I Made It Into Grad School … Now What? An SLP-to-be offers insights into surviving the first year of a communication sciences and disorders graduate program. Student's Say
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Student's Say  |   April 01, 2017
I Made It Into Grad School … Now What?
Author Notes
  • Katrina Killian, BA, is a graduate student in speech-language pathology at the University of Pittsburgh and vice president for planning of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association. She will receive her master’s degree this spring and hopes to begin her clinical fellowship in a medical setting in September. trinak925@gmail.com
    Katrina Killian, BA, is a graduate student in speech-language pathology at the University of Pittsburgh and vice president for planning of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association. She will receive her master’s degree this spring and hopes to begin her clinical fellowship in a medical setting in September. trinak925@gmail.com×
Article Information
School-Based Settings / Professional Issues & Training / Student's Say
Student's Say   |   April 01, 2017
I Made It Into Grad School … Now What?
The ASHA Leader, April 2017, Vol. 22, 44-45. doi:10.1044/leader.SSAY.22042017.44
The ASHA Leader, April 2017, Vol. 22, 44-45. doi:10.1044/leader.SSAY.22042017.44
The stress of wondering, “Will I get in?” is finally gone, replaced by lots of questions about what lies ahead for the next two to three—or for audiology students, five—years.
I’ve gathered some expert advice from graduate students on the things they say will matter most: your cohort, classes, clinic and, more important, your sanity.
Cohort
Your cohort, otherwise known as your classmates, will become your lifeline in graduate school. Of course, not everyone will mesh, but you will find at least a few people with whom you can share confidences. Lastly, don’t (I repeat: do not) compare yourself to your classmates. The competition of getting into graduate school is over, and supporting one another counts most now. In a nutshell:
  • Share resources, building an easily accessible resource bank.

  • Find your one or two (or five) people that you can confide in.

Classes
The “dreaded” anatomy classes! Some classes you may find more difficult because the content is abstract or not particularly interesting; others may be easier because you enjoy the topic. I have yet to meet anyone who likes every single class, so don’t feel bad if you don’t like the pediatric-based classes, but 90 percent of your cohort does. We all have our preferences. Some things to keep in mind:
  • Organize your notes and keep them for future reference.

  • Give yourself time to adjust. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed at first.

  • Don’t be afraid of what’s coming. Just give the information from the first couple of weeks some time to sink in.

You won’t know everything. You will make mistakes. You will get critiqued. You won’t like every clinic setting or population. We all go through this.

Clinic
Yes, meeting your first clinic client may be scary, but everyone in every job has to start somewhere. Even your supervisors were in your shoes at some point. Focus on getting to know the client, finding ways to make their goal interesting to work on, and growing as a professional.
You won’t know everything. You will make mistakes. You will get critiqued. You won’t like every clinical setting or population. We all go through this. Try to keep a positive attitude and focus on what you’re there for—the client!
To make this first experience less intimidating, remember:
  • You will not be good at everything. Fake it till you make it.

  • Everyone is critiqued. Take it as constructive criticism and focus on how you can improve for next time.

  • Set expectations for yourself, your placement and your supervisor from day one to avoid disappointment or clashing with your supervisor.

  • Create a comfortable and appropriate clinic wardrobe. For women, this typically includes some nice pants, flats and blouses with cardigans. For men, it’s generally nice slacks/khakis and dress shirts. Just in case, check with your school and clinic placement if they have any specific requirements.

  • Don’t be afraid of the client. They won’t know if you accidentally put the headphones on the wrong ears!

  • Your supervisors do not expect you to know everything. They are there to help you, so ask questions.

Sanity
It’s very easy to feel overwhelmed in the beginning by new people, new information and new experiences. There probably will be other times in your program that will overwhelm you. How do you survive? Find time to focus on things totally unrelated to audiology or speech-language pathology: salsa night with the gang, taking walks, painting, exercising—whatever serves as a temporary distraction.
These tips might help your sanity:
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. You won’t be perfect at every type of test, good with every client, or knowledgeable about everything in all your courses.

  • Try not to stress about grades. Focus on actually learning and understanding the material.

  • Find free-time (yes, you will have some) activities to relieve some stress. For example, my cohort has found time for holiday get-togethers, a Krav Maga lesson and pool parties. Of course, you can also relax by working out, reading a book or taking a walk.

Congratulations on your new adventure. As daunting as it may seem, you will survive. Make friends, learn as much as you can, and stay focused. You can do this.
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FROM THIS ISSUE
April 2017
Volume 22, Issue 4