Admissions committees view the statement as:
- “A way of understanding how the applicant developed her interest in social work and how she has experienced her interest through employment, internships, and/or volunteer experiences”. The statement helps the committee understand if the applicant’s decision to pursue a career in social service is grounded in a realistic view of the profession.
- A sample of the applicant’s writing. Schools of social work believe that good writers are good thinkers. Expressing oneself clearly, intelligently and succinctly in written form is essential to success in social work school. “The ability to analyze problems and formulate sound realistic and practical solutions is center to being a social work student and professional.”
- How well the applicant follows instructions. Committees expect applicant to be through and thoughtful in following instructions. “Neglecting to follow directions can project an image of sloppy and careless work.”
- Make a through self-assessment before writing your statement. List jobs, volunteer positions and internships. Take an inventory of any experiences that somehow contributed to your interest in social work.
- Begin with a well thought-out introduction. Avoid “I’ve-always-been-a-people-person-and-I-want-to-work-with-people” type statement. Or “I was born to be a social worker. I know the exact moment that I wanted to be a social worker. I was 5 year old”.
- Identify the skills you attained as a result of your experience.
- Discuss the personal qualities you bring to the profession, and what you hope learn.
- Career changers should highlight transferable skills.
- Clearly state how the school’s programs match your goals. Be clear about your professional goals while “maintaining a healthy expectation that other possibilities are likely to arise.”
In summation, the application is used to determine the applicant’s capacity to perform academically at a high level, her appropriateness for the field as demonstrated by prior work or volunteer experience and the applicant’s thoughtful assessment of the her strengths and suitability for the profession. The statement of purpose needs to demonstrate the capacity to think critically about human diversity and need and current issues confronting the profession.
Reyes, Jesus. (2005) . The Social Work Graduate School Applicant’s Handbook. Harrisburg, PA. White Hat Communications
What Does Social Work Mean to You and What Specific Branch of Social Work are You Particularly Interested in?
Since my childhood, I have been interested in the framework of a given society: how it operates. Through history and sociology classes in high school, I gained a deeper interest in this aspect of sociology. When I entered The Evergreen State College, I also took psychology courses, learned more about the interaction of people in social groups around the world, as well as the inner conflicts that everyone of us encounters, and ways of dealing with them. Later, at Seattle University, I decided to expand my interests beyond psychology and took a class called Social Work: An Introduction to the Ethics and History of Development. I later came to think of this decision as a revolutionary step that turned my attention to what I now am determined to make a calling, and a profession, for a lifetime.
Social work is diverse, since there are many groups of clients with their individual needs, issues, and hardships. Sure, there are basics and principles that any social worker puts into the foundation of their work. However, through what I have already learned about social work, I also realize that as a practical discipline, social work is about the particular and specific experience of working with a certain group of clients. For me, the branch of social work to which I would like to dedicate myself fully is working with the elderly. It may seem surprising, since some may think that the problems that elderly people are facing are rather typical and not so serious compared to what people living with AIDS, or children born with terminal diseases, or people facing cancer are going through. However, I strongly disagree. Issues of the elderly may be typical, and somewhat universal, but it does not in any way lessen their importance, or give objective reasoning to discount their problems.
Being an elderly person in the USA might not be as challenging as it is in Africa, or Kazakhstan, for example. Yes, we do have decent quality medical services and social security programs. Nevertheless, people tend to underrate, or close their eyes to many issues that individuals face when getting older. Elderly persons have to give up their job, which completely changes the lifestyle they have been used to for much of their lives. Feeling neglected, useless, and inactive in community life causes many elderly people to face depression after retirement—not forgetting the numerous health problems and psychological changes that everyone faces when getting old.
It is great if one has a supportive, caring family, friends, and an engrossing hobby with which to occupy oneself to help reevaluate one’s life and find a new purpose. And of course, the financial side of the issue is always not to be neglected. Overall, I believe that the elderly deserve just as much attention in terms of social work practice as any other suppressed and discriminated group does. I would love to work with the elderly as a social work specialist to implement and introduce innovative models and methods of social work with the elderly, based on the psychological and the sociological notions I studied at Seattle University, and plan to study more about, during a graduate program. I have lots of ideas which I am determined to develop in relation to social work with the elderly. For example, I want to each elderly client that I work with to gain a sense of leadership, teaching them to become natural leaders. But most importantly, I have a strong desire to help people that deserve our attention, respect, and care, since they contributed so much to American society, and deserve to be appreciated.
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