Online MSSA Alumni Spotlight Webinar

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In this information session, we welcome Pamela Piero, Online MSSA alum to discuss her experience while in the program, how the program impacted her career, and provide some tips for being successful in the program. We will also speak with Nada Difranco from Mandel School’s Alumni Relations Department to learn the resources and benefits available to alumni and review the application process.

Pamela Piero, MSSA (’15)
Nada DiFranco, MNO, Director of Alumni Relations and Development, Mandel School
Robin Nathan, Lead Enrollment Advisor


Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us today for the Case Western Reserve University Mandel School Online MSSA Alumni Spotlight Webinar. We appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedules to learn more about this program. My name is Christina and I will be your host today.

Before we begin, I’d like to cover a few housekeeping items. At the bottom of your audience console are multiple application widgets you can use. If you have questions during the webcast, you may submit your questions using the Q&A widgets. We will answer as many questions as time allows at the end of the session.

If you have any technical difficulties, please click on the help widget. An on demand version of this session will be available tomorrow and can be accessed using the same link that was sent to you earlier. Joining us today are Robin Nathan, Pamela Piero, and Nada DiFranco. Robin Nathan is the Lead Enrollment Adviser for the online MSSA program.

She has worked as an enrollment advisor for over four years to sustain MSSA applicants through the application process. Prior to her current role, Robin worked for four years as an Enrollment Advisor for other university graduate programs and also, garnered eight years of experience in the non-profit and fundraising industries.

She graduated from Bradley University in 2001 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. Next, we welcome Pamela Piero. Pamela is a graduate of the online MSSA program, from the program’s first cohort who completed the program in 2015. She currently works as a Family Services Specialist for the City of Richmond in Virginia.

Finally, Nada DiFranco joins us from the Mandel School Alumni Relations Office. Nada has been working at Case Western Reserve University for 16 years, 12 years at the School of Nursing and Alumni Relations and four years at the Mandel School in Alumni Relations and Development. She received her Master’s in a non-profit organization from the Mandel School in 2008.

Here is a quick look at today’s agenda. We’ll start with Robin who’ll give us an overview of the Mandel School, the online MSSA program and key program features. We will next hear from Pamela Piero who will review the online experience, the impact the program has had on her career and some tips for success.

We’ll next hear from Nada DiFranco regarding the resources available to graduates from the alumni office. We will hear again from Robin Nathan who will review the application process, scholarships, and upcoming important deadlines. We will finish the session today with a Q&A session to answer any of your outstanding questions.

Without further ado, I will hand it over to Robin.

Robin Nathan:
Good afternoon, everyone.

We really appreciate you taking time out of what I’m sure is another busy day to join our panel today. I did want to start of this afternoon’s presentation with a little bit of a quick overview of this historical Mandel School. We are the oldest university affiliated professional school of social work in United States, so very, very proud of that fact.

Our program actually began on campus back in 1915. We’ve recently celebrated our centennial. It’s been a very exciting couple of years for us. We were excited to have our first group of graduates in 1919 and that’s also when we received our accreditation from CSWE, which is the Control on Social Work Education, the national accrediting body for social work programs.

One of the questions that we often get about our program is the explanation of our historical program name, which is the Master of Science in Social Administration. As you see, we’ve had our program on campus for quite some time and as we see back in 1915, MSW was not the language of the day.

As we know, it has become the more traditional name for Master’s Degrees in social work. With that said, we have held on to our historical program name since back 1915. We have chosen not to change it, but with that, as I mentioned, we are one of the first schools to receive accreditation through the CSWE.

This degree is in every way equivalent to the traditional MSW. You can list in such in any kind of documentation including a resume and we often do that in our own literature as well, just to make that designation. I think it’s also important to note that you do see that with some of the older school of social work.

They will have similar names to the MSW name. Moving on to our accreditation and ranking, another topic that we are very, very proud of. We are ranked number one social work program for our State of Ohio and then, number nine on a national level. This is done by US News and World Report.

We just looked at it as the top anchors of accredited school programs. It’s also important to note that we are the only program ranked within the top 10 that does have a fully-online program. As I mentioned as well, our program does have full accreditation by the Council on Social Work Education.

Moving on to some of the highlights of our program including our online curriculum, our curriculum is divided into three key areas. Those would be the foundation level courses, the advanced level courses and then, field education, also known as practicum and/or internship courses. The students that are entering into our program without a recent BSW or Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work, they are what we call our traditional track program, that does comprise the majority of students that do enter our program.

Those that do have a BSW degree that has been received within the last seven years from an accredited institution are eligible for advanced standing.

Those students that come into the traditional track program start with their foundation level coursework and then, move into the area of advanced courses after that is complete. Students that enter into advanced standing start directly with the advanced curriculum. In terms of the format itself for the traditional track program that is traditionally completed within 60 credit hours over eight semesters, which is roughly two and a half years, our advanced standing is slightly shorter than that since they start further along in their coursework.

They take approximately two years to completely, six semesters. Those semesters run spring, summer, and fall, so this is a year-round program. At any one time, students are enrolled in one academic course and one field education course per eight-week long terms. There are two terms back to back within a 16-week semester.

An additional note on advanced standing, applicants who do have a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work or BSW that was received within the last seven years from an accredited institution are automatically considered for advanced standing. Advanced standing students can receive up to 24 credits towards the MSSA degree, doing so can allow them to complete the MSSA program in just 36 credit hours or two years.

In terms of the review of that, students that apply for advanced standing will have a review of their foundation level BSW coursework, just to make sure that they had a grade of B or higher in all of their social work related courses. Let’s move on to talking a little bit more about the curriculum.

We do offer three distinct specializations. I’ll start with our macro, that’s community practice for social change, just to highlight a couple of the key classes within that needs assessment and program evaluation, non-profit revenue planning and development and then, planning and implementing social change.

You’ll then see that we have two direct practice concentrations. The first that I’ll highlight some coursework is the child youth and family concentration. Some of the applicable coursework includes family systems intervention, problem identification screening and assessment diagnosis, and trauma informed social work practice with children and families.

Our second direct practice concentration is mental health adult. Some of the applicable coursework include mental health policy and service delivery, social work intervention in mental and substance abuse disorder, and cognitive behavior information. It’s important to note that field education is completed with all three of these specializations and in all three of these specializations, including community practice.

Field education should be done in a way that mirrors the concentration chosen, but also, allows for direct client interaction. Moving on to program features, it’s important to note that our program is 100% online. At no time are you required to visit our campus in Cleveland. You are always more than welcome, especially for events like graduation.

It’s wonderful if you can make the time to attend that, but with that said, there is no residency component to our program. Field education is completed in your immediate area and we do have a hybrid model of a synchronous coursework and live sessions. Just to break that down a little bit more, a synchronous coursework refers to basically your homework and assignments while you’re in the program.

You’ll still have a syllabus to follow, you’ll still have deadlines to meet. The students do have the flexibility to complete their coursework with reading assignments, research papers, other projects, online postings at days of the week and times of the day that work best for you.

Most classes do have occasional live sessions as well. They’re held in a webinar format, similar to what we are using right now. Students have the flexibility to dial into the webinar from home or office. They’re hosted by the professors and attended by the members of the cohort. We get really positive feedback from our current students about the online format.

We get the flexibility of the online coursework, but at the same time, the live sessions really help foster just a sense of interaction within the program. It’s a great time to connect with your professor as needed and have that real life, real-time dialogue with the members of your cohorts.

Moving on to field education, we do offer students in both tracks the opportunity to choose their field education site. We also are one of the programs that do allow students to complete field education at their current place of employment. Students just need to demonstrate how their fieldwork is different than their current job responsibilities, many times, that’s accomplished by working in a different department or office.

In terms of the hours for field education, traditional track students complete a total of 1,050 hours over seven semesters. Advanced standing students complete a total of 900 hours over the six semesters. It averages out to 10 to 12 hours per week. We don’t make any mandate on when those hours occur, so however it best works out for you and the agency.

It’s important to note that advanced standing students can start field education right away in their first semester. You are accruing hours immediately.

Traditional track students are enrolled in a field education course during the first 16-week semester. In that seminar course, they are paired with a field adviser and the goal and expectation of that field seminar course is to spend that entire 16-week semester lining up field education in your immediate area with the actual hours, that’s 10 to 12 hours per week.

Those then begin during your second semester and continue the duration of the program. I’m gonna take a break for now and I’m happy and honored to turn our presentation over to Pamela Piero to talk about her experience.

Pamela Piero:
Hello there, everyone. As she said, my name is Pamela Piero and I just recently graduated from the Mandel School of Social Work. The reason that I chose a career in social work is I’ve always been drawn to people and helping them and empowering them. I chose the child and family and youth track of the Mandel School because I’ve always worked with children and families in my career as a social worker.

Actually, I’m originally from Cleveland and moved here to Virginia, so I was always familiar with Case Western Reserve University. I graduated in January of 2015 and right now, I’m a social worker for the city of Richmond, Virginia. I’m a family services specialist in the adoption unit, I find and recruit homes for children that are very difficult to place.

For me, the online experience initially was really, really hard. I’m not very savvy with computers, so the first day, when I was trying to complete one of my assignments, I almost felt like I wasn’t going to be able to do it because I couldn’t figure out how to post my first discussion board; but luckily, I was able to call tech support, which we became best friends.

They helped me and they were always, always, always available for help, no matter what time you call them, so that was very, very helpful for me. A resource that I used that helped me to be successful in the program was, I mentioned, I became best friends with the IT tech support people at Case; but also, I used my professors and fellow classmates a lot as well for support and help.

I took advantage of all of the office hours that were offered, especially if I wasn’t sure about an assignment. Also, my classmates and I spend a lot of time talking on the phone as well and trying to work on some projects. I was able to, as I said, network both with my professors and with my classmates.

We all became pretty good friends and actually still keep in touch with each other. I was able to work with my field instructor, especially, her name is LaShon Sawyer. It was very, very helpful to me. I probably wouldn’t have made it without her help and support, and I don’t think I would’ve made it if I hadn’t made friends with my classmates either.

It’s very important that you get a network of people that you trust and support. We did have group work in our classes and the way we did it was we would, as they mentioned, this webinar you can use, you can also use those for yourself to do coursework. We were able to do group work through these webinars or through conference calls.

I didn’t really have a bad experience with the course that I was doing. I was very, very fortunate; but you have to be a team player and do your part. You just figure out what each person’s strength are and work on those strengths, that way not one person is doing more work than the others.

The average amount of time that I spent on a coursework would probably be about 10 hours a week. I think the key is getting organized and figuring stuff out, and that, for me, was the hardest part was getting organized and writing everything down, what things to do. Once I figured that out, I think I did a lot better.

I did my field education in a program here in Richmond, the acronym is SCAN. It stands for Stop Child Abuse Now. I helped co-facilitate a 20-week parenting course for folks that were mandated to take this parenting course because they were either in danger of losing their children or they have lost their children through child welfare, through abuse and neglect.

It’s a 20-week course based on cognitive behavior therapy and it’s a really, really excellent program. I learned a lot and I’m really grateful that I was able to have that experience and for me, balancing field and classes was hard. The parent education classes were in the evening, so not only did I have to make time to be available to be online with the classes; but I had to go to these parenting classes as well.

It’s a 20-week course based on cognitive behavior therapy and it’s a really, really excellent program. I learned a lot and I’m really grateful that I was able to have that experience and for me, balancing field and classes was hard. The parent education classes were in the evening, so not only did I have to make time to be available to be online with the classes; but I had to go to these parenting classes as well.

I had very supportive faculty during my time there that really helped me. I was able to reach out to them whenever I was struggling or they would reach out to me. What stands out the most is that most of them, at least the ones I interacted with, are social workers themselves, so that helped a lot because they get it.

They get what it’s like to be a social worker, so I don’t think I would’ve made it without their support. In terms of earning my degree and how that’s helped me, I think that, for me, I’m able to work on becoming a “licensed”. In Virginia, it’s called an LCSW and I’m currently working on my hours towards becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

I would not have been able to do that without this degree. The other great piece of it is they had mentioned that there’s a class on diagnostics and assessment, I’m able to understand psychologicals now for the kids. I’m able to actually talk like I know what I’m talking about with folks in terms of those psychological evaluation.

I’m so proud about that and again, that course, for me, the trauma informed course was the most valuable because it taught me about self-care, and how to take care of yourself, and how to effectively help folks, not only help other folks deal with trauma; but how to deal with your own secondary trauma.

I think I’ve applied what I learned through using what I’ve learned in the courses, especially the trauma one. For me, and again, I just want to emphasize if you’re going to be successful in any program and this one, too, is getting yourself together in terms of your schedule and getting organized and making sure you know what’s due when, and that way it’s not gonna be five minutes until midnight and your paper’s due and you haven’t even finished it yet.

For me, again, self-care is most important.

Throughout the course, you have to take care of yourself. You have to take time off and do things that are fun, and you can’t get lost in the coursework and in your own job. You have to be able to have time for yourself, too, and that’s extremely important. I feel honored that I was accepted in the Case and I feel honored that I was able to attend Case.

It’s something that I’m most proud of. Thanks.

Thank you, Pamela, and now, I’m going to turn things over to Nada DiFranco to talk about the alumni relations and the benefits that the office offers.

Nada DiFranco:
Hi, this is Nada DiFranco and I just wanted to tell you a little bit today about our alumni benefits here. One of the great things that we do have available through the university is CWRU Connect. It allows you to update your information and also, be able to network by looking up classmates or people, other alumni, that you’d like to get in touch with from your school.

As well as that, we have communications and events that are available to all of our alumni, specifically, Action Magazine comes out twice a year and then, a monthly e-newsletter comes out. It’s called Inside the Action and we do have a lot of information in those newsletter that are available to tell everybody about live streamed events and also, in person events because I know a lot of our online students are not too far from the school.

Some are out of state, of course; but some are able to come back and that those are some opportunities provided in the monthly e-newsletter and, as I mentioned, the live streamed events that you can attend in person or see online. Those are some of our research colloquial and then, we have other events like strategies and social investment that are part of our Master’s in Non-Profit Organization program.

Those are available to all alumni, as I said, online and in person and then, another important event that we focus on every year is the reunion.

It’s our alumni celebration where all of our alumni are invited back to participate in different activities and network with each other and be able to reengage with the school a little bit.

Another nice benefit that a lot of people do keep is their university email address, and that university email address is something that we’ll store in the alumni record and be able to send all of your newsletters to and other information keeping contact with you through that email address.

Another nice benefit that a lot of people do keep is their university email address, and that university email address is something that we’ll store in the alumni record and be able to send all of your newsletters to and other information keeping contact with you through that email address.

They can also post jobs at their places of employment that are available in case somebody would like to hire an alumni or just to post internships as well. There’s other career search and support platforms available as well, such as Career Insider and Career Shift. Those help to provide you with some employer rankings, discussion boards, career guides, and other job boards. As well as in Career Shift to organize and manage your job hunt and provide you with the opportunity to create targeted email and mailing campaigns.

Those are some nice platforms available and you’re also available to download PDFs and career search guides. Those are all available on the Case Career Center site. There’s also available to anybody who would like to drop in and get a quick resume review at the career center, they can do that. They can ask a few career-related questions, then after that, what I wanted to stress is that the career counseling, which is actual appointments, made with the Case Career Center, those appointments are free during the first year post-graduation. Those include things like mock interviews, Myers-Briggs and other inventories that you can take.

Those are definitely more lengthy and can help you out as you’re maybe changing careers or looking for a new job. The other nice benefit that we have are the library services that’s available to all of our alumni. We have the Harris Library right at the Mandel School and that does provide for alumni a borrower’s card, so that you can apply for the borrower’s card and borrow up to six items at a time, such as non-reference books, pamphlets, media items and Ohio link items. Now, the same goes for the Kelvin Smith Library at Case Western Reserve University. You would get an alumni borrower’s card and be able to borrow things, either in person or online.

The limit is, I believe, six items for the Harris Library and five items for the Kelvin Smith Library.

I just wanted to also mention some of our volunteer opportunities that we do offer to alumni who want to definitely stay engaged and do some other giving back to the students. One of those items is the mentoring program. It’s called WISER and this is a new program that the university just launched and is trying to recruit a lot of alumni.

Once we have the alumni populated who want to service mentors, once they’re populated, then it will be slowly trickled out to students who can then be connected with possible mentors. As well as that opportunity for our alumni, we do have field instructor options and that is something that you can do as an alumnus once you’ve been working for two years, so that’s a nice opportunity to give back and to work with our students again.

Serving on the alumni board is another good opportunity where you can get involved. The alumni board hosts events like career connections. They plan those events to meet those students and have alumni come here in person and actually consult students and just help them out with resumes and with just regular career advice for when they graduate.

Another nice opportunity for serving on the alumni board would be to be able to recognize your peers, other alumni who are doing great things. There’s an alumni awards committee that actually decides through various nominations which alumni will receive awards each year. Those are given at our homecoming and reunion event.

Also, the recruitment volunteers, there are a couple different volunteers for recruitment. One is a recruitment volunteer who will be here in person and serve on a panel to talk to potential students or just talking to parents here when the open house has happened. The recruitment ambassador is the ambassador of the recruitment volunteer at large who is anywhere in the country and can communicate via email or phone call with admitted students to encourage them to enroll.

As well as that, we do have, as I mentioned, the idea of being a panelist. We always like our alumni to come back and speak in classes, be panelists for orientation for our students starting here and who might have a lot of questions. Also, for different events, homecoming and reunion, we might have alumni who come back and present those for our research colloquial as well.

There’s a multitude of opportunities to reengage with the school once you’ve completed your degree, a lot of different opportunities to do a job search and use some services available through the Case Career Center. Thank you so much.

Thank you, and now, we will give it back over to Robin to review the application process.

Robin Nathan:
Hello, again, everyone. I did want to provide another thank you to Nada and Pamela, that was a great presentation from both of you. I wanted to talk a little bit more about the role of the enrollment advisers. I am fortunate enough to work with a fantastic team of enrollment advisers here in the recruitment office.

Our role is really to serve as a concierge service to incoming students. We know what students are doing the research on programs. You have a lot of questions and our number one priority is to make sure that we have answered any and all questions that you might have about our program.

We also do want to learn about our applicants, so it’s also our opportunity to start a file and learn about your background and be able to assist and advise as you’re moving forward with deciding on the program that is the best fit for you.

Our next step is for applicants to the program. We then assist those students with submitting the required documents.

I’m going to touch upon those documents in a future slide, but do know that you will have a dedicated adviser who will make sure that all of your documents for your application file or your normally in a timely manner.

They’ve met all the requirements that you’ll be able to be reviewed by the admissions committee. It usually takes a student about two weeks, two business weeks, to get all of the documentation in. We do submit your application files as soon as it is ready to the admissions committee.

It’s reviewed on its own. We don’t wait for the students or we don’t wait for the deadline, so there is a benefit to submitting an application sooner rather than later. The review of applications usually takes two, maybe three business weeks. You would be notified of the admissions decision directly from the graduate office. I did also want to mention while not located on the screen, we do also have the opportunity to provide contact information for different departments out of our office.

Sometimes, students will have questions that are better suited for financial aid and/or using military or veterans benefits. Sometimes, students have questions that can best be answered by our wonderful student support advisers. We do have the ability than to basically assist students as they have a need to be connected with a different member of our entire enrollment team. If you’re not already working with an assigned adviser, we do invite you to contact us. On one of our final screens, you’ll see contact information for our department.

If you’re not already working out with someone, please contact us today. We’ll have an enrollment adviser assist you in that entire process. Moving on to the application requirements, so we require really four academic documents, that would include your professional resume, a personal statement that should be approximately three to five pages in length. In our application portal, which is called Apply Yourself, you will see instructions for submitting all of these requirements; but there’s also detail to all of these documents that are needed. In terms of the personal statement, there is a very good outline for students to provide.

There’s specific topics that the admissions committee would like to see as part of the essay, I think a really good framework to help get you started. You’ll see that as part of the personal statement requirements. We do also require official transcripts from all college and universities attended.

This includes transfer credit work, this includes your degree conferring Bachelor’s Degree, and any post-graduate academic work that you might have as well. We can review a student’s transcript or student’s application file with unofficial transcripts to start. However, it’s important to note that officials would be due upon acceptance to the program

There is a deadline to submit those in for the upcoming start date. Finally, three letters of recommendation are also required. We do have a one-page form that is provided in the Apply Yourself portal, however, your colleagues are also invited to submit a formal letter or both. They can do the one-page form and then, also, provide a formal letter as well.

We get a lot of questions about who those letters should come from. They should definitely be from professional sources, but that definition of professional can include current and past managers, supervisors, and colleagues. They can also include academic references, they don’t need to be academic; but that would definitely fall into the heading of professional sources.

They can also include any previous volunteering or social service agency experience as well. Moving on, students do need to provide field education documentation for our advanced standing applicants. We advise them to treat the application process really in a two-part manner, part one being all of those academic documents, resume, essay, transcripts, letters, then part two would be their field education proposal.

This can be submitted upon their conditional acceptance to the program, that includes their field education, application, and actual proposal, which does talk about what they’re going to be doing as part of their field placement. We’ll need a copy of your instructor’s resume detailing that they have the required Master’s Degree in Social Work and two years of post-graduate experience and then, an agency agreement form, which is comprises of signatures.

For students that do need placement assistance, we offer an online tool, which is called SOFE, stands for Supporting Online Field Education. This online tutorial is afforded to applicants who do have a submitted application.

They do have the opportunity to complete some online modules to assist them in field placement.

A member of our field education team will be contacting them to help arrange field placement opportunities within the applicant’s immediate area. It’s important to note that we treat SOFE basically as a partnership where our field team and our applicant and/or student work together to locate potential agencies and secure interviews, thereby giving the student the best opportunity to line up their internship as soon as possible.

Moving on to traditional track students, as part of their academic application, we do ask that students complete a field education questionnaire. It’s approximately 20 to 25 questions. This invites any applicants to give our field education team an idea of where they are in their field education search. If they have some targeted agencies, if they would prefer to do their field placement at their employer, or if they don’t have any agencies in mind at all, all of those answers are okay.

It’s just designed to get an idea of where any individual student is in their field education search. It also asks questions about the area that you live, your commute, your work hours. This is just designed to be a rubric for traditional track students to use when they enter into that first field education seminar course during their first semester.

Moving on to tuition and fees, and I should also mention, I know we talked about this briefly; but we do have a dedicated financial aid office that does work with all of our incoming students. Once we do have students that are accepted to the program, they do reach out to them in terms of completing all financial aid documentation. We do have our tuition and fees for the 2017, 18 school year, which is starting for our fall semester.

You’ll see our tuition it’s $1,450 per credit hour. Traditional track program is a total of 60 credit hours over two and a half years. Advanced standing is a minimum of 36 credit hours over the two years. It is important to note that the majority of our students do consider deferred loans through FAFSA their primary source of funding. We do also encourage all students to complete a graduate plus loan for additional sources of funding through FAFSA. However, other opportunities like military, veterans benefits, tuition reimbursements, and scholarship can also be used as secondary sources of funding. Moving on, two more details about our scholarship program, we developed our centennial scholarship program in the last year.

One, just in reference to the historical nature of the program and the anniversary that we’ve recently been celebrating; but with that said, we wanted the opportunity for all students to be reviewed for scholarship. We do offer our centennial scholarship, which is 15%, 1-5, scholarship program for all incoming students.

Scholarships are immediately available for any applicant that has a cumulative 3.0 or higher undergraduate GPA. Students do not need to do anything additional or supplemental like provide an essay or interview for their scholarship. It is an automatic review that is based on academic merit only, so students that do qualify for the scholarship are reviewed and rewarded upon their conditional acceptance to the program, scholarship letter is included in their acceptance information.

For students that do not have a cumulative GPA of 3.0, they will be reviewed at the end of their first semester. Provided good standing, they will then go on to receive the 15% centennial scholarship moving forward. It is important to note that 90% of our students do receive the 15% centennial scholarship. Some do receive that at the time of acceptance and then, the other students do receive that at the end of their first semester.

It’s also important to note that that scholarship review is automatic and stays with the student for the lifetime of the program, provided that they are in good standing. Moving on to important deadlines, this is truly our busiest time of the year as we’re gearing up for fall semester, which is a traditional time to start the program and is usually our largest intake of the year.

We are about six weeks away from our deadline for students to submit academic applications. Friday, June 30th, is the final deadline for students to submit an application for the fall semester. It’s important to note that that’s the final deadline. We do recommend that students submit their application as soon as it’s ready.

You don’t need to wait until that deadline, that includes all academic documents and the field education questionnaire for traditional students only. Secondary deadline for our advanced students to keep in mind is two weeks later, Friday, July 14th, is the deadline for advanced standing students to submit their complete field education proposal.

During the month of July and August, we’re very busy with our onboarding process. We have welcome webinars for students, we have online orientations, so students have the ability to experience our online platforms and basically do some practice assignments in the weeks and even months before school starts.

We want our incoming students to start that first day of class with weeks of exposure and a comfort level with the online technology and already have the opportunity to speak with the various departments and meet some of the members of their cohort

Monday, August 28th, will be the start date for our upcoming fall semester. Also important to know that we do have three start dates a year, so fall semester typically starts end of August. We will have three start dates moving forward. Early January, early May, and late August are our traditional intakes.

Alright, thank you, Robin, so now, I would like to move on to the Q&A portion of our session today. If you haven’t already, please submit your questions in the Q&A widget on your console. We will do our best to get to all the questions. If we ran out of time, any remaining questions will be handled via email. Alright, our first question today is for Pamela. Question is did you also have a job while you were taking classes and doing the field education.

Pamela Piero:
Yes, I did. I don’t think financially I could’ve afforded to quit working, that’s actually one of the reasons why I chose Case Western Reserve because I was able to keep my full-time job and attend classes. Most of the classes are in the evenings.

Okay, thank you, and how did you balance all of that between work and school?

Pamela Piero:
As I said earlier, at first, it was really, really hard and I really had to become very, very organized. I developed a calendar where I kept track of when all the assignments were due and then, also, because different things were due at different times. You have discussion boards that you have to do postings for, you have papers that are due. Some of the classes require that you be online during certain times, so you just have to write it all down. Also, the professors are very, very willing to work with you in terms of if you do have a job, “We can work with you on this about your assignment and stuff.” And they’ll meet with you privately if you can’t make the online session, but once I figured out time management, that was the key. Time management is definitely the key.

You were able to work full-time and also complete your field education?

Pamela Piero:
Yes, ma’am. Yes, I worked full-time, doing my field education and then, I attended classes at Case.

Okay, thank you. This next question is for Nada, looks like. What kind of support is offered for students in terms of identifying what career best suits them in terms of their work history or do you offer that kind of support?

Nada DiFranco:
One of the things I would say to that is that we, in the alumni office, do just inquire. When a student writes us looking to contact alumni to maybe just speak with about a career that they’re interested in, that’s something where I can look at their specializations and connect an alum with a student, so that they can get a full scope of what that career entails and also where they would like to work. If somebody’s looking for a job in the Chicago area or if they live in the Chicago area, “I would like to speak with an alum in that area.” I can provide that information for them to talk to each other.

Okay, thank you. Next question, do we have to purchase textbooks upon acceptance? Robin, can you go through the textbook requirements?

Robin Nathan:
Sure, yeah, not a problem. All of our incoming students do receive course textbook information for their first class and every class after that, that comes directly from your Student Services Adviser. She would be sending that out at the beginning of each semester. You do have the opportunity to order those textbooks through our bookstore, you also do have the flexibility to do other options. I know Amazon is a popular option. Chegg, C-H-E-G-G, is another popular website that students do work, so frankly, however it works best for the student from a flexibility and cost perspective is up to them. Some books are also available in an electronic version, not all of them; but whenever possible, we do allow students the flexibility to choose that option as well.

Perfect, thank you. Are online MSSA students welcome at the campus graduation?

Robin Nathan:
I can take that. Definitely, we actually have our graduation coming up very, very soon and I know that students do partake in the ceremonies as well. We do provide additional events throughout graduation. I know there’s a dinner and a cocktail hour just to get the students together as much as possible. If there’s any possibility for a student to come in to walk the stage, highly, highly recommend you make arrangements to do that.

Okay, thank you. Robin, someone would like you to repeat the first statement about the books again if you could just reiterate that.

Robin Nathan:
Oh, sure. Sure, students have a variety of options for ordering books. At the beginning of each semester, Student Services Adviser will be reaching out to students with the book list. They can order books as soon as possible. You do have the option to order them through our bookstore, but you can choose a preferred option like Amazon or Chegg, C-H-E-G-G, or any other similar book rental sites. We really give students the flexibility to choose the option that works best for them.

Great, thank you. This attendee missed the portion of your presentation, Robin, about the hybrid model in a synchronous coursework. Would you mind reviewing that again?

Robin Nathan:
Sure, not a problem. It’s a great question. In terms of our hybrid model, we do describe it as basically mixed between a synchronous coursework, so that’s really anything that has a due date, anything that’s your homework, so things like research papers, assigned postings, assigned readings, occasional group work.

Those are all done at days of the week and times of the day that work best for you. You’re still going to have deadlines to meet, but you do have the flexibility to basically craft your own schedule. As Pamela said, be organized. You know your work schedule, you know your personal schedule, see how you can best complete everything throughout the week. The synchronous portion comes in with the occasional live session. Most classes, not all; but most do have live sessions.

They are always held in the evening and weekend hours to accommodate students. They are held in a webinar format, they’re hosted by the professors and then, attended by the members of their cohort, really just designed to be a interactive opportunity and make the program as realtime as it can be while still maintaining the flexibility of online. We do get a lot of positive feedback from current to past students about that hybrid model.

Okay, thank you. This next question, is there a cost to apply to the program and can you review the application deadline again?

Robin Nathan:
Sure, there is no application fee for the program. You’re encouraged to submit an application well before the upcoming deadline, the final deadline for fall semester, Friday, June 30th. I do also want to mention for confirmed students, for accepted students, there is a $100 one-time confirmation fee, that’s just the opportunity for the student to reserve their spot in the next cohort; but there’s nothing upfront to apply to the program.

Perfect, and to confirm, the program is everything online with the program or is there any campus requirement?

Robin Nathan:
It is 100% online. There’s no requirement to visit our campus. Students are more than welcome to. We definitely encourage for events like graduation, but all field education is done in your immediate area. There is no requirement to visit the Cleveland campus.

Sure, this next question is interested in the MSW and she had some confusion about MSW versus MSSA. Can you review the difference in the name again, Robin.

Robin Nathan:
Sure, MSSA, Master of Science and Social Administration, is our historical program name. We’ve had this program on our campus since 1915. Way back in the day, 102 years ago, MSW was not the language of the day. You’ll see that with some of the older schools of social work naturally. We are the oldest university affiliated program nationally. In deference to our decades of graduates, we have chosen not to change our name to the more, I guess, well-known MSW name. With that said, we were also one of the first schools to receive accreditation through CSWE. It is fully equivalent to a Master’s Degree, an MSW. You can list it as such in documentation such as your resume. We often do that in our own literature just to further highlight that it is a Master’s Degree in Social Work and will prepare you for licensure in your state.

Great, thank you. This next question, I believe, is for Nada it’s regarding internships. Would you be able to provide any examples of types of institutions that Case Western are aligned with? Do the institutions include medical and education or is it primarily limited to non-profit?

Nada DiFranco:
No, it’s not limited to non-profit organizations; but I would mention some of the organizations we work with are Beech Brook, and APA Wood Centers, and plenty of other field placement sites that allow our students to complete their practicums. I would say there’s many more than that that I don’t even have all the details on. It’s probably something that our field office would have all of those organizations. Yes, they’re definitely not all non-profit organizations.

Robin Nathan
I can echo that and Nada, thank you. I think that was a great explanation. Our students do their field education or their internships really in a variety of organizations, not including just the non-profits. I’ve worked with students that are doing them as part of large hospitals and medical centers, students who have done them as part of school districts and sound year-round work. There’s just so many local agencies that students have the opportunity. As I mentioned before, a lot of students prefer to do their field placement through their employer; but oftentimes, if not through their employer, there’s another agency or organization that your employer has that one lead with, a partner organization that you’ve probably already done some networking with and gives you the opportunity to really grow in a variety of experience, so really any agency or organization that does have an MSW to serve as a field supervisor would be open for consideration for field placement.

Okay, thank you for that. Great explanation. For the live sessions, are they required to have webcams? Robin or Pam.

Robin Nathan:
Yeah, no. I can touch up on that. They are required to have webcams for the live sessions and I know also it’s part of the field education coursework as well. There are occasional medians as part of that that take place during the field adviser and the field instructor and the field faculty adviser. Webcams are also used for that.

Great, thank you. This next question is more about the field placements. What other options as far as field placements go? She would like to have a placement with a particular agency, The Veterans Administration. What are the chances that they would get that placement do you think?

Robin Nathan:
It’s hard for us to provide any kind of guarantee, especially for an organization like the VA, because it really depends on the in that we would have within that particular office. As you know, they’re spread out and also, that the ins that the student has; but with that said, the goal and purpose of that first field education seminar is for the student and their assigned field adviser to have a dedicated 16 weeks to go through all options. It’s basically a four months’ time span to be developing a communication plan, reaching out to various agencies and then, going on those interviews and submitting their paperwork. I know that we do have students that do work in particular agencies like the VA. We obviously aren’t in the position to give any kind of guarantee, but we do have the framework provided to help students secure placement in a variety of agencies in their area.

Okay, thank you, and just to be conscious of everybody’s time, I think this is gonna be our last question today. How do we determine if we are allowed to sit for licensure in our home state after having earned a degree, Robin?

Robin Nathan:
Sure, I can provide a better answer for that. This program does allow students to set forth basic social work licensure in all 50 states. You would be afforded that opportunity for different levels of licensure. I know Pamela mentioned she’s currently going for LCSW. Some of those individual states have specific requirements in terms of higher levels of licensure. I would advise any student to reach out to not only their enrollment adviser, but also, their state boards, just to find out from their specific state what are their requirements for additional licensure beyond just LSW.

Great, thank you, so those questions that we did not get to today, all questions will be forwarded to your adviser. They will reach out to you directly to answer your questions, so now, I would like to close out the session today. On the screen, you’ll find contact information for each of our speakers if you have any additional questions. If you’re ready to apply or would like to schedule an appointment to speak with your adviser, links to do so can be found within the resources widget on your console. Additional program information links are also available to you there. I’d like to thank each of our presenters for sharing their expertise and thank you to all who participated today. We’re really glad that you could join us and hope this session was helpful for you. I’d like to open up to the panelists any closing comments. Robin, would you like to go first?

Robin Nathan:
Sure, I just want to take a moment to thank everyone for joining us. I know we all have very busy days, so we do appreciate you taking some time out of your late lunch hour to join us. You do see the contact information for our office, so we do invite you to reach out to us. We are going to be responding to all unanswered questions by the end of today, but as you think of further questions, please reach out to our office or your assigned adviser. Take care.

Okay, and Nada, did you have any closing comments?

Nada DiFranco:
Yes, just a quick comment that I wanted to mention that to our students, those career services that are available through the Case Center, those are available to students as you are going through your program. You can use the My Career menu to access a lot of these platforms and do more career searching while you’re a student. Also, I just wanted to mention that the alumni board is seeking online alumni who have been through the program and might want to serve on the alumni board, either in person or via conference call. It’s not limited to local people, it’s open to anybody in the country. Thank you so much.

Great, and last; but not least, Pamela, would you like to add anything today.

Pamela Piero:
Well, I would like to say that I personally feel that Case Western Reserve is an excellent, excellent school, especially for social work. I’m very, very proud to have my degree from Case Western Reserve and I would encourage anybody to apply and go through the program. It really taught me so much and I feel it’s made me a better social worker. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak today.

Thank you for joining us, so just thank you, everyone, again, for attending. Enjoy the rest of your day.

Robin Nathan:
Thank you.

Nada DiFranco:
All the best.