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Hello all you MSW hopefuls! So I am just looking out there to see if anyone else has had the same experience as I have. I applied to U Washington, USC, and Portland State. I was trying to get into the program straight away from my undergrad. I thought that I had done enough to get in! I have been a volunteer with disadvantaged people for 5 years now, I have a 3.5, a kick butt essay (says my lit professor), and glowing LOR's. SO, then why have I been rejected from PSU, waitlisted at U Washington, and have yet to hear from USC?? I have worked so hard, I just don't understand.

Of course I have not lost hope, I will work for awhile and then reapply. I am just trying to see the positive in this. I'm not trying to be dramatic..I know this isn't the worst thing ever and may be a blessing in disguise..I was just wondering if anyone could shed some light on this for me..

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Hello all you MSW hopefuls! So I am just looking out there to see if anyone else has had the same experience as I have. I applied to U Washington, USC, and Portland State. I was trying to get into the program straight away from my undergrad. I thought that I had done enough to get in! I have been a volunteer with disadvantaged people for 5 years now, I have a 3.5, a kick butt essay (says my lit professor), and glowing LOR's. SO, then why have I been rejected from PSU, waitlisted at U Washington, and have yet to hear from USC?? I have worked so hard, I just don't understand.

Of course I have not lost hope, I will work for awhile and then reapply. I am just trying to see the positive in this. I'm not trying to be dramatic..I know this isn't the worst thing ever and may be a blessing in disguise..I was just wondering if anyone could shed some light on this for me..

If you want some insight from others, it would help if you stated what college you graduated from and what your GRE score is?

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I just graduated from Notre Dame de Namur University, a small private school in California. I did not take the GRE as none of the schools required it and I did not need anything to supplement my GPA since it was already pretty good.

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If all your credentials are good then I can think of one of three main reasons:

- Luck: you applied to a very small number of schools; maybe you would have made it another year but this year money was tight. Or maybe you made it to the final list but then didn't get chosen for a random reason...these things happen.

- SOP: I understand your lit professor says its a "kick butt essay," but is that really the right person to ask? Did you consult with people in the field you're applying to in order to make sure you're communicating effectively--getting across everything adcoms in your field want to hear, using the right lingo, talking the way they except about you post-graduation goals? Applying to professional programs is very different than applying to a MA/PhD in a research-oriented field, so you might not have been getting good advice if you were relying on a research professor in another field as your mentor. This point extends to your CV and any other essay you had to write for admissions--look at them again critically and ask yourself whether or not they effectively got across who you are as a person, what your goals are, what your strengths are, why you chose to apply to the schools you did, etc.

- Age/experience: I'm no expert but I wouldn't be surprised if professional programs like the MSW prefer to admit people with a little more life experience than just highschool-->college-->grad school. Maybe your volunteer experience just wasn't enough, or wasn't what they were looking for. Sometimes younger applicants can be very naive about what they will get out of their education and how the world looks outside of school. You could spend this year getting a bit more "real life" experience and correcting this problem (if you have it).

Good luck!

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I'm going to agree with the experience piece. I applied to grad school straight out of undergrad and got nowhere. After gaining work experience, I went five for five. Take some time to gain experience and then reapply. This probably isn't what you want to hear, but try to stay positive.

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Some friendly advice, from someone who's a mere wannabe and a wannabe in an entirely different field to boot: don't think about this in terms of what you've done and what you deserve as a result. I had a disappointing application season, too. I have a really solid undergraduate profile as well, and I've done some stuff I'm pretty proud of since getting my BA. But I think that one of the biggest mistakes I made during the process was trying to figure out where I stacked up amidst everyone else, which is not only a hopeless line of thinking (there are always people who are going to be more prepared and people who are going to be less prepared: that's a given, and that kind of comparison begets madness, in the form of simultaneous self-deprecation -- "I suck compared to everyone else!" --and self-exaltation -- "no, I'm awesome compared to everyone else!") but also an entirely misguided way to think about applying to grad. programs.

My wonderful undergraduate thesis adviser suggested that in the wake of a pile of rejections, I concentrate on the genuine feeling of having a lot to learn. He is entirely right. No matter how prepared any of us are, we have a lot to learn -- that's why we're applying to programs instead of, say, entry-level academic positions. So, instead of thinking about what you had last time and what you felt you deserved from your last application season, maybe think about the things that you still want to learn and accomplish? For me, this keep-your-head-down-and-learn approach -- which is how I approached my entire undergrad life and the two years that I've been out of school since -- has not only helped me become a stronger applicant already, but it's also helped me remember why on earth I want to do this and get a little bit of my mojo back. And it's made me a far less unbearable person, which is awesome: maybe this time I won't drive my partner insane with my constant rantings about "measuring up"!

I understand how easy it is to find your mind wandering along the "I worked so hard, I totally deserve this, why didn't I get this?!" train of thought. Like I said above, I never thought like that UNTIL I began the application process, which, as it turns out, brings out the worst in me -- I really didn't see this particular attitude problem coming, and I was surprised when I realized how easily my brain had gotten sucked into it without my even being aware that it was happening. (When my former adviser made that suggestion, my first reaction was, "Well, obviously, I already know I have a lot to learn.") But at some point during the difficult, somewhat soul-crushing process of applying for something with long-shot odds that I very badly want, I lost sight of what was previously second nature to me and I began to look at all of this in the entirely wrong way. And I wasn't able to pull myself back from what was a problematic mindset until I got the rejections and until my adviser nudged me in such a way. So, since you asked about seeing the positives in this situation, I thought I'd suggest that perhaps one positive (which can garner more concrete positives) would be the impetus to adjust your attitude. It sure has been for me.

Edited by pinkbadger
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Thank you for all of the wonderful input, especially you fuzzylogician! Also Nibor6000 congratulations on your acceptances, how exciting!! I agree too, I do need more paid experience, which was always something I was aware, but maybe a little naive about.

However pinkbadger, I think you must have misread or gotten the wrong idea from my original post. i don't think I need an attitude adjustment at all. It seemed like from what you said you were a wreck when you did not get in - that is not the case for me. A little disappointment, which is only human, is what I felt. I'm sure you did not mean to come off really condecending, but you did a little bit for future reference. I wish you the best of luck! Thanks again everyone :)

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Thank you for all of the wonderful input, especially you fuzzylogician! Also Nibor6000 congratulations on your acceptances, how exciting!! I agree too, I do need more paid experience, which was always something I was aware, but maybe a little naive about.

However pinkbadger, I think you must have misread or gotten the wrong idea from my original post. i don't think I need an attitude adjustment at all. It seemed like from what you said you were a wreck when you did not get in - that is not the case for me. A little disappointment, which is only human, is what I felt. I'm sure you did not mean to come off really condecending, but you did a little bit for future reference. I wish you the best of luck! Thanks again everyone :)

Well, if it's any help, it's taken me about 10 years to get into grad school after working full-time and going to class full-time at night. Just try next year. It was really hard for anyone to get into grad school this year. I heard from the 3 places which dismissed me that they had applications up 40% in almost all grad programs, and in some even worse, because people were applying without jobs. Try next year, get more experience. I think you'll get into your dream school. I finally got in, though I'm much older than the majority of candidates; so, you have time. Just don't wait 10 years like I did, and 15 years after undegraduate.

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However pinkbadger, I think you must have misread or gotten the wrong idea from my original post. i don't think I need an attitude adjustment at all. It seemed like from what you said you were a wreck when you did not get in - that is not the case for me. A little disappointment, which is only human, is what I felt. I'm sure you did not mean to come off really condecending, but you did a little bit for future reference. I wish you the best of luck! Thanks again everyone :)

Hey MSWDreamer -- sorry if you felt I was condescending to you! (And actually, FWIW, I wasn't a "wreck" upon getting rejected; like you, I was disappointed.) The point of all that, which I tried to make clear but perhaps didn't, was that like you, when I didn't get in, I thought, "Well, I did A, B, C, and D: why didn't that yield good results? What else do I have to do?" And when I read your first post, I identified (particularly with the sentence " I have worked so hard, I just don't understand" and the sentences "I am just trying to see the positive in this. I'm not trying to be dramatic..I know this isn't the worst thing ever and may be a blessing in disguise..I was just wondering if anyone could shed some light on this for me.."). So I thought I'd say that for me, it was a blessing in disguise in that it was an indicator that I needed to adjust my attitude toward the application process, and I offered my experience on the off-chance that it might relate to yours (so I wasn't trying to say "hey, change your attitude!" but rather was going for "hey, I identify with what you're saying, and all this taught me that I had to change my attitude"). As per always, your mileage may vary: my experiences might be totally irrelevant to you, but all I was trying to do was contribute what I found to be the "positive" in all of this. Hope I didn't cause much offense! Best of luck to you, too.

P.S.: I just skimmed my last post, and I saw that my last sentences were "So, since you asked about seeing the positives in this situation, I thought I'd suggest that perhaps one positive (which can garner more concrete positives) would be the impetus to adjust your attitude. It sure has been for me." I can see how that sounds like a finger-wagging, and that's my mistake; it wasn't meant as one. That "your attitude" wasn't an accusatory "your attitude!!!" It was a "hey, this may or may not be relevant to you -- it was a huge deal for me." Again, best wishes!

Edited by pinkbadger
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