Looking Forward to Fall Semester 2016: The iSchool’s Unique and Diverse Classroom Experience

iStudent Blog

Published: August 16, 2016

Ever wonder where your classmates are when they sit down to hammer out the week’s assignments?

Fall 2016 iSchool classes are almost here! You’ve got your textbooks, you’ve backed up your previous coursework (you have, right?), you’ve looked at your course syllabi and completed your back-to-school shopping. Okay, so really the only shopping you need to do is to make sure your home computing system is up to speed. I may go out and buy a new coffee cup or a cuter pair of slippers for sitting at my computer, but that’s just because I’m a sucker for caffeine and adorable footwear.

Ever wonder where your classmates are when they sit down to hammer out the week’s assignments? Your fellow iSchool classmates are a diverse bunch of people. Besides chatty and fashionable moms like me, there are students from all walks of life (in footwear both stylish and otherwise) who hail from all over the world and identify with a huge variety of age, ethnicity and professional experience. At SJSU’s School of Information, just about any information science-minded individual could be joining your discussion threads. Gathered all together on the Canvas learning management system and sharing their unique perspectives are post-master’s students who want to update their skillsets, professionals who are in the midst of career changes, library-loving students who are enrolled in the iSchool straight out of undergraduate work and parents who are looking to re-enter the workforce with a stronger skillset and an additional degree. It’s this mix of skills, experiences and career pursuits that enhance the classroom experience at the iSchool.

Classroom Diversity Enhances the Student Experience
This iSchool exit survey, taken by students upon graduating from the MLIS program provides a sneak peek into who the next great information professionals are and an idea of who your classmates are now. In the fall of 2015, the School of Information at SJSU had students from age 21 all the way up into their fifties. I won’t be specific, but I don’t fall into the youngest age range (21-25) which made up 13 percent of last year’s students. Enrollment in the program has traditionally been 80 percent female, give or take, but I’m confident the level of librarian coolness is growing and the population of male students at the iSchool will soon follow. After all, the image of the spinster librarian shushing children is so passé.

In case you’re wondering where students end up after graduation, survey results report that 89 percent percent of iSchool graduates obtained positions in information professions within six months of obtaining their MLIS degree.

More than just statistics and demographics, graduating students have great things to say about the program. Over 90 percent of students would recommend SJSU’s School of Information to others, citing its flexibility, online learning environment, curriculum, cost and faculty as their top five reasons.

I love the iSchool’s online environment for its flexibility combined with the unexpected demands of my daily life, but I am equally enamored with the diversity of people to whom the online environment appeals. Enrollment of students outside California is on the rise. Last year, 35 percent of iSchool students were from states other than San José State University’s home state, which was up 12 percent from the previous spring. I’ve been in classes with students in the Middle East and Singapore. I’ve also been in classes with students who are doing internships in my own county library system. One of my first instructors lived in a town with the same name as my own, only he was in a state 2,000 miles away.

Don’t let this freak you out. All assignment due dates are in Pacific Daylight or Standard Time. Just make sure you know your own time zone and what the difference is…or play it safe and  turn in your assignments a few hours early.  You’ll also get to go to bed earlier.

Organization is Key to Maximizing the Classroom Experience
As you can tell, time management is so important in an online learning environment. The last minute is not a good time to start an assignment, whatever your time zone. Successful students are those that plan ahead and know when their assignments are due ahead of time. Be sure to check out detailed tips for success on the school website and this blog post.

Students use all kinds of organizational tools, from Microsoft Office (like this alumna) or 3×5 cards, like California State Librarian Greg Lucas. I’m a huge fan of the good ol’ fashioned wall calendar because it has activities and appointments for my whole family in one place and I look there regularly. Writing it down is great and all, whether on paper or electronically, but you’ve got to remember to go back and read whatever it is you’re supposed to remember to do.

Set yourself up for success by being organized and using your time wisely. Then you’ll have more time to get to know all the amazing people that help make the iSchool’s MLIS program so great!

For related content about starting the iSchool’s graduate program, be sure to check out these posts:
Online Learning–How Do I Talk to People?

Resources for Success for New iSchool Students

Get Off to a Successful Start with the New Student Checklist

image courtesy of posterize