Many undergrad students know early on about advanced standing status in a MSW Program is; while others do not become familiar with this phenomenon until it’s time to apply to a masters program. Well, this was my case. It was not until my senior year in undergrad that I heard about the advantages of the program and jumped right into the application process, which for me was a successful one. Now that I am finally here, I can honestly say, that although the process has been tough, this is a program I highly recommend.
Who qualifies for “Advanced Standing” and how does it work? This is for anyone who has a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) from a social work program accredited by CSWE. However, there is an application process, which means that not all BSW students are accepted; only a selected few are admitted, which makes it a more competitive program.
The uniqueness of being an advanced standing student is that the student will have the foundation semester waived, including Field I. This gives the student an opportunity to graduate in 1year and a ½ if he or she wishes to do so. The amount of work and rate of speed in which all of the courses must be taken in order to complete the 1 ½ year program can be challenging and takes dedication. In my case, this includes having to take 2 semesters of 15 credit hours (Fall & Spring), 6 credit hours in the summer, and one more semester of 12 hrs…oh, and let’s not forget Field II, III, and IV along with all these courses. Although the 1 ½ year program, as a full-time advanced standing student sounds, appealing and perhaps envied by others, it can be difficult while also trying to maintain a job and a family. However, through a strong support group of fellow classmates and my husband, I have been able to accomplish my goals. Another unique characteristic of being advanced standing is that you can also be admitted as any other flex option student, and be advanced standing. So, the option of completing your program in 1year and a ½ is only if you wish to do so.
I am making the best of being an Advanced Standing student by interacting with others, being active in organizations, taking advantage of attending lectures from guest speakers, and participating in anything that uplifts the GCSW spirit! It is not easy being the new kid on the block, especially when you come in as an advanced standing student and other cohorts have already been formed and you see cohesiveness amongst them. 2nd year students have been together for almost a year by the time we come in. Being that advanced standing students are no more than 30 in total, and these few students are scattered due to our different degree plan options, and we tend to find ourselves in a very small box. So, to the current and upcoming advanced standing students, I encourage you all to become active, be a part of the GCSW spirit, participate in activities, and most importantly, ask questions – lots and lots of questions!