By far, the most stressful period of my life thus far was applying to graduate school. To be honest, I didn’t have the best GPA out there, but I was passionate. I was lucky enough to obtain an SLP-A position during my undergrad years, as well as doing Autism therapy and numerous other relatable jobs. I understand the stress involved in the entire process! Here are my bits of advice:
1) Start early! I know you’ve heard this a million times, but if you start an application at the last minute, it will show!
2) Don’t get too hung up on the numbers, but realize the numbers do count. I got into multiple universities with less than average statistics! It can be done, but realize if you have less than average numbers (i.e., GPA, GRE scores), you will need to make it up elsewhere if your application! Make sure you’ve volunteered or worked at relatable places. Make sure you have amazing letters of recommendation from professors in the department. And make sure your application is flawless. My advisor in graduate school told me that you wouldn’t believe how many people turn in applications with typos. Don’t be one of those people!
3) Have multiple people edit your essay! Do everything you can to find family, friends, colleagues, or supervisors that will edit your essay. Do not use fluffy language such as, “I want to help people” or “I’ve wanted to do this forever”. Really tell the admissions committee what you will contribute to their graduate class. Everybody wants to help people… What is unique and amazing about you?
4) DO YOUR RESEARCH. This is in caps for a reason. If you are nervous about getting in, DO NOT apply to all of the same schools as your friends. I know in my home state, almost everybody I knew applied to the same 5 schools. Use this website to search through all of the graduate programs in the United States. Email them! Find out what type of students they are looking for. Learn about their resources and their areas of specialty! Don’t be afraid to apply to smaller schools.
5) Take good care of the people writing you recommendations. Make each of them a packet containing organized information about each school they will need to send a recommendation to. Include the deadline for each school in addition how they should submit their recommendation (online, in the mail, or give back to you). Do send them a nice and thoughtful thank you note afterwards!
6) Don’t look at GradCafe. Resist the urges! It will only make you feel inferior. So many of my panic attacks were induced by GradCafe. If you don’t know what GradCafe is… good! Do not go look and thank me for saving you much stress!
Well, hope that helps! For me, the application process was more stressful than graduate school itself! If you want any advice or help during the process, don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll do the best I can to point you in the right direction. At the end of the day, be proud of the work you’ve put in to get to where you are!