Program FAQs

What are the students like?

They range in age from high schoolers to grandparents. Lake Washington Institute of Technology (LWTech) has students from around Washington, from across the United States, and from nations such as Japan, El Salvador, Gambia, Somalia and Sweden. Their backgrounds are pretty varied but they come with a shared set of values and a shared interest in working to give everyone a fair opportunity to live a healthy, productive life.

We asked our students to describe themselves and their classmates. “We are people people. Human-oriented. People who want to help others.” “We want to make a difference in someone’s life. We have a passion to help, to contribute.” “We’re open minded.” “We’re working as a group towards a common goal, not just focusing on yourself. We treat each other with respect because we’re all here for the same goal. We’re like a family working to better society.”

What are the teachers like?

Ask our students. They told us: “We came to LWTech to be one-on-one with our professors.” “The faculty are real, genuine, and honest. They tell you about their life experience and give you advice.” “They’re compassionate and personable; they want to help you.” “Your instructor has time to meet you.”

Both of the SHSV faculty members come with decades of real-world work experience, and a passion for sharing it.

How can I fit in school along with work and my family?

School is a real commitment, but not the only one our students make. LWTech students are hardworking people, most of whom are balancing school with work and family.

One way we help is by scheduling classes carefully. LWTech makes sure none of our program classes will conflict with one another, and all of our classes can be completed in the morning. Often our students can schedule all of their classes on two to three mornings per week, leaving them the rest of the week to schedule their other responsibilities.

We also have our own on-campus child care services, in addition to a fitness center, library, tutoring centers, cafeteria, bookstore and more.

How long will it take to get my degree?

That depends on a few things: Do you already have college credits? Are you able to enter straight into college-level English and Math courses? Are you attending part-time or full-time? Will you be attending school during the summer?

Many students complete our Certificate of Proficiency in four quarters. They’re done one year after starting.

Many students earn an AAS degree in SHSV in seven quarters. They graduate less than two years after starting.

Our commitment is to giving you the support you need to succeed, including personal attention from your instructors and tutoring assistance as needed. Together we can get you your degree.

Can I count my credits from another school?

Often you can. Enrollment Services staff can examine your transcript from another institution (even ones outside the US) to see whether those courses satisfy our requirements for Academic Core courses. 

Students can also get credit for some Advance Placement classes, CLEP work or military training. Please contact our Enrollment Services department directly to discuss your circumstances.

When are classes?

We have set up a class schedule that will get our students through the program as quickly and as simply as possible. All of our required courses and SHSV electives will be made available weekday mornings. Courses that students are likely to take simultaneously are scheduled back-to-back. Many students can come to campus as few as two or three mornings a week. 

SHSV students still have access to the full catalog of LWTech classes, including evening, weekend and online classes as well.

How are the facilities?

We are fortunate. Most SHSV coursework takes place in a clean, bright, colorful classroom with a long wall of windows looking out over the woods. The library and computer lab are close by, as are the Chef City Grill, bakery, coffee stand, tutoring centers, fitness center and bookstore.

Will you help me find an internship?

Yes. Your instructors are familiar with dozens of local non-profit organizations and government offices. We have personal connections at many of them. We’ll help students identify options in line with his or her personal interests.

Can you really get a job with this degree?

Yes. In fact social service jobs are growing, fast. The state expects there to be 21% more social service jobs in 2023 than in 2013. The more education an individual has the more jobs they become eligible for. Individuals with AAS in SHSV degrees are hard at work (and well employed) in our schools, hospitals, day centers, community centers, shelters, housing projects and more.

Many SHSV graduates will go on to get a 4-year degree, to give themselves more options. We have transfer agreements in place with a variety of local colleges for that reason.

Does social service work pay?

Contrary to popular opinion social services actually pays pretty well—above average. Median pay for community and social service occupations a few years ago was $38,520, nearly $4,000 per year above average. While we go into this work to help make others’ lives better we can make a reasonable salary doing so.

I’m not sure this is the program for me. What if I’m also interested in nursing or another type of helping?

Consider yourself normal. Most of us are weighing several options, because there are lots of ways we can make a difference in the world. The best way may be to try us out for one eleven-week course. Take our Introduction to Social and Human Services course and you’ll get a real taste of what the program is all about, with a look inside each of the courses and a chance to meet all of our faculty. By the end of that first course you’ll likely have a good understanding of who we are, what we offer, and whether it’s for you.

I’ve had my own history of using social services. Does that help? Do you take people like me?
What if I have a disability or mental illness? What if I’m in recovery?

 You might be “one of us.” Many of us studying human services or working in the field came because of our own personal appreciation for those who made a difference in our lives or in our loved ones’ lives. We come from all walks of life with a lot of different experiences.

Some of us have learned by coming through the fire.

Having a disability, living with a mental illness, or being in recovery from an addiction by no means prevents us from being fabulous human service professionals. To the contrary it can add to our understanding and empathy. We welcome you and want a variety of people in our program.

One of the strengths of the people in our program is their resistance to labeling people, or trying to fit people into boxes. They resist seeing one aspect of our identity as definitive of us as a person. Working in human services means working with people and appreciating them as they are.

It also means exposing ourselves to the traumas they face. Studying human services requires sitting with and exploring controversial or painful subjects. Each of us should carefully consider whether this is the appropriate time for us to do so. 

This program is not treatment for our wounds. It will not heal the traumas that we have experienced. Please come to us to learn how to assist people in need, but be wary of coming to us for help with your own personal adversities. We all need to attend to our individual health and wellness. We must all consider whether working with those dealing with poverty, discrimination, disability, abuse, addiction, illness, or migration at this time will energize or overwhelm us, and whether we are in a place right now to dispassionately consider the issues.

In this program we do have to address difficult subjects. We will have to prepare ourselves to work with people who have been mistreated and those who mistreat others. Everyone is welcome here but students and prospective students should consider whether they are in a position currently to consider multiple perspectives on issues that may have touched them personally.

SHSV courses will challenge us intellectually, morally and ethically. We all come here to grow and LWTech does offer a supportive environment. If you have questions about whether this program is best for you please consider contacting the program faculty or LWTech’s Disability Support Services.

What if I’ve been convicted of a crime?

We understand that people make mistakes. And we certainly believe that people, all people, can change. Criminal history does not prohibit people from joining our program.

Most social service positions in Washington state do require the employee to hold an active credential from the state Department of Health, however. This allows the state to conduct background checks, verify our education and experience, and protect the vulnerable adults, children and seniors we may serve. “To protect the public, the department considers criminal history. A criminal history may not automatically bar you from obtaining a credential.” The state approves credentials for some people with criminal convictions but not for all.

Similarly each non-profit organization or government office is entitled to its own policies about whether they will take student interns who have serious convictions.

For more information about how your history can impact your eligibility for these credentials we suggest you contact the Department of Health directly, before starting your academic program, so you can make an informed decision about whether you will be able to do the sort of work that interests you. We would want you to know whether you can use an education in Social and Human Services before investing heavily in it.

Will I be able to get into UW/another school with a degree from LWTech?

Many people start their education at a community college and then move on to a four-year program. It allows them a local, affordable start. LWTech has articulation agreements in place with several colleges and universities to ensure our graduates can transfer easily into these other schools. Upon completion of the Social and Human Services AAS at LWTech, students may transfer to the following baccalaureate programs at junior status:

Many schools (like the University of Washington) have competitive application processes. They will no doubt consider a student’s performance in their AAS program. Students who do well in our program are good candidates for admission at schools like the University of Washington.

Can I talk to someone about this?

You bet. Call lead SHSV faculty Rex Rempel at (425) 739-8285 or email him at Rex.Rempel@LWTech.edu