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Support System as a Grad Student

Pursuing a Master’s degree is great. As wonderful and challenging as it can be, it can also be exhausting without having support from others. As a grad student, you need a support system. In social work, we focus on the clients’ social support system. This can revolve around family, friends, religious or spiritual acquaintances, or people at work. Wherever you can get the support, it’s vital to have. It can even be from someone in your class. I was advised that it helps to have a study buddy in class. This helps you have someone to study with, to do group work with, and maintain the motivation to finish your schooling.

The study buddy system is like the buddy system when going to a gym. It’s much harder to go without one. In my twenties, I had a gym membership. It was extremely difficult to find the motivation to go since I had no one to go with. I’d think about going and then decide I just didn’t feel like it. I was paying for a service I wasn’t even using. One day, I received a call from the gym asking if I was coming in. This sparked my small desire to go back to the gym. That phone call provided me some of the support I needed to go. Having a buddy that calls you once a week to see how you are doing in class could make all the difference. They can spark motivation and help work through questions.

In the online MSW learning management system there is a webpage called the course wall. This is a place where you can ask questions to other students and, depending on the teacher, a place to ask the professor questions. This is a great place to inquire if anyone in your class would be your study buddy. In my first class, I made a study group with two other students. We were able to complete a study guide together. It wasn’t as daunting of a task to study and saved time and energy. In other classes we were assigned groups for projects. Constantly having communication with other team members helped get questions solved and provided motivation. Working in groups can also be a form of the buddy system.

Another measure you can take is tell your support system the academic goals you have to get your schooling done. For example, my wife was my main support system. She helped me so much along the academic journey. One thing that helped was I told her that I would do homework from 7-9pm. This was dedicated homework time and she knew that I was going to be focused on school work and nothing else during those few hours.

About the Author

Joseph De Luca

I remember taking many personality tests, and always seeing at the bottom "social worker" as a career option. I was surprised that this kept coming up. I eventually looked up what social workers do. I felt like this was my personal calling in life. I also liked that it was not just one field I had to choose from but many different possibilities that I could choose from. I am currently working as a youth mentor and supervisor to teenage boys in a group home. It has been great and challenging. I have also been a medical social worker working in an orthopedic rehab center where I learned to work with patients and their families to ensure both were taken care of. Outside of social work, I love playing early morning basketball with friends. I am married and have 2 beautiful daughters, one is 2 years old and the other will soon be 8 months.