From Green to Grad School Here’s how a non-CSD undergrad transitioned into her first year as an audiology student. Student's Say
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Student's Say  |   September 01, 2017
From Green to Grad School
Author Notes
  • Katie Schramm, BS, 2017–2018 president of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association, is a second-year student in the AuD program at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. katieschramm2019@u.northwestern.edu
    Katie Schramm, BS, 2017–2018 president of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association, is a second-year student in the AuD program at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. katieschramm2019@u.northwestern.edu×
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School-Based Settings / Professional Issues & Training / Student's Say
Student's Say   |   September 01, 2017
From Green to Grad School
The ASHA Leader, September 2017, Vol. 22, 42-43. doi:10.1044/leader.SSAY.22092017.42
The ASHA Leader, September 2017, Vol. 22, 42-43. doi:10.1044/leader.SSAY.22092017.42
It’s my first day in the doctor of audiology program at Northwestern University. As the students introduce themselves, just about all mention that they were more drawn to audiology than speech-language pathology when they were undergraduates in communication sciences and disorders.
Except for me. My answer was a bit different: “My name is Katie Schramm. I graduated with a biomolecular science degree from the University of Michigan.” The response was mainly blank stares. I continued, saying that my interest in audiology came from my work-study job at a pediatric audiology clinic at the university’s Mott Children’s Hospital.
Here’s the whole story: I usually had very little patient interaction in my job. But one day, an audiologist needed help with an appointment with a baby, about 6 months old. The headphones for the test were too large and would not stay on the child’s head.
The audiologist asked me to hold the headphones in place so she could complete her testing. That single moment with the baby staring back at me while I held the headphones changed my perspective, and I immediately knew I wanted to learn more about this career.
Odd one out
Being different from my peers continued into my first clinic experience. I had seen most of the equipment before, but had never used it. Although the supervisors showed us what to do at each appointment and let us practice on each other, other students mentioned how they practiced some of these techniques during their undergraduate courses. Their high confidence made me more nervous.
On my first day of clinic, I was asked to perform otoscopy and pure-tone testing. Of course, I was extremely nervous—this was a real patient! I was scared I would hurt the patient and didn’t want my nerves to affect the results. As I hesitated, my supervisor reassured me, and I completed the testing. As I made it through my first clinic experience, I gained confidence, and no longer felt that I wouldn’t be able to catch up to the more experienced students.
If I had only known
I survived my transition into graduate school, but there are a few things that I wish I had known before starting. It may seem obvious, but time management is extremely important. Graduate school is more difficult than undergraduate school. There are more reading assignments, papers and labs, and this doesn’t even include the required clinic time. And, as a leader of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association, I also needed time for meetings, discussions, voting and other tasks. Procrastinating is not an option.
At the same time, however, it’s also important not to stress about the small things. Your life is full of deadlines and grades and the constant worry and demanding work that accompany them. But school can’t be the only priority. You have to take time for yourself and relax, even if only for a short amount of time. Watch a TV show. Do a workout. Find anything that is just for you and can help you to stay sane. You need to give your body and mind a break from all of the stresses.

As I made it through my first clinic experience, I gained confidence, and no longer felt that I wouldn’t be able to catch up to the more experienced students.

If I could do it again
If I had the chance for a “do-over,” I would definitely approach some things differently. First, I would put less pressure on myself about grades. The grades you receive are less important than actually understanding the material and being able to use your knowledge and clinical skills. Patients want you to treat their problems, not just memorize information.
The other significant change would be to use the important resources available: the professors and teacher assistants (TAs). I tend to ask questions only when I am absolutely confused or feel that I can’t figure something out on my own. But the professors and TAs want to help you succeed and understand the concepts they teach. I would ask more questions and take advantage of faculty office hours to get help.
With a year of grad school under my belt, I can say with confidence that it’s not necessary to be a CSD undergraduate for you to succeed as an AuD student. It may be stressful at first as you might feel less prepared than others in your program, but you can—and will—catch up. Much of the material and techniques are new to everyone.
So: Manage your schedule wisely, take time for yourself, don’t stress so much about grades, and use the resources available in your program. You’ll do fine.
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September 2017
Volume 22, Issue 9