Thursday, 6 December 2012

An Unexpected Hiccup

On my checklist of things needed to get into Grad school was reference letters, and I needed 3. This wouldn't be a problem. I asked Patt, my Conservation Psychology prof, to write one for me and he was more than happy to. Though this was at the pub and we both had a bit to drink so maybe I'll send an email reminder later.

Next was one of my supervisors for my research project. He too was more than happy to oblige me. That's 2/3. So far so good.

And then I got to the Professor who I'd been doing research under for years. We'll call him Prof Cap.

And he told me no.

Ok, I might be exaggerating a bit here and I haven't given his explanation yet. See, he was than happy to write me one, until I told him I was trying to get into Speech and Language Pathology. Then he looked me in the eye and said, "Damian, I don't think my reference letter is going to help you get in. Your GPA isn't that competitive."

Ouch. Harsh but probably true.

Don't worry, there's more.

He goes on to tell me that he's written more than half a dozen reference letters over the last few years for students trying to get into the program. And only one got in, the one with the ~4.0 GPA. Remember that mine is at ~3.3.

Oh and it gets better. One of the people even did research with a SLP professor for a year and STILL didn't get in. If this isn't enough of an indicator that the SLP department (at least at my University) only cares about marks, I don't know what is. 

I mean, I'm fairly certain that knowing that a student can properly conduct research is a better indicator of a good grad student than, I don't know, an arbitrary number on a piece of paper. Just because you can memorize definitions from a book doesn't mean you can do things in real life.

Fairly certain that the department admins look like this.

That being said, ALL of the students my prof wrote reference letters for were women. Maybe I could stand a chance by being male? You think they'd give me a special exception? Hopefully?
Either way, Prof Cap had two pieces of advice for me. Either start applying to the SLP program at other Universities in hopes that they aren't as competitive, or start looking for a different graduate program to get into. I'm definitely going to start exploring these options, I need to make a back-up plan after finals.


Oh, side note. Patt is also written at least 2 reference letters for students trying to get into the SLP program. And Prof Cap and I think we know what SLP is so popular/competitive. There's a huge demand for Speech Pathologists and it might have to do with the surge of autism in recent years. And we both think it's the new ADHD.

Autism is a real disorder, but whether or not the huge numbers of people being diagnosed with it are legitimate cases found due to better diagnostic methods, or helicopter parents being helicopter parents has yet to be determined.


  1. It's always good to have a back-up plan, but apply at your university too. What the hell, eh?

  2. Ouch, that does indeed sound pretty damn harsh. But if you really want to get in, surely there must be a way! And like your prof said, other universities might give you a better chance.

    Also yeah, lots of people get needlessly diagnosed with autism. One of my friends got the label too. Sucks.

  3. Well hopefully you can get into SLP and start working out who's really autistic. Then the world may be a better place. Or at the very least you'll be rich. I don't think that grades are an accurate representation of you and who you are, but other people, especially teachers, are which sucks. I'd suggest another university myself if this is something you want to do. Try to find some way to raise your GPA too.

  4. Damn that sucks, but at least he was honest and you never know, the male aspect could help.

  5. I've learned that in college it's not what you can do that matters, it's your graded that matter

    And in the real world it's not your grades that matter, it's your work experience

  6. A sucky reality check, but it's always good to have backup plans...

  7. I'm a big fan of the Plan A, Plan B and Plan C method. In fact, I'd like to offer up Plan C (this plan depends greatly on the person deciding to accept you into Grad School is female, and horny) So you strut into her office and ask her "Do you know the difference between a 4.0 GPA and amazing sex?" She'll likely be distracted by the thought of amazing sex and answer no. And BAM! That's when you make your move and ask her if she wants you to show her amazing sex!"

    My work here is done.

    Your welcome.

  8. you need to do a thorough research on this and everything else, Damien, it's about your future life and profession.

  9. Debra's right. Don't give up. A backup plan is always a good thing, but don't plan for failure. This guy sounds like a douchebag.

  10. Sorry to hear that he told you no outright no although I think that he was saying it with the nicest intentions although it didn't work out that way. I'm also with you on the autism thing too, we have to be careful to not misdiagnose.

  11. You always make me smile, yes autism is difficult but I know amazed people with it!!

  12. oof. that sucks! but at least he is being honest. that being said, i hope you find a way to do what you really want to do. life is long and hard, and working for a living is exhausting and soul crushing if you hate your job. so......try to find a way to do what you like. if possible.

  13. In my grad school referential letters were optional for applying. Anyhow, good luck with your final admission!

  14. want me to write a reference letter ? it'll have boobs in in it.

  15. How I hate these moments when people tell me that I am not capable of doing something and no matter how I try I still won't be able to get what I want! Turn on your persistence and you will be appreciated for your unique qualities different from the girls' ones! Good luck!

  16. Does SLP stand for speech-language pathology??

    I remember the one time I asked for a letter of rec. from a prof. She also said no. I was traumatized. To this day, I've not asked another prof.

  17. Just because you can memorize definitions from a book doesn't mean you can do things in real life.. Spoken like a true sage, and it's true too. Do send that email reminder. We tutors tend to say a lot when we're enjoying our bourbon.

    Keeping my fingers crossed.

  18. Dude.. I don't know if I want them to be sexist or just regular a*holes. I guess, for your sake, I hope they're sexist.

    Damn, this feels weird to say.

  19. At least Prof Cap is totally honest and at least he helped formulate some ideas for plan B! Good luck!! Take care