Chapter Two: Observation Hours, Experience, and the GREs of Doom

When we last left our hero, Sir Stu Dent had just finished compiling his list of graduate schools that he wished to apply to.

If you recall our analogy from yesterday, a graduate school is a many-headed beast and one must feed each of its heads if one ever hopes to be accepted by it. Stu decided that for the next few months, he would focus on feeding two of the heads, named Observation Hours and GRE Scores. He also decided that he would use this free time to gather magical tools for befriending the monsters in the form of volunteer hours and work experience.

Stu scoured the land far and wide in search of places to observe. He asked schools, both public and private. He asked hospitals, both big and small. He asked rehab centers and private practices and random strangers that Sir Internet had introduced him to. He had many a door slammed in his face, and many people did not even bother coming to the door at all! But at last, Sir Stu found places to observe licensed speech-language pathologists in action. After each observation, he made sure that the kind SLPs filled out his observation log, and before he knew it, Sir Stu had completed the requisite 25 hours! Sir Stu was quite relieved. One head of the monster had been fed. However, he still had many heads to go.

Stu next decided to face a challenge most horrific – an exam known as the GRE. What the GRE stood for, he knew not. He knew only that he had to take it, and take it well. With the help of Sir Internet, Stu contacted the ETS and scheduled a date to take this examination. Upon seeing the price to take this exam, Sir Stu did nearly faint. It was in this moment that he decided it would perhaps be wisest to take the exam only once (in order to save his money), and to study well beforehand. Still, Stu scheduled his exam for rather early in the year, so in case he did not do as well as he hoped, he could take it once more.

To study for the GRE of doom, Sir Stu took it upon himself to seek free resources where he could find them. The ETS offered two free practice exams, which Stu took advantage of. The local library offered Stu free test prep books. And come fall, Stu’s very own Rutgers University typically offered free prep courses, though they filled up quickly, so Stu did not rely on them too much.

Now, Sir Stu knew that he was a decent test taker. He had taken his practice exams and done fairly well. That said, had he done poorly on those practice exams, Stu would have sought out prep courses on his own, though it hurt his wallet deeply to do so.  

Test day had arrived and Sir Stu came prepared. He had studied for weeks, brought his admission ticket, his ID, and a healthy snack to the test center, and sat down to take the dreaded exam. It took him nearly four hours, but at last he was done – and his scores, generated automatically, were perfectly acceptable! He aimed for at least a 150 in both the verbal and quantitative sections, and he had met his goal. His writing scores would come later, but Stu knew that they would be decent enough, as he had prepared for all of the the writing prompts on the exam in advanced (for the prompts for both the Issue and Argument sections  were drawn from a pool, that was available to him via the ETS’s website).

Before Stu left the test center – and believe me, he could not wait to get out – he decided to take advantage of the opportunity to send four score reports to his prospective schools for free. He did so, as sending score reports to his schools after he left the testing center would cost a not-insignificant sum of money.

And with that, Stu had fed yet another head of the many-headed graduate school monster.

What would Sir Stu do next?
Read on tomorrow, as the journey continues…