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MSW Program - How to decide, how many to apply to, other questions

DoneWithThisBSWDoneWithThisBSW Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
Hello everyone, I'm an upcoming senior at VCU studying social work. I plan and hope to continue to graduate school following graduation next year (regular standing is fine for me haha, advanced is bruuuutal). I was hoping to have some insight, as I'm struggling with a few things regarding graduate school -

1.) First, is there an "ideal number" of schools I should apply to? I've read articles suggesting around 5-6, but applications are $60 each and I know MSW programs are different in that they don't consider GPA as much as they consider experience, essays and recommendations. This brings me on to my next question--

2.) How do I know if an MSW program is a reach, match, or safety? They all require the same sort of thing in the application, and not every school has an admissions profile available, which lists the number of students who applied versus the number accepted. That, plus ranking, seem to be the best indicators, but I'm still not sure if this is a thing with MSW programs. I mean, Univ of Michigan is the top ranked school, so what exactly do they look for in candidates?

3.) I am applying to VCU for graduate school but it is not my first choice mainly because I want to move up north as soon as possible - I have no desire to live in VA, honestly while the state is beautiful I strongly dislike it here, and my logic is that I should go to grad school where I want to live.
This is largely because licensure can work slightly different state to state, plus I'm afraid that upon graduation, I'll end up taking a job offer here, and I just won't be able to leave right away. Maybe that's an illogical fear, and I don't think going out-of-state is worth being 100k in debt, but at the same time, the desire is strong enough that I AM looking and actually considering it.

4.) I should briefly mention my financial situation. VCU is an option for me as I'd be in-state and it's significantly cheaper than a few of the schools I'm looking at. I know that considering the annual income of my career choice, I need to be careful about paying 120k for graduate school.
However, I may have graduate school at least partially paid for from a lawsuit I've been involved in. I don't know what the end amount will be, and I would like to have some of it leftover for AFTER graduate school. I do plan to apply for loans, scholarships, and I know many schools offer that type of contract where you get money, as long as you work for X place for Y amount of years. I also know some schools, such as DU, give every accepted student SOME kind of scholarship money. I don't know what financial aid I'd qualify for, but I imagine that as long as I list myself as independent I would qualify for *some*.

Sorry for such a long post, I've really tried to shorten it, but I have so many questions and seeing as I haven't found a social work sub-thread/forum, I haven't been able to find answers from students who actually experienced it (different from reading articles). Thanks in advance for reading though lol, and of course answering!

Replies to: MSW Program - How to decide, how many to apply to, other questions

  • RoaringMiceRoaringMice Registered User Posts: 665 Member
    edited May 18
    Since you'll be a grad student, you'll be independent for the purposes of financial aid. That's how it works.

    Applying to public unis in your home state is a good idea, as they can be financial backups should you not get the aid you need to get at other schools, so do apply to VCU, and if you aren't 100% sure you'd get in there, to another one as well.

    In terms of being able to evaluate programs re: if you might get in, that can be difficult. At VCU, you can talk to your professors, and they should be able to give you insight into grad admissions there. For the other schools, see if you can get info such as their percent admit rate, which can give you a clue into how hard it may be to get in. Then apply to several schools - some you can tell, from their admit rate, that you're likely to get into, and others that you believe may be tougher, but are perhaps in ideal locations for you. And 1-2 publics in your home state. See where you get in, see what the aid looks like at each school. Calculate what you'd need in loans for each, then decide.

  • privatebankerprivatebanker Registered User Posts: 4,949 Senior Member
    Boston University has a great graduate school of social work. A friend of mine graduated two years ago and worked the whole time as well. He had to help pay his way to reduce debt. It was a great program for him. Maybe he did it part time over three years. I don’t recall. But he was working in the field as he went along.
  • sevmomsevmom Registered User Posts: 8,333 Senior Member
    I live in Virginia. VCU should be fine for graduate school. Minimize cost and debt. If you get money from another program that brings the cost down, go for it, but VCU may be your best bet. My MSW was from Pitt . You don't have to/need to worry about licensure issues until you settle in the area you want to practice in. I was an LCSW in Virginia but licensure is not possible until you have work experience , clinical hours, testing, etc.,out of the way. That takes years to get to that point after graduate school. Locate where you want to begin that process after you graduate. The location of your graduate school should not be important for eventual licensure. Good luck.
  • oldmom4896oldmom4896 Registered User Posts: 4,065 Senior Member
    edited May 20
    I will graduate from an MSW program on Thursday. @DoneWithThisBSW, I am puzzled why you don't want to take advantage of your BSW and finish your MSW in a year. In my program at a state u. of NY program, my second year I studied with many advanced standing students and they definitely went head-to-head with those of us who had been there for the two years (having a bachelor's degree in a different discipline). In my fieldwork at a day program for adults living with serious mental illness, I worked alongside people with social work degrees and people without (bachelor of human services, masters in public administration) and the social work alumni were much better trained at empowering their clients than the rest (although everyone served clients well; just that the social work background was better).

    You could go to a much more expensive and presumably better school at the same cost if you only need a year.

    You also may want to join NASW as a student (around $60/year; I think the dues are going up at the end of May) where there is a forum where you could post a query that would be seen by many, many social workers.

    Good luck!
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