by Judith Maginnis Kuster - Mankato State University (firstname.lastname@example.org).
A recent article in MONEY Magazine entitled "Fifty Hottest Jobs in America" ranked speech pathologist/audiologist as eleventh, and also listed it among the five fastest growing jobs over the next five years. The homepage for the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) provides much information about the careers in communication sciences and disorders.
But before beginning a career as a speech-language pathologist or audiologist, you need to find a slot in an ASHA-accredited graduate program. During the 1992-93 academic year, there were 10,120 students enrolled in graduate programs in speech language pathology or audiology. Most master's programs take two years which means about one-half of those 10,120 graduated, opening 5060 new slots in programs for the following year. That same year colleges and universities throughout the nation awarded 5636 students an undergraduate degree in communication disorders. Added to that number were 902 non-traditional graduate students as well as students who had not found a slot in a program the previous year (a potential total of over 6500 students), competing for the 5060 available slots in ASHA-accredited programs. There were "in effect, 23% more potential graduate students than places for them." (p.8, 1994). Although ASHA has initiated some solutions to this critical shortage of opportunities for qualified students by easing the 6:1 student-faculty ratio in graduate programs, finding a spot in a program is still very competitive.
The internet can assist students, and those who advise them in finding graduate programs, preparing for entrance exams, advising on application strategies, and exploring sources for financial aid.
FINDING GRADUATE PROGRAMS.
Peterson's Education Center calls itself "The Internet's central resource for information on Education and Lifelong Learning." Under the heading Speech Pathology and Audiology you can discover which universities offer degrees. Listed are 246 four-year colleges offering degrees in Speech Pathology and Audiology. and 230 universities which offer a graduate program .
After you have found a university with a program in Speech- Language Pathology and Audiology, look at Mike Conlon's links to hundreds of home pages for American Universities granting bachelor or advanced degrees. Home pages often contain application procedures, academic calendar, a tour of the campus, and other information about the university.
For those looking for information about a Speech Pathology and Audiology major at a particular university, Scott Bradley at the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater maintains a site which provides links to Speech Pathology and Audiology programs currently online. The information available about the programs varies, but some departments provide information about the professors, courses offered, course syllabi, graduation requirements, clinical facilities and practicum requirements, how to apply for admission, and financial aid. (Dr. Bradley requests any URLs of additional programs be sent to him).
PREPARING FOR THE GRE
Universities often require the Graduate Records Exam (GRE) for acceptance into their graduate programs and the number of GRE takers has doubled in the last decade. Only about 293,000 took the test in 1987, but it is estimated that the number of test takers will climb to half a million by 1997. Princeton Review is a national leader in test preparation, helping students prepare for a variety of standardized tests through courses, books, computer software, audio tapes, and videos. Information is provided about the GRE and best strategies to use are suggested.
The Princeton Review's Free Software page contains full-length sample GRE tests for you to take at home closely modeled after recent tests The test has a question-by-question review feature and a detailed score report that pinpoints your test-taking strengths and weaknesses.
Kaplan Educational Centers also provides an excellent Introduction to the GRE with sample questions, strategies if you decide to take the Computer Adaptive Test, GRE dates and registration, scoring information, and more.
Why, where and when to apply for graduate school admission, and other application strategies are available from Kaplan Educational Centers.
Some programs require a sample of the applicant's writing and/or critical thinking skills. Typically requested is a personal statement or an abstract or evaluation of a recent research article published in one of the professional journals. Purdue University's On-line Writing Lab (OWL) will provide information about presenting yourself in a written format and if you need to include a resume with your application, guides to resume writing can be found hereand here
FINANCING GRADUATE SCHOOL
Helpful information about financing graduate school is provided by the Princeton Review and Kaplan Educational Center.
Student Services has a .database of more than 180,000 scholarships, grants, fellowships, and loans representing billions of dollars in private sector funding for college students living in the United States. Simply typing in your major provides several suggested scholarships to apply for. By filling out more specific and detailed information, you will receive an individualized internet letter with names and addresses of where to apply as well as suggested inquiry form letters you can download and sign.
Financial Aid from the U.S. Department of Education, a Student Guide for 1995-96 is on-line.
Federal Information Exchange provides information about Minority Scholarships and Fellowships
Yahoo's Links to additional financial aid information .
Marable, Leslie M. (1995) The Fifty Hottest Jobs in America, MONEY, p. 114-117.
Payne, Peter D., (1994) Undergraduate enrollment and its effect on graduate admission decisions, in PROCEEDINGS OF THE FIFTEENTH ANNUAL CONFERENCE ON GRADUATE EDUCATION, Scottsdale, Arizona, April 7-9, 1994. p.7-15
A word of caution - the Internet is constantly growing and changing. Sometimes what is here today is gone or moved to a different location tomorrow. The resources listed above were all current when this column was submitted.