and you can sign up for them on the schools website. I strongly encourage anyone to attend if they are interested in a program, it really helps to solidify or even change your mind on a certain program.

If you were like me you wonder, what should I wear? How should I look? What should I do and what should I prep for?

I was really lost when it came to knowing the protocol or what to really expect from an open house. I did however know that it was a good way to meet faculty, ask questions, learn about the program and to “see if it was a good fit for me” the default answer I was always given when asked about open houses.

I only applied to two schools this round of applications due to my constraints on moving, GWU and UMD. My husband is a neurology resident and this had made it almost impossible to move.

GWU-George Washington University located in Foggy bottom ranks #39 according to U.S News and World Report which ranks a variety of things including school.  A lot of the appeal of GWU is the reputation that follows the name. The school itself is prestigious and you can rest assured that most people have heard of GWU or at least have some idea that it’s in Washington, D.C.

The day itinerary consisted of sitting in for half of the  first years class lecture that morning followed by a Q & A with the admissions board and then a tour of their clinic and a private session where you could ask more questions. It was great to see the first year class and to actual see how diverse their program is. The professor was great and the students seemed very engaged and happy, sometimes that always strikes you as positive.

So if you’re like me,  you have a list of things you need to know in order to feel somewhat prepared and less anxious about the whole thing,  in no particular order:

  1. OMG what should I wear?
  2. Who will be there ?
  3. Should I practice an introduction?
  4. What questions should I ask?
  5. What information should I know?
  6. Who should I talk to?
  7. How do I make my interest in the school known?

1. OMG What should I wear?

The story of my life, google?

The answer is really simple, keep it business casual. After having visited several different open houses I can say you should dress to impress. Maybe its my own judgements but I always seem to notice the other students who look well put together. I would suggest not wearing uncomfortable shoes, last year when touring Howard they took us on a long walk and I can imagine that wouldn’t have been comfortable. Also please restrain yourself from wearing perfume, you usually end up in a small room and I can see how that would be obnoxious, especially for someone like myself who is allergic to perfume.

I wore a button up dress shirt, slacks and some wedges, kept it light with the jewelry and makeup and wore my hair down.

2. Who will be there? 

Faculty and other interested students and if you’re lucky the admissions board or at least someone who sits on the admission board. The other students always seem as nervous and unsure about the entire thing, I’ve met a few cool people at open houses and it’s always nice to strike up a conversation with someone while you wait around. Usually before the whole thing starts , wouldn’t suggest this during the open house, that would be rude.

What always surprises me is all the students who travel from far away to come to a school. Very cool.

3. Should I practice an introduction?

Yes. GWU and most open houses I’ve gone to either start or end or ask somewhere in the middle about you, your name, what interested you in speech and what interested you about their particular program.

So yes, practice, the first time I was caught off guard and felt kinda silly for mumbling on about something, now I have some sort of idea about what I want to say so I am less nervous.

GWU in particular was more intimidating than a lot of the open houses I attended, I noticed that they give you name tags and glance at them a lot during the process. When they take you to the smaller rooms in the clinic, for the second part of the questions, they all had a packet and it seemed that when you asked questions or made conversation they would write something down by your name. I think it’s also a way for them to get to know their applicants. It a great way for them to get to know you and for you to make an impression.

4. What questions should I ask? 

I would suggest bringing a small notebook or paper and pen and noting down some things during their presentation. Every school usually goes through sections, talks about their program and anything unique about their school.

GWU open house, the three times I’ve gone, usually hands out a copy of their courses and goes through sections about funding, the length of their program, their clinics etc and ask if anyone ha any questions in between these.

I did learn that they expanded their program this year and that they will be taking double the amount of students that they did last year.They are hiring all new faculty and have adjusted their funding which is super exciting.

It’s important to have a general list of questions that you want to know from all programs like:

  • How does funding work?
  • How many students do they fund from their incoming class?
  • Are there any GA’s available, if so how do students get those? For GWU in particular they are based on merit and you apply for those when you apply for the school whereas UMD there are GA’s on the campus in other departments that you could potential apply for.
  • What is the student to faculty ratio?
  • Do they offer opportunities to do research? If that is something that interested you
  • Is there a thesis option?
  • Do they have an in-house clinic and how do their externships work?
  • What is their PRAXIS passing rate, CFY and employment after graduate rates?
  • What makes your school program unique, or what draws the student to choosing this program over others? -one of my favorite questions

Asking questions is a great way to distinguish yourself and to seem really interested and knowledgeable about what you’re talking about. Most of the information for any program is really available online so its good to take a look and make sure you know about their program.

5. What information should I know?

You should do research before attending any open house. GOOGLE IS YOUR FRIEND. Find out who their faculty is , what they do , what do they do research in, where are they from?

More than likely these faculty members will come by and either talk or say hi or sit in on your questions sessions. It would also be important to identify with someone who does research in something you’re interested in. A lot of schools welcome you to come talk to faculty after the open house, get to know them or pull them aside to ask a few questions.

What interested me the most in GWU was that they actually have 8 clinics that students rotate in. Apparently its one of few or the only clinic in the country that offers this. It’s a unique experience for students because they get to see and experience a lot of different cases and scenarios they might not experience at another school. Also because GWU is in DC you get exposed a variety of cultures and people. The diversity of the population really make it a selling point and a great program to be a part of.

6.Who should I talk to?

Everyone that you have an opportunity to talk to. It may seem like you don’t want to be a  brown noser but its your only chance to really get to talk to someone from the school. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask someone if you can email them later if you have any other questions. The faculty at GWU was amazing, they were so open to questions about anything really, even including living in the area, the city and the people and favorite places for lunch.

GWU had two different session for questions, one with everyone and then they split us up into people who were interested in the post-bacc and those who were interested in becoming first year students. This was more intimate and really was all about asking questions.

7.How do I make my interest in the school known?


Pull them aside or wait until the open house is done to tell them or if you’re like me send them a thank you email and tell them how that school is your first choice.

Be nosy.

After my open house last season I found myself at the door of one of the faculty at UMD and asked about opportunities to do research as a volunteer. Most faculty will ask you to email them or if they don’t have an opportunity might know about another faculty member, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Be nosy.

Most faculty seem receptive to an introduction, questions and follow-up emails. They can also help steer you in the right direction if you have any other questions.

My Tips for  GWU open house: 

  • Arrive early and don’t drive. The parking and traffic in foggy bottom is crazy, it’s almost impossible to find parking, the campus is also very metro accessible if you want to metro.
  • Have an intro ready and make sure you have some good questions prepared.
  • Know about the program specifics, funding, research and any faculty that interested you
  • Be prepared for awkward silences and for people to write things down after you talk. They really want the students to be engaged and ask questions, if you don’t have any or no one does they will sit there in silence and stare at you.
  • Know the faculty-its been different the few times I’ve gone. GOOGLE them.
  • They’ve always had a nice array of snacks and water which was very nice.








How to get over getting rejected-Speech Language Pathology Graduate School

The harsh truth of being rejected



“You’re not good enough”a small voice that is on repeat in my subconscious, and when I am not listening it’s as if it’s not there but if I just stop for a moment, there it is. Ever present. It seeps into my everyday life, I haven’t been able to sleep, I find myself picking at my nails and I feel as though I am not really present.  School Admissions can be very stressful, very intimidating and almost defeating.

When I applied to graduate school last year I entered it with a sense of confidence. I had a 4.0, clinical experience , a decent GRE and good letters of recommendation, in my mind a perfect recipe for admittance to any school. I applied to schools in the MD/DC/VA area in Dec/Jan and anxiously waited for my acceptances. February rolled around and I still had not heard back from any schools, being anxious and neurotic as I am, I searched the forums and grad cafe results to see if anyone else had heard anything. This continued for a few weeks when I witnessed as the first round of acceptances from UMD and GWU go out. This only fueled my anxiety. Then mid march the emails came in , waitlisting me. It was a big hit to my self-esteem and my ego. What was wrong with me? Why hadn’t they let me in? I had been attending open houses, sending emails and taking to admissions committees, I didn’t understand.

I attempted to say positive, thinking that as long as I stayed positive and engaged that I would have to be let in and they would accept me off the waitlist. I stayed strong until April 15th, the arbitrary date that all schools have set for the acceptance of offers and then on April 16th all the schools scramble to try to fill open spots. A lot of people move off the waitlist or get into other schools they were waiting to get into and then have to decline other offers, in other words it’s a big day and a big mess.

April 15th was a hard day, I was very anxious and nervous and barely slept and then it was April 16th.

At the time I was working a full-time as a nanny and going to-night school to get my pre-reqs.  I put my phone on loud and was neurotically checking my emails. Nothing, then a received a phone call, I frantically pulled out my phone and tried to answer it but it only rang once and I wasn’t able to get it to it.

I call back, no answer. I call again, no answer. I can’t figure out who has called and my anxiety is through the roof, it’s a Virginia number, that’s a good sign.I text my husband and tell him and somehow he reserves the number through his magical internet skills and figures out that its the admission director at GWU. My jaw drops, GWU? That was my reach school, the gods are good to me! I hit the forums and confirm that GWU has been calling students to let them off the waitlist.

I try the number a few more times but no answer so I decide to call the admissions office at GWU and ask if I was called….I am put on hold, then the nice girl on the other end says, the director was only calling to see if you still wanted to remain on the waitlist, my heart drops. What, that doesn’t make sense, of course I want to remain on the waitlist, I am left feeling disappointed. I tell her yes and she hangs up.

I feel shaken and disillusioned. What just happened, in the months to come I would try to piece that story together, I didn’t get in anywhere last season, I was wait listed to every school I applied to. Then in May I received emails saying that schools were full and unfortunately I would have to reapply. I think what happened with GWU was that there was also another girl from Dallas that was let into their class and he had mistakenly called me instead of her. All the excitement, the anxiety and the fear was because of a mistake. It felt awful.

Last year was really rough. After being rejected, let me re phrase that, after being not accepted, it was really defeating. It made me really question my own identity, my self and whether I was good enough. I was embarrassed when people asked about how my application went, did I get in? What happened? I would pretend it wasn’t a big deal, that I would get in next time and that it happened, but the reality was that I felt embarrassed and ashamed.

During the application season I had attended an open house at UMD and found my way at the door of one of the faculty members Dr. GS. I asked her for an opportunity to do research in her lab and she had given me an opportunity to start that summer. I figured it would be the first step in the right direction if I was to reapply again next year. She welcomed me and one day took me aside into her office and told me that I had been so close to getting in, she also however told me my GRE wasn’t good enough, that my CV sucked and that I would need to take a class the next summer that I was missing. It was a dose of reality and my perception changed from that of being the victim to empowering me to take action.

The reality was that I was rejected for a good reason, I had lacked more clinical observation hours, my GRE could improve and my CV was a mess.  All things that I had overseen when applying and the reality was that I was good enough but I could be better, and I needed to try harder and be honest with myself. Stop victimizing myself and focusing on being rejected. I should have taken that rejection as a gift, a gift to try harder, to do more and do improve.

It was the dose of reality that I needed and  all that anger and resentment and feelings of worthlessness turned into fuel. I channeled it, I retook my GRE, observed more this year, did research at UMD , volunteered in a senior center and really took time for myself. I worked less and focused on improving my CV. I worked on getting great letters of recommendation, put my heart into my statement and re-applied with fierceness.

This time around, the second time, I find myself in a more serene place. I don’t feel as anxious, I don’t think about my application and I am sleeping. I haven’t been on the forums which only fueled my anxiety. I am happy and I know that if I don’t get in this year it will only fuel me to do even better this next year and reapply again. Keep on fixing whatever it is that is making me unqualified. It’s because I faced the worse, being rejected was the worst outcome and I got through it.  I thank my husband for being supportive and really putting up with me during my worst, you know the times when I had been super anxious and everything bothered me and I would clean neurotically. Those times, he also always encourages me to be better. So cheers to those who make us better, a friend, your family , spouse even your dogs. I love dog snuggles, who doesn’t?

So lets see what happens, the date approaches soon , so many decisions based around an acceptance.