As an ambassador, I am often asked questions that begin with “why”…Why did you decide to get your MSW? Why Carolina? Why now? Why….
I will endeavor to (briefly) answer some of these common questions because I know they are often on the minds of prospective Tar Heels.
First, why did I decide to pursue my MSW? Most importantly, why do you want to get your MSW? This is a central question that will fuel you throughout your career in social work, which begins the day you decide to apply to graduate school. Social work is so much more than a job and is far greater than a paycheck. Social work is work from the heart, it is work that respects and values humanity. Social work is not work to be entered into lightly. Those who are drawn to the field most often have intrinsic qualities and attributes that are naturally attracted to human services. For me, there were many reasons why I chose to pursue this degree. In many ways, I feel social work found me and it was something that I would always end up doing. My passion for social justice, my drive to ensure equal access for my patients, and my heart for those who are less fortunate, make me well suited for this career. Actually being in this MSW program has only confirmed that this is the best decision I could have made. I feel pushed and challenged daily while getting to use the skills and talents that make me unique. I honestly cannot think of a career that would be better suited for me and I am personally so grateful to have found it.
Why Carolina? Well of course because we beat Duke last night! Now seriously, some of my reasons for selecting UNC included ranking (#5!!!) and reputation of the program. Also, I already lived in the triangle area and I knew I was not prepared for a major move on top of the transition back into school. Once I made the decision to pursue my MSW, I was always going to apply to UNC. However, the more I read about UNC, the curriculum, the professors, and the overall experience, the more excited I became about the opportunity to hopefully have the “Carolina experience”. Additionally, I wanted the atmosphere of a larger institution. I knew that at Carolina I could attend football games, basketball games, lectures with world famous speakers, art exhibits, dance performances, and the list goes on. My experiences outside the classroom have greatly enriched my classroom experience over these two years.
Why now? Again, this is really a question for you to ask yourself. What makes this particular year the best year for you to return to (or stay in) school? Having some work experience was my personal preference before returning to school. Mostly I was unsure of which field I wanted to pursue a graduate degree in. I knew that I needed to work for a few years and “test the waters” in a few jobs to be sure that I knew what I wanted to study in graduate school. I am certainly glad I took this time because had I gone back to school a few years ago, I was going to get my MBA. That would have been a MISTAKE and so I am grateful that I waited until I could be sure. However, this is a very personal decision. Each of you is different and some of you have known from a young age that you wanted to be a social worker and this is your life’s work. For others of us, we had to try out a few different paths before we found the right one. There is no right or wrong answer to when you should enter graduate school, in my opinion. The best answer is the time that feels right for you, and only you can know that.
I will close by saying that it is always appropriate to ask why. Understanding someone else’s experiences and thought process can certainly be beneficial and informational. I would also encourage you to ask yourself each of these questions as well. Your “why” may be the very reason you are reading this blog. Your “why” is what makes you special and unique. Your “why” is the passion and dedication that you will bring to this work and to your clients on a daily basis. Your “why” will be the fuel that drives you on each day. So while I am always happy to share my “why” with you, I encourage you to really take time to find the answers to your “why”.