Retake LSAT or get a MSW?

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notaznguy
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Retake LSAT or get a MSW?

Postby notaznguy » Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:21 am

Someone earlier made a thread about law school vs grad school so I wanted to make one too.

Okay, I took a prepcourse and studied for a whole summer and felt like I truly did everything I could to study for the LSAT and I got a whopping 159. I cry when I think about how hard it is to get a 167+, as the main schools I wanted to go to were USC and UCLA. I "could" attempt to study again and retake, but there's like a huge chance I won't get that 167 as I don't know what else more I can do other than drill problems and take PTs again.

The other option is to take the GRE and apply for MSW (Masters in Social Work programs). Not exactly "prestigious" like being a lawyer, but I could probably get a stable job with this. I'm a male as well, and apparently, that's a huge advantage if you're going to be a social worker. I'm mainly looking to work for the county as a children's social worker. I'll make a Pros/Cons list.

PROS - Retake/Law School
-Prestigious/become a lawyer/friends and family will think I am cool
-Potential to make 100k+
-Fulfill my young adulthood dream of going to law school and becoming a lawyer
-I'll feel like a winner because I set out a goal and accomplished it (been wanting to do this since freshman year of college)

CONS - Retake/Law School
-Don't get 167+ and wasted 5 months of studying/waiting for score.
-Feel like a failure again because even after I retried, I still couldn't get a 167
-Don't end up being in top of class and become loser lawyer with 180k+ debt
-Doing doc review/shit law for a long time
-180k...this has to be mentioned again...
-Law school apparently sucks and I'd be miserable for 3 years
-Potential to earn only 40k a year with a JD
-Potential to work insane crazy hours
-Extremely stressful
-Possibly bad career if I want a family
-Liability: if you **** up somebody's case, well, there goes your career
-A "thankless" job. People view you as a snake in society. Only your client thanks you.

...........................................


PROS - MSW
-Easy path to admission. It doesn't matter where you go as prestige isn't important in this field
-Relatively easy to get a job in the county through internships
-Around 50k starting salary with good benefits
-Will be doing a job with a "noble cause"
-Debt could only be anywhere from between 20k-60k, depending on school or if I commute.
-County offers stipends if you want to work for them, but you have to commit to working for at least 2 years.
-Weekends and holidays off!!!
-Very stable/hard to get fired since it's a government job

CONS - MSW
-Less prestigious. Generally friends/family won't look at me with the same "awe" if I were instead a lawyer.
-Not something I really pictured myself doing. It's kinda a "back up" plan from the law school plan.
-Salary is 50k...and even after many years of work, it will probably cap at 70-80k unless I get promoted to some administration job
-Kinda dangerous...I have to make home visits in low income areas...though I haven't heard of any bad things to people I know of
-Liability: if you **** up or are negligent, and a child dies because of it, you are liable and can go to jail or lose your job
-Technically is a 40 hr/week job, but more often than not it's more like a 50 hr/week job with occasional late nights and take home work
-Have to see some pretty horrible things, like taking away children from families or hearing children tell stories of how their drugged up parents abused them.
-A pretty "thankless" job. People view you as evil, even though you are doing good.

t14fanboy
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Re: Retake LSAT or get a MSW?

Postby t14fanboy » Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:23 am

Who the hell thinks suits are prestigious.

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Jaeger
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Re: Retake LSAT or get a MSW?

Postby Jaeger » Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:23 am

Don't go to law school for prestige. Don't spend much in school for a MSW. Also, don't get into social work unless you're damn sure that's what you want to do.

Retake, if you don't improve, maybe it's not for you. GPA?

notaznguy
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Re: Retake LSAT or get a MSW?

Postby notaznguy » Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:27 am

t14fanboy wrote:Who the hell thinks suits are prestigious.


Asian families. Oh and a lot of people. You've been on TLS too long. People outside TLS think being a lawyer is pretty up there with being a pharmacist or optometrist or engineer or something.

notaznguy
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Re: Retake LSAT or get a MSW?

Postby notaznguy » Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:42 am

Jaeger wrote:Don't spend much in school for a MSW. Also, don't get into social work unless you're damn sure that's what you want to do.

Retake, if you don't improve, maybe it's not for you. GPA?


I agree. I won't be spending too much for an MSW. Since they don't really care WHERE you get your degree, as long as the institution is accredited, it doesn't matter.

Okay, um, you may not know this, but everyone says that for everything okay? i.e. Don't join the military unless you're damn sure it's what you want to do. Or how about Don't be a lawyer/doctor/nurse/accountant/teacher/etc unless you're damn sure it's what you want to do because in all of those jobs, you will be affecting somebody's life significantly. I suppose I should just be a janitor huh? Oh no wait, I might endanger someone if I don't wipe the floor clean enough.

Not sure if I should retake because part of me does think "maybe it's not just for me." GPA is 3.6

notaznguy
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Re: Retake LSAT or get a MSW?

Postby notaznguy » Tue Mar 27, 2012 8:34 pm

bump

notaznguy
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Re: Retake LSAT or get a MSW?

Postby notaznguy » Wed Mar 28, 2012 4:18 am

bump

lawlcat4179
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Re: Retake LSAT or get a MSW?

Postby lawlcat4179 » Wed Mar 28, 2012 5:43 am

Well, I'll offer some (lengthy) advice since my fiance is finishing up her MSW right now.

First, this is obviously only a decision that you can make. You know yourself better than some random internet folks, and so you should be the one who ultimately makes this decision. With that said, maybe we can help you figure out what you're looking for.

Regarding an earlier post, I agree with you about the whole "be sure its what you want to do" crap. Yeah, people say that with everything, and I agree, that response is pretty tired. Especially for an MSW. An MSW is truly one of the most versatile advanced degrees that you can get. There are so many social worky paths to go down that you can really do plenty of different things, which will help prevent burnout (huge problem in social work field). Also, using your MSW you build skills that can easily be translatable into more private practice/business areas. For example, knowing stats and having a policy analysis concentration can be translated into the corporate world as well (grant writing is another transferable skill, among many others). I know that many of my fiances professors have both corporate and non profit/government experience with their MSW degrees. So the whole "be sure its what you want to do" doesn't really apply as much as it does in some other fields.

With that being said, it does take a certain type of person to enjoy doing social work. You obviously can't be the republican types who have general contempt for poor people. You have to be willing to put aside your biases and work to help your clients, even when sometimes they are being incredibly difficult (although this is a problem you face in any field, law especially). However, if you really do enjoy helping people, it can be an incredibly rewarding profession.

The thing about social work is that so much of it depends on what you want to do specifically. Being a childrens social worker (I'm assuming you mean working for Child Protective Services?) is going to be one of the more draining areas of social work that you can do. Its incredibly stressful and you are thrown into really hostile environments and have to deal with knowing that you are many times breaking up families. However, due to the stress of that type of work, they do pay more than a typical social worker. If you went into medical social work and worked your way up through the ranks, you can easily make around 80k working at a place like the Veterans Administration. Generally, the more rewarding it is in social work, the less it will pay.

Regarding what you mentioned about being male, I've never really heard its an advantage. I know that roughly 90+% of social workers are female, but this is generally self selection. I suppose there could be fields where they may be looking for a man, and obviously they are a scarce commodity in social work.

In regards to your family, that is something you need to deal with. To go to law school so you don't feel like a failure, or for prestige, is just a bad idea. I hate to sound hokey, but you only get to live one life. You truly need to do what makes you most happy, not what other people want you to do. This is part of why lawyers are such a miserable group of people. There is always someone graduating from a better school, or working at a better firm. Chasing prestige will lead you down a pretty empty life. It's great that you had a goal when you started college to be a lawyer, but part of going to college is finding out what you want to spend the rest of your life doing. Honestly, to me it sounds like you really haven't figured that out.

My advice: Maybe try and do AmeriCorps/Peace Corps for a while and see how you like it. It would give you some work/life experience, be a resume booster if you do decide to go to law school, help you build some marketable skills, and more importantly it will help you figure out what YOU want to do (also, its a huge plus to have this on a resume for social work jobs). Also, you could get out from your family's shadow and have a chance to reflect on what you want out of your future. If after that you still want to go to law school, do what you need to do and try to get into the best school you can.

If you want extra advice on some of these options, send me a PM. Also, if you do decide to go this route and you happen to be placed near where I'm at, I'll help you prep for the LSAT for free (but bear in mind I'm about to move pretty far off the grid). You sound like a nice guy in a tough spot, and I can definitely relate. I wish you all the best.

SunshineMagic
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Re: Retake LSAT or get a MSW?

Postby SunshineMagic » Wed Mar 28, 2012 6:59 am

The only intelligent plan is to retake until you get into yale...

notaznguy
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Re: Retake LSAT or get a MSW?

Postby notaznguy » Wed Mar 28, 2012 7:10 am

Thanks lawlcat for that lengthy response.

All I can really say is that I agree with the versatility of a MSW and that there are many types of social workers. I only mentioned the Children's Social Worker/CPS because that is what my friend does and it's kinda the only field I really know of. I know of jobs from the VA so there's always that path and there are positions like medical social workers in hospitals. I don't know much about the other social worker jobs, but from I know for a fact right now at least that if I ever wanted to get an MSW, I will at least have a good chance of having a job if I choose to work for the county's department of child and family services. If I don't like working there, I can quit after a year or so. My friend, who does work for the county, is planning to quit after 1 year. He is planning to go into another social work field. You're right about the pay as well. According to my friend, the county's starting salary is around 53k and can go up to 70k within several years. The benefits are also very good. The main issue is just the burnout and turnover as the social workers are case workers and very much overworked with cases.

The only things I worry about regarding being a social worker is liability. I've talked to a few people and for some reason they all mention the extreme dangers of liability. Everybody tells me social workers are blamed for everything, which scares me because I don't want to be indicted for a crime or something when I was only trying to do my job. My friend tells me for the most part nothing will happen to you as long as don't do obviously stupid things like falsifying documents or lying.

On the bright side, I am not a elitist snob who has contempt for the poor, especially as I myself grew up in a low income environment so I know what it's like. It's true that I don't really "know" what I want in life, but I suppose I'm one of those people out there that just doesn't really care what I do. To me, a job is a job, and all I know is that everyday you bring your best and work hard and don't bullshit around. I feel if I were to be a social worker, I'd work just as hard and be as dedicated had I instead decided to be a lawyer or a pharmacist or engineer or whatever.

As for your advice, I've actually done a year of AmeriCorps. I worked with low income self represented litigants and helped them file legal paperwork for child custody, divorces, etc, so I do have some exposure to children and family services.

lawlcat4179
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Re: Retake LSAT or get a MSW?

Postby lawlcat4179 » Wed Mar 28, 2012 7:36 am

notaznguy wrote:Thanks lawlcat for that lengthy response.

All I can really say is that I agree with the versatility of a MSW and that there are many types of social workers. I only mentioned the Children's Social Worker/CPS because that is what my friend does and it's kinda the only field I really know of. I know of jobs from the VA so there's always that path and there are positions like medical social workers in hospitals. I don't know much about the other social worker jobs, but from I know for a fact right now at least that if I ever wanted to get an MSW, I will at least have a good chance of having a job if I choose to work for the county's department of child and family services. If I don't like working there, I can quit after a year or so. My friend, who does work for the county, is planning to quit after 1 year. He is planning to go into another social work field. You're right about the pay as well. According to my friend, the county's starting salary is around 53k and can go up to 70k within several years. The benefits are also very good. The main issue is just the burnout and turnover as the social workers are case workers and very much overworked with cases.

The only things I worry about regarding being a social worker is liability. I've talked to a few people and for some reason they all mention the extreme dangers of liability. Everybody tells me social workers are blamed for everything, which scares me because I don't want to be indicted for a crime or something when I was only trying to do my job. My friend tells me for the most part nothing will happen to you as long as don't do obviously stupid things like falsifying documents or lying.

On the bright side, I am not a elitist snob who has contempt for the poor, especially as I myself grew up in a low income environment so I know what it's like. It's true that I don't really "know" what I want in life, but I suppose I'm one of those people out there that just doesn't really care what I do. To me, a job is a job, and all I know is that everyday you bring your best and work hard and don't bullshit around. I feel if I were to be a social worker, I'd work just as hard and be as dedicated had I instead decided to be a lawyer or a pharmacist or engineer or whatever.

As for your advice, I've actually done a year of AmeriCorps. I worked with low income self represented litigants and helped them file legal paperwork for child custody, divorces, etc, so I do have some exposure to children and family services.


Yeah, I haven't really heard the liability being too much of an issue. As long as you follow protocol you should be fine.

The burnout is definitely an issue, but at least you could go into other fields areas fairly easily. I would imagine you'd get much more burnout going into law than social work though.

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Samara
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Re: Retake LSAT or get a MSW?

Postby Samara » Wed Mar 28, 2012 11:00 am

Why is MSW so often brought up as an alternative to law school? I'm genuinely curious. The skills don't seem to be transferable at all. In fact, lawyers and social workers seem to need completely opposite skill sets.

Additionally, it doesn't seem to provide much earning power over a bachelor's, especially compared to other graduate degrees. Social work seems incredibly emotionally difficult and stressful. And while I'm sure there are different aspects of the field to get into, social work seems to be on the less versatile end of the spectrum.

Why not get an office job and work up the ranks? Wouldn't have to go to school, could earn a similar income (considering school loans, opportunity cost, etc.) and could be a lot less stressed out. The job market can only support so many people with advanced degrees. Graduate degrees are not golden tickets to a great lifestyle and there are plenty of ways to have a fulfilling career without a graduate degree.

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Br3v
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Re: Retake LSAT or get a MSW?

Postby Br3v » Wed Mar 28, 2012 11:02 am

notaznguy wrote:
t14fanboy wrote:Who the hell thinks suits are prestigious.


Asian families. Oh and a lot of people. You've been on TLS too long. People outside TLS think being a lawyer is pretty up there with being a pharmacist or optometrist or engineer or something.


Those are the most random occupations to give examples of.

notaznguy
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Re: Retake LSAT or get a MSW?

Postby notaznguy » Wed Mar 28, 2012 5:17 pm

Samara wrote:Why is MSW so often brought up as an alternative to law school? I'm genuinely curious. The skills don't seem to be transferable at all. In fact, lawyers and social workers seem to need completely opposite skill sets.

Additionally, it doesn't seem to provide much earning power over a bachelor's, especially compared to other graduate degrees. Social work seems incredibly emotionally difficult and stressful. And while I'm sure there are different aspects of the field to get into, social work seems to be on the less versatile end of the spectrum.

Why not get an office job and work up the ranks? Wouldn't have to go to school, could earn a similar income (considering school loans, opportunity cost, etc.) and could be a lot less stressed out. The job market can only support so many people with advanced degrees. Graduate degrees are not golden tickets to a great lifestyle and there are plenty of ways to have a fulfilling career without a graduate degree.


I was not aware of this correlation. As a matter of fact, I'm the only person I know who is considering MSW as an alternate to law school.

It's true that it doesn't have as much earning power, but at the same time, it's not like I can really do much with my bachelor's degree alone. I have a BA in History and I don't have many grad school opportunities unless I go back to community college for a couple of years and retake classes. Theoretically, I could always go back and take some science courses and try to apply for nursing school. The other options I considered were simply "working," but truth be told the only jobs I've been able to find are administrative assistant jobs or legal assistant jobs. Those jobs don't really offer a long term solution. In other words, they aren't careers. I've also considered teaching, but I'm not sure I want to be a teacher and it's very difficult to be hired as a full time History/Social Science teacher right now. Lastly, the money isn't that bad. At least in California, social workers are paid a decent amount and aren't struggling to pay the bills. My friend's starting salary is 53k and full benefits and it'll be at least 60k+ within 5 years if he decided to stay and keep working. With a BA, I could only find jobs that pay 30-35k with no benefits. Sad news.

I am applying to a few jobs in the county in the field of probation. If I could get an entry level job, I could eventually work my way up to a probation officer, but there's no guarantee I'll get it as it's very hard to get into government jobs in general. If I can get the job, I'll probably just stick with that.

A MSW may not be a golden ticket to an upper middle class lifestyle, but in terms of jobs and careers, it's offers more stability. At least from what I know, there's no hiring freeze for social workers in my county so there will always be at least some work. Also, as a government worker, my job security would be considerably better than if I just had a BA and worked for some company. If company X decided to lay me off when I'm 40, I'd have a rough time trying to find another job with a comparable salary of whatever I would have been making. Social work is considered a professional degree so there's some specificity in what I'd be doing as opposed to having a generic, broad BA in History.

notaznguy
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Re: Retake LSAT or get a MSW?

Postby notaznguy » Wed Mar 28, 2012 5:18 pm

Br3v wrote:
notaznguy wrote:
t14fanboy wrote:Who the hell thinks suits are prestigious.


Asian families. Oh and a lot of people. You've been on TLS too long. People outside TLS think being a lawyer is pretty up there with being a pharmacist or optometrist or engineer or something.


Those are the most random occupations to give examples of.


My friends and family are pharmacists and optometrists. Everyone I know always praises them because they consider them to have prestigious careers. They view them as doctors, as in MD doctors.

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Samara
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Re: Retake LSAT or get a MSW?

Postby Samara » Wed Mar 28, 2012 5:25 pm

notaznguy wrote:
Samara wrote:Why is MSW so often brought up as an alternative to law school? I'm genuinely curious. The skills don't seem to be transferable at all. In fact, lawyers and social workers seem to need completely opposite skill sets.

Additionally, it doesn't seem to provide much earning power over a bachelor's, especially compared to other graduate degrees. Social work seems incredibly emotionally difficult and stressful. And while I'm sure there are different aspects of the field to get into, social work seems to be on the less versatile end of the spectrum.

Why not get an office job and work up the ranks? Wouldn't have to go to school, could earn a similar income (considering school loans, opportunity cost, etc.) and could be a lot less stressed out. The job market can only support so many people with advanced degrees. Graduate degrees are not golden tickets to a great lifestyle and there are plenty of ways to have a fulfilling career without a graduate degree.


I was not aware of this correlation. As a matter of fact, I'm the only person I know who is considering MSW as an alternate to law school.

It's true that it doesn't have as much earning power, but at the same time, it's not like I can really do much with my bachelor's degree alone. I have a BA in History and I don't have many grad school opportunities unless I go back to community college for a couple of years and retake classes. Theoretically, I could always go back and take some science courses and try to apply for nursing school. The other options I considered were simply "working," but truth be told the only jobs I've been able to find are administrative assistant jobs or legal assistant jobs. Those jobs don't really offer a long term solution. In other words, they aren't careers. I've also considered teaching, but I'm not sure I want to be a teacher and it's very difficult to be hired as a full time History/Social Science teacher right now. Lastly, the money isn't that bad. At least in California, social workers are paid a decent amount and aren't struggling to pay the bills. My friend's starting salary is 53k and full benefits and it'll be at least 60k+ within 5 years if he decided to stay and keep working. With a BA, I could only find jobs that pay 30-35k with no benefits. Sad news.

I am applying to a few jobs in the county in the field of probation. If I could get an entry level job, I could eventually work my way up to a probation officer, but there's no guarantee I'll get it as it's very hard to get into government jobs in general. If I can get the job, I'll probably just stick with that.

A MSW may not be a golden ticket to an upper middle class lifestyle, but in terms of jobs and careers, it's offers more stability. At least from what I know, there's no hiring freeze for social workers in my county so there will always be at least some work. Also, as a government worker, my job security would be considerably better than if I just had a BA and worked for some company. If company X decided to lay me off when I'm 40, I'd have a rough time trying to find another job with a comparable salary of whatever I would have been making. Social work is considered a professional degree so there's some specificity in what I'd be doing as opposed to having a generic, broad BA in History.

Maybe it's just coincidence, but I've seen it pop up a few times on here. Did you just graduate from undergrad? Have you gained work experience yet? If not, I suggest working, even if it's just an administrative assistant job. If you're competent at all, you'll be able to move up the ladder quickly. It will also allow you to figure out what you want to do. You're putting out such disparate choices. And who knows, maybe in a couple years, you can revisit the LSAT and give law school another try.

missjessica
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Re: Retake LSAT or get a MSW?

Postby missjessica » Wed Mar 28, 2012 6:08 pm

notaznguy wrote:Someone earlier made a thread about law school vs grad school so I wanted to make one too.

Okay, I took a prepcourse and studied for a whole summer and felt like I truly did everything I could to study for the LSAT and I got a whopping 159. I cry when I think about how hard it is to get a 167+, as the main schools I wanted to go to were USC and UCLA. I "could" attempt to study again and retake, but there's like a huge chance I won't get that 167 as I don't know what else more I can do other than drill problems and take PTs again.

The other option is to take the GRE and apply for MSW (Masters in Social Work programs). Not exactly "prestigious" like being a lawyer, but I could probably get a stable job with this. I'm a male as well, and apparently, that's a huge advantage if you're going to be a social worker. I'm mainly looking to work for the county as a children's social worker. I'll make a Pros/Cons list.

PROS - Retake/Law School
-Prestigious/become a lawyer/friends and family will think I am cool
-Potential to make 100k+
-Fulfill my young adulthood dream of going to law school and becoming a lawyer
-I'll feel like a winner because I set out a goal and accomplished it (been wanting to do this since freshman year of college)

CONS - Retake/Law School
-Don't get 167+ and wasted 5 months of studying/waiting for score.
-Feel like a failure again because even after I retried, I still couldn't get a 167
-Don't end up being in top of class and become loser lawyer with 180k+ debt
-Doing doc review/shit law for a long time
-180k...this has to be mentioned again...
-Law school apparently sucks and I'd be miserable for 3 years
-Potential to earn only 40k a year with a JD
-Potential to work insane crazy hours
-Extremely stressful
-Possibly bad career if I want a family
-Liability: if you **** up somebody's case, well, there goes your career
-A "thankless" job. People view you as a snake in society. Only your client thanks you.

...........................................


PROS - MSW
-Easy path to admission. It doesn't matter where you go as prestige isn't important in this field
-Relatively easy to get a job in the county through internships
-Around 50k starting salary with good benefits
-Will be doing a job with a "noble cause"
-Debt could only be anywhere from between 20k-60k, depending on school or if I commute.
-County offers stipends if you want to work for them, but you have to commit to working for at least 2 years.
-Weekends and holidays off!!!
-Very stable/hard to get fired since it's a government job

CONS - MSW
-Less prestigious. Generally friends/family won't look at me with the same "awe" if I were instead a lawyer.
-Not something I really pictured myself doing. It's kinda a "back up" plan from the law school plan.
-Salary is 50k...and even after many years of work, it will probably cap at 70-80k unless I get promoted to some administration job
-Kinda dangerous...I have to make home visits in low income areas...though I haven't heard of any bad things to people I know of
-Liability: if you **** up or are negligent, and a child dies because of it, you are liable and can go to jail or lose your job
-Technically is a 40 hr/week job, but more often than not it's more like a 50 hr/week job with occasional late nights and take home work
-Have to see some pretty horrible things, like taking away children from families or hearing children tell stories of how their drugged up parents abused them.
-A pretty "thankless" job. People view you as evil, even though you are doing good.


Here's the thoughts of a future law student who is dating a social worker.

Only you can make the best decision for yourself. Both careers are great, and there's pros and cons to each (which you so carefully enumerated above). You need to figure out how much weight you think each pro and con deserves.

Do what you want, but my advice is put off furthering your education for a couple years. MSW really leads to a lot of diverse career paths, and there's a lot more to it than taking away people's children. Also, if you're uncomfortable working with low-income clients, then social work may not be the field for you. Maybe work for a community organization to get a feel for social work, or better yet, a community organization that specifically deals with legal issues. You'll get a better idea of what you actually enjoy and value in career. You'd also have time to re-take the LSATs or prep for the GREs. (Also, I have similar numbers and I've gotten into decent schools. You're not screwed at all with a 159/3.6).

Best of luck to you!

doclover
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Re: Retake LSAT or get a MSW?

Postby doclover » Wed Mar 28, 2012 6:26 pm

lawlcat4179 wrote:Well, I'll offer some (lengthy) advice since my fiance is finishing up her MSW right now.

First, this is obviously only a decision that you can make. You know yourself better than some random internet folks, and so you should be the one who ultimately makes this decision. With that said, maybe we can help you figure out what you're looking for.

Regarding an earlier post, I agree with you about the whole "be sure its what you want to do" crap. Yeah, people say that with everything, and I agree, that response is pretty tired. Especially for an MSW. An MSW is truly one of the most versatile advanced degrees that you can get. There are so many social worky paths to go down that you can really do plenty of different things, which will help prevent burnout (huge problem in social work field). Also, using your MSW you build skills that can easily be translatable into more private practice/business areas. For example, knowing stats and having a policy analysis concentration can be translated into the corporate world as well (grant writing is another transferable skill, among many others). I know that many of my fiances professors have both corporate and non profit/government experience with their MSW degrees. So the whole "be sure its what you want to do" doesn't really apply as much as it does in some other fields.

With that being said, it does take a certain type of person to enjoy doing social work. You obviously can't be the republican types who have general contempt for poor people. You have to be willing to put aside your biases and work to help your clients, even when sometimes they are being incredibly difficult (although this is a problem you face in any field, law especially). However, if you really do enjoy helping people, it can be an incredibly rewarding profession.

The thing about social work is that so much of it depends on what you want to do specifically. Being a childrens social worker (I'm assuming you mean working for Child Protective Services?) is going to be one of the more draining areas of social work that you can do. Its incredibly stressful and you are thrown into really hostile environments and have to deal with knowing that you are many times breaking up families. However, due to the stress of that type of work, they do pay more than a typical social worker. If you went into medical social work and worked your way up through the ranks, you can easily make around 80k working at a place like the Veterans Administration. Generally, the more rewarding it is in social work, the less it will pay.

Regarding what you mentioned about being male, I've never really heard its an advantage. I know that roughly 90+% of social workers are female, but this is generally self selection. I suppose there could be fields where they may be looking for a man, and obviously they are a scarce commodity in social work.

In regards to your family, that is something you need to deal with. To go to law school so you don't feel like a failure, or for prestige, is just a bad idea. I hate to sound hokey, but you only get to live one life. You truly need to do what makes you most happy, not what other people want you to do. This is part of why lawyers are such a miserable group of people. There is always someone graduating from a better school, or working at a better firm. Chasing prestige will lead you down a pretty empty life. It's great that you had a goal when you started college to be a lawyer, but part of going to college is finding out what you want to spend the rest of your life doing. Honestly, to me it sounds like you really haven't figured that out.

My advice: Maybe try and do AmeriCorps/Peace Corps for a while and see how you like it. It would give you some work/life experience, be a resume booster if you do decide to go to law school, help you build some marketable skills, and more importantly it will help you figure out what YOU want to do (also, its a huge plus to have this on a resume for social work jobs). Also, you could get out from your family's shadow and have a chance to reflect on what you want out of your future. If after that you still want to go to law school, do what you need to do and try to get into the best school you can.

If you want extra advice on some of these options, send me a PM. Also, if you do decide to go this route and you happen to be placed near where I'm at, I'll help you prep for the LSAT for free (but bear in mind I'm about to move pretty far off the grid). You sound like a nice guy in a tough spot, and I can definitely relate. I wish you all the best.


Stereotypes are all 100% true.

notaznguy
Posts: 318
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 12:48 am

Re: Retake LSAT or get a MSW?

Postby notaznguy » Wed Mar 28, 2012 6:49 pm

missjessica wrote:
notaznguy wrote:Someone earlier made a thread about law school vs grad school so I wanted to make one too.

Okay, I took a prepcourse and studied for a whole summer and felt like I truly did everything I could to study for the LSAT and I got a whopping 159. I cry when I think about how hard it is to get a 167+, as the main schools I wanted to go to were USC and UCLA. I "could" attempt to study again and retake, but there's like a huge chance I won't get that 167 as I don't know what else more I can do other than drill problems and take PTs again.

The other option is to take the GRE and apply for MSW (Masters in Social Work programs). Not exactly "prestigious" like being a lawyer, but I could probably get a stable job with this. I'm a male as well, and apparently, that's a huge advantage if you're going to be a social worker. I'm mainly looking to work for the county as a children's social worker. I'll make a Pros/Cons list.

PROS - Retake/Law School
-Prestigious/become a lawyer/friends and family will think I am cool
-Potential to make 100k+
-Fulfill my young adulthood dream of going to law school and becoming a lawyer
-I'll feel like a winner because I set out a goal and accomplished it (been wanting to do this since freshman year of college)

CONS - Retake/Law School
-Don't get 167+ and wasted 5 months of studying/waiting for score.
-Feel like a failure again because even after I retried, I still couldn't get a 167
-Don't end up being in top of class and become loser lawyer with 180k+ debt
-Doing doc review/shit law for a long time
-180k...this has to be mentioned again...
-Law school apparently sucks and I'd be miserable for 3 years
-Potential to earn only 40k a year with a JD
-Potential to work insane crazy hours
-Extremely stressful
-Possibly bad career if I want a family
-Liability: if you **** up somebody's case, well, there goes your career
-A "thankless" job. People view you as a snake in society. Only your client thanks you.

...........................................


PROS - MSW
-Easy path to admission. It doesn't matter where you go as prestige isn't important in this field
-Relatively easy to get a job in the county through internships
-Around 50k starting salary with good benefits
-Will be doing a job with a "noble cause"
-Debt could only be anywhere from between 20k-60k, depending on school or if I commute.
-County offers stipends if you want to work for them, but you have to commit to working for at least 2 years.
-Weekends and holidays off!!!
-Very stable/hard to get fired since it's a government job

CONS - MSW
-Less prestigious. Generally friends/family won't look at me with the same "awe" if I were instead a lawyer.
-Not something I really pictured myself doing. It's kinda a "back up" plan from the law school plan.
-Salary is 50k...and even after many years of work, it will probably cap at 70-80k unless I get promoted to some administration job
-Kinda dangerous...I have to make home visits in low income areas...though I haven't heard of any bad things to people I know of
-Liability: if you **** up or are negligent, and a child dies because of it, you are liable and can go to jail or lose your job
-Technically is a 40 hr/week job, but more often than not it's more like a 50 hr/week job with occasional late nights and take home work
-Have to see some pretty horrible things, like taking away children from families or hearing children tell stories of how their drugged up parents abused them.
-A pretty "thankless" job. People view you as evil, even though you are doing good.


Here's the thoughts of a future law student who is dating a social worker.

Only you can make the best decision for yourself. Both careers are great, and there's pros and cons to each (which you so carefully enumerated above). You need to figure out how much weight you think each pro and con deserves.

Do what you want, but my advice is put off furthering your education for a couple years. MSW really leads to a lot of diverse career paths, and there's a lot more to it than taking away people's children. Also, if you're uncomfortable working with low-income clients, then social work may not be the field for you. Maybe work for a community organization to get a feel for social work, or better yet, a community organization that specifically deals with legal issues. You'll get a better idea of what you actually enjoy and value in career. You'd also have time to re-take the LSATs or prep for the GREs. (Also, I have similar numbers and I've gotten into decent schools. You're not screwed at all with a 159/3.6).

Best of luck to you!


Thanks. And I've worked with low income clients before. Not to mention I am a low income person...lol and grew up in that type of community.

No thanks with the 159. I have the T-14/Top regional school/Full ride or bust mentality. If I go to law school, I'd have to borrow 180k in loans. My parents are too poor to help me out. Not worth it unless I can get a big law job to pay off the debt, and getting into big law is extremely difficult, unless you're at a T-14/Top regional school, and even then it's no guarantee. Ha.




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