Published on December 15th, 20130
Five Things I Wish I’d Known: Advice From a Recent Grad (Part One)This article has been republished from the September 2013 issue of Student Speak. Please note that this article was originally published when Speech-Language and Audiology Canada (SAC) was called the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (CASLPA).
They say that hindsight is 20/20, and that’s often true — sometimes it’s easy to see how you could have done better in the past if you had only known then, what you know now.
Since time-travel has yet to be invented, we’re offering you the next best thing: advice from Melanie Moore Tapson, S-LP(C), former SAC National Student Advisor and recent graduate from Dalhousie’s S-LP program.
Here are some of Melanie’s top tips for students:
1. Brace yourself for the transition.
Be prepared for the hard realization that the way you studied in undergrad may not work for you in grad school. You have way less time, way more readings and reports take much longer to write than you could have ever imagined. If you don’t know your learning style, now is a great time to find out. If your program or professors don’t teach to your style, find ways to make it work for you. For example, you can add your own visuals, act out lessons after class or even talk with your friends over dinner.
2. Supplement your coursework.
Speech-language pathology and audiology programs are incredibly diverse; even if you only want to specialize in one niche area, you’ll have to study a much broader range of content. Keep in mind that everything you learn will contribute to making you a great clinician, no matter what you end up doing. I suggest learning more about your area of interest by supplementing what you learn in class with extra workshops, seminars and courses whenever possible. Volunteering during your studies is also a great way to get the kind of hands-on experience that will prepare you for your career.
3. Adjust your attitude.
Didn’t get your first choice of placement? Don’t freak out. Your attitude can really shape how you experience things. See every experience as an opportunity to learn and grow. You might be surprised to find that oftentimes the paths wedon’t choose turn out to be the ones that benefit us the most! So take risks and try new things. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to make a mistake — just learn from it and move on.
4. Grades don’t matter that much any more.
I know this is a hard one to hear, but it’s true. Except in rare circumstances (like when applying for scholarships), you’ll never be asked about your grades again. Nobody in a job interview is going to ask you what mark you got in your Phonetics course. Even if you’re planning to pursue higher education, like a PhD, whether or not you’re accepted is going to depend on more than just grades, such as your research skills. I’m not saying you should stop working hard in school; just stop fixating on the numbers. Good marks don’t guarantee that someone will be a great clinician. What’s more important is that you know your stuff and that you’re part of the team… not fighting to get the top mark in your class.
5. Don’t compare yourself to other people.
You all have something amazing to offer, or you wouldn’t be where you are. You don’t have to be the best at everything (or anything!). Just focus on learning and honing your skills to be the best you can be. Instead of seeing your classmates as the competition, view them as resources — you can work together to share your individual talents. Teach each other. Learn from each other. You’ll get more out of your program and the relationships you foster will stay with you as you begin your career.
Melanie thanks her colleagues Shauna Stokely, S-LP(C), PhD candidate Carly Barbon and Melanie Peladeau-Pigeon for contributing their thoughts to this piece.