Applying and Getting Accepted Into Accredited Social Work Degree Programs

collegeacceptanceIf you are preparing for a career in social work, one of the most important aspects of your preparation will be finding an accredited institution from which to attain your degree. While this process may seem overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. By acquiring information regarding things such as the selection and application process for admissions, you will gain an understanding of what you’ll need to do in order to gain admittance into a reputable institution.

Preparation For High School Students

Individuals who are still in high school yet know that they want to pursue a career in social work should take note of the fact that there are often classes they can take in order to prepare for college level courses. The subject areas in which courses should be taken include communication, psychology, math and science, and language. Here’s a brief overview of how and why taking courses in each area will benefit you as you prepare to pursue social work in college:

Communication

As individuals who operate within the field of social work know, jobs within this sector require excellent communication skills. This is the case because social workers are required to speak with clients in a sympathetic, compassionate manner. Moreover, part of their jobs entail communicating information about clients to the agencies that will help them. In order to hone your communication skills, be sure to take communication classes while you are in high school. Courses that would fall under the communication umbrella include speech, writing, debate, and rhetoric.

Psychology

Psychology is an important subject for high school students pursuing a career in social work to learn more about. This is the case because psychology incorporates the study of human behavior as well as the cognitive processes that play a role in our life choices and decision-making processes. Since each of these things plays a critical role in being able to help other people, taking courses in this subject area would be very advantageous for those pursuing a career in social work. You may also find that a local community college or university permits you to take a course in psychology and receive credit for the work done.

Math and Science

Math and science are two subject areas that social workers need to be proficient in because it is important that they be able to monitor data and convey scientific information. This is why taking math courses in subjects such as probability and statistics would be very advantageous for you. Additionally, taking courses in sciences-particularly the social sciences-will assist you once you enter your field.

Language

Because the Hispanic population in America is steadily growing, attaining Spanish skills will be of much advantage to you as a social worker. Throughout your high school career, be sure to take Spanish classes that help you become fluent in the language. You should also seriously consider studying other languages like Chinese, Russian, or French. In learning these languages, you’ll be prepared to work with a plethora of populations, making you a more marketable candidate once you begin applying for jobs.

The Selection Process

In addition to considering what courses you should take in high school to prepare for a degree in social work, you should carefully consider the selection process that learning institutions use to admit students. They will vary from program to program, but generally incorporate a review of your GPA, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and volunteer or work experience. One of the first things you should keep in mind before even entering the selection process is the importance of applying to an accredited program. Doing so is important for several reasons, including the fact that it indicates that the university or college has conformed to a rigorous set of nationally recognized standards. If you do not select an accredited institution, you run the risk of gaining access to the courses and professional instruction that will prepare you to enter and excel within your chosen field.

Application Process For Undergraduate Programs

As you prepare to apply to a social work learning institution that is accredited, note that the selection process for each university may vary. However, the Commission on Standards and Accreditation of the Council on Social Work Education does require that a selection process be put in place for institutions seeking social work candidates. In response to this requirement, the following procedures and policies are generally a part of any social work degree selection process:

  • -Consideration of your GPA
  • -Demonstrated evidence that you will practice social work with ethics and professionalism
  • -Satisfactory progress towards the program’s outlined objectives. Measuring progress could include analysis of things such as your personal statement, references, volunteer experience, work within the field, admissions interview, and transcript.
  • In general, undergraduates who wish to apply for the social work degree program will do so during their sophomore year. However, be sure to look into the specific guidelines given by the institution you choose to apply to.

    Increasing Your Odds Of Acceptance

    There are numerous things you can do to increase the likelihood that you will be accepted into the social work degree program of your choice. One of the first things you should keep in mind is the importance of having a good GPA (Grade Point Average). Although what constitutes a good GPA is somewhat relative, a 3.5 or higher is generally viewed well in the eyes of the individual overseeing the selection process. In addition to maintaining a competitive GPA, you should be sure to attain a high score on your GRE (Graduate Record Examination). Also be sure that you attain letters of recommendation from individuals who are very familiar with your work so they can provide detailed evidence demonstrating why you are an ideal candidate for the program. You should also remember that your volunteer and work experiences are two pieces of preliminary information the admissions committees will consider when they review your application. Finally, your application essay (which is also referred to as a letter of intent or statement of purpose) is very important. Through it, the review committee will gain an understanding of your motivations for pursuing a degree in social work.

    Gaining Admission Into An MSW Program

    Just as the rules and regulations for gaining admission to an undergraduate social work degree program will vary from institution to institution, MSW (Masters of Social Work) programs will not all incorporate the same policies and procedures. However, there are several things that you are almost certain to need in order to gain admittance:

  • -A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • -A “B” average (or higher) in all attempted work during your undergraduate year
  • In addition to considering these things, MSW programs will generally require a review of the following documents: statement of purpose, resume, and letters of recommendation. Degree programs are also likely to assess a student’s commitment to social work values, self-awareness, sensitivity and previous experience in offering human services. Although it is not always required, MSW programs often prefer applicants who have extensive volunteer or professional work experience.

    In Closing

    Although attaining admission to an undergraduate or graduate social work degree program may seem complex, gaining more information about what the processes incorporate makes the endeavor very simple. By understanding the various elements that go into gaining admittance to a social degree program, you will be able to prepare yourself for the selection and application processes. Good luck!