Jump to content

Advice on what more I can do between now and application season this fall?

Recommended Posts


I've been lurking around on this forum for quite some time and have learned so much from all of you who take the time to share your insights. Right now I'm struggling with whether or not to take a chance and apply this fall or wait another year. I am in my late twenties, graduated with an unrelated undergrad degree, and had a difficult time during the second half of college/in the years after graduation because I was caring for two terminally ill parents. I eeked out with a 3.0 but know that my last 60 hours in undergrad were definitely below that. I volunteered quite a lot in college, but after graduation I was not in a position to go to grad school/volunteer/make any other commitments while caring for my parents. I did manage to start and run my own business and still do so full time today.

Life has started to normalize in the last year and a half and I've been working on re-engaging academically and in my community. If I were to apply this year, by the time I send my application in this fall I will have (in addition to volunteer work in undergrad):
- 9 months as a hotline advocate at a domestic violence agency, 6 additional months as an intern there (16-20 hrs/week)
- 6 months as a DV shelter volunteer (different agency, different county)
- 6 months as co-facilitator of a support group for people who have lost loved ones to suicide
- 6 post-bacc credit hours of undergraduate coursework in mental health and child welfare (4.0)
- Two completed graduate certificate programs - one in substance abuse counseling and one in military/trauma counseling (4.0 expected, total of ~24 graduate-level credit hours)

I have not taken the GRE yet but plan to in late summer/early fall. My main issue right now is that I really just have no sense of whether the work I will have put in in the 1.5-2 years before applying will be enough to make up for the 4-5 years I spent just running a business and caring for family. I've really tried over the last year and a half to explore many different avenues of social work to figure out my interests and re-engage with school to demonstrate that I am capable of doing well academically when I'm not in crisis mode.

Is there anything else that might make me a stronger applicant? I am going back and forth thinking that perhaps I need to just wait and add another whole year of volunteer/intern experience before applying, but I know that this is the right field for me and want to get started sooner rather than later. The program I really want to attend seems pretty competitive, so I'm just really worried about my low undergrad GPA and that long gap in social work-related experience.

Thanks in advance for any words of wisdom or advice you may have to share!

Link to comment
Share on other sites




Personally, I think you are set. If you want to talk more, go ahead an PM me. 


I think it is really going to come down how you represent and speak about your experience, hardships, successes, and reasons why you want to become a social worker. 



Hope that helps!

Link to comment
Share on other sites



Thanks for taking the time to pose this question on the forum as I'm sure your situation is not uncommon.  I have to say your overall level of dedication and breadth in volunteer experience, the two graduate level certificates, and post-bacc credit hours speaks volumes by demonstrating your willingness to improve and grow as a person both professionally & academically.  You mentioned that you have an unrelated bachelor's degree.  May I ask what major?  The reason I ask is many MSW programs require at least xx credits in social sciences (e.g., Psychology, Social Work, etc.) if you don't have a related degree such as B.A. in Psychology, Sociology or Social Work (BSW).  I think it's a good idea to study and take the GRE this summer/fall as you're already planning because most MSW programs (especially the really competitive ones) recommend submitting GRE scores if your undergraduate GPA is at or below 3.0 or if your Junior & Senior GPA is less than 3.0.  I'm unsure if your post-bacc credits & graduate level certificates will offset your low GPA but I'm sure they won't hurt your chances of acceptance either.  I guess the only way you can find out is by applying this Fall to a few programs and see what happens.  If you don't end up getting into any of the programs, you could then inquire about ways in which you could improve your application should you choose to reapply.  I would also advise taking time this summer to begin drafting up your personal statement.  If there are any colleges/universities that you're interested in, you could use their application questions as a template.  The thing you'll want to remember is to not make excuses for your low GPA, but briefly explain the why & what, and what you've done to improve yourself.  The emphasis should be on how you've improved yourself over the past 1 1/2 - 2 years since you graduated and what you've learned about yourself and how you've grown professionally.  Your personal statement should help narrate a story about who you are that goes beyond your GPA or resume.  Since you earned a degree in an unrelated field, explain why you've decided to pursue a career in social work.  The key to success is proving to the admissions committees that you're capable of succeeding in graduate school and to demonstrate your level of dedication and motivation through what you've done.  I took almost an entire year to write my personal statement and though it might've been a tad bit excessive, it never hurts to take this time now to begin brainstorming and preparing yourself.  As my favorite NFL quarterback Russell Wilson says:  "The separation is in the preparation." 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. See our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use