Discovering the World of Social Work

By: Sadie

Coming into UMD I was convinced that I was majoring in Psychology, but it was only until I started searching for a minor that I discovered the Social Work program. My dream career is to be a school counselor, so I thought pursuing a Psychology degree was the most suitable for me. I was conflicted in choosing a minor because I wanted something to compliment my Psychology major that would also help me pursue a counseling career. I started talking to the career counselors and with my career goal in mind they started throwing ideas at me. One of which was social work. I was asked “why don’t you major in social work, but keep psychology as your minor?” and that’s exactly what I did. After talking with my family about possibly switching they weren’t exactly thrilled. They were frightened by the title “social work.” They thought of social work as a career that is very stressful, takes away kids as a living, and has very low income. At first I was scared, but after reviewing the coursework, I saw that all of it revolved around subjects that I’m interested in. I also sat down with Kathy Heltzer, a faculty member in the Department of Social Work, who also played a role in my decision. All in all, I ignored my families remarks, educated them about the program and what I could do with a Social Work major, and eventually made the leap to declare Social Work as my major. The following is a peek into what it means to be a social worker and what the Social Work program at UMD is like.

What is Social Worker?

The National Association of Social Workers, or NASW, does a nice job describing exactly what it means to be a social worker.

  • Social workers help individuals, families, and groups restore or enhance their capacity for social functioning, and work to create societal conditions that support communities in need.
  • The practice of social work requires knowledge of human development and behavior, of social, economic and cultural institutions, and of the interaction of all these factors.
  • Social workers help people of all backgrounds address their own needs through psychosocial services and advocacy.
  • Social workers help people overcome some of life’s most difficult challenges: poverty, discrimination, abuse, addiction, physical illness, divorce, loss, unemployment, educational problems, disability, and mental illness. They help prevent crises and counsel individuals, families, and communities to cope more effectively with the stresses of everyday life.

Social Work Program:

The Bachelor of Social Work (B.S.W) program here at UMD is within the College of Education and Human Service Professions, or CEHSP. Something interesting about this program is that almost 80% of instruction is online, so if you’re uncomfortable with minimal face-to-face time this might not be the major for you. Although, I didn’t think I could ever take an online class because I love interacting with others and forming relationships with my teachers, but I ended up taking two online courses this semester and have loved it. Another awesome thing about this program is that it requires evidence of volunteering in the community. They want you to get out, make connections, and learn in a different way other than just learning through a textbook. Lastly, if you earn a baccalaureate degree in social work, you can then earn your M.S.W or Master of Social Work through UMD after one more year. The less time and money spent on school the better, right?!

Read Sadie’s other posts

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