Student Spotlight – Daniel Deisher

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This information session features Daniel Deisher, a current online MSSA student, as he shares his story for choosing Case Western Reserve University. Hear from Richard Sigg as he provides an overview of Mandel School’s online MSSA program including Advanced and Traditional Tracks and the admissions process.

Presenters:

Daniel Deisher, current online MSSA student at Case Western Reserve University. Currently works at Montgomery County Children Services as an Alternative Response worker in the Dayton, Ohio area for almost seven years. Conducting his field placement at CHOICES Inc., a home-based therapy for at-risk youth.

Richard Sigg, Director of Recruitment and Enrollment for the Mandel School at Case Western Reserve University.

Originally recorded: August 21, 2014

Transcript

Melissa:
Good evening, everyone. Thank you for joining us today for the Case Western Reserve University online Master of Science in Social Administration Information Session. We appreciate your taking the time out of your busy schedule to find out more about this online program.

Just so you’re aware, we will be recording this session in case you missed anything. We also have reserved time at the close of this presentation to answer all of your questions. During the information session, please feel free to type your questions into the Q&A or chat box as you think of them throughout the presentation.

We have one of our enrollment advisors, Robin Nathan, who will be answering some of your admissions and recruitment questions via the chat and Q&A box as well. We hope you’ll find this session informative and helpful.

Now, I am pleased to introduce our panelist. Our first presenter today is Daniel Deisher. He is a current online MSSA student here at Case Western Reserve University. He lives in the Dayton, Ohio area and currently works at Montgomery County Children Services as an alternative response worker. He has worked in the Children Services for almost 7 years and began the Case Western Reserve MSSA online program in the summer of 2013 with a concentration in Direct Practice Children, Youth & Families. He is currently doing his field placement at CHOICES, Incorporated, where he provides home-based therapy for at-risk youths.

Our next presenter is Richard Sigg. He is director of recruitment and enrollment for the Mandel School at Case Western Reserve University. He has over 10 years of experience working in higher education to help students realize their graduate school goals. He currently co-chairs the National Association of Deans and Directors of Social Work Admissions.

Now, I will introduce our agenda for today. Our first presenter will be Daniel, and then we will move over to Richard, who will provide the Mandel School at a Glance with an overview of the program as well as the application process. They would provide some important upcoming deadlines as well as starting our Q&A session.

So I’d like to now pass the floor over to our student spotlight today. Daniel?

Daniel:
Yeah, Melissa, can you hear me okay?

Melissa:
Yes, I can. Hello.

Daniel:
Hello. Well, thank you all for allowing me this opportunity to share with you a little bit about my experience at the Mandel School and with the online learning environment with Case Western Reserve University. It is an honor and pleasure to be joining you today. And I hope that you’ll find what I have to share, informative, maybe ease some of your anxieties, if there are any about you beginning this journey, in the graduate program. And I hope that at some point you’re able to walk away today with some good information.

Melissa: Okay.

Daniel:
So I know, Melissa had asked for me to speak on a few points today. And the first is, as you can see, what motivated me to pursue a master’s in social work. And, as she mentioned in the introduction, I’ve been working at Children Services for a few years since graduating from my undergrad program in 2007. And, I kind of took away from my undergrad program as far as I could and now I’m looking to the future of my social work career. I was wanting to really get my feet wet and work in the field for a few years to get a deeper understanding of the work that goes into social work and how that fits with my goals.

I knew within my few years of service with Child Services that social work was the career of choice for me; I began to develop some milestones and goals for my career in the social work path.

And, um, as my current role as an alternative response worker, you know, my primary responsibility is providing direct services to children and family on a more micro level. And after evaluating my career growth goals, my desire was to expand my scope of practice and my span of impact to those in need of services as well as taking the steps to improve my marketability and earning potential for my own family.

I had a lot of conversations with my wife and even the mentor that supervised me in my undergraduate study to help me kind of come to the conclusion of what the next step was that I needed to do to reach my goals. And that was, of course, pursuing a master’s degree in social work.

Melissa:
Thank you, Daniel.

Daniel: Yeah.

Melissa:
Going to the next question

Daniel:
Yeah. So why did I choose Mandel’s online MSASS program? Well, I’m sure you all have taken a little bit of time; you probably understand there’s a lot of programs out there than you probably have the time to truly investigate. But,

being from Ohio and being aware of Case Western Reserve University, this was certainly one that I took the time to investigate.

And, quite simply, I chose this online program primarily because of the flexibility. But not just flexibility, because there are a lot of other online programs out there, I wanted flexibility without sacrificing the quality of an educational experience.

Two of the greatest stories in my life are my family and travel. I have an eight- month-old son. And being able to pursue my goal of a master’s degree in social work through MSASS in an online environment afforded me the opportunity to not only achieve that goal, but to continue to enjoy the two primary joys of my life, which is, you know, spending time with my family and traveling.

You know, it allowed me the flexibility to have access to a nationally ranked school of social work with just a simple click of a mouse. I don’t even need to leave my home. Uh, it’s so convenient. I can be on a family vacation in another state or even a camping reunion, you know, in the great outdoors I’m able to connect to the Internet and get a few minutes to concentrate I’m able to log on to my courses as well as access a wealth of resources provided by Case Western Reserve.

Um, social work, of course, as you all know, is a field where, we are constantly giving of ourselves to the calls and needs of others. And choosing to pursue a graduate degree, in my opinion, was an opportunity to really make an investment in myself and to invest in the development of my practice skills and abilities in order to be able to be a more effective practitioner and social work leader, so, again, as I spoke of earlier, I can give so much more back to those in need as well as others as a practitioner.

I chose Case online because I wanted the best possible experience in a graduate program. Learning about it and, now, experiencing a good year and a half of it, or a year and a few months I’ve really been able to see the high quality of the instructors, they use cutting-edge technology to really make the information and the program come to life. And just the wealth of knowledge and resources that are available through this online program are quite amazing.

You know, the other part of me choosing MSASS was as I mentioned earlier, I had some discussions with my wife and a mentor that helped me to make the decision to go back to school, but also working for a child services agency with several hundred employees. There’s certainly a plethora of those that have continued their education to higher levels.

So I did some interviews with reputable co-workers to get their feedback on their experiences with the variety of graduate schools. And time and time again, I received consistent testimonies from those who attended Case Western.

Now, of course many of them had done the on-campus program. Either on- campus or the intensive weekend, but all of them had just praises and rave reviews about the quality of the education. They didn’t feel like they were just paying for a piece of paper, but they were walking away with an enriched experience and a wealth of understanding and growth as a practitioner.

You know, the other reason as well, like I said, going back to flexibility I’m a very busy person as we all are with jobs and families and other responsibilities, and I could not find it in my time with my priorities and my joys of spending time with family and traveling to be spending any more time to drive to a class, to be spending any more time to be constricted to a class schedule and time away from where I need to be in attendance.

You know, I really didn’t like the expenses that go along with travel and parking and all those other things that kind of go into being an on-campus student.

Melissa:
Great. Thank you. Thank you, Daniel. I’ll move along to our next question about the online experience as a student.

Daniel:
Yeah. I had never taken an online course in my undergraduate program or any other type of schooling scenario before. So this was quite a leap of faith for me as far as committing to a full-time online learning environment. And, again, I was, pleasantly surprised and pleased with how things have been going thus far. And, you know the program does a great job at the beginning as far as providing you with an orientation to get you acclimated to the learning environments.

And if you have concerns about your ability to navigate or connect with your education in an online environment, let me say this. First and foremost, Case has an excellent IT department, so, if you have concerns or questions, they’re there. And they’re great at their responses and finding solutions.

The instructors have come across as very forgiving in regards to technology issues or time changes. And the Moodle program is very friendly user format.

So, the online experience is I would say three-folds for me. It’s been fast-paced. It’s been adaptable, and it’s been interactive. So when I say “fast-paced,” you know the semesters for the program are laid out in 16-week blocks. You’d take one course for the first 8 weeks, another course for the second 8 eights so you’re not overwhelmed with course work. And you also have your field class which spans the 16-week period, which is not quite as an intense as far as online work.

I started, as Melissa shared in the beginning, in the summer of 2013. And, oh my gosh, it’s almost the end of the summer of 2014. I can’t believe how fast it’s gone. You know, each week kind of begins with reading material and getting the information about the weekly topic, viewing videos or PowerPoint presentations. There may be one or two discussion points where you’ll enter your discussion point and then, later in the week, maybe reply to your classmates and have a back-and-forth dialogue.

Usually, there’s coursework mixed in as well which is just larger than just a discussion point. And then, of course there are assignments and presentations, throughout typically, you know that every few weeks. Very manageable, but, again, very fast-paced, so it’s important to keep up with your things.

Number two, again, it is adaptable. You know, as I already talked about, I can take this program with me wherever I’m connected to the Internet. I can log in on my phone if I need to. During the program, I’ve been able to remain current with my course work, like I mentioned before when I was on a family vacation in Dallas, Texas, earlier this year and a family reunion campground in Northern Indiana or even in the comfort of my home office.

And I must say what’s nice about the online environment you can even enjoy and work on your coursework in your pajamas. What’s kind of nice is, again, as I mentioned earlier, I do not have to travel to the campus.

My plan is for the first time for me to travel to the campus is next spring for graduation. Again, not only is this program portable but it also allows for flexibility. You’re not being restricted to a class schedule or location or times. You know if things come up in life, with family, with work, we all have to make adjustments. Especially if you’re a social worker you know what it means to plan your week and plan again the next day. This program has really allowed for me to continue keeping up with my course work while adjusting for other life needs.

And, again, my third point was how it’s interactive. You know, again, some people may be concerned about, and I know I was at first, how am I going to be able to connect with my peers because that’s kind of an important thing for me in my learning experience. How am I going to be able to connect with the instructor with this being an online environment? But, I must say I’ve been pleasantly surprised and really appreciative of how interactive this program has been whether it’s via email with your peers and discussion posts. There’s also the Adobe Connect sessions which if you’re not familiar with what that is, and I was not before starting this program, Adobe Connect is a Web conferencing platform where you can have audio and video and presentations and really get that I guess, for lack of better word, “FaceTime” You can see your peers, you can see your instructor, and you can have that classroom-type experience.

Now, some people are concerned about that. And that’s one of the things you really need to look into when investigating online programs. If I have a live session to meet with someone online, do they have to be at a certain time? And, because I work, because I have a busy life, how does that fit in?

That again was a concern I had at first. And, let’s say, as I’ve gone through the courses, and many of the courses do, have the same online FaceTime sessions it’s very accommodating. Everyone is going through the same thing. We’re all working. We all have families. The discussions are frequently in the evening or at times that are agreeable between your peers and your instructors.

The last part about the program being interactive or coming to life is the field experience. That’s really where the “peddle to the ground” comes in as far as the doing and the application of what you’re learning. It’s such an important component. It really complements the online learning courses in the MSASS program.

And I would just encourage you to really invest time and investigate what your school or study will be. I also encourage students to really take care and consideration when making a decision about what your field placement will be, what the limitations are if there are any barriers, as well as what you hope to get out of it.

Uh, that’s all I have to share about that.

Melissa:
Great. Thank you, Daniel. That was wonderful. Perfect. Like you mentioned before, just concerning your field education experience what are you doing and what are your responsibilities?

Daniel:
Yeah. So one of the great benefits about MSASS is, with the field experience, they offer you the opportunity to complete your field education at your place of employment. For me, that was a choice I choose to not take advantage of. I really wanted an opportunity to take advantage of this learning opportunity to really get a more clinical experience to the social work field that my agency doesn’t necessarily provide.

So, in deciding my field placement I really considered my goals, my abilities and what opportunities I wanted to be exposed to. I happened to have a network connection with someone at CHOICES. Through the professional relationship, I was able to meet with that person and inquire whether a student placement opportunity was available there. He linked me with my now field supervisor. I was able have an interview with her to get to know her a little bit. She got to know me a little bit. And, from there, it’s been a wrap.

I had my field placement at CHOICES Incorporated, which stands for Children Have Options in Caring Environments, which is in Dayton, Ohio. CHOICES is primarily known for their network of foster home services for independent living, mentoring services and home-based services for children and families in Southwestern Ohio.

And my primary role is as a home-based therapist for the organization. I provide counseling, community psychiatric support and treatment. Now, let me say that I’ve never done that before in my 7 years of experience. Being a CPS or a child welfare worker, you do a little bit of everything a master of all or none. You’re a jack-of-all-trades kind of thing. This allowed me to be a little bit out of my comfort zone, but really widen my experience and knowledge about what the field of social work has to offer.

I also had an assessment and I was able to get involved in an advisory board that meets once a month through CHOICES. We discuss and plan and carry out a variety of organizational community advocacy events.

I’m primarily involved with foster care and homes. And I also provide some services to the caregivers of those children that have interactions with a variety of community professionals as far as other child welfare workers, psychiatrists, court-appointed advocates, school staffs and a lot of others.

Something that I had to work out ahead of time when considering doing a placement somewhere other than your place of employment is if it’s within the same community, you need to be mindful of overlapping clients. And that was something I had to work out ahead of time making sure there was a plan and agreement ahead of time to avoid any type of ethical boundaries or conflicting roles.

Through CHOICES I have been able to engage clients that are in neighboring counties so that their children and families are not served by the county child welfare agency that I currently work for.

And I must say again my field supervisor at CHOICES has just a wealth of knowledge and experience that she’s really been able to pour into me as far as enriching my field experience, and my field instructor from Case Western has just been there consistently to provide guidance, support and direction, making sure I am getting the most out of my field experience as well.

Melissa:
Wonderful. I was hearing about our student field placement and their stories and what they’re doing. We have such a wide range of field placement that are our students are working on. So it’s great to hear, um, yours, too, Daniel.

And so I think, um, for our group today, for our next question, any advice that you have to all the people who are attending today? Do you any advice for anyone interested in the program?

Daniel: Absolutely. Well, first, take the time to invest in yourself. Getting started is the hardest part as far as looking into things and getting those wheels turning. Once you get the wheels turning just keep on going, and the momentum will carry you forward.

I had been putting off maybe for a year applying for grad school. And, actually, when I applied and was accepted to the Case program 2 months later is when I found out that my wife and I were expecting our son. So certainly, I think timing, as I said, waiting a little bit longer I may not be where I am today, but it’s just getting started and moving forward, and it’ll be great.

You know, as any good social worker make sure you do your research. Ask questions. Be able to make informed decisions. Take ownership of this learning opportunity experience. You know, it is an investment in your future. And it does require a lot of time and focus and effort, don’t be discouraged by that, but be excited by the opportunity.

I mentioned a few times before, it’s so important for the time and energy it takes to invest in this on your behalf. If you have a significant other, a spouse, children or other people that really depend on you day in and day out, it’s so important to have communication with them about expectations. You know, keep open your line of communication. Make sure it’s reciprocated.

And, you know, you can do this. I know you all can. And just don’t be afraid to reach out. If you get stuck or you’re confused ask questions. Take the various support networks that are there to support you.

I just can’t say enough. I’m not being paid for this, let me say that but I really have enjoyed my experience with the program so far. And, you know, I wish you all the best luck in how you move forward with your graduate studies.

Melissa:
Great. Thank you so much, Daniel.

Um, that concludes kind of our student questions, so I’m going to pass this along. Our next portion is presented by Richard. He’ll provide the program overview.

Hi, Richard.

Richard:
Hi, everyone. Thanks for joining us this evening. We really appreciate it and definitely look forward to working with all of you in the future.

And, Daniel, thank you. That was really nice to hear from our student. I think it’s always important to learn the perspective from the people that are experiencing this program first hand.

I’d like to open it up with if you happen to be in the area, you know, contact us. Schedule a visit with us. We can have you meet one-on-one with faculty to learn more about opportunities within the program.

That’s the great thing about our online program and the way it’s structured in this case. It’s our own faculty within this building that are the ones teaching the courses. So they are here. They’re a resource for you. So we can connect you with them as well as, obviously, through email or other forms to connect you to some of our online students. So we do appreciate that. And once again, I look forward to working with everyone.

To tell you a little bit about our school we do have a very, very rich history. The university itself, Case Western Reserve University, actually Western Reserve College at that time, was founded in 1826. The university dates back to 1826. Our school in particular is the older university-affiliated professional school of social work in the country, founded in 1915. So we’re actually coming up on our centennial year our hundredth anniversary.

The board of trustees actually chartered the school and committed to advancing the field of professional social work education in 1915. And we enrolled our first students actually in 1916. With the age of our school, we are fortunate to be of a small group of schools of social work that were accredited in 1919, which was the first year that the schools of social work had actually been accredited.

We offer on-ground, part-time and online program options. There are a number of different formats that we offer with the degree. As Daniel mentioned, the flexibility of the online program and the structure of it makes it a great opportunity for you as a student to be able to manage your work and have a work-life balance.

We do have a unique distinction with our degree. Our degree is called a Master’s of Science in Social Administration. One of the reasons for that, it is actually a master’s of social work. The masters of social work, you could call as a more modern and contemporary term for the degree, many of the older schools of social work and even those within the top 10.

We’re fortunate that we do have the number 9 ranking on the U.S. News & World Report. Within the top 10, 4 or 5 of the top 10 schools actually have different distinctions and a master’s of social work. The social administration part of it actually dates back to, um, 1915 when the school was founded.

In that timeframe, the field of social work, the professional kind of view was the field of social work should be entitled for a degree social administration. And so that’s where they felt that over the years, the history of the distinction for the degree, the richness that it provides and also kind of the unique, distinction that it has have been an advantage for our students as well as alumni, so, it is really exciting that we do have that distinction and we are fortunate that as part of that accreditation, so we are fully accredited by CSWE.

To tell you a little bit about the school as a whole, we’re home to 40 full-time faculty members. We have an 8-to-1 student-faculty ratio, as well as we’re home to five research centers.

And, really, the faculty and the work that they do are leaders, not just nationally, but internationally within the field of social work. You’re not only going to have access to individuals that are not just changing locally, but nationally, as well as influencing policy internationally.

When it comes to our structure of the program, as Daniel mentioned, the unique structure where you’re not going to be taking more than one class at a time.
Over the course of the 16-week semester, you’ll actually be taking 1 course over the first 8 weeks; the second course, over the second 8 weeks. And throughout the whole semester, you will be working on your field education practicum.

For the whole program, for those that are coming in to complete the whole 60- credit hours, meaning, students without advanced standing. You will be getting a total of 60 credits. If you have advanced standing or a bachelor of social work, then you could complete the degree in 45 credits.

Advanced standing is determined by 2 things. First is having a bachelor of social work from a CSWE-accredited program. And then the second is receiving a grade of B or better in your social work courses within your undergraduate institution. So, if you received a B or better in all of the social work courses, then you will be able to receive for advanced standing.

If for some reason you received, say, a B-minus in research method, then, within our program, you would be taking one additional course. And that would be really one of the first courses or the first course that you would complete as a kind of a makeup for that particular class.

We’re fortunate that we offer three specializations. Two of them are more focused within direct practice. One is with children, youth, and families. The second is direct practice with mental health with adults. And then the third concentration is community practice for social change.

Within this curriculum the curriculum is divided up among the full 60-credit hour program to meet 24 credits devoted to foundation course work and 36 credits devoted to concentration level course work. So the concentrations are really to provide an opportunity to learn really in-depth theory, policy, and practice-level work within each of those areas.

Our program is structured with regards to tuition where students pay a per- credit hour rate. Generally speaking students will be taking at least 7 to 8 and a half credits, depending on the number of practicum hours that you’re enrolled in. The typical student, say, for this next year will be paying $1,332 per credit hour, which equal to a semester rate of just over $9,900.

Now, we’re fortunate that we do have scholarship support available to students who have received above a 3.0 GPA in their undergraduate course work. Those scholarships are determined based on the application and field education proposals the students submit into the program.

So the application process is really a 2-tiered process. The first part is really evaluating the academic the potential success of the student. So this is where we’ll request your transcripts from colleges and universities that you’ve attended 3 letters of recommendation. We’ll require a resume, a personal statement. And then there’s an informational part of the application as well. All of this can be completed online. You can access it through our website, which is msass.case.edu.

And within the application, I would say each part of the application is very, very important. Uh, faculty and the admissions review committee each applicants, so that’s why each part is very, very important. In particular, with your personal statement, we’re looking not just at passion for the field, direction, potential, um, but also we’re considering the quality of the writing. The degree itself, graduate social work education tends to be very writing intensive.

So we encourage that you spend a lot of time on that personal statement to ensure that it’s very well-written so we would encourage that you have faculty member or someone else take a look at it to provide their support and their comments to your personal statement.

With regards to the 3 letters of recommendation we encourage that they’re from academic or professional sources. They can come from really anyone, but I would say we highly recommend that they come from either academic or professionals. So, if you’ve been out in the field or working, um, for a year or more and you don’t have a faculty member, then look to your supervisor or various types of colleagues that would be able to provide you with really strong letters of recommendation.

The great thing about the online application is that the letters of recommendation may be submitted electronically. So, if you provide us through the application, your reference is the email address. We can send them an electronic version of the reference form that then they can complete as well as upload a letter that can be attached to your application.

With regard to field education that’s the second part of the application process. Our program really sets itself apart in the way that it’s structured because we value that your field education is going to begin from day one. We want to make sure that you’re in the field for two reasons. One, you’re then able to integrate what you’re learning within the field, within the classroom, and vice versa, but, also, it allows you to spread out your field hours over a longer period of time so that you won’t have to work as many hours each week, which helps you manage obviously that work-life balance.

The total number of field hours that you’ll actually complete within the program for students that are completing the full 60 credits will be 1,050 hours in the field. For advanced-standing students, you would receive some of those hours as advanced-standing credits so then you would end up completing 900 hours.

So, as you begin the application, we encourage that you begin considering field. Talk to your enrollment advisor. Begin opening up even a Google search and searching for agencies in your area that’s focused within the population you want to practice that you’re really interested in to begin considering what types of options are within your particular area.

We have an awesome field education staff as well that can help provide advice and direction and help prepare you as you complete the field education proposal. The proposal itself is also built within the application process or the online application. So, even though you may be sending in your resume and uploading your personal statement and transcript and recommendations and hit the “submit” button for that part of the application, as we’re reviewing your application, you can log back in to that online application and work on your field education proposal so that, by the time the deadline comes, you’ll be prepared that that’ll be a strong proposal, um, so that you could then begin the program in the following semester.

So, for this coming fall, our application deadline for phase 1 or the actual application part, that is November 7th. And then later in November is the field education proposal deadline. So we do have some time between those 2 deadlines to allow you some additional time to be finalizing your field education proposal. Classes begin just after the first of the year in 2015.

Melissa:
Here’s just some recap of the tuition and scholarship that Richard mentioned.

So I’ll go to the next slide, Richard. And-

Richard:
One other note with regard to the application, which I think was mentioned below the tuition. With regard to your GPA for scholarship, we do require that you have a GPA of above the 3.0 initially for the scholarship. If you’re applying to the program and you have below a 3.0 there are 2 things to consider. If you have a 2.7 GPA, then we would require that you submit either a GRE score or a MAT score to be considered for admission.

If you have above a 2.7, then you would not have to submit a GRE or a MAT score. If you have below a 3.0 and you’re admitted to the program, in your first semester, you would not have a scholarship, but we would consider you for scholarship as long as you receive a 3.0 or higher in your first semester. So we do still reconsider students for scholarship support after their first semester, um, when they demonstrated to be very successful within the program.

Melissa:
Great. And, as, uh, Richard mentioned, these are our upcoming important deadlines. The first date, as he mentioned, November 7th is the application deadline and the field education deadline is November 21st and classes will start January 5th 2015.

So, now, we’re going to begin our Q&A session. I know we’ve been getting a few questions through the chat box. Robin has been helping me answer a lot of those questions.

I do want to pose that to the group. If you have any additional questions, please place them in the Q&A or the chat box. I do have one question here. I’ll pose this to Richard. Um, this question is about selecting courses as a student.

Um, the question is can you talk a little bit about how you select courses and which courses are available when?

Richard:
If you are coming in without advanced standing the program is I would say pretty structured especially within your first couple of semesters because of the foundation courses. The way the curriculum is structure, your first semester, in particular, you would actually be placed in specific foundation courses. Um, this is actually one of the real benefits of allowing our students to start on multiple terms.

So let’s just say you start the application now, thinking that you would start in the spring, but, then, you decide, you know what, I do want a little bit more time, but you want to start in the summer, that’s perfectly okay. If you can work with your enrollment advisor we can transition you from starting, say, in the spring to the summer.

That’s what allows us to do that. So, with regards to the courses we could pull what they call a pattern of enrollment based on when a student starts the semester to identify which courses the student would be taking within the program.

I don’t have that on hand, unfortunately, to share over the phone, but if the student wants to email me or if they’ve been working with an enrollment advisor and want to connect with the enrollment advisor, we could get that information to the student regarding what kind of courses are offered when, um, so that they can have a better idea of what course options are out there for the particular concentration that they choose.

Melissa:
Thank you, Richard.

I know as a student also, you do receive a schedule of that as well. So that’d be great.

I’ve gotten a lot of questions, Richard on advanced standing. Could you provide just a quick overview again of the advanced standing track in terms of how the application is reviewed? Um, the question is, “Can you review once more the criteria for the advanced standing in terms of requirements and things like that?”

Richard:
Well actually when it comes to admission it would not matter if you have a BSW or a bachelor of social work or, for that matter a business degree or an engineering degree. We find that students in the social work program from all different disciplines and all walks of life and, you know, based on either their own personal experience or their work experience or just their passion for going into some type of field devoted to social change.

So that’s kind of the advantage of the degree. So, as it relates to actually being considered I would say all students are considered the same. We do look, as I said, holistically at the application. The essay is going to be very important in connecting why you’re interested in the field and, in particular, what drives you about the program and what you’re interested in. If you know your long-term career interests are that’s great and very, very helpful.

In particular, with advanced standing, if you have a bachelor of social work degree from a CSWE-accredited program there are specific courses that you will be taking or have taken. So, for example, research methods some types of human diversity course or theory of oppression course is focused on working with individuals and families, a course or two that are focused on working with organizations and community, you would have some types of field experience and seminar.

So these are the courses that we’re looking at and society based on your grade within those courses with your undergraduate institution. If you have a B or better in those courses, then you automatically receive advanced standing. So, if you have a B or better, say, if you have a 4.0 GPA, then you would receive advanced standing, which means you would have 45 credits to complete, which you would complete over the course of 6 semesters, which is just over 2 years. You actually save 2 semesters or 15 credits by having that advanced standing status, which is really, really nice.

And those 15 credits that we’re providing you an advanced standing credit for are directly related to the foundation-level credits. I was talking about earlier the 60 credits in total for full students take, 24 credits are devoted to the foundation. And, with the advanced standing, you kind of come in with most of that foundation completed, which is a huge benefit.

We don’t want you to have to repeat courses that you have mastered and you fully understand you want to move quickly to move you into those advanced courses sooner rather than later. I mean, we want you to take advantage of the part of the concentration that you’re passionate about.

Let’s say you have a C in human behavior one of your human behavior courses, whatever that’s associated with within our curriculum, you would then re-take that course during your first semester in our program so that you would take that course and, obviously, earn a B or better in it and then you’re moving forward with the rest of the curriculum within the graduate social work program.

So we evaluate that based on your final transcript.

Melissa:
Great. Thank you, Richard. I just have a question here about the scholarship in terms of what a potential student’s or what percentage of tuition could the scholarship potentially cover or be awarded? Could you talk a little bit about that for me?

Richard:
Yeah. That’s a great question. I would say the average annual scholarship is around $4,000. So I would say that’s it’s easier to say then a percentage of tuition. The scholarship that the students receive has been divided over 3 semesters. So each semester, students receive some scholarship support, and then it’s renewable, assuming that the student is performing well in the program.

Melissa:
Great.

Richard:
The scholarships do range. So there’s a range of scholarships through full tuition.
There’s a healthy range of scholarships so it really is dependent on the overall

application as well as the field proposal when the committee decides on the scholarship support.

It is important to note that in addition to scholarships, students are eligible for federal loan programs. If you’re a veteran and are eligible for various GI benefits or the Yellow Ribbon Program, we are a participant within the Yellow Ribbon Program.

Related to federal loan programs at the graduate level students are eligible for typically 3 types of support. There is Perkins loans available based on needs.
There are direct loans that are based on unsubsidized loans that are non-need based. And then there is Grad PLUS loans, they do check your credit when determining your eligibility for Grad PLUS loans. But those are eligible up to the cost of attendance.

The way financial aid works actually, when it comes to federal loan programs at the graduate level, first, students are automatically considered independent, which, to those of you who are either still an undergrad or recent graduates, at the undergraduate level, many times people are considered dependents of their parents, where, at the graduate level, it is strictly based on your own income tax returns or the taxes that you file, typically, January through April. So first, students will complete the FAFSA, which they can go to the fafsa.gov to access and complete.

Students that are eligible for federal aid will be guaranteed, um, the unsubsidized direct loans annually that amount to $20,500. And then I mentioned the Grad PLUS. It actually varies based on cost of attendance. The cost of attendance looks at the number of credit hours you’re taking that determines obviously the tuition. But then also cost of attendance includes, um, the potential cost of living, so room, board, uh, any educational-related expenses that could be associated with you going back to school. So that’s why that amount actually does vary.

Melissa:
Great. Thank you, Richard. Uh, I do have another question here for a person who is a student, what type of book or materials would they have to purchase for the online courses?

Richard:
That may be a good question for Daniel. Um, you know, I think the decision to purchase all or some books is up to you. It’s really a personal decision. I would say it’s encouraged but there are certain times when you could very well use our own library within the school. So some of our on-campus students don’t buy all of their books because all of the books are nearly available within our school library. So, in some cases, they’re, like, well, this book, may not be a particular priority where there are certain chapters that I didn’t need to read that I can

take advantage of going to the library, reading them and then not actually purchasing the book. So it does vary I would say based on the student.

Melissa:
Yes, Daniel, do you have any insight into if a student should purchase books for the courses?

Daniel:
I know through the program the instructors have done a fairly good job of, indicating at the beginning whether or not the text is required and heavily followed or if it’s just a recommended resource. There have not been many courses that have required a wide range or variety of additional materials to purchase.

As many of you probably are already aware of, being in undergrad programs or you just being in school, there’s so many opportunities out there now to rent textbooks for even periods of time that are equal to or even longer than the period of time that the course is offered. Again, I think an advantage for the course is only being 8 weeks long. Because it provides you the opportunity to rent textbooks at a fraction of the cost of purchasing the textbooks. The rental periods actually extend beyond 8 weeks for many of the websites.

One of the things that I found to be helpful is I emailed my advisor to kind of inquire after I’ve been made aware of what the textbook is to see if they can get some information from the instructor about whether or not it’s absolutely necessary to purchase the textbook.

Now, another thing to consider as well is my father-in-law has Amazon Prime, which sends my orders to my home within 2 days. Now, this is a great option, to be able to make a well-informed decision after I’ve investigated online the rental versus the purchasing price.

So that’s what I have to share about that.

Melissa:
Great. Thank you, Daniel. That’s just perfect. Definitely, that’s what I’ve seen a lot of students do, so that’s wonderful.

I do have one question here for Richard. It’s regarding again the advanced standing and the hours the credit hours.

This particular person has noticed that some other programs have slightly less credit hours for the advanced standing. Could you provide some insight into that for our particular program for advanced standing students?

Richard:
Yes. So, I would say, I think, from my own kind of experience, I’ve seen some schools provide advanced standing, although we have about 30 credits of

advanced standing. There is quite a range out there. Really, you know, our faculty have designed the curriculum that they feel will set the students apart, or alums apart, graduates apart from those that graduate from other institutions.

So that’s one of the main reasons why they feel very strongly about the 45 credits that students are completing within the degree. And how that will actually set you apart over the course of the online program, there’s over 2 years within our program how it really will set you apart is, uh, a leader within, uh, the social work field.

There are a lot of choices out there as it relates to programs and credit hours. Um, but, at the end of the day, the faculty has done a lot to ensure that the curriculum not only meets the standard but really goes above and beyond so that, you know, your long-term goal to become licensed is met and that you are prepared to become licensed following graduation.

Obviously, there are steps that are involved with that including supervision hours and an exam, but we want to make sure that, when our graduates are out there, they are prepared for the challenges that they’ll face and the opportunity that they will take advantage of. So, yes. There’s a lot of different kind of schools of thoughts and ways in which universities or schools of social work have taken on their own policies as it relates to the structure.

And that’s something that if there are questions, more questions about that, that’s where we can connect you with our chairs of the program or associate deans to talk more about, you know, why this curriculum is so valuable.

Melissa:
Great. Great. And I just have one final question, here that I wanted to address, and then that will be our close of our session. This last question is how many hours do people tend to work doing the program? From personal experience, Daniel, how many hours would you say on average do you tend to work at your job while you’re doing the program?

Daniel: Well, in my place of employment at Children Services you know I’m a full-time employee, so the expectation would be 40 hours. But, as anyone that’s ever worked in the field knows, sometimes, that’s 45 hours or, sometimes, that’s 40 or 48, but, usually, it’s right around 40. So I’m a full-time employee, so I have got to carry the insurance for my family and that’s how we do it.

Melissa:
Great. Great. Well, I really appreciate it.

Um, as noted earlier in the presentation, we recorded this session, so I will be sending out a link to everyone to this recording so you can listen to it again.

I really want to thank our presenters and Robin, our EA, for answering all the questions on the chat and just providing such wonderful information to those who attended today. A big thank you to our presenters. I greatly appreciate your time.

Thank you, Richard, and, Daniel. Thank you, Robin.

Daniel: Thank you.

Melissa: Thank you.