Since coming on board as an ambassador for the School of Social Work, I have received countless emails from prospective and recently accepted students asking for my feedback about UNC’s MSW program. Not surprisingly, many of these questions end up being the same. So, I’ve compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions!
- Why did you choose UNC?
I applied to five MSW programs all over the country. UNC initially appealed to me because it was ranked as one of the top 5 MSW programs in the country. I liked that the class sizes would be similar to what I had experienced in undergrad, but that I would still be able to take advantage of the resources available at such a prestigious, big university. I liked that this area of North Carolina was small while still being vibrant, was fairly affordable for a full-time student, and – lets be honest – the great weather didn’t hurt either!
- What is the best part of the program?
My favorite part of the program has been how accessible the faculty are. So many of them are renowned experts in their fields, and I never expected to be able to forge such strong relationships with them. I truly feel that they are invested in my MSW experience, and want me to succeed.
- What is the biggest downfall of the program?
The biggest downfall of the program has been that there just aren’t enough hours in the day to experience everything. There are so many field placements I wish I could have had, multiple elective classes I would have loved to take, and plenty of additional lectures and extracurricular activities to get involved with. There are ways to squeeze some extra opportunities in – such as taking additional classes over the summer – but never enough time to do it all.
- What has most surprised you about the program?
The biggest surprise has been how the political climate of North Carolina has added value to my experience at UNC. As a public school in a state where the legislature changes hands fairly often, we get to see first-hand how new policies and changes impact the community. It has provided a real-world context to my education that I don’t feel I would have gotten at any other schools I applied to.
- What have your favorite classes been?
My favorite classes have been Social Work Policy (a foundation-year course), Differential Diagnosis, Motivational Interviewing, Social Work at the Interface of Mental Health & Criminal Justice, and Child Welfare: Practice and Perspectives.
- Are there a lot of options for field placements?
It honestly feels as though there are unlimited options for field placements. There is a large database of placements that other students have previously had. If you’re interested in an agency that hasn’t previously had an intern, Field Office staff are great at working to forge a partnership and trying to get you the experience you’re seeking.
- What else is there to get involved with?
(Disclaimer: These are just a few of the things I’ve been involved with during my time at UNC, and is by no means a comprehensive list!) I highly recommend getting involved with SHAC, the oldest student-run health clinic in the country. SHAC takes volunteers one night a week, and is a great way to practice talking to clients alongside other UNC students. SoWoSO is the student organization for the School of Social Work. They host social events, speakers, and other opportunities for graduate students. They also have leadership positions available for rising-Concentration year students. There is an active social justice movement on campus that involves undergraduate and graduate students, and also includes community members in their events.
- What is the dynamic of your cohort?
My cohort is a great group! There are about 100 of us preparing to graduate, and I’ve been in class with all but a handful since I started the program. I tend to spend time with a smaller group of folks, but definitely feel that I can say hello or start a conversation with anyone I pass in the building. The thing I appreciate most about my cohort is how many different experiences my classmates bring to the table. Not only did we all have varying paths prior to coming to UNC, but our field placements add another layer of difference that we’re able to share with one another both in- and outside of the classroom.
I hope that this post will be helpful for anyone interested in the program, contemplating accepting the offer to attend UNC, or who may just be nervous about getting started this fall! Don’t forget, if you have any other questions, just email myself or another ambassador – we are always happy to help 🙂