With the demand for speech-language pathologists continuing to grow, it is important to find and foster candidates likely to succeed. The latest forum in Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups explores “Holistic Review for Graduate Admissions: Considerations and Starting Conversations.”

In a holistic review admissions process, faculty, administrators, and staff consider not only traditional measures (e.g., grades and test scores) but also an applicant’s experiences and attributes when making admissions decisions.

Guest Editor Kerry Callahan Mandulak said that she has spent the past 2 years reflecting on graduate admissions and how they contribute to developing our future audiology and speech-language pathology workforce. She believes that a holistic approach to graduate admissions can “examine the barriers to entry, and processes that may limit equity and diversity in our field.” The five articles contain key elements that Mandulak hopes can help administrators and faculty turn this research into action.

An Introduction to Holistic Review

Mandulak provides a viewpoint to introduce the overall concept of holistic review, providing a review not only of the fundamental tenets of holistic admissions but also of the current evidence for the effectiveness of this strategy. Mandulak stresses that graduate programs have the responsibility to prepare students who are not only academically successful but who provide culturally competent care.

An article by Scheer-Cohen et al. describes their individualized approach to holistic review, from start to finish. This article includes ideas such as including a recorded response to a prompt as well as a live interview. Authors discuss the planning and implementation of this approach as well as the challenges.

Specific Aspects of Holistic Review

The forum includes a tutorial in which Mandulak joins lead author Christine M. Carmichael and Diana Watkins to present graduate interview processes in two communication sciences and disorders (CSD) programs. They explore the benefits of using interviews to supplement traditional assessment measures such as test scores.

Letters of recommendation are a key aspect of an applicant’s file that they submit for review. An article by Newkirk-Turner and Hudson looked at letters of recommendation written for Black applicants to CSD programs to survey phrases that could bias readers. Overall, authors found that these phrases negatively impacted readers, even when the writers had positive intentions.

How can faculty identify the best future clinicians? An article by Reisfeld and Kaplan examines just that. Overall, authors found that grades and test scores more accurately predicted academic outcomes, whereas interviews, essays, and even personality tests were slightly better at predicting clinical skills.

Thank You for Learning With Us!

We hope that this forum gives you a chance to reflect on how you can help prepare the next generation of culturally competent clinicians. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2 of AJSLP’s forum on increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the professions. The forum was co-guest edited by Dr. Danai Fannin and Dr. Mandulak.

We’d like to thank Dr. Mandulak and all the authors for their efforts in bringing this forum to Perspectives! You can read the entire forum in the latest issue of Perspectives, or explore the individual articles below.

Explore the Forum

Carmichael, C. M., Mandulak, K. C., & Watkins, D. (2022). Interviews for graduate admissions in communication sciences and disorders: Methods from two CSD programs. Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, 7(2), 426–437. https://doi.org/10.1044/2022_PERSP-21-00015

Mandulak, K. C. (2022). The case for holistic review in communication sciences and disorders admissions. Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, 7(2), 476–481. https://doi.org/10.1044/2020_PERSP-20-00137

Newkirk-Turner, B. L., & Hudson, T. K. (2022). Do no harm: Graduate admissions letters of recommendation and unconscious bias. Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, 7(2), 463–475. https://doi.org/10.1044/2021_PERSP-20-00117

Reisfeld, N. D., & Kaplan, S. L. (2022). Predicting clinical skills in graduate health sciences applicants: A systematic review. Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, 7(2), 445–462. https://doi.org/10.1044/2021_PERSP-20-00179

Scheer-Cohen, A. R., Heisler, L., & Moineau, S. (2022). Holistic admissions: From paper file to live interview. Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, 7(2), 438–444. https://doi.org/10.1044/2020_PERSP-20-00113