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3 Answers

1

Amanda

This is exactly where I was about 1 year ago. During my senior year of undergrad I felt lost as to what type of graduate program I wanted to enroll in, but I knew that I wanted to do mental health counseling. I found some opportunities at my school (University of Iowa) to shadow a psychiatrist and meet with psychologists and social workers to discuss the graduate programs they attended and the pros and cons of their careers. I decided on applying for Social Work programs for a variety of reasons:
1) Psych graduate programs are highly competitive and take 5-6 years to complete. Social Work programs are a bit easier to get into and take 2 years to complete. And the GRE for PhD programs is exhausting. Definitely wasn't going to take it again to try and make my score a bit more competitive.
2) 2 more years of education is affordable for me (with loans--even on top of my undergrad loans, I will be able to afford all student loan payments after I complete my MSW). Although Psych PhD programs tend to have good tuition reimbursement/ research assistant opportunities, you basically have to live like a college student for 5-6 more years before getting a decent job.
3) Insurance reimbursement is better for someone with a MSW than a Master's in Counseling. Or at least this is what my google researching reflected a year ago.
4) People will tell you that you are not going to make any money, which is not true. No you will not make an incredible amount of money, but you will start out making enough money to make monthly student loan payments, live in a home, and have a little extra here and there for the good stuff. Not a single social worker I've talked to has said that the amount of money they make is a cue to find a new career. And, private practice social workers can make quite a bit of money as they gain more experience/clientele.

My main advice to you would be to take some time off from school, and find a job at a social service agency doing case management or something that allows you to meet with people on a daily basis to discuss their needs. You'll gain counseling-related skills that can assist you when applying to any type of psych or social work program, but you'll also gain skills that are valuable to a position outside of mental health. AKA you will develop skills that are transferable to any type of office job. And, try to meet with professionals in social work and related fields. See which professionals seem to have similar goals as you, and ask for their advice.

PS: If you do decide to apply for Social Work programs, try to apply for your field placement/internship as soon as you commit to a school. They fill up incredibly fast.

Answered 1 year ago

Amanda
1

Christine

I would suggest volunteering with a non-profit agency or a hospital. An opportunity where you gain exposure in helping people. You could also take one graduate course, I actually did that to see if I could handle the coursework with a full-time position. I am a recent MSW graduate from NYU.

Answered 3 years ago

Christine
1

Samantha

Some questions to consider are:

Do you truly enjoy helping people, even in difficult circumstances?
Are you able to handle and cope with emotional strain and stress well?
What is your core reason for considering the field of social work?
Do you want to work with adults and children?

If you can think about and answer all of these and your answers seem to be clear and all headed in the same direction, then congrats social work might be for you!

Answered 3 years ago

Samantha