SJSU iSchool’s New Advising Pages Help Students Customize Their Unique Path to Success

iStudent Blog

Published: June 1, 2016

The SJSU School of Information is excited to introduce its new Advising pages on the iSchool website. The website advising pages and Advising Portal are like a road map, trip planner and guidebook for your journey through grad school. New and current students alike now have direct access to advisors, Content Specialists and a whole bunch of planning tools to help them navigate their graduate school experience.

These new advising pages were created with students like you and me in mind. “Students at the iSchool have tremendously busy schedules,” says Associate Director and Coordinator of Admissions and Academic Advising Dr. Linda Main. “Our number one priority is student success, and our advising model was redesigned to allow students to access support resources quickly and easily. Our friendly Advising Toolkit, customizable Student Success Planner and expanded team of Faculty Content Specialists offer students individualized program planning support aligned with SJSU’s Four Pillars of Student Success.

Getting Started with the Advising Tookit and Success Planner
So where does one start? Luckily, the site leaves little doubt with a “Getting Started” page for new students (and current students; I’m now using it, too). This is where students can figure out what their advising needs are and what the best resource is to help them. A wide variety of resources are listed and linked; it’s all right there at your fingertips.

The Toolkit contains links to course schedules (important for enrolling in courses for each semester), class rotations (which MLIS classes are offered each semester) and two links for relating your courses to iSchool competencies and vice versa. The second section contains information related to specific classes, giving you an idea of what you need to do and what to expect from each of these special courses.

The final and indispensable piece of this toolkit is the Student Success Planner for MLIS students. I personally like to plan for success, otherwise why bother, right? Here you will find a nifty Excel template to fill in all your course information as you go. The iSchool Student Services team, the iSchool’s web team and student assistant Marie Myers, and Jane Fisher of the Career Development Team all worked collaboratively to develop the Success Planner. School of Information Director of Online Learning Debbie Faires had her student assistants take it for a test run and the response was no less than “wow!” One of these testers says of the planner, “That organizer is gold. I wish I had something like this when I started.” Says another student when they started going through the Advising pages and resources, “Many thanks to everyone involved in creating, gathering and presenting these valuable resources!” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Oh my stars! This planner so, so helpful even if you’re halfway through or almost done with your program (like myself). As soon as I opened it, I scurried around the advising portal filling stuff in—classes I’d taken, how many credits and which core competencies they fulfilled. It is so helpful to have it all laid out in front of me BEFORE I’m enrolled in my eportfolio class, so that I have my classes and competencies all lined up and I know what to look for in my coursework as evidence of each competency. If you’re filling this in early in your coursework, the Planner even has a handy section to take notes about the class—what it might be a prerequisite for, if perhaps it inspires you to take another related section and so on.

The previous paragraph just covers one aspect and page of the success planner—there are pages on the spreadsheet to help you organize and prioritize your career goals, and organize the evidence you’ll need (and I’ll need next spring) for each core competency in your eportfolio. And bless them, the creators of this super-handy document even have a “start” page and an “introduction” page. These organizers must be qualified information professionals to be so clever!

Advisors and Content Specialists Assist You in Your Journey
In the past, students have been appointed a single advisor to answer their questions, but the new advising portal has a more expanded collection of faculty content specialists. Each career pathway and focus has faculty experts who can answer detailed questions regarding courses and your specific career goals. If you’re not sure what direction you’d like to go, you can still contact a faculty member with your thoughts and questions. These instructors have an excellent overview of the curriculum and enjoy guiding students to courses where the student might have a specific interest or curiosity.

Says one of these general advisors Beth Wrenn-Estes, who is passionate about helping students find their best place to shine, “I love being an academic advisor. I work with so many different students and enjoy helping them plan out their courses and figure out what classes they are interested in taking. Being in contact with students is very rewarding for me. I am here to help so students can contact me as many times as they want.” Wrenn-Estes is also a content specialist for the Youth Services career pathway.

Content Specialists may also make other recommendations to students. Associate professor Dr. Lili Luo suggests that new students get engaged in their professional community, too. “In addition to coursework,” says Luo, “students may consider joining student organizations, going to conferences and networking with professionals which could be quite helpful for them to keep up to date with the development of the field.” Luo is a faculty content specialist for the Information Intermediation Instruction pathway.

If you’re interested in Teacher Librarianship, go to the program webpage rather than the advisor portal. The Teacher Librarian Coordinator, who is essentially your content specialist, is assistant professor Dr. Mary Ann Harlan. “I work as an advisor with people interested in being a teacher librarian,” says Harlan, “because there are required courses and certain licensing issues. I answer a lot of questions about what courses to take, how to handle licensing, and what to expect in the process of getting your credential.”

Whatever your career goals are, or even if you aren’t exactly sure yet, the iSchool faculty and staff are ready to help you plan your successful future as an information professional.

For related stories, check out:

Links to Your Best Resources as You Start the SJSU iSchool

image courtesy of: Stuart Miles