Should I apply to MSW programs now or later?
November 3, 2012 1:43 PM   Subscribe

Do I have an appropriate background for admissions to an MSW program? Lots of details inside.

I'm currently applying to MSW programs and would like to get my LCSW eventually. However, I'm not sure if I have the appropriate experience at this point. Should I wait a year and try to beef up my resume?

A little about my background ....

Undergrad majors: English and Spanish. I took about 10 classes in various social sciences, mostly general surveys. Pretty good grades at a pretty good school.

Work experience: PR and journalism, including a good deal of work that necessitated multi-cultural understanding.

Volunteer experience: limited. Big Brothers/Sisters for one year. Some PR volunteering for a non-profit.

What can I do to improve my application? Is my undergrad education sufficient?

Also, and most important, what are volunteer suggestions for a future LCSW? What would provide relevant experience? Specifically in NYC would be very helpful.

Also--I'm very introverted and enjoy working with people one-on-one. I think of stereotypical social workers as being very outgoing, which I am not. I am as "INFP" as it gets. Will I enjoy grad school for social work and working as a clinical social worker?
posted by anonymous to Education (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't think it's that hard to get into MSW programs. I know the one at UChicago doesn't even require GRE scores. I think you're good as long as you write a good essay and have a 3.0 GPA.
posted by discopolo at 2:10 PM on November 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

How long have you been out of school? What type of work do you do now? If you know what type of population you are interested in working with you should start volunteering on a weekly basis with that population (elderly, kids, families, immigrants...) and get some experience.

You can usually take a couple of classes as a non-matriculating student and then transfer them or apply them to your degree if you take the courses at the college you eventually attend.
posted by Sal and Richard at 2:29 PM on November 3, 2012

Do you have a pulse? Do you have a criminal record? Provide the right answers and you're in! Seriously!
posted by shushufindi at 2:49 PM on November 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yeah, seriously, I had zero related experience when I applied to social work schools and got in without really trying. I'd majored in history ten years beforehand and worked as a textbook copyeditor. Just apply and see what happens.
posted by pineappleheart at 3:16 PM on November 3, 2012

Yeah, this is one of the things that depresses me about MSW programs: anyone with a pulse is basically seen as qualified. I do not think you'll have a problem getting in, and the good part of social work programs is the practicuum, which will prepare you for practice. Don't sweat it.
posted by OmieWise at 3:33 PM on November 3, 2012

Which is not to say that you aren't really qualified on a more legitimate spectrum of qualification. You do seem to be, and, you know, I'm a fucking brilliant clinical social worker, as are my wife and my closest friends. It's just that you shouldn't worry about whether you are qualified.
posted by OmieWise at 3:48 PM on November 3, 2012

What everyone else said. My husband reads these folders and the bar at a private university is shockingly low - you're paying 30K to earn a relatively low salary. State schools may be more competitive. Also, virtually impossible to flunk out.
posted by mozhet at 5:32 PM on November 3, 2012

My dad is a well respected MSW. He got into Berkeley with a degree in fine arts. While he practiced he was on the cutting edge of behavioral therapy and met guys whose names you'd goggle at.

So, if he could do it, I'm sure your background is fine.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:33 PM on November 3, 2012

Choose an MSW program based upon its record of achieving the result you want for the kind of student you are, and the net tuition you'll be expected to pay/borrow along the way. Be VERY RIGOROUS in examining these factors, and expect evidence.

Programs which have a strong track record of putting lay people into a career track as a full-time LCSW therapist are going to be a lot more competitive than programs which sell for $50,000 to full-time social services civil servants the tick-the-box credential which enables them to get a $10,000 a year raise.
posted by MattD at 6:35 PM on November 3, 2012

Make sure you maintain your Spanish fluency (or get to that level if you're not there already). It will be a huge asset, both as a student and in your career.
posted by decathecting at 8:47 PM on November 3, 2012

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