According to the World Health Organization, the number of people over the age of 60 is expected to double by 2050. Families in the United States and across the globe face more challenges than ever before — raising children in the aftermath of a global pandemic, preparing the next generation for an uncertain future, managing the challenges of caring for aging family members, balancing the rigorous demands of parenthood and marriage and so much more.
Our Bachelor of Science in Family Studies and Gerontology opens career doors and equips you with the skills you need to shape a better, safer, and more just world through the coursework and our rigorous practicum. Your family studies and gerontology (FSG) practicum at SNU can prepare you to be a part of the solution, no matter what challenges you hope to help people tackle.
So what is a practicum, why should you look for family studies and gerontology programs that include practical hands-on experience, and how can you best prepare yourself for a demanding and rewarding career?
What Is a Practicum?
Why are you entering the field of FSG? If you’re like most students, you want to make a meaningful difference in your community. This means you understand that what you do matters — and you may be anxious about doing it wrong, especially when working with vulnerable populations.
Education is only half the story of preparing for your career. No matter how much you know, the real-world experience of supporting families may feel very different. It’s common to feel like no amount of education can prepare you for the challenging realities of career life.
A practicum is the solution to this conundrum. A practicum affords you the chance to use the skills you learned at school in the real world. You will do so under the supervision of experts, removing much of the pressure. As part of your practicum, you will complete an entire project in your area of specialty, offering you greater insight into the world of FSG.
Practicum vs. Internship
A practicum offers some of the same benefits as an internship, but the two are distinct. In an internship, you work as paid or unpaid support in a field related to your major. You might, for example, spend the summer working in a community mental health office. A practicum requires you to complete a specific project in the field. You might collect data or work with a mental health provider to develop a new program.
Both offer the chance to gain real-world experience. However, they are distinct, and many SNU students elect to do both. Some of the benefits of a practicum include:
- Project completion: You will complete an entire project, empowering you to test out ideas and see them through to completion.
- Supervision: Both internships and practicums offer supervision. However, practicums provide more direct guidance, reducing the stress of working in the field for the first time.
- Research orientation: Your practicum teaches you research and implementation skills, whereas internships can focus on a range of skills.
- Academic focus: Internships often involve integration into an existing company or organization. The focus is diverse and varied. With a practicum, the sole focus is on putting your academic skills to work.
What to Expect from Your SNU Practicum
Your SNU practicum will prioritize your development as a skilled FSG practitioner. With our holistic approach, you will graduate ready to enter the field and make a difference in your community. We believe in graduating confident learners who have the power to change lives from day one.
Your practicum should be integrated into your coursework, not tacked on at the end. Students at SNU get three credit hours from an experience-based practicum that begins in the Introduction to Social Services Seminar. You will continue your practicum through independent study through the final two-thirds of your coursework.
Our practicum is unique because:
- It has a strong research component, offering a more relevant program that puts your theoretical knowledge to real-world use.
- It is learner-specific, allowing you to focus on a topic that interests you and utilizes your unique gifts.
- You will gain hands-on experience, increasing your confidence in your chosen field.
How SNU’s FSG Practicum Prepares You for a Career
Adult learners returning to school get a firsthand look at many of the challenges they will eventually help their clients navigate: work-life balance, the demands of the sandwich generation, childcare snafus and too little time. The right school supports your ambitions with a flexible but rigorous curriculum.
Before choosing where, it's important to ask the right questions, including:
- Does this school offer flexible program options? Can students choose between online learning and in-person classes? How often must students attend classes?
- How long will it take to graduate?
- Can I attend classes at night or on the weekends?
- Who teaches classes?
- Do local employers respect this degree? Where do graduates end up working?
- Is the school accredited? If so, by whom? Are transfer credits likely to go with me if I switch schools?
SNU caters to adult learners. We understand the unique challenges and the unique talents each student brings to our campus. If you’re ready to get started, we’re here for you.