Before You Hit “Send”


At this very moment, at least one or two of you is frantically scouring the internet looking for one last shred of advice to help you complete your application to UNC’s School of Social Work. You’re almost ready to click “send” on the graduate school’s online application, but you still have a little bit of time and want to maximize the opportunity to learn everything you possible can about the school and your chances of getting in before you make that move. That’s smart. Let me help.

Ask yourself:

1. Did you have someone else read your Statement of Purpose/Intent (i.e., that little essay that is substantially more important than your GPA or GRE scores)?

Don’t panic if the answer is “No”–you’re a smart cookie, you probably did an excellent job with it. Still, if you have time, send the draft off to a trusted ally and let him or her give it a once-over. It could be that you misspelled a key word (your name? no kidding, this happens) or dropped a word in a hasty cut-and-paste job. This will not ruin you, but if you can clean that up, do! 

2. Did you confirm with all of your referees that they would send letters directly to the college via its online system?

Let me share something from experience: Busy people forget things all the time, even stuff they know is important. I have written many letters of recommendation and have asked for even more (I have circled this block a few times). Over 20 years, I’ve neither been offended nor offended anyone by double-checking that the letter has been submitted. If your referees really support your decision to go to grad school, they’ll appreciate a gentle nudge.

3. Are your GRE scores submitted?

You know what?–don’t sweat the GREs. Yes, they matter–and make sure they’ve been submitted–but try to keep these things in perspective. UNC’s School of Social Work is one of the best in the country, and it has this reputation because it consistently recruits some of the best future social workers around. If you have an exciting résumé, stellar letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose that makes the admissions committee swoon, you’re going to be alright. 

4. When will this all be over?

Try to be patient! Once you submit the application, all of this is out of your hands. It will be mid-March before you find out if you’ve been admitted to the program of your choice. In the mean time, go read a novel or binge-watch “The Good Wife” on Hulu (it’s so good)! Take the time now to appreciate the life you are leaving behind and prepare yourself for the one you are about to embrace. 

You’ve got this. 


About Debbie Hughes

I am a second-year full-time grad student in the MSW program with an emphasis in Community Management and Policy Practice. I hope to carry what I learn at Carolina into a career in social justice advocacy.
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