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Helpful critiques: As an MSW applicant, do I have enough experience/credentials?


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Hello Everyone! I'm new to thegradcafe, and I was wondering if I could get your opinions on whether or not I have sufficient enough experience to apply to MSW programs for Fall 2014. I am primarily interested in transgender/LGBTQ issues.


Here's my background: I graduated from Brown University (December 2010) with a B.A. in psychology (clinical track) and a 3.95 GPA. During my undergraduate career, I was a teaching assistant for an upper-level clinical psychology course (behavior modification) and I was also a psychology research assistant. After I graduated, I moved abroad for two years to Germany and the UK, where I did work non-related to my field (I was an English tutor/worked at a non-profit art museum). During that time, I received a Fulbright award to teach English in Austria, but I had to turn it down due to insufficient funding (I would have to generate an extra $1,000/month just to live in a small, expensive Austrian town). By the way, can I still put down on my CV that I was a Fulbright recipient, even though I did not accept the fellowship in the end? Maybe I can put an asterisk with a footnote?


Anyway, this past year, I have tried to accrue as much experience related to social work as possible. While living in Liverpool, I worked as a private caregiver for a child with Asperger's syndrome. I was also a volunteer (and still continue to be from long distance), with an informal LGBTQ support group. I am currently tutoring and mentoring foster children, and I will soon be volunteering at an LGBT community center here in Phoenix. Having seen the horrors of patient abuse when I went to work as a behavioral health technician in the for-profit mental health field here in Phoenix, I am currently working on an expose that will be published in a credible literary magazine. I've also obtained some additional certifications that are pertinent to the field of social work, namely Crisis Prevention and Intervention, Daily Assisted Living, and CPR/First Aid.  


I applied last year to Portland State University's MSW program, but was rejected due to insufficient experience. I'm currently planning on applying to: Columbia, McGill, NYU, University of Washington, University of Pittsburgh, Smith College, Hunter College, Portland State, San Francisco State, and Loyola University Chicago.


Am I aiming too high with my list of schools? Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated! I've been such a nervous wreck thinking about applying for next year.


Thank y'all so, so much!!! 



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I'm at Loyola if you have questions about their program--go ahead and shoot me a message. I also got into UW Seattle and PSU of the schools you listed. I am very happy at Loyola and with my internship and am happy I made the decision I did.

I approached applications with a $30k cap on tuition and 2 expensive, 1 moderate, and 2 cheap schools. But you're the best one to know what's best for you.

re Fullbright I would not personally put it on my resume, but possibly my LinkedIn.

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Hey SuburbanLite,


I will be at UW this fall and, as citychild suggested, feel free to PM me if you have questions about UW specifically. 


Regarding your credentials, I feel like you have absolutely nothing to worry about when it comes to academics. As for social work related experience, I feel like your experience is comparable to mine (I was stronger academic/research wise with only part-time social work experience). It sounds like you are on the right track, but I would encourage you to keep pursuing as much "direct social work" experience as you can.  


Honestly, I feel like applications are a crapshoot. It all depends on who/what the programs are looking for when you apply. I applied to PSU as a safety net, thinking for sure I would get in, but was denied. On the other hand, I was accepted into UW and UCLA, both very credible programs. I would suggest approaching your applications/school choices with these three things in mind: 1. location location location! 2. tuition. 3. field placement opportunities/networking.


good luck!

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