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As one of the University's smallest schools, the School of Social Work usually has about 55 full-time members in each class. So Social Work administrators were surprised last year when 80 full-time students enrolled in the school -- an increase of about 45 percent. But this fall, when a class of 81 students began their studies in the school, administrators were better prepared. The school has added more sections in classes and increased the number of part-time advisers and teachers so that the class sizes will be more manageable. The number of part-time students increased from 12 last year to 16 this year. The number of doctoral students, about 50, remained constant. There are usually about 220 full-time students enrolled in the school. Assistant Social Work Dean Orneice Dorsey attributed the increase to a larger number of applicants, and said that social work schools across the country have larger applicant pools. Social Work Dean Michael Austin said that the "traditional" reason -- "concern for society" -- is drawing students to back to social work. "Students who are bothered by the issues of homelessness, child abuse and AIDS, for example," Austin said. "These are traditional themes that have brought students in." But some have come from other careers that are not at all related to social work. "They [the students] are disenchanted with the corporate scene," Austin said. "While they're making big bucks working there, they're working 60 to 70 hours a week. They begin to question what they're doing." This year's class is 90 percent female, with 76 women. Austin said that while social work has always been a women's field, the ratio has not always been this severe. "When I started 20 years ago it was only about 40 to 50 percent female," Austin said. "Now we're seeing women drawn by the women's issues involved in social work -- domestic violence, sexism in the workplace, intergenerational support." Assistant Dean Dorsey said that women have historically been interested social work. "Social work began as volunteer work originally. It was mostly done by women, mostly white, middle- or upper-class women," she said. "It's not a highly paid profession."

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