Tips on Making Grad School Apps Less Stressful

It’s that time of year…I graduate in less than 2 months. Midterms have passed, the semester is in full swing..and on top of everything else I’ve got going on, I am applying to the next step… graduate school! Ahhh!! Since my freshman year, professors have stressed how important grad school applications will be. You need a strong resume, certain GRE scores, an impressive transcript…the list goes on. It’s a lot to take in! It’s a time consuming, intense, and sometimes emotional, process…but at the same time, it’s so exciting! While it can be an overwhelming and hectic process, here are some tips in reducing stress and saving yourself time and energy.

  1. Start early. Seriously, if you are in a major like Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences and you know that graduate school is required for you to practice, it is never too early to start researching programs you might be interested in. There are lots of programs throughout the U.S. with a huge range of research opportunities and clinical experiences. Do your homework..and don’t procrastinate.
  1. Make a spreadsheet. Once you have selected a list of schools, make a spreadsheet that organizes all the information you might need to know. What are the admission requirements? GRE scores? Letters of recommendation? Deadlines? tuition? Having all of this information in a centralized location will save you the energy in looking it up repeatedly.
  1. Consult your professors. Profs can be valuable resources in providing program suggestions, helping you select programs that fit your interests, and in guiding you through the application process. Plus, in seeking guidance, you are demonstrating your initiative and drive to pursue your future degree–which your profs will appreciate and respect.
  1. Don’t procrastinate the GRE. I took the GRE last February, right before I left for a semester abroad. Taking it over break was such a great decision. I had plenty of time to study, I wasn’t stressed with classes since the semester hadn’t started, and it was plenty of time in advance in case I needed to retake the exam. It’s just a test. Study, relax, and don’t put it off. It’s not as bad as people make it out to be!
  1. Get a head start on your personal statement. For me, writing my personal statement was the most challenging and time consuming aspect of collecting my application materials. It really challenges you to think about WHY you are applying to grad school, what you want to accomplish, and what you have to offer. The earlier you start thinking about these things, the better your personal statement will be. This is important. Since most SLP/AuD programs don’t require an interview, your personal statement is the only place for you to really express why YOU are the best candidate for their program.
  1. Figure out what YOU want. I am a senior, graduating in December. And it has taken me up until this semester to really understand what path I want to pursue. I had been torn between speech pathology or audiology for the past two years, as I find both career opportunities interesting and exciting. While everyone around you is going to have an opinion or suggestions, remember that graduate school is about YOU. It’s your career, your future. So really think about it. It’s a huge investment–so take the time to reflect so you can make a confident and developed decision.

Grad school can be intimidating, but it doesn’t need to be stressful. Prepare, get a head start, and stay organized. The more you get done before the semester begins, the more time you’ll have to enjoy your senior year! Keep calm and boiler up 🙂

— Mallory Rotondo, Senior, Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences

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