The Importance of Social Work: How You Study Is Just as Critical as Why

by Heather Nelson

Studying social work is a path toward a fulfilling profession, one filled with countless opportunities to impact lives both individually and collectively. The importance of social work lies in its aim to confront social issues in all facets of life—from providing the one-on-one support of family welfare to shaping legislative policies that eradicate systemic injustices. Social work involves helping others overcome challenges.

Whatever a student’s motivation for studying social work, getting the right training is key to shaping their outlook and preparing them to enter the workforce. Here’s why the “how” of studying social work is just as important as the “why.”

Hands-On Experience Is Integral to Students’ Success

When it comes to excelling in any field of work, experience is the most important factor. The more a student knows and understands, the more they’re able to contribute to the profession.

For this reason, applied experience is at the heart of social work education. It allows students to put the lessons learned in the classroom into practice and helps them understand the importance of social work. A student’s ability to apply theory at a practical level—before entering the workforce—prepares them to hit the ground running after graduation.

Considering APU’s Bachelor of Social Work

Hands-on experience is a key part of the Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program at Azusa Pacific University. The program trains students to seek ways they can make a difference in people’s lives as well as their communities. And students get to work right away. From the first semester on, their assignments include taking on at-risk middle school students as mentees, helping older adults navigate difficult situations, participating in programs for those who are homeless, and role-playing client interactions with trained actors. During the last year of the BSW program, students complete a 400-hour internship tied to their field of interest.

Amy Tauati, the BSW program director at APU, explained that students getting involved in their communities is at the core of the program. “Seniors are in the field 16 hours a week,” she said. “They’re providing real services. They’re meeting with real clients. They’re doing the work of an entry-level social worker.”

The training provided to APU students adequately prepares them to enter the field and find success after graduation. In fact, the school’s BSW program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

A Focus on Faith Sets APU’s Programming Apart

Azusa Pacific University’s willingness to bring faith into the conversation of social work sets its programming apart from what’s offered at other universities. This is an important distinction that offers students a pivotal perspective.

“Being a social work program means we can integrate our faith into our work,” Tauati noted. “Spirituality is important to our clients. It’s not foreign to us at APU, and it’s a comfortable part of our curriculum.” APU’s integration of faith into its social work curriculum is integral to helping students view their future clients holistically. This helps bridge a crucial gap that many other programs fail to address.

“Our faith background helps our clients, but it also helps students explore and empathize with the worldview of their clients,” Tauati said. “Unpacking that in an academic space is critical. It’s a gap we get to close here at APU.”

One thing will always be true of social work—it’s demanding. But with the right training, students with a desire to help people can bring real change to those in need. The other truth of social work? It’s incredibly rewarding.

Are you interested in pursuing a career in social work? Take some time to explore Azusa Pacific University’s Department of Social Work and learn more about how the program prepares students for the field.