Being a social work student has its ups and downs, as you go on your journey. Something I’ve found out throughout my first semester. There are a lot of challenges but a lot of successes too – but here is my guide to being a great social work student.
Tip Number 1 – Do your reading. – University is all about being independent and this includes your learning too. If you get told to read something then read it. I know sometimes we don’t want to, but at the end of the day, we’ve been asked to read it for a purpose.
Tip Number 2 – Be organised. – Being organised is so important as a student in general, but it is very important as a social work student. You’ll need to know where your lectures are and when and you’ll need a diary and lots of folders so you know where everything is.
Tip Number 3 – Have a study timetable – You will need to do further reading and do assignments and revise for exams, so having a study timetable keeps you focused. I have one in my practice portfolio. I also write down what I’m going to do on an evening before I leave university – this ensures that I stick to what I need to do, to get it done.
Tip Number 4 – Have some ‘Me Time’ too – Being a social work student is stressful. So you need to learn to have some ‘Me Time’. This can be reading a NON SOCIAL WORK related book, watching Netflix or anything else you enjoy. Set aside some time in the evenings or at the weekend to relax and chill. You deserve it!
Tip Number 5 – Make the most out of your lecturers – Ask questions, get to know their area of expertise…it will make you look like you are interested (even if you aren’t always!).
Tip Number 6 – Keep your options open but think about specific areas you are interested in too – This is contradictory I know, but you need to be open-minded and still have interests too. I was set on working with children with disabilities. Now I’m interested in so many areas…though I have some specific interests.
Tip Number 7 – Look for voluntary or paid experience – Voluntary work or paid experience should not stop once you are on the degree. It can be hard to fit it in, but if you are organised then you should be able to fit it in.
Tip Number 8 – This relates more so to university in general and is my top tip! DO NOT GO TO UNIVERSITY JUST FOR A DEGREE. Getting a degree is not enough anymore. Do some extracurricular activities, get involved in awards and other things that your university offers. Someone who can show that they are motivated by others things not just their degree will shine.
Tip Number 9 – Enjoy your degree – it goes by quickly. I can’t believe I’m nearly finished my first year already. You don’t have to live and breathe social work everyday, be committed of course, but enjoy your development, because I assure you, you won’t be the same person you were when you entered the course!
Tip Number 10 – Use social media and other websites to network and keep up to date with social work developments. Social media, newspapers/journals and online medium will help you to stay on top of the news in the area of social work. It will also help you to network and form your own judgment.