|Taking the train from Lechmere to Simmons|
Orientation Lesson One:I arrived at Orientation early, because (1) it's what Hermione would do, and (2) I needed to stop by the Registrar. I still have undergraduate loans, so I have been trying to get those all set before I begin paying interest on my un-subsidized graduate loans (un-subsidized means that interest accrues while I am in school). My undergraduate loans are subsidized and Perkins (both Federal), so you'd think it would be simple, but the loan websites are not very clear on how to defer payments - many forms and little instruction. Until Leslie Knope becomes President, this is the confusing bureaucracy that is our government.
At the Registrar, I learned that Simmons is much more efficient than the government (is Leslie Knope running Simmons?)*. Apparently, the Registrar's office sends necessary paperwork to the federal loan people every month to let them know that I am enrolled. There's no need for me to fill out any forms after all!
Lesson Two:In the main campus building, there is a little cafe and lounge area. I headed there after the Registrar and grabbed a coffee, then went upstairs to the conference center where Orientation was being held. Of course, there was free coffee. I immediately regretted wasting two dollars. I had forgotten the wonderful fact that there are free refreshments on college campuses all the time - and apparently this continues in grad school.
Lesson Three:The morning of Orientation was filled up with presentations on our required curriculum, the TOR, Violence Prevention, and Creating an Inclusive Environment. We were also introduced to Student Groups, the Student Support Coordinators, and the SLIS Faculty.
I have been so focused on my classes that I completely forgot about extracurriculars at Simmons. As an undergrad, I was very involved with a few clubs and they were defining aspects of my experience at Saint Mike's. I plan on going with the same strategy in grad school: choose one or two groups I can really dedicate my time to, and not stretch myself too thin.
There are many great clubs within SLIS, and it's going to be tough to choose. Here are some of the options, abbreviated (librarians, it turns out, love acronyms):
- LISSA - Library and Information Science Student Association, and umbrella organization for other groups
- ALASC - American Library Association, student chapter
- SCIRRT - works in international librarianship
- UXBA - focuses on user experiences
- ASIS&T - ASsociation for Information Science and Technology
- PLG - Progressive Librarians Guild (radical!)
- SLA - Special Librarians Association. A special library is one that has a specialized collection, as well as those not public or academic, such as a legal or military library. This is one I am really interested in!
After lunch, we scattered for various break-out sessions. I went to the one for my concentration, Information Science and Technology (a sub-lesson to Lesson Four: Pay attention to the letter in front of the room number, because it indicates the building. Even though Simmons has a small campus, it's very possible and very awkward to run in late). My session was hosted by two hysterically contrasting characters, Dr. Gerry Benoit and Dr. Naresh Agarwal.
Basically, in my breakout session I realized that my IST program will be much more limiting (as a concentration is meant to be) than my liberal arts curriculum at St. Mike's. I had the luxury as an undergraduate of taking really fun extra classes like Politics of Food and Tolkien and Medievalism (the latter counted toward my major). At Simmons, after I complete the four SLIS core classes and the four IST cores, I will only be able to take two or three electives.
The way around these limitations is to be a generalist, which tempted me for about ten minutes of my bus ride to New Hampshire... but then I remembered why I chose the Information Science and Technology concentration. The limits that I place on myself in these two years will ultimately open more doors for me, because in addition to being a passionate and informed librarian, I will also have a unique and applicable skill set. Besides, of course I can still take amazing courses like Radical Librarianship. Empowering people through my progressive librarianship, in a field where women are often underrepresented (IT) is exactly why I chose Simmons.
*Leslie Knope would never endorse anyone's decision to become a librarian.