For the second time, Zippia.com, a website that provides career tools and information across many industries, has named Goshen College the best college in Indiana for social work majors.
The ranking considers various aspects of a social work program to identify which schools offer the best opportunities for students. These factors include school performance and the percentage of social work majors within a graduating class and career results, such as the number of students who stay in the field after graduation.
According to alumni surveys, 97 percent of social work graduates from Goshen College are satisfied or very satisfied with their undergraduate education. In the past few years, every GC social work graduate that sought employment was employed within four months of graduation.
According to Jeanne Liechty, professor and director of the social work program, SST and the college’s overall value base help Goshen College stand out.
“The social work program builds upon that, attracting students for whom social work is a good fit and helping them enter employment well prepared,” said Liechty.
The interdisciplinary nature of the coursework allows students to build a connection between issues and personal values.
“The goal of Goshen’s social work program is to prepare students for social work in general but also come at it with a social justice perspective,” said Mara Beck, a senior social work major. “The idea of meeting the person where they’re at is emphasized a lot in our classes — to come with knowledge and be educated in certain areas but also to be respectful and hold the person’s story and experience alongside of it.”
Beck identifies the small size of Goshen College as another factor that sets the program apart.
“We have small classes and a lower professor-to-student ratio, so relationships are easier to build,” says Beck. “Our professors are really passionate about social work, so that helps us as students become passionate about it.”
Social work students at Goshen engage in two shorter field placements during their sophomore and junior years before culminating in a 400-hour senior internship. Although every accredited program in Indiana requires students to complete a 400-hour senior field placement, Liechty says the structure around Goshen’s program is unique, namely in the thoroughness, clarity of expectations and faculty support system to meet these expectations. In addition, students are asked to write an integrative paper analyzing the agencies where they work.
Through the extensive field placement requirements, social work majors gain experience at different community organizations throughout their college career. The rich array of social service organizations in the area allow Goshen College students to be selective in their field placements in order to find the best fit. This year’s seniors can be found at organizations such as Oaklawn Psychiatric Center, Bashor Children’s Home and the Center for Community Justice.
Beck currently works as an intern at Ryan’s Place, a local grief support center for kids, teens and adults.
“One thing that stands out about Ryan’s Place is that the current Executive Director is a GC grad, so she’s passionate not only about what she’s doing at Ryan’s Place but also about the Goshen College program,” she said.
As part of her field placement, Beck visits schools in the area and co-facilitates support groups for children who have experienced a death in the family. In addition, her placement offers Monday night family programs, which center on a theme each week to discuss in groups. During this time, Beck works with children as they engage in crafts or games to generate conversation about their feelings.
“It’s been interesting to see how such a small agency relies on an intern’s work,” says Beck.
Although only halfway complete, Beck’s field placement has already provided her the chance to think in new ways about what comes next. After graduating, she plans to further apply what she has learned by getting her Masters of Social Work.
“I definitely want to work with kids, and being in schools recently, I’ve been thinking about being a school social worker or counselor,” says Beck.
Other schools in the top seven for social work programs in Indiana include Ball State University, Manchester University, Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis, University of Indianapolis, Saint Mary’s College and Indiana Wesleyan University.