Wednesday, June 21, 2017

3 Ways to Beef Up Your Resume for Grad School if Your GPA is Not Stellar

Hi friends! Today I want to share a little bit of my story that got me where I am today. I graduated with my first bachelor's degree in mass communications in 2012, and I'll be the first to tell you that my GPA was less than stellar (a 2.9 to be exact). I chose that major on a whim during my sophomore year after asking my advisor at the time which major would get me out of there the fastest. I didn't have a career path in mind, and I was more concerned about working my full time job than making good grades. My mantra was, "Cs get degrees." ...yeah.

Fast forward to 2015 - I decided that I wanted to become an SLP. After a ton of research, I knew that getting into a speech-language pathology program was not going to be an easy feat. I also knew that my 2.9 GPA was not going to cut it. But I am a fighter and if I want something, I will make it happen. I am willing to put in the work to achieve what I set my mind to.

I chose to go ahead and get a second bachelor's degree rather than doing a bridge program at the discretion of my new communication science and disorders advisor. She told me that by doing this, grad school admissions committees would see my overall GPA that included both of my degrees (which was low even after getting all As in my CSD courses...I believe it ended up being around a 3.2) AND my CSD GPA (which was a 3.93). She said this would make me a more appealing candidate for grad school admission - was she right? I have no idea, honestly. But I will say, I'm glad I went that route, because it gave me an extra year to do things to help me stand out as a candidate.

I applied to 6 graduate programs and got accepted into all 6 (I was accepted off the wait list for one but still). How? I worked extremely hard to beef up my resume over the next year.


There are 3 things that I really honed in on in order to make myself the best candidate possible, given my low GPA.





I reached out to a local children's hospital and spent a few months volunteering there a few hours per week. I did things like clean toys, organize play rooms, cater to patients and their families to make sure that they were as comfortable as possible, etc. I know that when I finish grad school I want to work with children so that's why I volunteered in a children's hospital. If you know what population you want to work with after grad school, I would suggest volunteering with that population! Try to pick one place and really invest your time volunteering there. It will help you build strong connections that will come in handy later down the road (aka letter of recommendation time).






I would say this is the most important one and what really made me a standout candidate to the programs I applied to. This one takes a bit more time and planning, but if you're willing to put in the work, it will pay off.

The summer between my junior and senior year as a CSD major, I took an elective called "Directed Research." In order to register for this class, I had to find a professor who was willing to either a) Bring me on board a current research project they were doing or b) Basically chaperone a research project that I wanted to do. I went with option A and found a professor who was working on a research project dealing with stuttering. I worked with him all summer, inputting and analyzing data. Sounds boring but I learned a lot AND our research was turned into a poster presentation that was presented at the 5th Joint Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America and the Acoustical Society of Japan in November 2016...right in time for grad school applications. So I was officially able to put "research authorship" on my resume. Talk about a resume booster!






For me, this was the most fun of the three. I observed at a few schools and private practices. I researched and found a local SLP who works with the pediatric population and implements animal assisted therapy...aka my dream job. I emailed her about a year before grad school applications were due and spent TONS of time throughout that next year observing her. Not only did I gain valuable experiences and knowledge, she is actually the SLP who I will be working as an SLPA for starting this August...big win! By the time I sent in my grad school applications, I had around 40 observation hours (I work full-time so keep in mind that these were accumulated over the course of a year).


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All of these things will not only beef up your resume, but they will also give you quality experiences to write about in your letter of intent/personal statements as well as help you build connections that will come in handy when it's time to ask for letters of recommendation.

Oh and by the way, my GRE scores were average. Maybe even below average for quant. I'll talk about that in another post, though.

If you have any questions or post ideas that you would like to see covered, feel free to comment below or shoot me an email!



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