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Very low GRE quant/verbal high analytical writing...chances of acceptance to MSW programs?


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I'd like to apply for fall 2012 MSW programs but I know I'm cutting it short with the timeline so I might have to apply for 2013 if things don't run smoothly. I'm new to the boards and new to exploring the MSW route so any advice would be helpful!

Here are my stats:

Age: 29

GPA: ~3.2

Undergrad: BA Psych

Work/life experience: 2-3 years volunteer experience with non profits/humanitarian organizations, 2 years working/living in Africa with the peace corps, 3 years of human resources work for for-profit companies (banks), speak 4 languages (2 of which I learned in the peace corps), traveled 25 countries independently, lived in 4.

GRE: verbal/quant 420/430. My Analytical writing was 5.5. I'm not sure if this matters but it was taken in 2007 so just one year shy of the 5 year cut off.

Goals: Would like to work domestically with veterans or internationally with displaced populations.

I'm aiming at applying for programs that don't require the GRE, but SDSU caught my eye. I noticed however that they say they ONLY look at the writing score, which is a sliver lining to me, but I can't only submit my AW score without them seeing the entire thing...so will my low scores scare the admissions board?

What are everyones thoughts on applying for other GRE-required programs, such as Berkeley and UCLA with my GRE scores? Will my work/life experience make me competitive or will I be (unofficially) disqualified based on my GRE? I am pretty firm on not taking the test again. It was a terrible experience the first time and I don't want to subject myself to it again.

I plan on applying to:

UW and SDSU as of now. Berkeley would be a dream.

I appreciate everyones insight! :)

Edited by SofieCat
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You probably already know this, but I'd be worried about institutional cutoffs with those scores. I agree the GRE was not a fun experience, but compared to other things I've done in my lifetime, it really wasn't that traumatic. You sit in an ugly room in an ugly building for 3-4 hours and then you leave. Nothing much changes. In the grand scheme of things, it's pretty much a non-event. I'd suggest retaking.

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I contacted SDSU because that is my first choice. They expect a 4 on the analytical writing section, but they don't care about your other scores at all. The admissions person I talked to indicated that GPA is weighted most heavily, followed by personal statement, LORs, and experience.

Hope this helps.


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Thanks for your help!

Tracey- Do you know if SDSU (or any school) fills spots as applications are received or do they wait until the cut off (Jan 15th) to look at everyone. I ask because I'm very late to applying and will just barely make the Jan 15th cut off so I'm wondering if I should just wait until next year to apply for 2013. I'm not confident that I'm a stellar candidate so I don't want to get rejected/wait listed because I'm the last person to apply.

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I didn't ask about how they fill spots. I know for undergrad they wait until after the deadline to start reviewing apps. I won't be turning mine in until late December because of one of my profs. He can't my letter of rec until Dec. 20th.

What's your concentration? I'm going for Direct Practice.

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This is the email the admissions person sent to me:

"Paid/internship/volunteer experience all count toward the 500 hours. The only portion of the GRE that is evaluated is the writing portion and they expect a 4 out of 6. You still have to take the whole thing for the University to accept the score, but they only look at the writing portion. The GPA is the greatest indicator of graduate level performance and is given the most weight. The average GRE is 3.2 overall and 3.4 in the last 60 units."

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My BA is in psych. I'm graduating in May from a CSU. My overall gpa is 3.2 (i did poorly my first year of college and the community college and then transferred to the CSU last year.) My Psych gpa is a 3.9. My gpa at the CSU for all units completed there is a 3.75.

I worked at psychiatric hospital before transferring here. I worked at the hospital with seniors, adults, adolescents & children, ICU (chronically or severely ill patients), and active duty military. (Both inpatients and outpatients alike.)

I currently volunteer weekly at a veterans center in my area.

My GRE scores were low. I got a 4.5 on the AW section.

I am originally from San Diego which I hope helps because CSU's LOVE locals.

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I just finished my first semester of the MSW program at SDSU. SDSU only looks at the analytical writing score, it says so on the website. You list the score on the departmental app and then the SW dept. verifies the score with admissions. The other scores will not be considered, I literally did not try on the other sections and guessed on most. I promise you will be fine!

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