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Quit two grad programs, how to convince another one to admit me?


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So I graduated from undergrad with a BA in Linguistics and a minor in Psych in August 2008, did a couple years of grad work in Communication Disorders-Speech Language Pathology, before leaving to switch to grad program in Linguistics. I left the SLP program, because of my own speech issues that I was unaware of until I was in the program, a lack of support, and anxiety issues. Rather than really thinking things through, I then applied to linguistics programs, got in with a full fellowship somewhere and went. I ended up experiencing major anxiety and was very unhappy. I left after one year, in spring 2013 to do work with AmeriCorps. I did a 10 week AmeriCorps Vista program, followed by an 11 month AmeriCorps program. Now, I've been working at non-profits and have considered pursuing a master's in social work, but wonder how I can prove to them I want to do this.

My stats aren't an issue. I did my BA in only 3 years and got good grades in my grad classes, with my GPA above a 3.7 for each school. I recently retook the GRE, since my old score expired and got a 165V, 155Q, 4.0AW. I know I can get great recs from my current and recent bosses, as well as a professor from my first grad school, who I've kept in touch with. I have a history of volunteer work with children and know I want to pursue mental health/nonprofit work. Also, my anxiety has been totally under control for over 2 years now, so I'm not concerned about that. My long-term AmeriCorps program, had me working with a caseload of 20 middle school students, providing one-on-one weekly mentoring and gave me experience facilitating groups; I absolutely loved the work and felt I was making a difference. It's been my favorite job ever. For the first two grad programs I tried, I honestly kinda jumped into them because I thought "hey, I can do that" and my grades demonstrate that i could if I really wanted- but I was unhappy.

Now that I know what I want to do, I'm worried that the adcoms won't look too kindly on me leaving grad school not once, but twice before. I am working to save up money for school (don't need more loans) and want to apply for Fall 2017, so what can I do between now and when I apply next fall to improve my chances? And how should I explain things on my application? Any advice?

Would like to apply to UT Austin and U of Houston, just fyi. Prefer UT.


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My advice would be to write your SOP to show that you have changed a lot since your last graduate program and that you've worked on other things and now have a concrete plan for the future. I think applying for Fall 2017 is a good idea as it also increases the amount of time between the last time you dropped out of a graduate program. I think that you would want to be convincing in your SOP that your experiences since 2013 has given you newfound focus and motivation and that their grad program is the right fit for your future goals. If you do this, I don't think your history will work against you at all.

Note: Your sidebar info says your program is social work and you say you are saving up money so I am assuming you are applying to a MSW program rather than an academic/research based PhD program. If you are actually applying to an academic/research based program then I think your SOP needs to also address what you have done since 2013 to keep up as a scholar in your chosen field.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks TakeruK! I learned from the linguistics program, that academia is NOT for me. I found research intellectually interesting, but prefer working directly with youth. I find it more fulfilling. I appreciate your reply!

Write that on your SOP!! You find your passion and every person finds it in a different way write about that. Also, many people experienced anxiety issues (me for example) in some point in our life and you need to be really brave to overcome it (AmeriCorps? Wow that speaks really good about you). So don't worry, they will understand.

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