Student Snippets


SLIS West Tradeoffs

I truly am grateful for the existence of SLIS West. I knew it would be difficult to manage grad school with a family and two young children, and I had begun to resign myself to the likelihood that I would have to get my degree online. When I found out (at the SLIS West information session) that their classes were primarily on Saturdays, the day my husband could stay home with the kids, it felt like my stars had finally aligned.

However, every semester at SLIS West it becomes more apparent to me that there are still some tradeoffs to be made in attending grad school this way. I don't intend to present this as a list of "cons:" just some of the realities you'll face if you decide, like me, that SLIS West is your best option.

1. Smaller program, fewer people

Fewer people means less networking and socializing possibilities. You won't meet as many people at SLIS West as you might at Boston, but you will see the same people again and again which helps you make friends quickly.

2. Limited course offerings

It goes with the territory that there are fewer classes being offered each semester, but I honestly never imagined that my course selections would be so heavily influenced by what was actually available to me. You may not be able to take every class that you want, in the order that you need to. Online classes are not a safe bet either, as they tend to fill up quickly.

3. Fewer "extracurricular activities"

There are less "happenings" around SLIS West because it's not a residential campus situation and all the students are spread out, and busy with work and families. There aren't as many opportunities to get involved, volunteer, attend presentations, and participate in student groups and organizations. We have some lunchtime events, some after-class get-togethers, and our own branch of LISSA (Library and Information Science Student Association). I'd like to see more SLIS West folks attend these, but I'm also someone who lives two hours away and can't always be there myself.

4. Shared facilities

At SLIS West, we are borrowing the classrooms, the building, and the library of another institution (Mount Holyoke College), so the facilities are not exactly optimized for Simmons students. Now I don't really have any complaints, because the campus of Mount Holyoke is beautiful and the spaces plenty sufficient. But we don't have things like dedicated tech labs, a center for student success, or a student services center. We can still access online resources through the Beatley Library and get help virtually, but it's just not the same as being able to walk in and browse shelves, or talk to someone face-to-face.

Despite these tradeoffs, I'm still so glad to be attending courses at SLIS West and I feel like it really was my best option, given my location and situation in life. In a future post I'll be sure to detail all the things I love about this program.