I’m a 2nd year full time student and moved from Florida to attend this program. I grew up and lived in Titusville, Florida my entire life. I knew how to get to point a to point b without getting lost, was involved in my community, and most importantly had a wonderful support system. I didn’t think how all of that would change if I moved to another state until I received my acceptance letter to UNC Chapel Hill’s MSW program. My fears of getting lost, not having enough money (out of state tuition..-_-), being away from my family, and losing touch with my friends rushed through my mind and really scared me. My concerns/fears were well founded. Moving to a new state, entering a Master’s program, and taking out student loans are HUGE decisions that should involve deep thought. However, I’ll be vulnerable with y’all…I THINK WAY TOO MUCH and sometimes not to my benefit. Over analyzing often makes making small or big decisions a huge task. In this case, my over analyzing almost prevented me from accepting my admission into the school. I was focused so much on the negative ‘what ifs’ (i.e. don’t make friends, don’t get a job then can’t pay my loans) and not on the positive ‘what ifs’ that could come out of the program (i.e. make amazing friends, connect with and learn from experts in the field, get an awesome job). Finally, I realized I can’t allow the barriers (real or ones made in my head) stop me from pursuing my calling. After ALOT of thought, prayer, and talking with my family I decided UNC’s program was worth the sacrifices.
The decision to move outside of my comfort to somewhere completely foreign to me was not an easy one. Here are some tips on how I reflected if this program was the right fit, worth the financial investment, and the sacrifices. Hopefully you can shape these tips into what works for you.
–Pray: Prayer helped keep my grounded and center me through out the decision process. I was able to speak freely about my worries to someone who I knew was listening. Reminding myself that I was made with a purpose for a purpose guided my decision. Prayer, meditation, or simply just taking time to quiet your 1,000,000 thoughts are really powerful tools.
–Talking to my family and friends..honestly: I knew entering a graduate program would limit my time in many areas..including my relationships. Especially, if I was moving to another state! I didn’t want my family to think I was ignoring them or lose the beautiful connections with my friends. In this day and age there are many forms of staying connected..BUT I know myself..I do not like talking on the phone, Facetiming or Skyping. Therefore, making this whole maintaining and cultivating my relationships thing a little more tricky. While I was making my decision, I sat down with my friends and family and had an honest conversation. I explained how I probably won’t be able to talk for lengthy periods of time on a day to day basis and probably won’t be able to make it for every friend’s birthday, wedding, etc. I also let them know that although I would be busier and probably more stressed it didn’t change my love for them. I don’t know why I thought this would be negatively received but it was the complete opposite. My family and friends were really understanding and appreciated my honesty. Although, distance and time have changed the dynamics within my relationships, the love and support have been a constant. Be honest with your loved ones and let them know how they can best support you in this transition. Also, ask your family and friends how you can best support them even if perhaps it’s miles away.
Thinking about ‘Post MSW’: I’m a very future oriented person. While I was trying to decide if this program was the right fit and if it was worth the sacrifices I began to think about myself post-MSW. I’ve walked across the stage, received my expensive degree…now what? What kind jobs could I apply for? How long did I have before I had to start paying my loans? Would I stay in North Carolina? While some of these questions I’m still in the process of figuring out, I realized I wasn’t asking myself the right question. The question I eventually came to ask myself (which led me to choosing this school) was: will I leave this program equipped with the skill sets and knowledge needed to make a positive impact on the lives of those whom I hoped to serve? Although I’m not at the post-MSW stage yet, I can honestly say with no hesitation that I will leave this program confident in my abilities. My advice to you while you think about what program is right for you: Think about yourself walking across that stage. Will this program offer you the skill sets and knowledge you need to make a positive impact on those you hope to serve?