ASHLAND, Ohio – For the second year in a row, 100 percent of Ashland University’s social work graduates who took the Association of Social Work Board exam passed the exam on their first attempt.
“I am extremely pleased that our students have done so well on this exam,” said Nancy Udolph, associate professor of social work and chair of the Department of Social Work at Ashland University. “Our students have consistently scored much higher than both the state and national pass rate averages.”
Udolph noted that the national first-time pass rate for bachelor's degree students in 2011 was 78 percent, while the pass rate for those in Ohio was 79.6 percent.
She went on to say that all of the 2011 graduates were successful in seeking employment or going on to graduate school in advanced standing. “Even in this economy, our graduates are still getting jobs,” she noted.
Udolph attributed the success of the Ashland University students to a number of items.
“We have a very sound curriculum because we are an accredited program, and we offer students the knowledge, values and skills needed for them to pass the exam,” she said. “Students in Ashland’s program are exposed to a rigorous curriculum consisting of a number of core social work topics including crisis intervention, practice skills, community organization, and social policy and research.”
But the learning in the classroom is just the beginning.
“Our students in every class are active when it comes to hands-on activities," says Udolph, whose background is in mental health social work and who continues a small Ashland-based counseling practice today. “This is what makes this program so valuable.”
As early as their sophomore year, students are given the opportunity to participate in service learning activities, events and internships. They also are required to become members of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) during their senior year. This, combined with the more than 35 internship sites affiliated with the program, allows for full immersion into the field of social work.
“In addition, our students get a lot of direct practical experience in agencies working with both clients and communities,” she said. “This gives them the chance to put their social work values into practice and to use the knowledge and skills they learn in the classroom so by the time they take the exam they have classroom content and experience using it.”
Social Work Club members volunteer regularly at various organizations and events in the community. The club also hosts philanthropic events every year to raise money for selected organizations. Perhaps their most successful event is Skip-a-Meal Today for United Way, which invites students to use their eagle card to donate the cost of one meal to the organization. The event has been a part of the University’s history for more than 20 years, and this past semester raised over $800 for the United Way’s efforts to end hunger in the community.
Udolph also noted that the Ashland program has seen an increase in transfer students over the past few years.
“We try to make it easy and seamless for transfer students to come into our program and they have been very successful here,” she said. “They really enrich our classrooms.”
Udolph reports that the program has maintained a 100 percent graduate placement rate for the past five years, meaning that all graduates have either been accepted to the graduate school of their choice or have received a job offer within one year of graduation.
“Our graduates are working in a wide variety of fields including nursing homes, children services, residential treatment facilities and mental health centers,” she said.
Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2012, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.