Here I sit, writing this blog in my final semester in one of the best MSW programs in the country. We are almost halfway through the semester and I can’t help but reflect over the trials and tribulations I have endured to get to this point. This is a quality program that generates leaders in the field of social work. Being molded into a leader can be an arduous process that requires sacrifice, dedication, hard work, and a few tears. There will be many times when the amount of work seems insurmountable. But fear not, we have all survived and our metamorphosis from laypeople to change agents is almost complete.
The program is not always full throttle. There will be times when you get a chance to breathe, practice some self-care, and prepare yourself for the next wave. There are two tips I can provide that are based on my experience here.
- When you look at your syllabi and you see class/week 1 reading assignments you should have those readings done by the first class. Unlike undergraduate the first week is not all syllabus review and introductions. Reading prior to the first class will help relieve the feeling that you are behind on the first day. (P.S. all the books on the syllabus will be needed)
- Get a paper calendar where you can layout assignments for the whole semester. There will be times when assignments in different courses get clustered. Failure to lay them out will lead to moments when you are caught off guard and you have more assignments due than you time to do them. This leads to a lot of stress that has nearly caused the demise of some students. I recommended putting assignment start dates on the calendar in addition to due dates. There are times when I had to complete assignments weeks in advance to keep from being overwhelmed.
- If you want to enjoy your Fall/Spring break plan ahead. There are usually assignments due immediately following the break.
- The most important tip: Practice a lot of self-care. At times it may not feel like you have time for leisure activities but making time for them is one of the keys to surviving grad school.