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23 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Melonie
    Jul 06, 2011 @ 16:38:42

    Great writing!
    As someone in a similar situation preparing to apply in the fall, it is interesting and valuable.

    Reply

    • learnfromafar
      Jul 06, 2011 @ 19:04:43

      Thank you for your kind comments, Melonie! I am delighted that you found the blog and that it had some meaning for you. Please feel welcome to comment anytime on the distance student experience! Kind regards, Tammy Thielman

      Reply

  2. Ashley
    Nov 07, 2011 @ 05:27:56

    Thank you so much for your blog! After many years of working in the social service field I’m finally beginning the process of working towards my BSW. I was just wondering if you did your first 2 years of university at UVic prior to beginning the distance education portion or if you did it elsewhere?

    Reply

    • learnfromafar
      Nov 08, 2011 @ 18:39:51

      Hi there Ashley: thank you for your message. That’s wonderful news that you too are working to obtain your BSW. It may seem like a long haul but it’s worth it! I did my first two years at Okanagan University College and Okanagan College and also took one course with Thompson Rivers University. My second year was actually spread over quite a number of years, as I had commitments to my young, growing and expanding family! Are you completing your degree through UVic also?
      Kind regards, Tammy Thielman

      Reply

  3. Aman
    Dec 29, 2011 @ 21:23:59

    Hi Tammy: Thanks for providing such an insightful and personal view into the challenges of being a BSW student. As someone who has a few things in common with you (mature student, a strong interest in mental health, and a desire to study at UVic), I have a few questions for you that might be outside the scope of a comment. I know you are busy and value your time off, but if you could spare some time to email with me, I would be grateful. In any case, thanks for a compelling read!

    Reply

    • learnfromafar
      Dec 29, 2011 @ 23:48:48

      Hello there: yes! I’d be happy to at least try to answer your questions, if I can. I highly reccomend the UVic program. It’s been wonderful. Thank you for your kind comments and interest, Tammy

      Reply

  4. Aman
    Dec 29, 2011 @ 23:50:54

    Hi Tammy…that’s great! You could email me at birthoftragedy (at) gmail (dot) com.

    Reply

  5. Jill
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 00:28:44

    Hi Tammy,

    Your blog is awesome! It is so nice to actually read about someone who is going through something I am about to embark on… that is the BSW (via distance). For some reason reading your blog makes the process seem less stressful šŸ™‚ I noticed in your above comments that you completed one course through Thompson Rivers.

    I am currently trying to decide if I should take SOCW 200A now through Thompson Rivers Open Learning or do both SOCW 200A & 200B in the May semester through distance. My main concern is workload since I work full-time.

    Do you have any advice around whether or not 2 courses at UVIC per semester would be workable for someone working full-time? I am trying to get a grasp around what would be realistic and I am so glad I found your blog.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks ~ Jill

    Reply

    • learnfromafar
      Jan 06, 2012 @ 18:24:57

      Hi Jill! forgive my delay in replying! Thank you for your kind feedback. I love writing my little blog, and do so in hopes that students like you can find something helpful, inspiring or thought-provoking in it. I am so pleased that reading this helped reduce the stress of being a student! Less stress is always good.

      I did take one TRU course. I found it very in-depth and I believe that the course has been revised since I completed it. I think this is a good thing as I found parts of it too specific to social work, with the use of terms and things more for someone already in the field, not someone exploring it, if that makes sense. However, overall, the course was very good. The TRU librarians were AMAZING and one even returned my panicked call on her day off! I completed 200B through Okanagan College by distance and found that to be very comprehensive, and luckily, I had a terrific instructor who made the course interesting and informative.

      As far as working full-time and taking two courses, personally, for myself, I would begin with one. I have a busy family life with three growing children, and found that taking one course is a great way to explore that life, school, work balance. Pay attention to deadlines for deferring or withdrawing, as if you find that things are too intense, you can use these options to lighten your workload. I don’t want to sound discouraging, but it can be helpful to know that you have options, should you need them. What is wonderful about the courses is that you are not tied to a class schedule (as wonderful as it is to take on campus classes), you can work whenever you have the time. Allow about nine hours minimum per week for each class you are taking: this will vary depending on which classes, assignments and readings you are taking, from week to week, but is generally a good guide.

      You sound very interested and committed and I think you’ll do great!
      Kind regards, Tammy

      Reply

    • learnfromafar
      Jan 09, 2012 @ 18:59:07

      Hi Jill: another thought occurred to me re deciding how many courses to take and they time they might require. I recall my first semester and how simply getting used to the on-line interface took some time and energy! We used to use Blackboard at UVic, but now courses are delivered via a system called “Moodle.” Personally, I would give myself time to get comfortable with using the delivery method, in this case, Moodle. Give yourself some extra time to orient yourself to this. There are some great on-line tutorials and the DE Helpdesk staff are wonderful! Thank you, Tammy

      Reply

  6. Jill
    Jan 10, 2012 @ 06:09:02

    Hi Tammy!

    Thanks so much for your two responses. I think what I plan to do is just take one course at a time. Going back to school after being out for awhile is a bit intimidating. I just enrolled tonight in my first TRU – open learning course (SOCW 2061) so that is exciting but a bit nerving at the same time. Do you remember how long it takes to get the course materials mailed to you?

    Thanks again for your replies!

    Jill

    Reply

    • learnfromafar
      Jan 10, 2012 @ 15:50:36

      Hi Jill: One course to start sounds like a good plan. Congratulations on enrolling in your first SW course! I would think that the course materials shouldn’t take much longer than a week to reach you. From my experience being a fledlging SW student enrolled in the intro courses, I would suggest taking time to orient yourself to the course material: browse through your texts and manuals, click around on the on-line course site, touch base with your instructor and even, if you’d like, send your instructor an intro letting him/her know that you are a mature student working full-time and just getting back to taking a post-secondary course. I’ve learned that instructors generally like to know something about you and your life situation and commitments: if you need a due date extension (even a few days can make all the difference), this early knowledge and understanding is really helpful for both of you. Keep in touch, Tammy šŸ™‚

      Reply

  7. DonnaW
    May 08, 2012 @ 22:09:46

    Hi Tammy! I just wanted to drop you a note to let you know how much I enjoy reading your blog posts! You have such a flair for writing and your enthusiasm for the social work profession is so evident! I have to agree with your comment about how far off these days felt when we were just beginning our journey together in Victoria, back in May of 2010. It’s hard to imagine that my days at UVic are coming to an end – I’ll be attending the convocation ceremony in a matter of weeks! Would you believe that I’m toying with the idea of pursuing my MSW?! Keep up the great work, Tammy…you’ll be next with your cap, gown and free flowing tears of joy! Warmly, Donna šŸ™‚

    Reply

    • learnfromafar
      May 21, 2012 @ 02:02:28

      Hi Donna! so sweet of you to drop by my blog and kindly leave a note. Thanks so much. It’s great to hear from you. Yes, I often fondly recall our on-campus 312 days. Next time I’m back on-campus, it’ll be for convocation. You must tell me all about your’s and please share some pictures!
      Kind regards, Tammy

      Reply

  8. Kevin
    Jun 04, 2012 @ 06:47:37

    HI Tammy,

    I just wanted to say how much I’ve been appreciating reading your blog. As someone who wants to get their BSW I’ve been finding it motivating and inspiring.
    I’ve have a social service worker diploma and a human services certificate from college and this is my 21st year working in social services. The BSW program at UVIC stated that I still needed 7 more courses before I can get in. I’ve taken the first 2 social work courses and now they have said that the last 5 have to have nothing to do with social work. I have 4 more distance courses (non-social work) before I can apply again. I’m pretty frustrated and desperately can’t wait to get into the program. Although my grades are good so far I’m finding it challenging while working full time in social services and volunteering part time in social services. Plus trying to have enough time with friends and family. It’s all is getting more challenging now that I’m in my 40’s. Thanks again for your blog. Like I’ve said I find it motivating and inspiring.

    Cheers,

    Kevin

    Reply

    • learnfromafar
      Jun 04, 2012 @ 15:02:40

      Kevin, hi! I am so gratified that you find my humble little blog (as I call it) to be useful to you. Thank you so much for your very kind comments! The comments I receive really inspire and encourage me. I think it’s always nice to connect, albeit electronically, with others who are working so hard to obtain higher education.
      I absolutely agree with you that furthering our education as mature students with many varied responsibilities, employment, family, etc. is very demanding. I find that I really have to pace myself and strive for balance. Balance really is very much a “process,” isn’t it? I don’t think we ever arrive at a place where we can proclaim, “Well, there I’m balanced!” It’s always something I need to attend to, making shifts and adjustments.
      Thank you for sharing your experience with me about working so hard to earn further credits for admission to the program. I send you my most positive thoughts in your journey to do this. I think it really speaks to your dedication to acheive your goals!
      My thoughts here are to really engage with the course advisors and counsellors when you have questions or concerns. My understanding is that they are there to help us students! I have really found the UVIC program to be amazing. All of the resource people from IT to practicum liaisons have been wonderful. A few times, I felt that someone wasn’t quite understanding what I needed, so after inquiring with someone else, I found the help I needed, so it is there, for sure.
      Please feel welcome to stay in touch and let me know how your academic path is developing for you. Way to go in all of your work so far!
      Don’t give up!
      Kind regards, Tammy

      Reply

  9. Hanhy
    Aug 15, 2012 @ 05:46:03

    Wow this is really amazing!
    I’m kind of a different case – I’m only 20 and I want to do the BSW as a distance course and this blog really encourages and reassures my decision to apply!
    From what I’ve read I can see that you’re really not ‘alone’ while doing distance education! Rather, I feel that it’s MORE connected and integrated than going to school… Anyway thank you so much for putting time into this!
    Good luck with everything šŸ™‚
    Hanhy

    Reply

    • learnfromafar
      Aug 18, 2012 @ 18:34:38

      Hi and thanks so much for your comment! I find myself apologizing again for my late reply…I highly reccomend the UVIc program. It’s been amaazing and transformative for me as a student.

      Reply

  10. De
    Oct 11, 2012 @ 18:08:20

    Dear Tammy,
    I love your blog, thank you for writing!
    I have recently had some extremely upsetting news… UBC-O is cancelling their BSW program.
    I live in kelowna with my 3 daughters- 6, 4, and 3 years.
    I have been at Okanagan College getting all my credits to transfer to UBCO school of social work for my bachelors in 2013.
    I have already started the UBCo app and have one teacher so far filling out my references (i have informed her to pause on that now).
    Now I have to scramble and make a decision of what school to apply to for deadline.

    Ive heard really good things about UVIC school of social work…
    But we are unable to move.
    i found your blog and it gives me hope about maybe taking it distant ed, but Im nervous with DE becuase I find them to be (slightly) harder then in class courses. Also I find reading lectures to be extremly boring and unmotivating as compared to listening to proffs and participating in class.
    I read that you took your first 2 years at OC…. and taking your BSW through Uvic.
    How many years did it take you to complete your BSW at UVIC? so I guess im asking how many courses per semester are you taking?
    right now I take 3 per semester to be classified as full-time for student loans (we live off my student loan). having only 3 allows me to maintain high GPA and stay on deans list and be able to still care for my girls after school and do their studies and for us to play and learn.
    not sure If i asked any questions that others have… thank you so much for your time and consideration!
    Deannie

    Reply

    • learnfromafar
      Oct 24, 2012 @ 03:09:02

      Hi Deannie! thank you for your comment. I’m so glad you found the blog helpful. Yes, I checked with a co-worker who is a UBCO SW grad and she confirmed what you wrote.
      I have found the UVIC DE program to be a wonderful one that is rigourous, thorough and has excellent instructors. I found the work, largely, to be very engaging and relevant. What I really appreciated was the anti-oppressive (AOP) viewpoint that emphasizes critical analysis of power structures and self-reflective practice. Along with strong AOP principles, the program teachings also incorporate feminist, decolonizing and postmodernist perspectives. This makes for wonderful learning!
      The university reccomends that you begin with two foundational courses: 311 and 312. These really work to prepare the student for exploring key principles on a much deeper level.
      My suggestion would be to connect with a BSW undergrad course advisor and go from there. I spent two years completing my BSW degree (third and fourth year). Like you, I have a busy growing family, so I took courses each semester, year round. On the whole, it worked very well. Perhaps you could begin with three and assess from there.
      I would like to say that I admire your determination and dedication to working on your degree while raising your young family!
      I, too, love class participation and listening and engaging with a really great prof, but, like you, I am not able (nor do I want..) to uproot my family to move from our home to the city (this would be completely impractical, highly disruptive and not something we want to do at all). When I found out about the UVIC program, I was delighted: many of the BSW and MSW students work in the SW field already (or are working in another area), often have other committments like family and work, and are busy people, but all have a strong desire to complete their BSW/MSW.
      I found the readings to be relevant and highly engaging. I chose the distance BSW program because the program is flexible enough that I could work it in well with family life and other committments, on my own schedule.
      I’ve met many, many SWs (especially women with families) who graduated through the UVIC program because it allowed them to live where they live, be with their families, and continue their work and regular routines. I call that accessible, quality post secondary education!
      The best to you on your academic path,
      Tammy

      Reply

  11. Vanessa Barokas
    Dec 09, 2013 @ 20:41:51

    Hi Tammy,
    I really enjoyed reading your blog.
    Do allow guest bloggers?
    I look forward to hearing back from you!
    Vanessa

    Reply

  12. Stephanie Bernardo
    Mar 31, 2014 @ 21:39:28

    Hi, I love your blog. I was accepted for the BSW program starting in May….I am very happy.

    I wanted to ask your opinion regarding course loads. I was told that taking 4 courses in one semester is a lot. I was also told to only take 1 course when going a practicum. What are your thoughts about this? I work part time and only have furry children, so I have free time

    I also wanted to ask your opinion regarding practicums and when to do them. I was thinking of doing 4 courses this summer and then do the 2 practicums back to back while taking 2 courses during each one, then in the last semester, which would be next summer semester, the remaining 4 courses.

    I only need to do 27 units because I took the 200 courses through thompson rivers.

    I hope you do not mind giving me some advice. I would like to pursue a MSW after the BSW, so I want to make sure my grades are high

    Thank you, and keep up the blog

    Stephanie.

    Reply

    • learnfromafar
      Apr 15, 2014 @ 05:32:24

      Hello there Stephanie: forgive my late reply! I think that four courses would be busy, but if you are a dedicated and motivated student, with some free time, as you point out, you could realistically consider this option. I myself, never took more than three, as I have a busy, growing family and other activities on the go! Regarding practicums, I would saved my fourth year until the last semester of my degree, to sort of cap all of my learning. It was great: a very rewarding practicum. As for the first practicum, it’s where you get your “sea legs” so to speak; perhaps consider getting some course work under your belt, first, then explore possibilities. Finding a good placement can be competitive, so start early! If you leave practicum-hunting until the last minute, you may find yourself tempted to accept a placement that won’t be beneficial. Remember, you are PAYING for the experience and the environment should be supportive of a learner-student and put EFFORT into your experience and learning there. I would suggest that perhaps a third year placement can be more general or broad in scope, and then a fourth year placement, more specific to what area(s) you want to eventually work in. One option to think about with course load is that there is a deadline for withdrawal from courses; contact a university course advisor and look at your options. You can try a number of courses and if it’s too much, you can (within a certain time frame…check the dates!!) drop a course, however, this can be complicated by student loans, so if utilizing a student loan, check first šŸ™‚
      You can always start with one or two courses and then, if comfortable, try three the next semester. It’s all so individual! Have fun with the flexibility. I loved my UVic BSW experience. It’s a great program and a great school!
      Kind regards,
      Tammy

      Reply

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