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
Free Sample Personal Statement in Social Work
I am applying to (Name of School) for the Masters of Social Work program. My career goal is to work with underprivileged adolescents, especially those with a history of behavioral and emotional problems. I have significant background in this area; in addition to a full-time position with a recruitment firm, I am a relief counselor for this target group in a residential treatment setting. I want to complement this practical experience with specialized training in order to best serve these individuals.
My desire for this profession springs from the troubles of my childhood. In my youth, I was a ward of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts--in essence, a foster child. Both of my birth parents abused me physically and emotionally, prompting the courts to permanently remove me from their power. I subsequently moved through a succession of foster homes and adolescent shelters. My high school years were therefore highly traumatic; I could not have survived them without the aid of the counselors and social workers that were so kind to me. Yet my problems did not end at the emotional level. I constantly battled financial difficulties in order to graduate high school and embark on a college career. I was essentially paying my way through college on minimum wage--a monumental task. My first two years of college proved quite difficult because of this. But I persevered, and achieved an overall G.P.A. of 3.5 during my final two years at school. I also dedicated much time to campus activities, in which I held a number of leadership positions. Today, I work with an international recruitment firm that allows me to travel through the United States and Europe. This has given me a sense of accomplishment and maturity, yet I feel a deep void in my life.
I need to give back to the community that helped me so much. I know what it is like to be on the "receiving end" of social work--I was the one who stayed with foster families after the social workers had gone home. I am thus in a unique position to understand the conflicts within the hearts of troubled adolescents. I comprehend, for instance, the importance of such issues as trust. And a child in this setting would be naturally more inclined to trust someone who has already experienced "the system" firsthand. My background, my ambition, and my resourcefulness are ample demonstration of the valuable addition I would be to your social work program. I share close bonds of understanding with my target community, and feel that I can make a significant difference in their lives with the aid of a Master's Degree in Social Work from your institution.