By: Sue Holm & Janet Pribyl (2 of our fabulous Career Counselors)
Most people majoring in Communication Sciences & Disorders (CSD) figure they’ll go to graduate school to become speech pathologists or audiologists. So, what do you do if you weren’t accepted to a graduate program in CSD or if you decide you don’t want to go to graduate school, or at least not right away? You might be surprised to learn there are lots of options! See what recent UMD CSD graduates are doing.
You applied to graduate school and weren’t accepted
If you applied and weren’t accepted, contact the schools to find out why. CSD programs are highly competitive so it might be there were too many applicants for a select few spots. Inform the schools that you plan to apply again (conventional wisdom is to try 3 times) and you want to know what would make your application stronger. Different programs place different emphases on parts of the application so find out what pieces of your application could be improved upon. Once you have more information you can work on making the changes. Additionally, consider applying to more or different schools.
Sometimes you may need more experience. If you’re interested in working in schools, some districts can hire you as a speech therapist aide on a temporary limited license. This will enable you to gain experience before graduate school. If your personal statement needs work, see Career & Internship Services to help revise it for the next application cycle. If you need additional coursework or a stronger grade point average, consider taking a course at the graduate level as a non-degree seeking student to prove your ability to be a successful graduate student. Check with the schools to which you are applying to determine if this is an option.
You’ve decided not to go to graduate school, at least not yet
If you don’t want to go to graduate school, or at least not right away, it could be a good time for self-assessment and exploration. Take the Strong Interest Inventory, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, and/or StrengthsQuest to explore other directions, options, and possibilities. Learning more might lead you to consider applying to other types of graduate programs (i.e. social work, counseling, communication, special education) or other health or medical related programs (i.e. occupational therapy, respiratory therapy, nursing). Your major in CSD is attractive to other types of programs to which you can apply!
Explore what drew you to CSD in the first place. Is it a desire to help people? There are lots of other ways to do this. Look at what people with psychology, sociology, education, or other majors are doing. With your CSD major you can do many of the things students with other majors do. To see where other UMD graduates are working check out the Graduate Follow-up Report. You could also help people through joining the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps. Explore all these options while you determine your next steps.
If you decide to go straight into a job search, examine what skills you have. Communication, problem solving, teamwork, managing, planning, organizing, and analyzing, to name just a few, are all skills you developed during your undergraduate education and are skills that employers in all fields desire. Learn to communicate you have these skills, and others, and a wide variety of occupations with a wide variety of employers may be open to you.
Most importantly – know there ARE options and possibilities. Talk to a counselor in Career & Internship Services to discuss your situation and brainstorm ideas. We are here to help!