Published: January 18, 2023 by Kesheena Doctor
In my last blog post, I recommended writing a reflection on the fall semester to help close out, identify productivity gaps, and celebrate successes. For this blog post, I would like to share my reflection on my first semester at the I’m at school with all of you!
For my first semester at iSchool, I took four courses;
NEWS 202, NEWS 203
and INFORMATION 204. I learned from SJSU Facebook Student Group that taking more than six credit hours per semester was too heavy a workload, but I found it manageable, even after I started working more than 30 hours per week. I have found that I am successful in managing my course load by carefully planning my weekly schedule at least a week in advance. When I received my schedule for my recorded classes, I noted the due date for each assignment in a monthly calendar, then mapped out the days I would focus on homework to ensure that all my study time was used appropriately.
I also used study tools like the Pomodoro technique to help me stay on top of assignments. A key skill I learned was to switch study activities if I wasn’t able to concentrate. Some mornings I was too tired to read the assigned chapters, but I tried to finish. Doing so would take me 2-3 times longer to read a chapter and lose valuable study time. About halfway through the semester, I changed that strategy and worked on other assignments. If I was too tired to read in the morning, I would instead watch video homework while doing light stretches to help me wake up and focus on the material. If I had writer’s block or needed time to digest learned material before writing an essay, I would clean my house for an hour or take a short walk. Engaging in these small physical activities would give me time to reflect and write the beginnings of an article rather than forcing myself to sit in front of my laptop and write.
All in all, these small changes greatly improved my productivity and reduced my stress levels, as I didn’t feel too rushed to finish my homework in a short time. Being flexible with study time while engaging in productive activities has been very helpful to me in accomplishing all the tasks I had both as a student and in my personal life.
One facet of the iSchool program that I dreaded was the group work. Although I had experience in online group work in my previous job, I was reluctant for the group assignments required for INFO 202 and INFO 204. However, both experiences were extremely positive and I felt more connected to iSchool by meeting with these groups regularly throughout the fall semester. Although we were initially very formal and respectful, over time we got to know each other and discussed our fears and hopes as MLIS students. I got along well with everyone in both groups, but bonded especially well with my INFO 202 groupmates, eventually moving our conversations and engagements off the SJSU platform. For all future courses, I plan to be more proactive in socializing with classmates, as I have found that these peer-to-peer relationships greatly enrich the course work.
Overall, I found that being prepared for the semester really helped me succeed and alleviated a lot of potential stress that I would have had. Before the start of the fall semester, I made sure I had all the information available that might be important, including spring registration dates, conference dates, dates for student group meetings from the iSchool. I also made sure to attend as many peer resource meetings and workshops before the semester started. I have also joined the iSchool social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, instagram and
Youtube) and the iSchool Students Facebook Group. Although all the information was overwhelming at first, I was able to use it to best meet my needs and focus on schoolwork, knowing that any potential events or networking opportunities were known well in advance.
What went wrong
Despite all my successes, I still fell into a cycle of procrastination that I had developed as an undergrad. I worked extremely well under pressure and often used the motivation of an impending deadline to produce quality work. The iSchool and its classmates all recommended starting INFO 203 as soon as the course was available on Canvas so that it could be completed by the time all other courses started. While I started INFO 203 when the course was made available, I only started the first module and quickly neglected it. I thought the class wouldn’t take very long, so I dithered. When I finally decided to complete the course a week and a half later, I realized that INFO 203 involved a lot of work, including meetings to attend and group work. Although I completed the course within two weeks of the start of the semester, juggling four classes after a hiatus from academia was very stressful and strenuous. However, I have learned to consider suggestions from iSchool and/or other students.
As the start of the spring semester approaches, I am very excited to take my new courses and learn more about my future role as an academic librarian. I feel rejuvenated and eager to continue my education and complete my
MLIS Diploma. If you have any fall semester experiences you would like to share, please comment below. Good luck for the spring semester!