Big Dawg School {Graduate School}

I’ve never met anyone who enjoys filing any type of application, even when there’s a possible reward attached to the end result, such as scholarship money for tuition. It’s just not a fun process. One has to possess high-organization, time-management skills, and a good nest egg for the various application costs (including the cost to forward official transcripts). Hopefully at this point you will have forged some type of a relationship with a professor that will write a favorable letter (most Grad schools require at least 3 letters), and then you have to pen a statement of interest/purpose that is unique, honest, and persuasive! The hardest part for some happens after everything is mailed out. The waiting game that involves checking the mailbox excessively waiting for a thick packet. Nonetheless, it’s a process we all have to endure at one point or another in life, especially those seeking higher education.

My first semester of post-baccalaureate studies is officially over! I have one more semester to go and then hopefully I’ll be starting grad school in the Fall. Grades have been submitted and here’s the verdict:

The Fall Classes:

American Sign Language I– Basic common signs, the alphabet, fingerspelling is introduced. I really enjoyed this course, and will consider continuing with Part II when I have extra time.   GRADE: A

Speech and Language Development– This course covers development of communication in children from birth to pre-school. Theories from the cognitive and psychology domains are discussed, as well as the impact of social and cultural influences in learning language. GRADE: A

Intro to Audiology– Audiologists commonly work alongside SLP’s. This intro course seeks to introduce students to the theories and techniques in the assessment and management of the hearing impaired. As interesting as the study of the ear is, this was a very hard course in terms of content. Introduction is made to the degree and types of hearing loss, and we are required to know how to read simple audiograms (charts generated when hearing exams are given). GRADE: B+

Anatomy of the Speech and Hearing Mechanism- Did I mention I was an English major? The only science I was required to take in undergrad was a Biology course. This course required us to label and know the functions of anatomy related to speech (includes respiratory, laryngeal, supralaryngeal and the brain) and hearing mechanisms with an emphasis on physiology. GRADE: B

Intro to Phonetics– Phonetics is no joke! It’s the study of the acoustic and physical properties of sounds in a language.  You know that pronounciation guide that follows a word in a dictionary? Technically, that’s the phonemic transcription of the word, which focuses on the sounds in a word, and not the letters as you know them to be in the English alphabet. We had to become familiar with a whole new alphabet in this course, known as the International Phonetic Alphabet. This is important as clinicians have to transcribe incorrect transcriptions of productions made using IPA. GRADE: B

Overall, I averaged a 3.4 GPA which is a blessing to me, being that I expected a ‘C’ in the Anatomy class. Most grad schools expect your GPA in the major to be above a 3.5 so I definitely have to work my butt off next semester, to bring it up to at least a 3.7 and not just the minimum.

In the Spring I’ll be taking:

1. Communication System and Disorders– review of physical systems and theoretical models in normal speech, voice and language. Characteristics of communication disorders are also discussed.

2.  Introduction to Hearing and Speech Science– Concepts of acoustics are integrated with known mechanisms of speech production and auditory processing.

3. Aural Rehabilitation– presents rehabilitative and habilitative techniques for children and adults who are hearing impaired.

4. Introduction to Articulation and Phonology– This is basically Part II to the Intro to Phonetics course. It’s a more detailed look into specific assessment, diagnostic and intervention procedures for speech impairments.

5. Observation– 25 hours of observation are mandated. Students have to observe therapy sessions and identify components and clinician characteristics.

I am currently applying to Master’s programs in Speech Language Pathology between January and March. I don’t know if I’ve had the best strategy in picking the programs. I just picked programs that I thought I could have a chance in. I know I might be interested in bilingual speech therapy, so I chose schools that have  a multicultural approach to the field. I also discovered that bilingual speech therapy, bilingual psychologists and special ed. teachers are in high demand. In response, NYC offers a Graduate Scholarship Program known as Teach NYC that pays your tuition in return for being placed in a high-need NYC public school for 2 years. So I chose at least 2 schools that are sponsored by Teach NYC. At the end of the day, I’m going where the money is!

Needless to say, grad school is a big undertaking. Nothing that costs over $20,000 a year should be taken lightly, especially school. I know that student loans are supposed to be ‘good debt,’ but debt is debt at the end of the day. This is the biggest kind of debt I’ve ever endeavored to encounter. Fortunately, I encountered no debt in undergrad and I just pray God will make a way as I step out on faith with the remaining applications. I don’t know where the money is going to come from, but I’m not worrying about it today. Tomorrow will worry about itself, and today… I mailed my first application.




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