The Work-School Balance

As a work-study student in the admissions office, many prospective students ask me if people work in the program, if it’s possible, and if not, how on earth does anyone make ends meet?

When I first came to GSSW for orientation, I remember worrying about my future schedule, consisting of work-study, internship, class time, and a part -time work schedule. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to do it and wondered if anyone else was experiencing the same sense of hesitancy. On that first day, I sat next to a woman who, it turned out, had a full-time job, kids, and was in the full-time 2-year program! I decided to keep my little worries to myself as it became clear that others had similar if not more demanding schedules.

What I’ve learned over the past year and a quarter is that, yes, working and going to school is possible. Not only is it possible, many of my classmates make it happen. We are all under the stress of an intensive program but we all also need to eat and have shelter. So, my answer to prospective students is “yes, it is in fact more than possible to work and go to school.”

For those of you entering the two-year program full-time, I would suggest keeping a part-time work schedule. I find that if my work-time exceeds 20 hours a week, I become a bit frazzled. I also think it’s important to find jobs that are somewhat flexible; after all, during the quarter, you may need to pull an all-nighter or cut your hours a bit, but for the rest of the year, your schedules open up. Lastly, I would remind you that you are not alone and that many in this program are both going to school and trying to sustain life (and that both are important to succeed).

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In solidarity,
Julie

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8th Director/Dean – Catherine Alter

CATHERINE FOSTER ALTER (1938-present)

Dean and Professor (1996-2006)

Dean Emerita (2006-present)

Catherine Alter

Catherine Alter attended Grinnell College (Iowa), graduating in 1960 as a double major in American Studies and Journalism. Her MSW was completed at University of Iowa (1975). The results from her masters thesis, indicating the overrepresentation of children of color in special education classes in the Davenport, Iowa School District, were used as data in supporting a complaint of racial bias filed with the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, which eventually led the school district to institute a plan of remediation. She completed her Ph.D. in social work at the University of Maryland (1985), conducting dissertation research on interorganizational service delivery systems.

Alter’s prior professional practice career includes staff and executive positions in public relations, television production, urban planning, administration of area-wide services for seniors, directing a program for at-risk children, and conducting research on social and economic development. She has held paid and/or consulting positions with the Children’s Defense Fund, the Carnegie Council on Children, the Institute for Social and Economic Development, and served as technical expert for the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Prior to coming to GSSW as the eighth head of the social work at DU, she was a faculty member at St. Ambrose College (Iowa), University of Maryland, and University of Iowa. At University of Iowa, she chaired the four-city social work satellite programs, was Director of the School of Social Work, and Coordinator of the Graduate Program.

Notable achievements during her tenure as GSSW Dean include curriculum innovations such as: the distance education program in the Four Corners area; certificate programs in working with Latino/as, survivors of trauma, and the use of animals to assist social work practice. She instituted the first comprehensive strategic planning and budgeting process at GSSW; greatly expanded the size of staff and faculty; significantly increased the financial aid assistance to MSW and doctoral students; created continuing education and outreach programs to alumni, community practitioners, and human service agencies; networked with other Colorado social work education programs about the advancement of the profession; coordinating the efforts among NASW, Colorado Society for Clinical Social Work, and other groups to continue social work licensing in Colorado; and, most recently, successfully led a seven year capital campaign which raised over $11 million for the renovation and expansion of the School’s present home, Craig Hall. As a result of these efforts, along with increased faculty scholarship and research, GSSW has moved significantly higher in the national rankings of accredited schools of social work place.