Tips for Success as a New SocialWork@Simmons Student

Whether you are a new SocialWork@Simmons student, current applicant, or learning about the program for the first time, it’s never too early to begin planning for success. Rigorous graduate-level social work study prepares students to become highly qualified professionals, but it requires careful planning and dedication. Students enrolled in an MSW program must juggle field placement, self-paced coursework, and live class sessions in addition to balancing other responsibilities. For success in managing the multiple competing demands of graduate school, students must employ strong time management and organizational skills and leverage their support systems. Below, you will find some tips and resources to help you plan for success as you embark on your MSW.

Get, and Stay, Organized

The best way to begin your graduate social work career is by focusing on organization. Being organized not only improves efficiency, but also can decrease stress. When you have a clear system that works, you know exactly what you need to be working on at any given moment. Use a planner — digital or physical — to organize your assignment due dates, field placement commitments, and study time. Current student Nancy Tamburo-Trevino ’17 relies heavily on her calendar for organization and notes. “As soon as I can get access to course syllabi, I go through it and mark my calendar with every assignment, paper, and project that is due,” she says. “I also mark down each week’s live class session on my calendar. I feel more organized when I do this and then can check it off weekly after I attend.”

 In addition to personal calendars for organization, SocialWork@Simmons students have access to the 2SW Mobile App, where they can set reminders on their phone or tablet for upcoming assignments, helping them to stay on top of coursework and ensure they have allocated enough time to accomplish all assignments.

Manage Your Time Effectively

Graduate social work study is time-consuming. Each week, SocialWork@Simmons students must attend their field placement between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. two to three days per week. In addition, students must complete self-paced coursework and assignments, and participate in live class sessions.

To manage the time commitment and keep yourself on track for success, plan ahead and be realistic about the time necessary to complete each task. Check out Students Over 30’s article, “Going Back to School: Time Management Tips,” or the American Psychological Association’s article on time management strategies for clear and easy suggestions to make the most of your study time. If you find yourself browsing websites or social media channels instead of doing school work, consider using technology to reduce distractions and stick to your plan. Try out apps such as Google’s StayFocusd app or the Focusbar app, which block distracting websites.  

Many students also use small windows of free time in which they can complete portions of their self-paced coursework. Tamburo-Trevino shares how she does just this: “I always carry a notebook with me and a pair of earphones. I will work on my self-paced work while waiting for my kids, at an appointment, going to lunch by myself, or even when getting a pedicure. I feel accomplished even if I only get a few lessons done — one less lesson to do when I get home.”

Simmons Resources

Simmons provides a wealth of support across all domains of student life. Whether you need help with your academics, the 2SW platform and other technology, or graduate-level writing, SocialWork@Simmons has the resources to help you be successful. Lauren Fallon, a SocialWork@Simmons academic advisor, states:

The SocialWork@Simmons community wants you to be successful. First, academic advisors are here to help you with all things related to your academics — talking to your professors, discussing your class schedule, or reviewing and changing your program of study. Your academic advisors are available to help you work through any concerns that are getting in the way of your classes or grades. Even at the slightest inkling of a challenge, it's best to make us aware so that we can help right away. Being proactive is the way to go, even helpers need help. Don't be afraid to ask early and often.

Second, your Student Support Specialist is a wonderful resource. Student Support Specialists will help you with all things 2SW, the online learning platform. Student support specialists can connect you with any help that you need, are extremely friendly, and are always willing to listen. Because they know 2SW better than anyone, go to them for solutions to problems with technology.

Third, if you are struggling with graduate-level writing, please use the Writing Center as a resource. It’s best to work with the Writing Center sooner rather than later to avoid any problems with assignments.

In addition to the Writing Center, the Writing Workshop is available for SocialWork@Simmons students. While the course is optional, many students find the lessons to be helpful refreshers before they dive into graduate-level writing.  

SocialWork@Simmons is also committed to providing students with an array of opportunities to create deep and meaningful relationships with peers and faculty outside of the classroom. Browse our many student life offerings designed to support current students and create a sense of community. Just a few of these include: One2One Peer Mentoring, the Military Affiliated Student Group, Clinicians of Color, the Care and Connections peer-led support group, and the First Generation Faculty Mentoring Program.

Social work graduate study requires careful time management, strong organizational skills, and the active use of resources. Set yourself up for success by preparing for the time commitment and making use of the wealth of resources and support available to you as a SocialWork@Simmons student. You can learn more about academics, admissions, and student life at SocialWork@Simmons and begin planning your career in social work now.