Speech Pathology Graduate School Personal Statements

Communication starts at the moment of birth. The first time an infant cries he is communicating with his mother. Imagine that as this child grows his ability to communicate is hindered by cleft lip and cleft palate. I have experienced this with my younger cousin. I have seen his frustration as the people around him cannot understand what he is trying to say. As we age we take the ability to communicate for granted. We communicate every day without giving it a second thought. Imagine that a women's ability to communicate is suddenly lost following a stroke. I have seen my grandmother endure this struggle. After her stroke, my grandmother struggled to communicate with her loved ones. If it were not for the hard work and dedication of speech-language pathologists, my cousin and grandmother would not be communicating so effectively today. These experiences with my family have guided me to find my passion for speech and language.

Through out my time as an undergraduate student in the Communication Sciences and Disorders program, I have gained qualities that make me an excellent candidate for the graduate program at ____________. I have gained research experience through my senior honors capstone project. During my senior honors capstone project I have been working with Dr. Ying Guo on her literacy research. In all of my years as an undergraduate student, I have been a working student. I have been able to achieve a 3.85 GPA while also working an average of 25 hours per week. My time as a working student has taught me the time management skills which will be essential in graduate school. I have learned the importance of service through my volunteer work at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC). While volunteering at CCHMC I worked closely with speech pathologists in the speech language pathology department. I have also participated in various volunteer opportunities through my involvement in the National Student Speech-Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA).

In 2008, I spent eight days in Santa Avelina, Guatemala for a service trip. It was during this trip that I realized just what little access these people had to health care. When I returned home from Guatemala, I knew that I wanted to continue doing service abroad. This trip sparked my interest in serving abroad as well as bilingualism and Spanish. In my final semester as an undergraduate student, I will be fueling this interest by traveling to Granada, Nicaragua with the University of Cincinnati College of Allied Health Sciences for a service learning trip. While in Nicaragua, we will provide healthcare services to local children.

After I receive my master's degree in speech-language pathology, I plan to work with children in a clinical setting. I also hope to provide services abroad to people in underprivileged nations such as Guatemala. There is a great need for speech-language pathologists who are able to work with Spanish-speaking children. While I was unable to complete a minor in Spanish as an undergraduate student, I plan to earn my certification in Spanish after I earn my master's degree. I plan to use my certification in Spanish to provide services to children learning English as a second language as well as children abroad.

My undergraduate studies in Communication Sciences and Disorders, personal experiences and service experiences have given me the necessary qualities to succeed as a graduate student. They have also awakened in me a passion for service, speech and language. I appreciate your consideration in advanced and thank you for the opportunity to share my passion with you.


If you are applying to a Speech-Language Pathology graduate school program anywhere in the country, you may need to submit a statement (or letter) of intent. Did you already Google “How to write a letter of intent for Speech Pathology graduate school? “There are limited, relevant results. First off, what is a statement of intent? In my opinion, it’s like a first date with a total stranger. Only you are trying to convince them to marry you, blindfolded, based on a test score, GPA, and resume. Talk about pressure. *Applies Makeup* But truly, the statement/letter is your opportunity to highlight strengths and weaknesses, explain your passion & interest in the career, and answer questions they may pose. First dates are always awkward, so let’s wade through this one together.

Before continuing on, take a moment to peek at two excellent resources before continuing your read:

1. The University of New Mexico’s Guidelines for your letter of intent –> “Statement of Intent = Intellectual Autobiography”

2. Questions to ask before you write –> Such as “Any discrepancies in your academic record that you should explain?”

Now then, let’s focus on the specifics of pre-writing and writing the statement/letter in relevance to Speech-Language Pathology.

Before you write, research the program:

  • What keywords are found on the department’s website?  – Try to work those in.
  • What is the mission statement of the department or college? – Use some of the phrasing, if possible.
  • What areas are some of the faculty researching? – Mention a similar interest, if you have one.
  • Have you spoken with faculty about the focus of the program? More clinical or research based? Key ideas to weave into your writing.
  • Check out ASHA’s mission statement and vision; see if those spark ideas for your letter.

Introduction:

  • The first sentence should be unique. Offer a quip or quote that inspires or provokes interest.
    • Avoid “I like the field of Speech-Language Pathology because…” Come on, be unique. Try “How often do passion and profession come together? For me,…” <–Something thought-provoking, yet speaks to your personality or interest.
  • Subsequent sentences should offer insight into why you want to study Speech-language pathology. Don’t give a history lesson, but offer a fresh perspective. Show that you have done some research, but also make it personal.
    • For example: “The field of speech-language pathology grew following World War II and continues to inspire many professionals since then, myself included…”

Body: 

  • Discuss your compatibility with the program, including factors leading to your decisions, relevant experience, or how your interest in the field has developed upon further study.
    • For instance, discuss positive stories you read about their academic record, clinical practice, passing rate for Praxis, etc. 
  • Express interest in what clinical areas and/or populations you want to pursue.
  • Explain what you have done to prepare for the challenges graduate school poses, if admitted.
    • For example, “SLP grad school will demand my full-time attention, which I plan to address using my time management skills, organization system, and attention to deadlines.”
  • Consider mentioning an area of growth clinically, then how you will use your strengths to address it.
    • For example, “While I am still developing research skills, I plan to utilize my zeal for knowledge to challenge myself to find the latest evidence.”
  • BONUS Points: In my experience, if you can mention any knowledge or experience you have with multicultural populations, this can help you stand out. It’s a big push in grad school.

Conclusion:

  • How does your interest and long-term plan relate to their program vision and mission? Mention those key terms again. 
  • Describe how excited you are to be a prospective applicant to their program. Here are some keywords to use:
    • Motivated, qualified, experienced, culturally sensitive, empathetic, energized, diversified background, driven.
  • Include that you look forward to the opportunity to discuss your application further, and how you need to be accepted over everyone else…maybe leave that last part out 🙂

All done?? NOOOO. Let your professors read it, ask a professor in the literature department to read it, have your friends read it, have your mom read it, have the Dean read it. Get feedback. Take all of the edits into consideration to create the BEST letter of intent the graduate program has ever seen!

Let me be clear, that these are my suggestions from my own experience, reading other letters/statements, and from the other resources I’ve found (mentioned above). I hope you find this useful, and feel free to share your own resources that help you too! Check out my other post about Applying to SLP Graduate School and Plan B for the #slp2b 

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