As we are entering into the New Year, there will be many people considering a change in career or planning out their work-related future. If you are considering choosing a profession that helps, social work could be the perfect option.
Many of us choose social work as a career because of a desire to seek sustainable change in our society. Social workers often work in partnership with those who are disadvantaged, and each day brings about new challenges and experiences and unique pressures like no other profession. However, there are not enough people choosing social work, and far too many people leaving it. With increasing restrictions placed on the NHS bursary and increases in tuition fees alongside increased caseloads and restrictions on resources, there are simply not enough people choosing social work as a future career. In fact, in 2018, there were almost 30, 000 vacancies for children and family social workers across the country.
The official deadline for UCAS is the 15th October but all applications must be completed and submitted by the 15th January 2020. The deadline is fast approaching and now is the time to ensure that your application is ready to go. Whether you have already applied or you are just putting in your application, next year could bring about a whole new challenge as you embark on your social work course. With just a few short weeks to get things on track and your application complete, check out our top tips for applying for your social work degree.
Choosing the Best Course
There are many different things to consider when it comes to choosing the best university for you or even whether the university route is the best option for your learning style. Social work is a graduate profession, and you can either opt for the three-year undergraduate course or the two year postgraduate Masters. Alternatively, some people may prefer a more practical entry into the profession such as the Social Work apprenticeships for undergrads or the options provided by Frontline, Step Up to Social Work or the Think Ahead programme for postgraduate students.
Finding funding for higher education studies can be a challenge. For first time undergraduate students, contact check out student finance England or Wales, depending on your location. If you are looking to get paid whilst you work towards your accreditation, you could also consider the social work apprenticeship. Finding funding for postgraduate studies can be difficult, but social work students can apply for the NHSBS bursary for some assistance with tuition fees and living costs.
Almost all social work accredited courses will have some minimum requirements when it comes to the necessary qualifications. To get onto your undergraduate degree, you will require five GCSEs A-C, including maths, English and science, and any two A levels. As an undergrad applicant, the A Level or BTEC results that the course requires may differ amongst universities. For example, those in the Russell Group may have higher requirements. Alternately, some universities may also accept a level 3 vocational qualification in health and social care. Postgraduate applicants who are interested in doing the social work masters will require a bachelor’s degree at 2:2 or higher. Individuals without a degree who have relevant experience and can demonstrate their ability to study at level 6 may also be considered depending on the institution.
Your past experience is essential as it enables university recruiters to see how you have already developed the essential skills you will later need for practice. These include skills such as active listening, critical thinking, communication, interpersonal skills, IT, and anti-oppressive and anti-discriminatory practice amongst others. However, it does not matter if you are not yet quite efficient at such skills, just that they are able to see the potential. Some universities may also require a minimum period of time spent working in a related field. If you do not have work-based experience in the health and social care sector, check out volunteering opportunities in your local area.
The Personal Statement
To put it bluntly, your personal statement is one of the most difficult things that you will ever have to write in our lives. Writing about our own achievements and how we have excelled may not come naturally to us, but a solid personal statement can make all the difference. Structure and plan your statement appropriately, and remember that one of the most important aspects to include in your statement how your current experience is transferable with regard to social work practice. Reiterate why this is the profession for you, how you are going to approach your studies and your ambitions for the future. Although there is a box to type in your personal statement on the application form, you may wish to do it on a word processing programme first so you can save and edit at will.
When you are choosing your references, it is important to ensure that they are still current and that all their personal information is up to date. Make sure to get in touch with your referees before including them on your application form. It is always best to ask their permission, and this will also give you the opportunity to explain to your referee what is expected of them.
Ask someone to proofread your application. We do not always notice mistakes ourselves and having someone look over your application is a great way to ensure that everything is in order.