Currently, I am in the process of applying to various audiology programs.
I wrote my first draft of my letter of intent about 2 months ago.
Then I opened a new word document and rewrote it from scratch.
Then, I opened another word document, and copy-pasted a handful of lines from the previous document which I thought were acceptable.
Then, I opened yet another new document, and started from scratch.
This pattern has continued up till now, where I currently have seven varying versions of my letter of intent open, none of which I am fully satisfied with. (Not to mention the countless versions deleted.)
Write a statement of up to 500 words, indicating your reasons for wishing to study audiology, the aspects of the field that are of particular interest, clinical and/or research questions that you wish to investigate, etc.
That’s the phrase posted on the website for my first-choice program describing the letter I am to write.
I could write a Goblet of Fire sized novel on why I want to study audiology, everything that excites me about the field, every hole I see in the research that I would like to fill, every personal experience that shaped me into being a person who has become so passionate about this subject. At the same time, that 500 word count seems staggeringly huge. Have I done enough volunteering, had enough academic success and filled enough work experience hours to meaningfully fill those 500 words? I don’t know.
So here I am, basically using this platform as a workspace, and place to vent my anxieties. Maybe I’ll begin by talking about the simplest thing that I’m asked to include in the letter: why I want to study audiology.
When I was very young, maybe 8 or 9, I went to the audiologists’ clinic like I had done dozens of times before. The audiologist I saw that day was the semi-retired former owner of the clinic, who at that time still came and saw clients occasionally. He looked inside my ears, took impressions for new molds, and checked that my hearing aids were working well, all the usual things. However, at the end of that appointment, he did something different. He asked me what I knew about my hearing impairment.
This shocked me.
As a young child, I wasn’t familiar with being asked anything. Usually, I was told things. “Don’t get your hearing aids wet, put them in their case at night, wear them during school.” Being asked anything was a pretty novel experience. And so, I replied that I had a vague knowledge that some sort of hairs in my ear didn’t work very well, but didn’t know much else. The audiologist then explained to me the physiology of the middle ear and the cochlea in a way comprehensible to a child, but still challenging in a way that encouraged me to ask questions.
In his actions, he invited me to be an active contributor in my hearing journey, rather than just a passive participant.
When I think back to my earliest moment of excitement and accompanying passion for learning about audiology, that moment always stands out to me. My desire to be an audiologist goes beyond just wanting to provide the joy of sound to others, but to empowering others with knowledge of their impairment, so they can actively contribute to their rehabilitation.
I know I need to simultaneously thin that story down, and also flesh it out in order to build up any sort of letter respectable enough for an audiology program to consider. But that moment truly marked the start of it all for me.
(At this point, I feel the need to state that since that appointment, I have certainly had my other regular audiologists engage me in enlightening conversations about my hearing impairment, and so I mean no disrespect or ignorance towards their efforts with this story. Its simply the first moment I can remember where my interest in the field was truly piqued. As well, I admit that it may have stuck in my mind especially so, because (and I mean no sexism or disrespect by this) the audiologist I saw that day was the only male audiologist I’d ever had an appointment with. For a young boy, seeing a male in that position, especially a male who engaged me in a mature fashion, had a lasting impact on me.)