From a very early age (call it 10 or 11), I was almost sure I was going to Goshen College. Both my parents and one set of grandparents had met there. I grew up in Holmes County, Ohio, but had family who lived in Goshen and had visited many times growing up. It always felt like home to me and I couldn’t wait to get there and start my adult life.I began my time at GC in the fall of 2015, graduating in 2019 with my bachelor’s in social work. I loved my four years in Goshen. I loved my Peruvian SST experience and my classes and professors. The friends I made at GC are still some of my closest, and hopefully will be for life. I was so excited to hear about the online Master of Social Work (MSW) and other graduate degrees the college is now offering, and jumped at the chance to be in the inaugural MSW class.
For the last year, my wife and I have been living in Stockholm, Sweden. My wife is a teacher and was offered a job after graduating from college at the International English School in Stockholm. We decided to give it a shot and moved across the Atlantic last summer. We have loved Sweden. The public transportation system is incredible, and the free healthcare doesn’t hurt either. When I heard about the GC MSW program, I was excited about the prospect of joining the program, after I returned to the U.S. It wasn’t until this past summer that I spoke with Jeanette Harder, the program coordinator, and realized I could begin my first year of classes while still living in Stockholm.
The week after my graduation from GC, I got a job offer and moved back to my hometown, something I would have been vehemently opposed to before graduation and beginning my job search. I hadn’t found anything I was excited by in the Goshen area. My classes and professors did an excellent job at providing knowledge and connections with local agencies, but I wasn’t feeling like any of them were the right fit for me. I really didn’t know what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go, so when I got a call from an old friend of my family who ran an agency, offering me a job, it felt like it was meant to be. I was able to move home and save money, as well as immediately apply all of the skills I learned in undergrad in real practice with people.
Going back to school to earn my MSW was always something I planned on doing. I never quite knew exactly what I wanted to do long term, but I knew it would be in social work. After working with teens in my previous job I realized that I wanted to become a high-school therapist/social worker and that became my primary goal.
An MSW is one of the best degrees someone who wants to work with people can get (but I’m biased). It offers a wide variety of opportunities in the social service field. You can go into hospital/medical social work, school social work, traditional counseling, or any number of community organizing and outreach programs. Now that I’m in the program and back in the rhythm of reading, homework, and class conversations, I can say that I’m absolutely ecstatic about how it’s going so far.
Master’s courses have significantly more work than two 300-level bachelor’s courses, but the work is more satisfying. After working with clients in the field, you can apply knowledge from readings or class time to something you’ve actually seen in the past. You also know what you want to do long-term and can study specific skills you will need in that future job.
An online degree is challenging, particularly with a six-hour time difference, but GC has been great about accommodating specific needs and working with me even though I’m living abroad.