Graduating Before Crossing the Finish Line

To say that I’m excited about graduating this coming May is a massive understatement. I’ve been waiting for this moment since finding SJSU School of Information’s MLIS program in December of 2017, well before I even applied. I celebrate with fellow graduates on Thursday, May 20th.

I won’t be done, though, which is something that I sometimes forget. I’ll be graduating in Spring but will not finish my final library and information science course until August. Like many programs, SJSU iSchool offers for students to complete their culminating experience (either the ePortfolio, which you can read about from Alyssa Key, or thesis) if a student has 3 units or less to complete towards their degree. While I’ve already passed my ePortfolio and registered for the live convocation, I will end this Spring semester with 40 of the required 43 units on my transcript. This Summer (which will be after I’ve graduated) will be spent taking one final course – the final 3 units towards my degree.

Let’s take a step back. When did I realize that I could attend (virtual) graduation in 2021 instead of 2022? This wasn’t something that I knew when I started. In fact, it wasn’t until I was more than halfway through the program that I realized I would be able to graduate a year earlier. Yes, I would still have gotten my MLIS in the mail at the same regardless, but I would have had to attend graduation a whole year later. If you’re going to be completing your MLIS program in a Summer or Fall semester, look into your program’s graduation options with time to spare. It’s never too early to start planning!

The other elephant in the room is taking that final class after telling everyone that I’ve graduated. What if something happens and I fail? What if disaster hits and I’m unable to finish? What if I no longer have the desire to keep running towards the finish line after they’ve already handed me the trophy?

Back in high school, I remember clearly when “senioritis” hit. I was done with being in high school. The same thing happened with community college and university. I’m not under any illusion that this won’t hit again after graduation; I’m starting to feel it already and it’s only mid-April. When it happens now, though, I’ll be prepared (much as I was towards the end of my bachelor’s degree journey).

Plan. One of my previous blog posts discussed the importance of planning (physically and/or digitally).

Create habits. It’s going to be tempting to let the warmth of Summer and the inviting freedom of not being at work (at a school) get to me, but creating study and work habits during my final class will keep me on track. I’ll get used to breaking up certain workdays into planned study sessions – maybe an hour after coffee in the morning for homework/assignment and an hour in the evening two a week for lectures and readings.

Take advantage of it! If you’ll be finishing your final units after graduating, you’re more than likely able to apply for jobs that require an MLIS. Depending on which type of institution you’re applying to, you may have to clearly state the timeline in your letter of interest or complete a petition for equivalency. This will let you dip your toes into the pool before having to dive right in. You may even be offered a position before officially having your MLIS in hand! Moving forward with the assumption that you’ll have your degree in a couple months, after those final units, will keep you driven and goal-focused.

Lastly, stay focused. It may be a challenge to utilize the whole study session or homework hour for your intended purpose, but try. It’ll pay off in the end. Consider apps like Forest – an app that grows a forest of trees fed by minutes and hours of inactive apps on your phone. While this removes some distractions on your phone, there are other tips and tools that will help discourage opening that new tab or checking Twitter. Look into options and figure out what works best for you.

Even though the celebration will start in May, I know that I won’t really be done until August. For all others who will be in a similar spot (finishing their degree in a non-Spring semester), research what options and requirements your program has regarding graduation.

Finally, good luck to all graduates who will be stepping into the workforce whole-heartedly; also, good luck to those who still have time left in their programs!

1 reply

  1. Congrats! I did the same thing as you. It did make summer a bit stressful as I started working 28 hours per week at the time from 16 and had another job. But what helped me was I chose a fun class that interested me. I also was very fortunate to be offered a full-time librarian position while finishing up that summer. I did have to wait for the official “title” and pay raise until I received my diploma in September. Good luck in your job search!

    Liked by 1 person

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