Thursday, August 14, 2014

FAQs (Part 1): I'm Starting Grad School!

I recently asked newly accepted SLP grad students what they want to know most about graduate school. All answers are based on my personal experiences. Below are some of the questions I received and my (hopefully helpful) answers.

Question: What, if anything, would you have done differently in grad school? How would you have prepared yourself better?

What I would have done differently:
1. I would have established excellent study habits from the very beginning. There are some classes that will take up a lot of your time and, for those courses, it's almost impossible to start assignments a day before the due date. Time management and organization are SUPER important in grad school.   
2. During my practicums, I began saving resources in specific folders on my computer. I wish I had started doing this as soon as I began grad school.
3. Not stressed the small stuff. :)
How would I have prepared myself better?
In terms of academics, I think I was prepared because I was a psychology/linguistics double major. I had also taken several pre-reqs. In my experience (this is only me) I don't think it was necessary to review textbooks or study guides before beginning a program if you have some speech-path background. I think I would have mentally prepared myself for the fact that that things would not go perfectly from the beginning and that grad school is a learning experience in which you will make mistakes. In the end, it will be worth it and you will feel so much more confident as a clinician!

Question: Would you recommend purchasing all your textbooks?

Answer: This is a tough question because I knew the population I wanted to work with when I began grad school. As a result, I bought textbooks that I thought I would refer to in the future. I rented textbooks for other courses. Overall, I would recommend buying textbooks and reselling them if you feel that they won't be useful to you later on in your career. My biggest piece of advice related to textbooks is to NOT buy books at the campus bookstore. I have had a lot of success buying/renting from Amazon. There is also a good website called Big Words ( that compares textbook prices on different websites.

Question: How much did you read in graduate school?

Answer: There is a fair amount of reading. It was not overwhelming though. There was a lot of writing!

Question: What was the social atmosphere like outside of the classroom, both for yourself and others?

Answer: This really varies from program to program, I think. I commuted to my program so I am not sure about the social opportunities outside of the classroom. However, in the classroom, everyone tried really hard to collaborate and work together.

Question: How do undergraduate and graduate courses differ?

Answer: Depends on the course. In general, undergraduate classes focus more on theories and basic knowledge (and there's a lot of things we have to know!). Graduate classes are generally more practical, although there is a lot of "textbook" information taught as well. 

Question: Can you give examples of activities/games/etc. you used with particular clients and how they helped with your treatment goals?

There are too many to list! I have found the iPad to be a great tool. Please read my blog post about it ( The website, Teachers Pay Teachers, is also awesome. Some examples of free products: http://discoveringsl...s#.U8bYGUB0EtA.
A few ideas:
For young children:
-Great toy ideas from Playing with Words 365: (scroll to "Tips on Using Specific Toys to Help Expand Your Child’s Speech & Language Skills")
-Super Duper Animal Buddies
For articulation clients, I made bingo boards with words that contained the sound they were working on. A frequently used resource for artic is Webber's Jumbo Articulation Drill Book. A variety of games can be utilized as reinforcers (Don't Spill the Beans, Pop up Pirate) during artic sessions. 
For my school-age clients, I created a lot of my own materials. Using children's literature in therapy is great because it's fun for the kids and you can target a variety of goals (wh-questions, inferencing, etc.). 
Older clients: This really depends on the population you work with. Materials for older clients should be tailored to their interests. There are some adult language apps available. Some possible games for adults: Jeopardy, Trivial Pursuit,  Family Feud.
These are just some general ideas. You should tailor activities to each individual client. Please don't purchase anything I have mentioned until you know you need it!

Question: Did you work at all during your program?

Answer: Many of my classmates worked during the program. However, all their jobs were part-time and had flexible hours. I think it's smart to wait a few weeks into the semester before starting a job. 

Question: As far as the computer you brought to classes, what did you use and what did you see others using? What would you recommend?  
Do a lot of grads get iPads to use for therapy? Did you?
Answer: We were allowed to sign out iPads for therapy sessions at the on-campus clinic. We were not provided with iPads to take home. I LOVE my iPad and think it's amazing. There are so many awesome apps out there to use during therapy sessions. I personally do not like taking notes on the iPad, but if that has worked for you in undergrad, it should be fine in grad school as well. Most people in my program used MacBooks in class. I used an old Windows laptop to take notes and did paperwork on the laptop/a desktop at home.

Question: I've been reading a lot online about what to actually bring to grad school. A lot of folks recommended a laminator, label maker, and tape recorder. Are there any other heavy duty, 'machine-type' things you'd recommend?

Answer: I think a laptop and a printer are important to bring. I only bought a laminator in my last semester of graduate school and use it occasionally. I don't think it's necessary to have, especially before you begin seeing clients. A tape recorder is useful. I never needed to use a label maker in grad school. An iPad is a great tool, but again, not necessary until you see clients.

Thank you to everyone for your questions! PART 2 COMING SOON!

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