New Grads

Dear New Graduate SLP Student:

I am a practicing Speech Language Pathologist.  I graduated 20 years ago with my master’s degree.  I have been teaching and supervising on the graduate level for 17 years and back-to-school time still excites me.  I see your anxious faces and I want to hug each one of you and tell you to take a deep breath—this is an amazing profession and you are about to embark on quite a journey.

I would like to share the following 4 tips:

Walk Confidently.
The admissions process for the graduate speech pathology program is quite intense.  You have completed the application, written a killer essay and nailed the interview.  You were chosen by the faculty as a good fit for their program (I have been privy to these conversations—everything is considered).  You are exactly where you should be, and the experts agree—now WALK CONFIDENTLY to your classes and know that the faculty at your program believe in you.

Work in Unity.
Look around at your peers—these will be your study partners, your cheerleaders, your midnight phone calls, your shoulders to cry on, your future best friends, your best man, maid-of-honor(s), and your colleagues.  Try your hardest to not compare yourself—this is your journey.  It is an individual experience.  By supporting each other, everyone does better.

Embrace Vulnerability.
I have been teaching for a long time and I have come to realize that students now feel bad when they don’t know something.  I find myself constantly reminding my students that when we are in school, we learn.  It is actually quite simple…but some where along the line, students have put the expectation on themselves that they should already know everything!  Listen carefully—you are in graduate school to learn. You will learn a lot. In order to learn you must be willing to be vulnerable—to raise your hand and say you don’t understand.  To ask the questions that all of your peers have and are afraid to ask.  When you allow yourself to be vulnerable—your display of courage will not only guide your professor to help you but will also serve as a wonderful example to your peers.  Remember, we not only learn by doing, we also learn by example.

Remember, this is temporary. 
Many of you have made a lot of sacrifices to be in graduate school.  You put work on hold. You are losing time with your family.  You will be dedicating a lot of time to your studies.  At times, it will feel incredibly overwhelming—remember—this is temporary. You will begin to see there is an ebb and flow to every semester; when things feel particularly stressful—try to pause and think about how fortunate you are to have the opportunity to pursue a profession where you will make a difference in the lives of others. Think about how good it is going to feel when you are a licensed therapist with your own caseload.  I always tell my first-year students that time flies by—and they don’t believe me until they are about to graduate—where everyone is saying in unison—that went so quickly!


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