Whether you are hoping to work as a mental health, addictions, marriage and family, or career counselor, all states require that you earn at least a master’s degree in counseling or psychology before you can begin your practice. Here are five tips for being accepted into a master’s program in counseling.
Choose an Accredited Program
The Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP) provides a standard for all counselor education programs. While it is not required that you choose a CACREP-accredited program, doing so will make earning a license to practice easier to obtain, as many states place additional educational and supervisory conditions on graduates from non-CACREP programs. Make sure to discuss the fact that you recognize the importance of a program being accredited by CACREP in your personal statement, or when speaking to a representative from the program to show that you have given considerable thought to the value of their program.
Research the Faculty
Counseling is a broad field and includes many specializations. While there are standards governing the organization of counseling education programs, each program will vary somewhat based on its faculty. If you have more interest in practicing community mental health, but the faculty at a prospective school primarily specialize in career counseling, you may struggle to find common ground when speaking with them during an interview. Likewise, if your career and research interests line up with the faculty’s, it may bode well to look into their research to have some talking points during a potential interview.
Do you really volunteer every weekend feeding the homeless at your local soup kitchen? Do you spend hours on end reading every piece or research related to counseling that gets published? Probably not. You don’t need to try to sell impressive qualities about yourself to a graduate school. When crafting your personal statement or sitting down for an interview, just be yourself. While test scores and GPA are predictors to success in graduate schools, personality also plays a vital role in graduate school success. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine though.
For a lot of students, discussing grades is one of the most difficult components to applying to a graduate school. Don’t fret a couple of C’s early in your career. It’s not uncommon to see students struggle a bit during their freshman and sophomore years. Many schools make considerations for improvement during your last two years. If your grades are lower than you’d like, talk about them early in your cover letter, and highlight the improvements that you have made as you have progressed through your degree.
Practice Makes Perfect
Both the process of applying to graduate school and being interviewed can be nerve-wracking, especially if you have never been through a selective interview before. Take advantage of your college’s resources, including any potential career or academic counselors. These offices will often work with students to perform mock interviews, read and edit cover letters, and even help with the application process. If your university doesn’t offer these services, touch base with a faculty member that you trust. Many will be willing to talk to you about their experiences in getting into graduate school and may be willing to offer advice or assistance as well.
Related Resource: 30 Most Affordable Christian Master’s in Counseling Online
While every graduate school application process varies from school to school, these five tips for being accepted into a counseling master’s program can help you to be the best applicant that you can be.