Resources and Information from the iSchool’s Student Services Coordinator

iStudent Blog

Published: January 13, 2015

Have a question about admission, the application process, or other aspects of student life? The iSchool’s Student Services Coordinator, Vicki Robison is here to help. In this post, we will give you answers to frequently asked questions and point you to a variety of resources for further information.

Like this blog, Robison is here to help make your transition from prospective student to enrolled iSchool student a smooth one—and to help keep things running smoothly once you’re enrolled. She can help current students with questions about enrolling, dropping, adding, withdrawing, and requesting refunds. Robison is very approachable, as you can see in her brief introductory screencast here.

Special Session vs. Regular Session
When registering for classes and determining your fees, you need to know what session you are enrolled in—regular session or special session. Robison’s clarification is essential:

Regular Session is state supported and state subsidized and is for students who live within the catchment area of San José, California (zip codes: 939xx – 958xx). The cap on the number of regular session students who are accepted to the MLIS program each semester is related to the amount of money received from the state.

Special Session is totally funded from student fees and is for students who live outside the catchment area of San José, California—including Southern California, the rest of the United States, and the rest of the world.

Regular Session and Special Session students must meet the same graduation requirements—the same required courses, the same number of elective units, and the same total number of units to graduate. And all MLIS and MARA courses are offered entirely online.

Registration and Choosing Classes
When it comes time to choosing classes and registering for them, take a look at the website and the course schedule. “All new students must start with the core courses: 200, 202, 203, and 204,” says Robison. “I do not recommend taking them all the first semester unless you do not work and have plenty of experience with online classes. You will need at least three to four hours of study time each week for every unit you take. If you take 10 units (all the core courses), you can expect to spend about 35 hours a week in study time.” That sounds a bit crazy-making to me. Remember, if you don’t rush through your coursework, you have more time to connect with student groups, network, and utilize the iSchool’s vast network of resources, all of which can be valuable assets in addition to the degree itself.

Got an issue with registering? “Most registration problems are solved by making sure you are trying to enroll in classes in the right session,” says Robison. “Make sure you follow the steps we have outlined on the registration page. Always start by going to the iSchool class schedules first. That way, you will know which sections/classes are available to you and which ones are intensives or have mandatory collaborate session.”

If you’re on a waitlist, don’t hang out there too long. Sign up for another section or have a back-up plan. “Waitlists are very tricky,” Robison warns. She then goes on to advise, “I can never guess about the odds of getting into a class from a waitlist because I never know if students will drop. Normally, I advise students never to sit on a waitlist unless they are number one on the list, especially if there is another section open. Instructors are told never to give permission numbers while waitlists are still active, so it will not do any good to email the instructor until after the end of open enrollment.”

Interested in an internship? If so, you need to have completed all your core courses and at least three elective courses to be eligible—a total of 19 completed units. You must also be in good academic standing with a 3.0 GPA or better and without any outstanding incompletes. Read the LIBR 294 handbook and contact an internship faculty coordinator with any questions or concerns.

Financial Questions
As students get settled into their graduate careers, they often have questions about their and financial aid applications and status. Robison cannot answer these questions, but is more than happy to direct you to the financial aid office. Be sure to read all this information about loans and financial aid first. “No one in the iSchool has access to financial records,” she is careful to remind students, “except to see if there is a fee deferral placed.”

I just asked Robison these very same questions, and while she doesn’t have the answers, she gave me emails and phone numbers of specific people to ask. Thanks to one-unit courses at the iSchool, I’m eligible for financial aid, but I need to talk to someone to help me navigate the forms I’ve already filled out and the ones I probably need to complete for the future.

Even though she doesn’t have access to student financial records, Robison can point students to scholarship resources for current MLIS and MARA students. Keep in mind that most scholarships require a GPA of 3.5 or better and the completion of your core courses.

When paying fees and refunds, Robison can direct you to the right resources, depending on what session you are enrolled in—regular or special session—and the nature of your question. When enrolling in and paying for your classes, make sure that you look at the iSchool course schedule first, and then go to your MySJSU account and check in regularly for totals and due dates. Fees are posted after you enroll in your courses, either during your assigned appointment time if you are a Regular Session student, or during open enrollment if you are a Special Session student.

Robison notes that refund dates and amounts are determined by a student’s regular or special session status and are set by the university. She makes the distinction that in order to receive a 100% refund, Regular Session students must drop classes before the end of open enrollment, and Special Session students must drop before the first day of classes. So know what session you are in, what you are taking, and when your deadlines are. Keeping a calendar marked with these deadlines can be essential to keeping your grad school details in order, as well as good practice for turning assignments in on time. More information about fee payments, due dates, and installment plans are available by checking out the Bursar’s website.

Finding Information and Community Online
Attending a fully online program can seem strange to some new students, but there are so many ways to get involved, communicate, and meet people through the iSchool. Robison points to the introductory course, LIBR 203 as a great place to start. “The class provides invaluable information and guidance to help students get acclimated to the online environment,” she says. Canvas, Blackboard IM, Collaborate, and the iSchool Facebook page are all great ways to communicate with your instructors and fellow classmates. Student groups—including student chapters of the ALA, SLA, ASIS&T and SAA—and even face-to-face meet-up groups are all ways to get involved and be a part of the iSchool community.

And don’t forget that the people you meet through grad school are going to be the ones who might connect you with your next career or be a source of information for your next class assignment or work project. Robison also recommends checking out the website’s information about online learning.

Another great source of information is all the various departments and pages within the iSchool website. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the list of pages under Registration and Enrollment, since many of your questions can be answered there. Robison says, “As future information professionals, it is important that you learn how to find information to answer your questions.” So be sure to really get to know the website—curl up with your computer open to the website and look through all the tabs, from New Student Resources to the Career Development page and all the information and resources there.

The Canvas Advising and Administration site, maintained by online student advisor Sheila Gurtu, is another great source of information and answers for general advising or procedural questions. You will be automatically added to the advising site when you get a Canvas account and be enrolled in the site for the duration of your time at the iSchool.

And if you really can’t find the answer to your question, contact a real live human being from the student services team by phone or by email.

Use all the resources and information you have available and find the answers to your questions through the iSchool website, staff, and faculty. Being an information hunter starts with your own graduate school education, and learning to find your own answers will help you to help others find theirs.


For related content, be sure to check out these posts, too:

Online Learning—How Do I Talk to People?

Get Off to a Successful Start with the New Student Checklist


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