For #slp2b: Faculty perspective on Grad School Application Process

This post originated in a reply to a entry on Katie Millican’s truly excellent blog.

I thought I would also post it here, but I give credit to Katie for inspiring this.  The original post was a set of good questions about why the Graduate School Application Process can’t be more streamlined.


Original post:

I can greatly appreciate the added stress that tracking multiple requirements creates in this [the graduate school application] process. As Elizabeth noted, CSDCAS is an effort to help reduce this stress [the fact that every school has different requirements for what to fill out, where and how] nationwide. Individual programs elect to participate and a list of participating institutions can be found by checking the CSDCAS website.
It is my firm belief that programs are not deliberately trying to make the process difficult. One of the challenges has to do with what individual universities will allow. CSDCAS definitely helps but there can still be differences program to program even with CSDCAS. A discussion of this delves a little into the depths of university-organized structures so I’ll try to be brief. A university generally has different colleges within it. The colleges then have schools/departments/units. That means you could have a University with a College of Health Professions (generic choice of name) and then a Department of CSD. You might also have a university that tracks graduate students separately through what is known as a Graduate College in addition to the structures above. OK. So why is this important? It is important because different entities within the university have negotiated their own ways of tracking students for administrative and financial purposes (graduate assistantships for example). Each of them works to a certain extent autonomously, but must still relate to the others in some way now and then. So the way that CSD tracks students may differ slightly from the way that programs own College of Health Professions does as well as the way that University’s Graduate College does. Once different facets of the organization are involved each has their own particular way of doing things. So in addition to a CSD unit’s decision to join CSDCAS, the program may still need to have students be tracked through a different university pathway such as a Graduate College. It is the negotiation of these structures within each university that make things tricky. I do this as part of my job and still say Huh?
What this means for students is that they may or may not need to file multiple forms with the same university or the forms they file for each university may look different. This isn’t meant to defend the practice necessarily, but at least to provide a little perspective. Universities have thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of graduate students all of whom need to be tracked by a number of different units across a university. In the same way that having a centralized application process for CSD applicants would be helpful, a single platform for universities to communicate internally would also be good. Unfortunately there are a number of barriers to go into related to that…

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