Advice from a Non-Traditional Student

Master of Science in Social Work at University of Louisville

Sara Keinath isn’t your traditional student. An active wife, mother and career professional, her passion for social work led her to pursue her Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW) at UofL — an online degree that provides the learning flexibility she needs.

How did you start your social work career?

“I am a wife, mother and non-traditional student who went back to school a little later in life. I was unsure whether social work was my true calling until late in my undergrad career, but now I feel like this career is most certainly my home.”

Why the MSSW program?

“When I was pursuing my undergrad in psychology, I knew I would need to continue my education, but was unsure what I wanted to do. I tossed around getting a Psy.D. in clinical psychology, because I thought I wanted to do counseling. That was until I did an internship that focused more on case management. Then I did my research and realized that a MSSW degree would allow me to do case management work along with the clinical/counseling side, plus offer the job opportunities that are more widespread.”

Did you consider a specialization?

“I did not specialize, simply because I wanted to have a more general experience and it allowed me to pick and choose my electives to get that broader educational experience.”

Why did you choose UofL?

“I chose UofL, because at first I was looking at local programs and I was impressed with the Kent School’s curriculum and reputation. The majority of social workers I had talked to had been educated there and had positive things to say about the program. Then when UofL started to offer the online program option, it became the obvious choice for me.”

What did you find most valuable in the online format?

“I liked that the online courses offered the same content and the same professors as the on-campus program. I am a non-traditional student who went back to school once my children were in school. Due to my family’s schedule, a traditional format wouldn’t have been ideal. I needed flexibility and the online program afforded me that. Being able to spend time with my family and be an inspiration to them are very important things to me.”

How has the internship helped you in your current position?

“I am currently employed at Hosparus and have always loved hospice work. That was my goal even before I started the UofL MSSW program. They have employed many interns over the years, and due to my internship there, I was offered a permanent position. Without that ‘in’ I highly doubt I would be an employee there. I am very thankful that it worked out that way.”

What are your professional plans for the future?

“As of now, I honestly just really like where I am. I have no desire to go anywhere else. Having said that, I am currently pursuing my LCSW and once I finish that program, I do hope to do some private practice work on the side.”

What advice do you have for other students in an online social work program?

“My advice is to stay on top of the work. It can be easy to say, ‘I’ll do that later,’ but then before you know it you have dug a hole that is too deep to crawl out of. Also, getting to know your classmates and networking with professors has to be approached differently in the online learning setting. I highly encourage students to make the effort to form those relationships, because this program can be difficult and they will need that support from those students who are in it with them.”

About UofL Online Learning

If Sara’s story resonates with you and you’re interested in pursuing a master’s in social work, visit our online MSSW program page.

The University of Louisville currently offers more than 20 online programs in various areas of study for adult learners who are not able to come to a physical campus, but want to earn a college degree or certificate and advance their career.