Weekly School of Social Work / New to Social Work Questions Thread

Smith can be tough to jump into as an advanced standing student (especially if you are unfamiliar with psychodynamic approaches, clinical work, or topics related to the anti-racism commitment). Definitely talk to the school and see if they can put you in touch with advanced standing students to talk about that experience. So few people do it that it is possible you'll be the only advanced standing student in your cohort, and that can be isolating. Especially if there are areas where your social work experiences are really different than your classmates. Everyone I know who did it said they felt incredibly isolated and unprepared for their first summer and a lot of people with BSWs chose to do the entire MSW program for a reason. It is definitely doable and I've seen people excel as advanced standing students, but it is worth talking to people who have done it to completely understand what you are in for.

As for housing, it isn't that hard, especially if you have social work skills (those tend to lend pretty well to finding housing). Obviously the 9 month lease can restrict things somewhat, but Smith has a pretty supportive network of alums, current students, etc. Definitely factor travel back and forth into your budget, money for storage if you need to store belongings, etc. You are likely to be placed in one of your two top cities and definitely one of the top four that you request so you can always factor cost of living and finding housing into your placement requests. The high cost of living areas (NY City, Bay Area) tend to be more in demand anyway so if you are open to going to a lower cost of living area for eight months chances are you'll get that area. It is also fairly easy to find rentals over the Smith summer (even more easy if you have a car and are willing to live in neighboring cities) and there are always the dorms (if you can afford that). You can definitely find areas with lower cost of living than you would near Fordham's campuses.

Also ask the school questions about research if you know that is an area you are interested in and see if they can put you in touch with some people who can better speak to this issue. Smith is in the process of changing how they hold their research classes, what they teach students about research, and what they expect of students in this area. It is a very clinical program, and while there are ways to get a great policy or research education while at Smith, I wouldn't exactly say the program is strong in those areas (at least as it is currently). I came in with a research background and that allowed me to do a fair amount, and this has been true of others I know, but I personally think Smith is really weak in this area (it is kind of a joke actually) and wouldn't recommend the program to anyone who thinks they may want to go into research unless they are really willing to put more effort into doing so. It is possible to do an incredibly thesis, work with a professor individually who will teach you a lot more about research or open doors for you. etc. but if the research classes next year are anything like what they were before you aren't going to learn much in them. That said, if you start advanced standing this summer you'll be part of the first cohort to not have a mandatory thesis (you'll have the option to still write one if you chose) and the research courses are going to look really different than they ever have before. So that could be a huge toss-up for you. It could end up being a really strong research experience, but it could also end up having all the problems that come with any program in a time of transition.

/r/socialwork Thread Parent