Get off to a Successful Start with the New Student Checklist

iStudent Blog

You’ve applied, you’ve been accepted, and now you’re ready to begin your first semester. What’s next? The New Student Checklist is a great place to start.

The checklist can make being a new iSchool student easier. By using the checklist, you’ll be much less likely to miss something you need to do, and the list will introduce you to pertinent and interesting information.

The checklist is pretty nifty, because it allows you to check things off as you go, come back to it when you have the time, and still see how accomplished and organized you are as you tick items off the list. There are separate lists for MLIS and MARA students, as well as Open Class students and Certificate program students—make sure you choose the one that applies to you.

Since you’re reading this blog, you’re already on the right track. You should also become familiar with the Current Student section of the iSchool’s website, where you can access a range of resources. Becoming familiar with the website is the first item on the list.

Welcome Video and iSchool Curriculum Blog
The next item on the list is to watch a 17-minute welcome video from Dr. Linda Main, the school’s Associate Director & Coordinator of Admissions & Academic Advising—she’s the all-around guru of getting you settled into the iSchool and its online learning environment. Dr. Main’s video is a welcoming introduction that will encourage you as you start your studies, and gets you acquainted with the online environment and the iSchool website.

Take her advice and take a look at the career pathways information on the website and the course schedule page to take a look at how you can shape your coursework to fit with you career goals. For more details on career pathways, you can check out a few articles on this blog, under the Careers category. I had a great time chatting with iSchool faculty about each pathway, and then sharing with you what I learned from those conversations in my posts. Also, during Dr. Main’s video, she’ll talk to you about the details of synchronous and asynchronous classes, including what to expect for any classes that require you to attend a live online session.

She’ll also acquaint you with her iSchool Curriculum Blog, which you should subscribe to in order to keep up-to-date with any course schedule additions or changes. For example, on her blog, she’ll highlight new electives offered for the first time to iSchool students. The blog is also a great resource as you consider which electives to take, or whether you might want to take a course in an intensive format. You can also post your questions on the blog, and Dr. Main is really good at answering them quickly.

Make sure you check the MySJSU website regularly for messages and become familiar with the enrollment and academics pages. This is where you will type in all the needed information to actually enroll in and pay for your classes. When you get a message in MySJSU, check it right away. These are reminders about financial aid deadlines and payment due dates, as well as the place where instructors will email you before the class officially opens up in the Canvas site.

Enrolling in Classes and Getting Your Books
The checklist also covers the steps needed to register for classes. Take a look at the course schedule, read the directions on the enrollment and registration page, and then go to MySJSU to enroll.

Item E on the checklist will give you the details, deadline and form to fill out to set up your Canvas account. Canvas is an important part of our school’s online learning environment. Most instructors use the Canvas learning management system to host their course sites, and you will also use it to access the iSchool’s advising site.  As an entering student, you will be looking primarily at Core Courses, which you can learn about in depth on this blog by checking out the Curriculum page.

For MLIS students, another important step is registering for LIBR 203, which you need to register for separately from your core courses and electives on the semester course schedule. The checklist tells you the date you can start your work in LIBR 203, getting a head start on knowing how to navigate the school’s online learning environment. LIBR 203 (or the equivalent MARA workshop) is a great way to familiarize yourself with the technical aspects of going to school online and the different resources available through the School of Information.

After you’ve registered for classes, and I really mean right after—in the same sitting—order your textbooks. This seems really obvious, but I can’t tell you how many times I or one of my fellow students has been scrambling to get their required textbooks during the first week of classes. The mail being what it is, it can sometimes take a while for the books to get to you, and you don’t want to have to end up behind in your readings right off the bat. Electronic versions of many textbooks are also available. The other bonus to getting your textbooks and materials early is that you can check it out ahead of time, and I personally find that kind of exciting—I just love new books and reading material.

Another great way to get excited about your new courses is to check out the instructor’s syllabus. Some instructors post earlier than others, so keep checking back if you don’t find a link yet to your class. Or take a look at the last time the instructor taught the course (you can search the syllabi by instructor name or course number). Although course expectations may change as instructors update courses, you can still get an idea of what to expect in the course by reading an older syllabus.

Your Computer and Other Tech Details
Next on the list is to sort through and double-check your home computing environment, so you are current with all the technology and able to run the programs and applications that are used for your coursework. Take your time with this one. It’s a list with lots of details, but the reward comes not only in ticking this item off your checklist, but being really familiar with your computer, what it does and what it is capable of (just in case you don’t already know all of this). This alone gave me a new sense of competence, having always thought of myself as being not-so-tech savvy. If you feel this way, don’t be intimidated. The iSchool checklist and the staff, faculty and even your fellow students are great sources of information, help and encouragement. I can now add an extensive list of applications to my tech abilities, thanks to my enrollment in the program here at the School of Information.

Another excellent source of information, should you have any questions, is Vicki Robison, the school’s Student Services Coordinator. It says on her bio page that she is available by phone by email to answer all kinds of questions—if you’ve got ‘em, ask ‘em. She’s a great resource as you settle into the school as a new student, or even earlier, as you move through the admission process. You’ll receive email reminders from Vicki as you transition to your first semester at the iSchool, including reminders about important deadlines. Don’t forget to watch for (and read) her emails.

Social Media
If you follow social media, the school has a Facebook page (though you don’t need to have a Facebook account to view it) and a Twitter feed. These are great ways to stay updated on events that are happening, including online conferences, colloquia speakers and important enrollment deadlines.

By following the iSchool’s New Student Checklist, you’ll be prepared for a smooth transition into graduate school and be ready to focus on your coursework.

Have you started in on your checklist? What item was the most fun? Share with others what you learned as you went through the New Student Checklist!

 For helpful related content, check out:

Tips from Peer Mentors: What to Expect in Your First Course

Online Learning: How Do I Talk to People


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