Planning for success with a distance Master of Social Work

distance msw student allie miller with her family
Allie Miller uses organization and planning to balance work, life, and school as a Colorado State University Distance Master of Social Work student.

As a graduate student from Sterling, Colorado, Allie Miller balances work, life, and school in Colorado State University’s distance Master of Social Work program. Miller is also earning a School Social Work Certificate concurrently with her MSW. Learn more about why she chose CSU, and how she uses routine and organization to stay focused on her goals.

What brought you to Colorado State University?

I knew that CSU has an awesome BSW program, so I was thrilled when I was accepted into the MSW distance program. I work full time and I have two kids and a husband, so I needed to find a program that would fit into my lifestyle. I love the fact that this program can be completed online, but also has the opportunity to connect with peers and professors face to face, and it wasn’t too far to travel.

What are your interests in social work and how do they contribute to your program of study?

I love to work with families and individuals, specifically those who belong to marginalized populations. From the start, I have had a passion for learning about people, finding their strengths, and working alongside them to help find their success. I also love to learn and to challenge myself, and so this balance of work and school is the perfect fit for me right now. I currently work for a rural school district in Northeastern Colorado, and I have found a new passion for special education and social emotional learning. There are so many opportunities to support students, and I work with an amazing student support services team to carry out these diverse programs.

What has grad school has been like so far?

Graduate school has been both extremely challenging, yet rewarding. I have learned to be kind and gracious with myself, and to establish my system of self-care. I have found the most success when I am able to set a routine, stay organized, and plan out my week; this is when I feel the most balanced and I continue to be excited and engaged in both grad school and life. Even though I have been in this program for only one year, I have met a few professors who have completely changed my outlook on social work, and they have challenged me and encouraged me to do some deep self-reflection which has been so rewarding. I highly respect these professors, and I will continue to reference their teachings in my career as a social worker moving forward.

How does your field placement impact your overall education?

My field placement is within the school district where I work. My focus is learning about policy, enhancing my knowledge and skills with community level work, and also more micro work with students (running small SEL groups and one on one work with students). There have been so many opportunities to incorporate what I have been learning in my grad program with what I am doing on a daily basis in my field placement. It is so exciting when I can apply what I am learning, and I look forward to this happening more and more in the next two years.

You’re on track to graduate in December 2021. What’s next?

I plan on continuing my career in the school district that I work for, with my MSW and school social worker certificate, and I hope to keep growing and learning as a support within the district, and a partner with outside agencies.

Colorado State University’s Master of Social Work distance hybrid programs start each Spring term (mid-January).  Applications are accepted March through June. Learn more about CSU’s distance MSW program.

The School of Social Work is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.