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Thread: AHH changing college majors...help?

  1. #1
    ilovequilts's Avatar
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    So I took a year off of school to determine what the heck I was going to do with my life and i've finally decided.
    Background: Since 2nd grade I've wanted to be a teacher
    Reality: I would rather be a social worker...
    SO: Is anyone here in that field? I need a little direction figuring out how to get there and what kinds of jobs to look for while I'm going to school that will allow me to get great experience.
    Any advice, tips, opinions are accepted :)

  2. #2
    Super Member MistyMarie's Avatar
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    We have a wonderful social worker that works at the school. She gets to work with kids on a daily basis. I think going to be a school psychologist or social worker would be a great meshing of the two fields. Just an idea. (I teach middle school... was a social science major for a few semesters and decided to major in English and History instead.) I admire the social workers, but know I chose right because I enjoy teaching kids. Find something that you are happy with because thirty+ years is a long time to be in a field you don't enjoy.

  3. #3
    ilovequilts's Avatar
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    That's been my mindset lately! I want to enjoy what I do and a couple key experiences and thoughts stand out that makes me want to be in social work so I can work directly with the kids who need someone to love them! I just think nowadays some parents just don't love their children like they should!

  4. #4
    Power Poster amma's Avatar
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    What I advise is this, Ask what the job market is like in your area, or the area in which you want to live is for these two jobs. Sometimes that may have a big bearing on the final choice :wink:

  5. #5
    Super Member purplemem's Avatar
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    Remember that demand for a school social worker will not be as high as a teacher. Have you thought about Special Education or ESL as a concentration? Those kids usually have lots of "needs" that a good teacher can really influence.

    Also, a social worker is a job that is in demand at the hospitals, retirement homes, etc. Pay is not usually more than about $35k. The reward is in the "giving".

  6. #6
    Super Member Rebecca VLQ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ilovequilts
    That's been my mindset lately! I want to enjoy what I do and a couple key experiences and thoughts stand out that makes me want to be in social work so I can work directly with the kids who need someone to love them! I just think nowadays some parents just don't love their children like they should!
    This is very noble. Very very noble. I would caution, however, to really know what you're getting into with social work. I know that maternal feeling, of wanting to love everyone and take care of everyone. In social work that is a very good trait...to have that extra drive to get them the best help possible. The crux of the matter is, a lot of times this same caring and concern tears at your heart because you can't save everybody. Not even half the everybody. And the "reward" of knowing you had influence and put the kid/person on a good path....you just gotta believe that you did. You may never see that kid for years and years, if ever. It takes practice to master being the rock, the stability, the one that people come to because you're motives are honest and true, with no agenda, to help them untangle a complicated life. Within the framework of a profession, no less.

  7. #7
    Super Member Rainy Day's Avatar
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    Wise words. I remember when I was a very shiny new social worker and I worked with a woman who had been in the profession for over 30 years. She was a chain smoker, who always wore bright red lipstick. She said to me "Darls, it is like working in the cancer ward - you'll win some and you'll lose some". I was horrified - of course I will save them all, and they all want to be saved. I often think back to her words, and I find them comforting and real.

  8. #8
    Power Poster sueisallaboutquilts's Avatar
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    I'm a registered nurse. I love people of all shapes sizes and ages. But now that I'm getting older I wish I had been a teacher. Nurses get nothing for retirement (medical I mean) We usually know as much as doctors with our advanced training these days but get blamed for what they decide ,work ungodly crazy hours etc.
    Having said this I still love nursing but I'll have to work till I drop to get medical, while teachers get a great retirement package (well deserved) awesome hours, yeah, the political stuff goes on there too but these are just my thoughts. I have great respect for nurses, teachers, and social workers, by the way!! :D
    Good luck in whatever you decide.

  9. #9
    Super Member sweet's Avatar
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    Teachers can begin work after a 4 year degree, whereas a social worker typically requires a MS.

  10. #10
    Super Member b.zang's Avatar
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    Special education is a good idea.
    Are you looking to work as a volunteer while going to school, or paid employment? A support role in a school will let you see what it's like inside the system before you get your degree. Is there a Big Brothers/Sisters organization around? Once you begin to find your way in the helping professions, you will discover lots of options.

  11. #11
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    Teaching is not for the faint of heart. You do not get your summers off (people just think you do because you are most often required to take classes, write curriculum, etc. w/o pay) and there is no 8-3 (I got to campus at 6 am and left after 5:30 everyday).

    I think the grass is greener to many people. I think social work is noble but grossly underpaid and overworked. The burnout rate is higher than what is found in education. No one talks about the fact that most teachers only teach 5 years or less.

    I suggest you research interests, pay levels (you will have to repay student loans somehow unless you are lucky enough to have everything paid by scholarships and grants, but very few are that lucky), and working environments. Check with university programs, ask if you can meet with directors of those programs, ask to talk to their intern coordinators, see if you can visit workplaces, etc. That is all part of data gathering and it really pays off in the end.

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    I guess I should have explained teacher salaries a little better. Teachers are paid on a 187 day contract in my state. Those are the number of classroom days (campus/contact with students). Then we are required to have x number hours of extra training every year on our time, workshops that hone skills (usually on our time), writing district curriculum (or special program curriculum) OUR time...these all are summertime things. My 187 day pay? Well, it was spread out over a year so that I would be paid every month (school districts realized they actually made more money by keeping as much in the bank as long as they could and acrue interest). To most people it looks like I get paid for doing "nothing" in the summer.

    Retirement packages depend on where you live. Not every state treats teachers equally so where you live may be critical to your decisions.

  13. #13
    Super Member dotcomdtcm's Avatar
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    You might want to combine both areas and become a school guidance counselor. I am afraid social workers have not obtained the same benefits as teachers. At least that is my impression. If you can score a guidance job in a school you get benefits and a good retirement plan. No career is easy to achieve these days. If you want to avoid the college app pressure, look at middle schools.
    And good luck! Dotty

  14. #14
    Super Member MistyMarie's Avatar
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    I have been teaching for fifteen years, but I get paid for only eleven. This is because I moved (due to my dh being active duty Navy). That is a HUGE drawback to teaching - the loss of pay because most districts only pay for five years of experience. If we moved again, I would lose over $15,000 a year for the remainder of my teaching career, not counting how this would affect my retirement, so I am completely STUCK living where we do. That is another consideration when going into teaching. You pretty much have to stay in one location if you want to make a decent living. You also have to continue your education in order to stay licensed. I am currently taking five hours of graduate classes (I already have a Masters), just so that I can complete my MA+15 to get an extra $1000 a year. Pay is based on years of experience and level of education. You don't get raises for being a great teacher. You just end up getting more duties (such as being a mentor for new teachers), and the district expects more "volunteer" time (as in writing curriculum).

    I love teaching. I didn't love moonlighting at least 30 hours a week on top of my teaching high school English for the first four years of my career so I could make ends meet. I signed up for every sporting event and coached two sports to make extra money too. It was tough in the beginning, but now I am making enough to not have to work two jobs and afford to put my kids in a private school. (Ironic, huh? - since I teach in a public school...)

  15. #15
    Super Member dotcomdtcm's Avatar
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    Yes, it is not easy. I taught for 38 years, did every extra pay thing, and 16 years of special ed summer school. Put 3 kids thru great colleges as a single mom. It was hard!But now I have an excellent pension, health benefits, and a lot more security than my peers who can't afford to retire. I know every state is different. Just look at the long term potentials when changing careers.

  16. #16
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    I quite agree with advantages and disadvantages to teaching. I consider myself of the very lucky teachers. I alternatively certified which means my degrees are not in education. I am a trained chemist and physicist. I went into teaching after being an engineer for many years. Now I consult in those fields and sometimes write for textbook publishers.

    Yes, teachers get warm squishy feelings once in a while. Yes, it is rewarding. I just wish people would stop thinking teachers work 8-3 and have summers off. Education is one field where continueing education is required, higher degrees are preferred, but there is no pay reward or assistance for doing so. In my area the pay difference between a bachelors degree and a masters is $500/year. That doesn't pay for 1 hour of graduate school.

    If you are going to go back to school, make sure that the field you are entering is going to allow you to pay back your loans otherwise you are back to square one financially.

  17. #17
    Super Member dotcomdtcm's Avatar
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    Well said!!

  18. #18
    Super Member MistyMarie's Avatar
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    Yep. My loans will not be paid off until I retire. That is really hard to swallow. I pay $388 a month for my loans. The increase I got for my masters only covers about a third of this. (I got my masters in technology, so I have a bit more versatility.)

  19. #19
    ilovequilts's Avatar
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    I value all of your opinions! Thank you!

    My plan is essentially to get my bachelors in Elementary Ed then continue on to get a Masters in Social Work (then I guess I could do either one :))

    I currently work at an elementary school, this will be my 4th year there and I just decided today and got information to volunteer at the Police Department in their children's center :)

    Thanks to your suggestions on volunteering and scoping both options out I think this semester will be a semester full of BIG decisions :)

  20. #20
    Moderator littlehud's Avatar
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    It's hard to decide what you want to do for the next 30 years when you are 18. At 18 DD followed her pocketbook and wanted to be a pharmacist. She hated the classes and at 20 decided to be a nurse. She spent a year in classes and hated it. Took classes hear and there for a while and finally at 25 went back to her original idea. Being a special ed pre school teacher. She is on her way and is the happiest I have ever seen her. She is three years into the program and loves her classes and the field work. She spent three months working in a special ed preschool program last year. It may not pay as well but she loves it and that's what is important.

  21. #21
    Super Member walen's Avatar
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    Yes, exactly. I teach college mathematics and I work with pre-service math teachers. They get jobs almost immediately. You will be competing for jobs in social work with persons who have experience, masters degrees, and PhDs. If you are looking for a career, teaching is great! However, you can also continue your education while teaching and add counseling certification to your teaching background.
    Quote Originally Posted by sweet
    Teachers can begin work after a 4 year degree, whereas a social worker typically requires a MS.

  22. #22
    Super Member purplemem's Avatar
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    You will also be competing (social workers) with ex-ministers. I have an M.Div. and have worked as a social worker in Retirement Centers. My M.Div. required 90 graduate hours.

  23. #23
    Power Poster sueisallaboutquilts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lab fairy
    Teaching is not for the faint of heart. You do not get your summers off (people just think you do because you are most often required to take classes, write curriculum, etc. w/o pay) and there is no 8-3 (I got to campus at 6 am and left after 5:30 everyday).

    I think the grass is greener to many people. I think social work is noble but grossly underpaid and overworked. The burnout rate is higher than what is found in education. No one talks about the fact that most teachers only teach 5 years or less.

    I suggest you research interests, pay levels (you will have to repay student loans somehow unless you are lucky enough to have everything paid by scholarships and grants, but very few are that lucky), and working environments. Check with university programs, ask if you can meet with directors of those programs, ask to talk to their intern coordinators, see if you can visit workplaces, etc. That is all part of data gathering and it really pays off in the end.
    Great advice here. She's right about social workers being grossly underpaid and overworked. Also forgot about summers for teachers. My friend always has classes to take etc. Yeah, the grass is greener....... great advice!!! :thumbup:
    PS. Wow, I didn't know that tidbit about teachers working less than 5 years. Yikes!!

  24. #24
    Super Member MistyMarie's Avatar
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    I just looked at my class roster for this next school year. Two of my classes have 37 students in them. The other two have 31 and 30. I don't even have enough desks for that large number. I actually had a nightmare about it last night. I teach seventh grade and having 37 students in a class is a managing nightmare! We went from having three classes a day and a planning period to four classes a day and a planning period. Not only will we have less planning time this year, but more students.

    I will have 135 students total. If I spend thirty seconds a day grading one paper per student, I still would not have enough time to get it all done and recorded during my 80 minute planning period. That doesn't take into consideration planning for instruction, making parental phone calls, and attending mandatory professional development during two planning periods a week. That gives me about four hours total a week to do all my grading, communicating, and planning.

    I usually spend about fifteen additional hours a week working on school-related work. I arrive at school at 7AM and leave at 3:10 (to get my own kids from school). I get about fifteen minutes for lunch and am lucky to find time during the day to use the restroom. So, I put in about eleven hours a day.

    I'm not trying to discourage someone from becoming a teacher, but don't want to sugar-coat it either. I really think the hours put in during the school year, the ridiculously large classes, the lack of administrative support, the difficult parents, and the apathy of students is what often drives teachers out of the profession.

  25. #25
    Super Member CAROLJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sweet
    Teachers can begin work after a 4 year degree, whereas a social worker typically requires a MS.
    In CA and other states you need five years of college, I have a 125 credits over a Masters.

    I love my job. It is frustrating, I'm overworked at times and the paperwork has gotten overwhelming. I work with emtionally disturbed students ( I use to work with incarcerated children) and it is very gratifying when you are able to make a difference.

    MistyMarie is correct, I often leave for work at 6ish and don't get home until 5 or later. It makes for a long day. I'm lucky, my children are grown. Some of the drawbacks really wear you down.

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