Whether you graduated a few months ago or have had years to pursue other passions, starting an AuD program is a big and exciting change! I personally jumped right into grad school after finishing my undergraduate degree and was expecting to find it an easy transition since I was just continuing on years of education without pause. While for some people that may be true, I really relied on the tips and advice from other students on how to navigate my totally new experience as an AuD graduate student. The tips I have are by no means going to be helpful for everyone, nor are they necessarily monumental tips, but I’ve found that sometimes it’s the simple reminders that help the most when navigating the beginning of the AuD journey.
1.Communicate Early and Often
Your first day as an AuD student might seem like it would be the day that you walk into the first class. I would argue it starts way before that. I consider my first day as the day that I officially accepted the offer to attend my program. Many of you have already completed this step, congrats! Summer before classes begin is an incredibly helpful time to reach out to program coordinators with questions and complete requirements. You will likely have a lot of documentation to complete before arriving on Day 1 of classes, so communicating with the program about those expectations and checking emails consistently is key. Also, reach out to other students in your program. You are going to spend A LOT of time together so why not start getting to know each other early.
2. Take Notes to Last Years, Not Just for One Class
In my undergraduate career, I got used to the first day just being about reviewing the syllabus and introducing names. Sometimes that’s still true, other times, get ready because you’re about to go full speed on the first day. My first day included a LOT of information about key requirements, expectations, and dates that apply to the entirety of the year and my 4 years as an AuD student. Staying organized so that you are able to refer to those notes throughout your entire time as a student is a challenge that you need to plan for. If you don’t already have a system for archiving notes and long-term planning, deciding on one ahead of the first day is necessary.
3. Learn Names and Faces of Professors and Administrators
I had met all of the professors during my interview for the program, and learned a bit about what their focuses are, but it’s hard to retain all of that when you’re nervous about having a good interview. I found it very helpful to read up on who teaches my classes, and who manages everything. My orientation day was filled with all of these people sharing different information and popping in and out, so just to remember who I needed to refer to for specific problems required remembering faces and names pretty well. Like your cohort, you will spend a lot of time with them so get to know them!
4. Be Present
It’s really easy to get caught up in conversation about applications and interviews for AuD programs when you get to a place where all of your peers just went through the same process. Though this can be a common ground for starting conversation, I would encourage you to leave those talks for another day. Your first day as an AuD student is about being at the place that you are and will be for the next few years, not all the places you might have been. Be present in the day and your program and celebrate being in the place that you are!
5. Take Time for YOU
In my experience, AuD programs are pretty busy and the first day can feel the busiest. There are hours filled with getting oriented to your new program and peers, which can be overwhelming. While most of what I’ve said makes it seem like the first day is the essential for having a strong start in your program, the truth is that the first day is not always perfect and relaxing. You do want to be prepared and present and open to greeting your program, but it’s also important to remember that it’s the first day of many days. You will have lots of time to get organized, to bond with peers, to meet professors, etc. Don’t discount the time that you need for yourself on the first day!
Stephanie Berry is a second-year AuD student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is currently a member of the SAA Communications Committee. Her audiology interests include pediatric identification and management of hearing loss, with an emphasis on serving children with complex needs and multiple disabilities as a NC LEND trainee.