harpar9298

10+ Year Member
Dec 6, 2008
3
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I'm a midlife career changer. I'm a lawyer, 48 years old, and have been in private practice for over 20 years. I have long known that I "missed my calling"; although I've always enjoyed and been good at the counseling aspect of law, I've found the rest of it stultifying and terribly stressful.

So, just as my kids are leaving for college, I've decided to go back to school and become a therapist. My plan is to work as a lawyer part-time while attending school, also part-time. I've researched my options and, with the help of my husband (who holds a PhD in Psychology) determined that the best degree to get is the MSW.

My concern is that all of my academic credentials, while very good, are at least 20 years old. I hold a BA degree in sociology from SUNY-Binghamton, 3.8 average, Phi Beta Kappa (1982), and a JD degree from UNC-Chapel Hill with honors (1988).

Will my age and the length of time since I've been in school be a detriment in getting into a MSW program? Is it likely that I will have to re-take courses in order to update my academic background before I will be admitted?
 

WannaBeDrMe

10+ Year Member
Apr 14, 2008
296
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I think it would depend upon the program you are entering. However, as a general rule, I think MSW programs tend to value varied experiences.

Your law career has likely exposed you to a multitude of individuals with varying backgrounds and made you keenly aware of social justice issues in your area of residence.

I would recommend contacting your programs of interest and asking if pre-reqs would be required given the length of time since your last educational experience.

My guess is that you are fine... we had a few mid-career MSW students in my cohort and I know of others.

Congrats on your decision!
 

xenobart

MSW 2010
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Oct 26, 2008
42
1
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Psychology Student
I have several classmates who are mid-life career changers in my MSW program. One in particular has a very similar background to you (except that he's older - in his mid-50s); he practiced law for over 20 years and decided he needed a career change. My classmates and I all really appreciate the knowledge and life experience the nontraditional students bring to the program, as do the professors. I suspect that if I weren't in a daytime, full-time program, I'd have even more classmates in their 40s and 50s. Getting an MSW as a second career is very common in general, and my experience is that departments love admitting older, motivated students.
 
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biogirl215

10+ Year Member
May 1, 2007
458
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^
Ditto. This is true even in my BSW program. SW cohorts tend to be older on average than other programs, based on what I've seen.
 

Therapist4Chnge

Neuropsych Ninja Faculty
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Oct 7, 2006
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The Beach
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Psychologist
I'd consider your experience an asset. I think most/all people would benefit from having life experience before pursuing a grad. degree, and if you can make it applicable to SW.....even better.
 

harpar9298

10+ Year Member
Dec 6, 2008
3
0
Status
Thanks so much for your input, everyone. It's great to know that I am not as unusual as I first thought!
 
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