The following letters were written by senior social work majors during their last semester (spring 2011) at Mansfield University.
Hello! Congratulations on your acceptance into the Mansfield University Social Work Program! If you have a passion and commitment to learning how to help vulnerable populations in need; you have come to the right department. The experience you will get from this program will benefit you personally as well as professionally.
The one critical piece of advice I can give to you is to get to know your advisor and your professors. You have access to a group of amazing individuals that are all committed to helping you succeed as a social worker. The knowledge they possess alone makes them incredible. Understand, they will push you and rightfully so. They push because they know you are capable of producing greatness. They push because they are committed to teaching new social workers the right way to help once they enter the field in a professional capacity. They also push because they truly care about you as individuals. They will test your patience, ignite your passion, and give you all of the tools you need to succeed.
The next piece of advice I can give to you is to not be afraid to speak your mind in class, or just even life in general. The social work classroom is a safe one. Do not fear sounding stupid or that people will laugh at you. Honestly, so what if they do? You have to be able to question things you do not understand, share your beliefs and values, and be true to who you are. Some of the most amazing conversations come out of saying something that scares you.
Do not quit the program when you read the syllabus for Research I or II. Believe me; I thought it was written in a different language when I first read it! Funny thing is, I stuck with it and I cannot tell you how much passion I have for research now. The class is hard, expectations are high; however, research is absolutely necessary for our profession. It benefits us as practitioners and the clients we work with. It impacts social policies and treatment standards. The need for research will always be great, so if you end up loving it like I did that is just an added bonus for the profession!
I truly wish you the best of luck moving forward. I wish you luck in your future endeavors and hope to one day call you a colleague. Good luck and congratulations again!
Sincerely, Katie Griffin, Class of 2011
Dear Social Work Major,
There will be times when you think the assignments are not worth your time, you're so overwhelmed you don't know you will get it all done, you're tired and ready for a break, your stomach hurts from all your stress, you've lost track of the countless headaches while trying to complete all the assignments, and how can I forget all the tears of frustration. There will be times when you laugh so hard your side hurts, you have lunch with your "social work friends" and you never want it to end, you will be so passionate about what you're learning you can't get enough, you will be thankful for the wonderful professors and Gayle, every professor will know you by name, you will be able to go to your professors for anything, you will never want it to end, and then come the tears of sweet success.
My experiences at Mansfield have been amazing. Yes there were days I didn't think I would get through the classes and all the work, but every time I thought to myself that I couldn't do it there were a dozen people telling me I could and I would excel.
My advice to new social work majors is to have fun and be accountable. Don't take on more work than you can handle and if you ever do get overwhelmed don't be afraid to talk to your professors if you need help. All of the social work professors are there to help you and let you blossom into an amazing social worker and adult.
Remember, with every difficult time there are a dozen good times associated with it. Use your resources and you will succeed both professionally and personally. Good luck and God bless!
Sincerely, Jenifer Landmesser, Class of 2011
Welcome new majors!
You have made an exceptional decision joining the Mansfield University Social Work program. Being a transfer student into the program was a huge and challenging adjustment I had to adapt to. Throughout your whole life you are going to be adapting to change as you are now. I can honestly say making the decision to come to and be in the social work program here at Mansfield University will be an experience I will never forget/regret.
The social work program can be time demanding and prioritizing work and time is a must; in other words DON'T PROCRASTINATE. Utilizing the resources offered such as the writing center and professor's office hours can be very beneficial to lead you on the right track. There is no doubt at one time or times you will have the "I don't care, want to give up attitude," but don't feel like you're the only one because more than likely other colleagues in your class are feeling the exact same way. When you are feeling this way take a deep breath and do something for yourself to help relax. Just remember it will all pay off one day.
Some advice to you to benefit from in the program would be to be active and participate in class and clubs/honor societies. Being an active colleague to the clubs/honor societies you can really get to know members and classmates on a personal level and build great friendships. Meeting some awesome friends in the social work program has been an amazing experience and I hope to keep in contact with each of them after graduation. I'm sure you've heard more than once that the social work program is like family - well, it is! My experience here at Mansfield has been full of emotions. I came to Mansfield not knowing a soul but I'm leaving with a family.
My words of encouragement to you are "Take the good with the bad, the stress with the fun, and the knowledge from your experience." Good luck on your future endeavors. You have chosen a great path!
Sincerely, Shelly Flint, Class of 2011
Dear Social Work Major,
Welcome to the social work major. I hope you enjoy this major as much as I have. Helping people has always been a passion of mine and I'm sure it is yours as well. This program at Mansfield University opens many opportunities for you. It is challenging but that only pushes you to do your best and strive to reach your goals, as well as make new goals for yourself. The staff are very friendly and helpful and most if not all are on a first name basis with you. I find this makes me more comfortable to be able to freely talk to them and ask them questions at any time.
I had transferred into MU and this major, and they all helped me and made me feel welcome. They are always there when you need them and love to help you so ask for the help when you need it. I also found the practice classes to be extremely helpful in preparing me for my internship. You learn a lot of techniques that are very helpful in any direction you go. Some classes are harder than others and may not seem as important at the time but you will find you use techniques from those classes as you move on to other classes. You will see that things tie in together. You also make great friends within the major through your classes and other activities such as the Social Work Club, Pi Gamma Mu, and Phi Alpha. These are great groups to get involved with. We have fun and do projects to help the community and local organizations. Take a stand in them and become an officer. It is a great way to gain some leadership skills.
This program, although it can be challenging, has great things to offer. My advice to you is learn to manage your time so you can do as much as you can to get the most out of the program. Be sure to fit in an activity you enjoy or hobby to help relive stress. Remember it is important to take care of yourself and not let yourself get worn out or burnt out. Above all have fun! Best of luck to you in the years to come.
Sincerely, Natalie Young, Class of 2011
Dear Social Work Major,
You have taken what is most likely the first step into what I personally believe is one of the most rewarding professions. As an older, non-traditional commuter student, I bring quite a different perspective to the college scene as well as the major. Choosing Mansfield was one of the best decisions I could have made. The professors here at our university, and especially in our major, go above and beyond. You may not know it or believe it yet, but you really do have the tools to succeed and these fantastic professors will show you how to utilize them. Just like your classmates, they can become lifelong friends and mentors. Seek them out, get to know them, hang out a social work gatherings, and get involved in the clubs and social work honor societies. Their wealth of knowledge and first-hand experiences are truly amazing and they really care about their students.
As with anything one desires and pursues, there is a lot of hard work. First and foremost, I would highly recommend getting a yearly planner to keep yourself organized. Second, take advantage of the tutoring center and seek out responsible classmates and your professors for any and all assistance you may need. It is always good to have a mentor who has an understanding of what you are going through. Never stop asking questions as that is how we learn. Third, get your work done early because it helps you be prepared for the next assignment down the road, and believe me there are going to be times when things are due one right after the other! The last bit of advice I would offer you is to remember the Golden Rule. It is so important to treat others the way you want to be treated.
I wish you the best of everything and encourage you to have fun in your time here at Mansfield University. The memories you make will be forever treasured.
Abundant Blessings, Lisa R. Kelchner-Kunzmann, Class of 2011
Dear Prospective Social Work Student,
I am sure graduation seems a far distance off at this point. However, it will go quicker than you think. I remember starting out as a freshman and being extremely scared and unsure. I asked myself "Am I in the right major? Am I even at the right university?" It took a few months of settling in to fully decide that there was a "yes" to both questions. I encourage you to give time to both questions as well. Change is scary and it is easy to feel like it is not the right fit at first. Luckily as was the case with me, you are not alone. Besides the students, the professors at MU are amazing. Being a smaller school, you really get to know them and believe it or not, they want to get to know you too. I encourage you to talk to them and attend the department parties. Get involved with at least one of the social science clubs. If you are anything like me, you will not have time for them all but you should try to make time for at least one. They help build ties and friendships and the cherry on top is that it will be an addition to your resume in the future. Pay attention to the little voice inside of you too. Do not just rely on the opinions of others.
One regret that I had, was that I did not volunteer or shadow at some of the social work agencies during college (except for what was scholastically required). For confidentiality reasons you would not be able to do this everywhere but some places will allow you. You might feel that you are already overwhelmed and that you do not have time. Even a meeting with some of the professionals in your field and talking with them about what their agency is about will help you decide what experiences will be best for you. You will learn as much, if not more, during your internship at the end of your journey. Getting as much knowledge as you can ahead of time is extremely helpful.
Also, enjoy your other classes. I witnessed fellow students rush and pick courses not taking any consideration to their general education classes. If you take your time and choose things that interest you, the classes will go a lot smoother.
My last word of advice is that you believe in yourself. I know it sounds corny but it is true. You would not be here if you had not worked hard and if there was not something in you that wanted to help others. If you cannot buy into yourself and cannot believe you can do it, how will you be able to ask that of your future clients? There will be times that you feel you are not going to make it, but you will. Take time to look at college as a learning and growing experience. Look at the changes that will occur within yourself during the process and be proud.
If you ever have questions, DO NOT WAIT. Ask your professors and fellow students right away. If it does feel too late..... still ask. That is why they are there. Plus, social work majors are double lucky as our advisors can social work us and make us feel better.
ENJOY. It was such a fun journey for me and I hope it will be for you as well!
Sincerely, Alyssa Hoffman, Class of 2011