Open Classes Can Open Doors

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Published: Friday, December 1, 2017 by Kate M. Spaulding

Today is the day the Open Classes sign-up form for the iSchool’s Spring 2018 semester becomes available. The exclusively online Open Classes program is open to everyone with a bachelor's degree or higher, and it’s a fantastic opportunity for two distinct groups of people.

The Info Pro
Taking open classes at SJSU’s School of Information is an excellent way for experienced LIS professionals to brush up on existing skills or develop some new ones, stay up-to-date on current issues and best practices, or learn something new in order to help advance your career. Enrolling in a course just because it sounds interesting is a totally legitimate reason, too!

iSchool classes are a great way to make yourself learn a technology like Python, for example. Or maybe you want to learn about new ways libraries are providing reference services or brush up on grant writing – there are open classes for those! Looking to make a career change and move into a law library? Consider INFO 220: Legal Resources. There are leadership and management classes, and there’s even an opportunity to sign up for Beginning Spanish.

Beyond professional development, taking an open class demonstrates to current and future bosses that you’re a dedicated employee who actively seeks to learn and grow. Depending on how interactive the course is, you could also expand and strengthen your network (which you may have heard – once or twice – is a smart thing to do).

The Newbie
On the other hand, if you’re someone who’s considering pursuing an MLIS or MARA, the Open Classes program is a great way to test the waters (and start earning credits!). You’ll be able to get a feel for going to school in an online environment as well as figure out how you might juggle the work-life-school balance that is #gradschoolproblems. It’s a great opportunity to meet some other students, connect with them on social media, and find out from them how they like the iSchool program. Going to school exclusively online is definitely different than in-person, but I’ve found it to be an excellent fit for my life. Maybe you will too!


I was that newbie this semester! In considering going after the MLIS, I needed to try out a course that would put me outside my comfort zone (Big Data Analytics!) and to test out online courses over in-person. I have loved the class material and format and was inspired to apply for the program as a result. I start as an official MLIS student in Spring with one class already under my belt. I'd recommend Open Classes to anyone considering the degree -- it's not cheap, but in the long run, it is a much less expensive option to pay for one course & realize the degree is not for you than to actually start the program in full and back out later.
Deidre, you make a good point about the financial aspect of trying the program out. I'm glad it worked out for you!

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