Why Your School?

Almost one year ago, when my first year of library school was starting and I was preparing myself to go into my grad school orientation, I remember addressing the same questions that I’m sure every MLIS student has been asked over and over again. “Why library science?” “What do you plan on doing with that?” “Are libraries still relevant?” “Why this school?” My answers typically fell under the same script. “I love learning.” “Archives.” “I believe this school will provide me with the best opportunity.”

Though I doubt there will ever be a time when I stop receiving these or similar questions, I’ve noted over this last year that the frequency of some of these questions has slowed down, which means each time I’m asked them over again, I’m left pondering my answer. Some of my answers have changed completely (I’m no longer pursuing Archives, instead my focus is on Academic Libraries) and some remain the same (I still love learning). My answer to “Are libraries still relevant?” has built up more examples, reasonings, and profanity as I’ve continued through my first year, but I won’t go into much detail over this question, as it’s already been discussed recently. I want to address how the question “Why this school?” has been the one to trap me in recent conversation.

Since I stepped into Fall Orientation, my rose colored glasses have come off. I’ve had a chance to adjust to the program, complain about classes or professors, and really become vocal over all the things my program is missing (e.g. mandatory Social Justice courses, student loans, etc.). But when I was recently asked why I chose my school again, I defaulted back to my same answer and realized that I haven’t given myself a chance to re-evaluate what that question means to me.

I chose my school because I felt that I would have the best opportunities there than at other schools I had been looking at. I didn’t have to relocate to enroll in school and I’ve finally been granted access to the field I’ve been trying to get into for years before applying to grad school. But most importantly, I came to my decision to go to the University of Denver after observing a students of color panel that addressed this exact question. I decided that my best shot at completing library school was in an environment where I was more likely to develop a local support system. So I applied to DU.

Let me make this clear: I made my decision based on my own circumstances and what I felt I really wanted to take away from library school. Why I chose to attend my school is most definitely not the same for other students, regardless of whether they are students of color. My decision does not negate the decisions of other current, prospective, or past library school students. DU may have been the best school for me in my search, but I am sure there are many that passed up this school because it was not the best for them. My decision only gives insight into what I mean when I say that I chose my school for the opportunity.

As I enter into my second and last year of library school, I still feel confident in my choice based on my own self-evaluation. I feel I’ve built a great support system between my significant other, family, and friends from before library school and the friends and community I’ve built through library school. I enjoy many of my classes and feel as though I am cared for as an individual by many of my closest friends and instructors. Despite the complaints that may have built up over the last year, this is why I chose this school.

My advice to any incoming library school students (or even continuing students) is that you try to remember why you are at library school. The goals of others around you are completely different from what your goals are. Even if you share similar goals with others, you should never base your level of success on the success of those in your cohort. Your priorities are not the priorities of others. And though the answers to those other frequent questions may change, if you continue to remember what these answers mean to you, I hope you will be able to continue making decisions based on what you deem is best for you.

For those that are currently considering applying to an LIS program, check out other posts about choosing a school that fits your needs like Carissa’s “Navigating Goals and Family During the Library School Decision Process” or Alison’s “Things to Consider When Applying to Library School.”

If you would like to share the reason you chose your library program, please leave a comment below!

Featured image by qimono from Pixabay.com. Licensed under Creative Commons CC0.

Janette Ruiz is a current student at the University of Denver. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or find her on Twitter.

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