In June my friend Matt and I took a road trip to check out some potential grad schools, have fun and eat lots of yummy food in the process! My last post talked about all the delicious food we tried and in this post I’ll talk a bit about the universities we visited.
Matt graduated from Biola this Spring with a B.A. in Psychology. I have my last year of undergrad this upcoming year and am majoring in Sociology with an emphasis in Social Work. I remember when I first met Matt we talked about how he loves being an EMT but how he wants to help fix the soul and not just the body. I knew he’d be great as a therapist, which he was planning to become through a Doctorate in Psychology. Little did we know that as I started taking my first year of social work classes we’d BOTH be falling more in love with social work. I would come into the health center after classes all the time and talk about all the things I learned and we both got so excited about how LCSWs work in the society. and lo and behold Matthew decides he wants to go into social work too! It has only become more fun since he became interested in social work…apart from the grad school competition! 😉
While our trip was to get away from our crazy lives and just have fun exploring California we did have a mission: look at potential grad schools to help us get a better idea where each of us would want to go.
Choosing a grad school is difficult especially when you are going into a field that focuses on field work rather than just textbook learning. There is a lot to consider such as concentrations (rural, urban, child welfare, administration, gerontology, mental health, etc) locations of possible internships, required hours and cost! I’m looking into becoming a school social worker and Matt is not too sure yet where he wants to work in the field but there is definitely a lot to think about!
We started our trip up the 5 to the 99, so naturally we came to Bakersfield after a few hours on the road. We weren’t planning on checking CSUB out but we decided right before the freeway exit to go. Matt & I parked and wandered around campus. We both loved how there was a lot of places spread out across campus where you can sit, read, eat, whatever you want! We took a look in the library (which is especially important for grad students) and it looked pretty nice! A lot of books, several sitting/reading areas. We got there a few hours before office hours closed so we talked to a few people in the MSW department and got some more information. We were really pleased with how welcoming & helpful everyone was.
We kept on trekking up the 99 and hit Fresno State. Again, we weren’t planning on stopping here but decided to anyway. Boy am I happy that we stopped! First it was beautiful! Definitely more trees than LA, it sort of reminded me of Upland. We got to the university after hours so we didn’t get the chance to talk to anyone in the MSW program. I loved the feel of the campus even though there were only a total of 5 students on campus when we visited. The library looked new and very big but it was closed so we couldn’t go inside.
The next morning we took a look at San José State! I personally wasn’t too impressed with San José as a city, but I prefer the small-town, pretty with trees kind of city. The school was alright, we parked in a 20 min spot so we just walked around briefly and didn’t find any classrooms to look into. For me personally, I wasn’t overly impressed with the school.
We were headed to San Francisco so we decided to stop by CSU East Bay. The MSW program itself looked promising but we knew before we got there that the location would be a factor in our decision. To be honest nothing about the campus stood out to me, it reminded me of the community colleges in my area, but I have heard that it is a very big commuter school like CSULA. The other thing Matt and I talked about was the location and how it would effect the internships we would have to be a part of. Any MSW program requires a lot of field work and the location and proximity to Oakland wasn’t getting us too excited about attending this school.
Next stop: San Francisco State! Well this was definitely the prettiest campus Matt and I visited. It was full of gorgeous trees, a huge variety of flowers across campus and it had a very relaxing feel. I am not a city person so even though the campus itself was beautiful I wouldn’t be too thrilled living & working in the city. Matt also agreed that the campus was the best looking and the new library they were in progress of constructing looked like it would be a great place to do homework & research.
That was the end of our grad school hunt! Even though there were only a few we had a great time exploring and talking about what we liked and didn’t like. I can’t speak for Matt but my favorite was Fresno. I loved the trees. I loved how its big city but it’s not LA type, and the traffic near the university is nothing compared to the bad traffic even 20 miles outside of LA. A close runner up was Bakersfield. I personally never thought I would go there but I liked how it is not in a huge city like LA. I really think I should’ve grown up on a farm! I’m such a small-town girl who likes to eat home-grown food & spend time outdoors.
P.S. Here are a few of my favorite items that are helping me navigate this LCSW process & grad school hunt!
– The SW Graduate School Applicant’s Handbook
– CA’s Board of Behavioral Science LCSW info site
Any input/advice for choosing grad schools?