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Heartfelt Thoughts to BSW Students

By: Sam Alyssa

Hello everyone, my name is Sam and I am a fourth-year social work student at Laurentian. Although I deeply love our program, I have noticed that certain things have really aided me in making my way towards graduating. The following are some of my tips/advice that can help you throughout your time in the BSW program.

As many of you probably know, social work is a helping profession that thrives off of human connection and relationships

A GIF of a group hug

Going into my final year of my BSW, I can confidently say that practicing altruism throughout your academic education is both rewarding and really good practice as well. By no means do I suggest you start offering therapy sessions to your peers, but I think it’s really important to develop strong helping relationships with them.

For example, throughout the years I have found it particularly helpful to study in groups with my other classmates. The experience of sharing knowledge and motivating one another definitely helps me to feel more prepared and confident going into exams and presentations.

Although meeting new people and creating new friendships can be both difficult and uncomfortable, I highly recommend becoming well acquainted with your peers.

A GIF of a sad person

Not only will this benefit you in developing the aforementioned study groups, it will also feel really comforting being friends with someone who is going through the same experiences as you. A big element of social work is the ability to normalize and validate people’s feelings, and there is no better way to truly relate to someone than to actually have the same lived experiences.

So, please, turn around and introduce yourself to people on your first day. Get the friendship mobile started! (Sorry, I needed to add a dad joke somewhere.)

Okay, this next tip goes out to absolutely every post-secondary student on the planet. I beg you, please work on your procrastination.

This program is very heavily packed with essays, research reports, and presentations. Even if holding work off till last minute feels good in the moment, working ahead of time really pays off.

As an avid procrastinator, I have found it really helpful to work on all of my assignments for at least half an hour a day. This allows you to get work done efficiently, while also not forcing you to spend a whole evening cramming in the day before a due date.

As prospective social workers, we all know the importance of promoting mental well being and positive mental health practices to others. However, a lot of the time we may forget to develop good well-being practices for ourselves.

Throughout the years, I have personally struggled a great deal with maintaining good mental health practices. Allowing yourself to forget about self-care and self-love can be really discouraging and can also impact your academic success.

I recommend making time for yourself at least ten minutes a day. This time could be spent meditating, listening to music, or even just sitting with your thoughts; self-care is really important

In my first year, I had a huge fear of class presentations and group work. For real, I was the person who would sneak out to avoid talking in front of the class.

A GIF of a person publicly speaking

This being said, I very quickly learned the importance and reasoning behind developing good presentation skills as a prospective social worker. There are going to be many situations in which we will have to present in front of groups of people and we have to be at least *somewhat* comfortable with this.

To work on possible stage fright, I recommend putting yourself out of your comfort zone. Personally, I have found it helpful to answer more questions and add my input wherever it seems relevant. This has allowed me to slowly ease my way into feeling confident with public speaking.

My final piece of advice is very cliché and generic, but I really recommend making the best out of your experience in the BSW program.

A GIF of a person smiling

Now, I know school can be stressful and it is sometimes hard to see the bright side. However, this experience will be whatever you make of it. Try your best to enjoy everything that comes to you.

I think the most helpful thing to remember is that you chose this program for one reason or another. So just always hold onto whatever your dream is and know you can survive anything this program throws at you!