Pursuing a role in social work is an excellent choice. After all, it is a career that allows you to help individuals, families, and communities every single day. Before getting there, though, you must meet your social work degree expectations by graduating with good grades and a great wealth of knowledge.
Plus, to really thrive, it’s not just about grades – it’s also about standing out amongst the crowd and leaving a positive impression on your teachers and peers. So, whether you’re in the midst of your social work degree or you’re only just considering applying, here’s how to make the most out of it.
Consider Your Course Options
Before anything else, you must ensure the degree you apply for is the right one for you. Fortunately, there are plenty of options out there, allowing you to pursue a social work career no matter what your interests are like or how much time you have to spare. If you already have your bachelor’s, for example, then there are BSW to MSW programs to suit your educational needs.
You should also consider whether you want to study part-time, whether you’d prefer an online course, and where in the country you’d like to study. To ensure you make the right decision, spend plenty of time browsing.
Maintain Great Relationships with Your Tutors
One of the keys to success during your degree is having great relationships with your tutors/professors, and supervisors. They’ll be there for advice, guidance, and a helping hand whenever you need it. It’s important, then, to ensure you keep up ongoing communications throughout your course and to never hesitate to reach out for help. You should also make sure you always hand your work in on time and meet course expectations, and if you’re ever struggling to do so, let them know in advance.
If you’re doing BSW to MSW programs online, you can maintain great relationships by working closely with your field placement supervisor and emailing your tutors often. In fact, you’ll probably have an easier time contacting your online tutors, as their schedule will be more open to online meetings.
Gain Extra Volunteering Experience
If you really want to make the most out of your degree, look around for extra volunteer work in the community. There might be opportunities to help struggling kids, work in crisis centers, or help to feed the hungry. It might seem like a lot of extra work, but it’s important to put as much time into experience during your studying years. That way, you’ll have more career opportunities at the end of your degree due to your experience and recommendations.
Keep a Journal
Students often find that their degree years whiz by far too quickly. One day, you’ll look back and wish you could remember every detail. So, to make the most out of your social work degree, keep a journal documenting what you’ve learned, who you’ve met, and all the great experiences you’ve had. The journal doesn’t have to be entirely educational!
Have a Life Outside Your Degree
Making the most out of your social work degree means ensuring you aren’t stressed, tired, or overworked during your classes. Otherwise, the information you’re taught could end up disappearing as soon as you leave the classroom. One simple way to maintain positivity throughout your degree is to have a life outside of it. That means:
Having Outside Hobbies
While you’re likely to want to put every drop of effort into your studies, having hobbies outside of social work is important for your mental health. It doesn’t have to be anything strenuous – as long as you do something purely for enjoyment from time to time, you will benefit.
Socializing with Friends
Spending every hour in class, studying, on placement, or sleeping is a quick route to burnout. To keep a better balance, make sure you socialize with your friends from time to time. Just let them know you won’t be free on the run-up to assignment deadlines!
Keeping in Touch with Family
It’s important to keep in touch with your family, too. They’ll be there when you’re stressed with the workload, struggling with the timetable, or worrying about deadlines. Give them a call, and before long, you’ll feel like yourself again.
No degree is easy – especially one in social work. By keeping a life outside of it, you ensure you don’t drive yourself too crazy.
Invest in Study Equipment
When studying for your degree, you don’t want low-quality equipment, like an old laptop, to slow you down. This is especially true if you’re doing online BSW to MSW programs. Some of the most important investments to make as a social work student include:
- A fast laptop/computer
- A strong internet connection
- Notebooks and pens
- Extra reading books
If you’re studying from home, you’ll want to invest in a couple of more items, such as a comfortable office chair and a desk.
Stay on the Lookout for Opportunities
You’ll find many opportunities presented to you throughout your degree – take on as many as you can. For example, you might come across the option to join a research project, and you should take this. Not only will it give you more knowledge, but it’ll also look excellent on your resume. You might even get the chance to speak in front of a group of people about the current work to improve the community – anything like this is crucial to take, as it’ll put you ahead of those only doing the bare minimum. Standing out matters!
You’ll have a much better student experience if you make friends. After all, they’ll be the ones to help you study, share notes, and give you a listening ear at the end of a long and complicated class. Not only that, but the more connections you make during your degree, the more opportunities will present themselves to you in the future. That talented classmate you’ve just befriended? They might become an excellent clinical social worker and be more than happy to recommend you for a similar role.
Research Outside of the Curriculum
Making the most out of social work bachelor’s degrees or BSW to MSW programs doesn’t just mean acing the material provided – it also means doing your own research. By taking the initiative and studying outside of the curriculum, you not only show your tutors that you’re serious about social work, but you also expand your knowledge, giving you a better chance of acing your assignments.
Take Better Study Notes
If you find that your study notes often look like a disorganized mess or scrawled writing, then you’re not alone. They won’t help you out when it comes to studying season, though, even if you had good intentions at the time of writing them.
To make sure your study notes are actually of use, make them as clear as possible. Don’t worry – you don’t have to get out your stencils in class; once you’ve taken some quick notes in class, you can go home and make them more presentable. Not only will you end up with better study notes, but you’ll likely absorb more of the information due to you writing it out twice rather than once.
Consider Your Direction
Whether you’re taking a social work bachelor’s or BSW to MSW programs, it’s important to consider your career direction. Do you want to work with children? Are you interested in diversity in the community? What sort of social issues are you passionate about? Some social work careers you could consider include:
- Clinical social work
- Child and family social worker
- Healthcare social workers
- Rehabilitation caseworker
By knowing your direction, you’ll be able to choose the right courses, volunteer opportunities, and field placements for you.
Be Reliable and Organized
If you want to thrive during your social work degree, you absolutely must prioritize reliability and organization. After all, you won’t learn everything you need to if you’re constantly late and forget about deadlines until the last minute. Remember – once you’re a social worker, you’ll have vulnerable people relying on you and your work, so you must get into the habit of being reliable as soon as possible.
Find Ways to Manage Your Stress
There is no denying that a social work degree can be overwhelming. After all, you are studying to become a pivotal and helpful role in society, and that takes a good amount of hard work in education. To make sure you don’t burnout, you must find ways to manage your stress, such as:
Speaking About Your Troubles
It’s always better to let people know when you’re struggling rather than keep it inside. The simple act of conversation can have you feeling better in no time.
Take Self-Care Days
If you’ve spent an entire week focused on one assignment, allow yourself a full day of pampering and relaxation. It can be the reset you need to refresh your brain.
Get Enough Sleep
A lack of sleep can greatly exacerbate stress, so you must do your best to get a full seven to eight hours each night. Try to avoid all-night cramming sessions by starting your revision in advance.
The best way to ensure you don’t fall under pressure is to be as prepared as possible throughout your studies. If you’re doing online BSW to MSW programs, for example, make sure you keep up with all the online material and stay in touch with your professor via email. By doing this, you ensure you don’t fall behind, meaning you’re less likely to get stressed.
Integrate Yourself into the Community
As a social work student, the chances are you are passionate about the community. To help push forward your studies and gain experience, then, you should integrate yourself into the community. One of the best ways to do this is by volunteering – have a look around for volunteering opportunities and put yourself forward in the ones you’re passionate about.
Pull from Your Own Experiences
You don’t just learn from textbooks and work experience; you also learn from experiences you already have. During your lessons and field placements, if you come across a certain situation that seems familiar, pull knowledge from your own experiences to help you manage it. This shows both initiative and critical thinking.
Ask More Questions
Don’t be fooled – everyone in your class is likely to have a burning question they need the answer to. Rather than telling yourself you’ll find out later, make an effort the ask questions as soon as they pop into your mind and write down the answers given. That way, you ensure you don’t miss out on a crucial piece of information that could greatly help in your assignments or field placements.
Speak Up in Class
Social work is a career with lots of communication. By speaking up as much as possible during your study years, you ensure you gain as much experience in this area as possible. Not only that, but it’ll also show you in a good light to your professors. If you’re doing online BSW to MSW programs, you can still speak up during your online classes! Just make sure you have an excellent internet connection, so your studies don’t get interrupted.
Find Your Motivations
There’s a reason people apply for BSW to MSW programs – you might want to advance your current social work career, take a new career path, or maybe you’re just extremely passionate about helping people. By keeping your motivations in mind throughout your studies, you’ll be far more likely to succeed and have fun while doing so.
Make the Most of Each Moment
To make the most out of your social work degree, you must make the most out of each moment. Whether you’re advancing your studies with BSW to MSW programs or just getting into social work with a bachelor’s degree, be sure to present in each moment and stay passionate about the subject.
BSW to MSW programs and social work degrees involve hard work and extensive work experience. By making the most out of each moment, you ensure you’re well equipped for a career as an excellent social worker.