Reflections, Transitions, and Farewells

It’s hard to believe after 2.5 years of graduate school, I’m just a few final paper submissions away from completing my MA in Children’s Literature and my MS in Library and Information Science. After just over a year, It’s also my final post for Hack Library School. I’ve really enjoyed my time writing for HLS as I’ve explored topics I love like rural librarianship and summer camp and topics that are new to me like sustainability

I’ve enjoyed sharing part of my grad school journey every month while blogging, and I want to use this post to tell my grad school story and share with you what I’ve learned, what I’ve loved, and what I maybe would have done differently. 

Looking back, it’s hard for me to imagine not having picked Simmons for my grad studies. I’ve loved my dual degree coursework and wouldn’t have been able to study LIS and children’s literature together anywhere else. I’ve made good friends, I met my boyfriend in Boston, and ultimately I’ve learned a lot. But Simmons is an expensive program. My children’s literature courses always felt academically rigorous and taught by knowledgeable professors. Comparatively, my LIS work often felt like a walk in the park and many professors haven’t worked in public libraries in years. While the theoretical background of LIS is nice to have, I feel like I’ve learned way more in my work as a library assistant than I have in class, no matter how much professors try to prepare us with practical projects. Now that I’ve spent more time in this field, if I hadn’t wanted to study children’s literature so much I might have picked somewhere less expensive, because at the end of the day it doesn’t matter too much where your LIS degree is from as long as it’s ALA accredited.

Moving past the program itself, my first semester of grad school was really hard. Not necessarily because of the academic challenge but because of the transition. I didn’t really prepare myself at all for my transition from undergrad to grad school, because I’d always just been fine and seemed to thrive in new settings. And then I moved from a part of the country I’d lived in my whole life hours away from my family and anyone I knew. I got really lonely and increasingly anxious and depressed. Because I was determined to do well and be successful since I’d made the decision to move so far away from everything familiar, I didn’t tell anyone I was struggling for way longer than I should have. I’m still dealing with the ramifications of the effects of my first semester of grad school on my mental health. I’m glad that I’m in therapy, but I can’t help but wonder if I’d better prepare myself for the transition going into grad school instead of pretending like there wouldn’t really be a transition if I could have avoided some of the negative effects of that change.

My biggest advice for someone going into grad school, especially directly from undergrad, is to think about what the transition might look like and how you’re going to handle things in your life that aren’t schoolwork.

Then, of course, COVID-19 happened. I continued on my degree path and did 2 full semesters, 2 summer semesters, and a partial semester online. I hate online classes. I did alright with synchronous classes on zoom and didn’t like my few fully asynchronous courses at all. I applaud every single library student who decides that a fully-online program is the right choice for them because I couldn’t do it. I’m glad I powered through the online experience, but I learn so much better in a classroom and being back on campus this last semester has really reinforced that.

I’ve worked part-time during my entire grad school experience except for a few of the months I lived at home during the height of COVID in 2019. There’ve been many HLS posts about the value of library jobs as a library student and having just finished a year in my current position, I couldn’t agree more. Starting a library job while most libraries were only doing curbside pickup required a learning curve. However, since we’ve reopened to the public I’ve truly learned and experienced so much that has reaffirmed that I’m in the right profession. If working in a library while you’re in school is an option for you, do it! If you’re struggling to get a position somewhere, keep applying. I applied for countless library positions before I ever even got an interview, and I’m so glad I did.

I’ve already written more than I intended, and I feel like I could go on and on about the way I’ve spent the last 2.5 years. I’m looking forward to a small break from work and school both for the holidays, and then to jump into my job search earnestly. It’s been a pleasure to write for you every month, and I wish you all the best whether you’re at the beginning of your library school journey or the end. If you want to stay connected, you can find me on twitter @bookishlybright or at my blog.

Macy Davis is thrilled to have almost completed her MA in Children’s Literature and her MS in Library and Information Sciences at Simmons University. She hopes to soon find a job as a full time youth services librarian and maybe learn to relax a little. You can find her on Twitter @bookishlybright or through her personal blog.

Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

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