keep it dark (snidegrrl) wrote,
keep it dark

The MSW Thang

Yesterday I took a day off (thank goodness I could) and visited Baltimore. The University of Maryland - Baltimore's School of Social Work, specifically. They had an open house, and I finally wised up that I should attend one and really get a feel for the goal I'm considering. I am glad I did, because I know now I'm completely right. This is what I want to do.

I have no idea how to pay for it. We spent two hours talking about the program, but financial aid was touched on in only the most perfucntory "please fill out your FAFSA by this date" way. I remember the FAFSA from back in the day. It gives me shivers. I learned that the program where you get the Department of Social Services to pay for your Master's is mainly for school/children related social work. Meh. I want to do Aging and Mental Health concentration. The good news is that if I apply for the four year program, I can probably hold down a full time job, at least in the first year. I do sort of think wistfully on going to the 2 year program, but simultaneous to me getting a burr up my butt about doing this soon, we find that shit is probably hitting various fans at Jack's job. Bluh. Oh debt... how I haven't missed you for a second because I still have you from my undergraduate degree.

One nice thing was to over and over be taken for a sweet young thing fresh out of college. A woman on the elevator started talking to me about the program and I identified with her immediately, thinking she was a peer. We chatted about applications and choices and I revealed I graduated in '97, and asked her where she graduated from. At which point she stepped aside and said, "oh, no, I'm here for my daughter." Ohhh, yeah! I forgot some people just move right along to their graduate degree form their bachelors.

So the group (maybe 50 people) was about half giggly blond co-eds with hearts of gold, about 4 men, several middle aged women who probably resemble me in 20 years, a smattering of obvious hippie-hipster types (one of whom sat down next to me with her chocolatey-brown cable knit sweater and canvas bag with crude self-applied embroidery and stripey scarf and uber-nerd glasses and really, really distracted me for most of the seminar) and some unlabelables, a category I'd have put myself in.

Guys (and by guys I mean dudes (and by dudes I mean penis-bearing humans, XY chromosomed individuals)), I have news for you: if you want a guaranteed job, it would seem social work is one way to go. There is a high demand for male LCSWs and diversity scholarships available. If I ever had penis envy it was in the part of the admission lady's speech where she laid this out.

Another surprise was this: Last year they had about 800 applicants for 400 spots. Up til now everything I'd been hearing was that they have an 80% acceptance rate, or something similarly ludicrous. So getting in which I previous thought would be not a hurdle at all, might be one. My academic references are distant misty ghosts. My current references are largely technical, not that they would not be good to have, but maybe one out of three. The admissions dean gamely put forth that perhaps their increase in applicants over the last few years is the ersult of the fact that as people become more anxious about the way things are going in this country, the more they want to do their part to help their fellow man. Word, Admissions Dean Lady. One bit of good news: No GRE. They don't want to know how you did on a standardized test, they want to accept you for who you are. Awww.

One tactic the admissions dean kept using was to explain examples from her own career as a social worker to illuminate what we might expect. This was extremely helpful in cementing my feeling of strong desire to do this. She talked about how she thought she knew what she wanted to do, and was surprised at which parts of the job she found easy and which parts she found draining. She talked about how her goals changed as she took field placements and sat for her 2000 hours of clinical supervision. (She did this at the Patuxent high security facility in Jessup, for three years, as one of two female group counselors where she counseled rapists. I immediately felt this lady was a saint.) She talked of the bureaucratic nightmare and hierarchy of trying to work for the VA hospital. I am confident I could have listened to this lady talk for another 2 hours, and then another 2 hours after that. Which bodes well for my wilingness to sit in 3 hour social work classes, no?

At any rate, I left with a much more concrete sense of purpose. I am very excited to have a better handle on my goal.
Tags: career
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