Preparing for a Social Work Degree – Practical Tips

Whether you’re a new or returning student, the start of the academic year can be daunting yet exciting. I’m about to enter my 2nd year of social work studies and in November I’ll start my 70-day placement, I don’t know what area this will be in yet, but I know the experience is going to help me develop into the kind of social worker I’m aspiring to be. On top of this I have my academic work, like essays as well as a portfolio alongside my placement. This seems a lot right now, but I’ve been preparing myself towards the end of summer to make sure I’m ready for the exhilarating madness which can be social work education.

Like any student on any degree, I’ve enjoyed buying more stationary which this year includes not one but two diaries – one for placement and one for my personal/academic life. I’m hoping to be a lot more organised this year and getting all my bits and bobs ready for university is making me feel like I am ready for anything. When it came to buying stationary before I started my first year I literally had no clue what to buy nor how to organise my work; I think this is different for everyone and it’s something I changed around until I was comfortable. Therefore, don’t worry if you’re about to start university and don’t know how to organise or what you need, it is something you learn along the way.

Stationary that I recommend:

  • Ring file
  • File dividers
  • Clear plastic wallets
  • Project book
  • A4 or A5 notebook
  • Pens (and lots of them)
  • Clear pencil case
  • USB
  • Sticky notes and mini ones to hold your place in books
  • Those good old highlighters
  • Academic diary

In addition to the practicalities of starting university after the summer, I’ve done a little bit of pre-reading to get my brain back into gear. This includes some of the recommended reading provided by my lecturers but also keeping up to date with key legislation such as the changes which recently occurred in Working Together to Safeguard Children. This helps me feel even more prepared after spending the last few months watching nearly every series on Netflix. Although, this isn’t a habit I’m going to break any time soon because I learnt from my first year it is important to make time for yourself and not let work consume you. Even though summer is over I am determined to have fun when I go back to university and I recommend anyone starting on a social work degree to do the same. Laughter with your cohort is the best thing to overcome a stressful day.

Good luck to anyone starting on their path to become a social worker, you’ll develop super powers along the way!

Bethany Pearson

BA (Hons) Social Work student

Course Representative

Teesside University

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