Ten things to consider before you start your social work degree

Hannah Madsen

Faculty: Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care
School: School of Education and Social Care
Course: BA (Hons) Social Work
Category: Social sciences and social care

25 August 2015

So, you’re about to embark on an amazing journey towards becoming a social worker. Here are a few tips and things to consider before you start.

  1. Be prepared. Personally I would really recommend undertaking some form of reading. Before I came I didn’t really know what I needed to read or what to consider. I would suggest some broad reading over legislation and looking at the professional capabilities framework (PCF), community care website – where you can find blogs and articles – and the Health and Care Professions Council Standards of Proficiency.
  2. Merging in to my first point, although it is good to do some broad reading please don’t think that you have to know everything. You are going to learn so much and be told to go away and look at articles and website links so don’t feel like you have to know it all. Just to have a broad idea of some of the legislation such as the Care Act 2014 will help you in due course, however just read a summary of the act don’t look at the complicated intricate parts on the government website, this will over complicate things and may give you a bit of a headache!
  3. Unfortunately, although you may think it now, not everyone will have the same views and opinions as you. My class is wonderfully culturally diverse which sparks up interesting debates and also helps you learn. Hearing others’ opinions may open your eyes to roads you’ve never even thought of going down before, or a view that you would never have considered.
  4. Leading on from my previous point, leave your judgements at home or alone! Of course we don’t all agree with one another or believe the same things and you must be mindful of this. Be accepting, don’t judge, understand that we have all been brought up differently, have different backgrounds and cultures – and so will your service users.
  5. If you think you know yourself now, think again. Your values are going to be pushed and tested, as well as your patience. I know for a fact I am a completely different person compared to when I first started my degree. I am constantly learning, expanding my knowledge and growing as a person.
  6. Of course, for one, you are now entering a profession so it’s time for you to act professional. I came onto the social work course with no background experience in social care, only volunteering, so I had nowhere near the amount of knowledge others have on my course due to their previous experience. You need to take this seriously because many social workers are at risk of being struck off because of their behaviours. You are about to represent the future of social work: be proud but be professional! (Think about what you put on social media for a start.)
  7. Seriousness over, it may not all be fun and games but have some fun! You’re going to meet some amazing people and you are going to make friends for life so embrace the experience, it is going to be a wonderful, testing journey!
  8. Social workers are known for their failures – thanks to the papers and the news – but don’t believe everything that you read. For one, they are biased and are mainly interested in selling papers. But also, they don’t know the full story. Social work is complicated and there are miscommunications, etc. It doesn’t mean you’re going to be a bad social worker or that everyone is going to hate you because of your job. Where I have told people that I’m going into a social work degree (friends and family, even strangers if they ask what I’m studying) they have been taken aback and tell me how hard the job is, etc. Don’t be put off by this, there are so many roads to go down into social work it’s not just child protection. If you want to read real stories check out the community care website as mentioned before.
  9. Although it is best to start this degree with an open mind as to which area you feel inclined to go into, maybe explore around the opportunities available within social work. There is so much you can do so open your eyes to these amazing opportunities!
  10. Last but not least, and most importantly, please, please enjoy yourself! Embrace everything you can. This is such an amazing journey to go on, where you learn so much about yourself and others so get stuck in. Good luck!


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