My First Semester of Graduate School

Well,

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,

Nu

Master Clinician/Pre-Reqs

Bonjour!

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:

http://www.longwood.edu/continuingeducation/for-credit-courses/speech-language-pathology-prerequisites-online/

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 🙂

Ciao,

Nu

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.

Ciao!