A biggest, warmest welcome
Starting your MLIS is exciting and overwhelming all at once, so we hope that we can offer some advice here to get you started on the right path. Keep in mind, your experience is your own, so no matter what we say here, there's some figuring out to do and discoveries to enjoy! You're in the right place :)
Where to start?
To get you started, here's a couple of must do's:
Keep an eye out for orientation information. There is an online version of orientation that is streamed live.
Watch this video about How to be an Online Student (You'll need to use your CCID to log in).
Visit the SLIS Homepage and identify key members of faculty including the Chair, your advisor, and those whose research interests you share.
Visit the SLIS Policies and Document Page to understand grievance procedures, grading procedures and more.
Check Beartracks, the university's administration interface, to ensure that your registration is accurate, complete, and done before deadlines. You'll need your CCID. You can also find your fee assessment and due dates for tuition payment.
Check out the resources that are available to graduate students at the UofA. Note especially the Centre for Writers and eClass Support.
If they don't reach out first, contact your advisor and introduce yourself.
There are also some things that you should keep in mind throughout your program.
CAPS (Career and Planning Centre) offers a lot of great resources for students exploring professional career opportunities. It's never to early to start planning, so visit our Job Searching page to find out more.
The Center For Writers (C4W) offers online tutoring to U of A students who are physically unable to come to the C4W. You can email your writing to firstname.lastname@example.org and an online tutor will return your work with feedback within two business days. Get more information at their website https://www.ualberta.ca/current-students/centre-for-writers.
Capping Project. The capping project is completed in the last semester of courses, but it's something to keep in mind throughout your degree. Check out the Capping Project page for more information.
Some advice from students...
Q. How do courses work week to week?
A. Set aside time each day (or most days in the week) to work on your school work. Your classes usually require discussion participation throughout the week, though each class will have different requirements and days of participation. You'll also need time to do your readings and assignments.
Q. What do I need to save?
A. At the beginning of teach new semester, download all the course documents (syllabus, outline, schedule, assignments, ect.) and save them somewhere safe (like the Google Drive provided with your CCID). You will likely need them at the end of your degree to have all the information you need to complete your capping project.
Q. How do I get involved?
A. It's easy! Get involved as a student member in various professional organizations and in student organizations at the U of A. Professional organizations usually have great rates for students and it's a good way to learn about the professional world of libarians. At the university, join LISSA, volunteer for some committees, and make your concerns heard. Act as your own advocate to make your student experience as good as it can be.
Q. What do I do if I don't know anyone?
A. Get to know your classmates. You're going to have to do group projects (a lot!) during your degree and it's hard to pick group mates if you've never met anyone before. Join the forums here, sign up for the LISSA mentorship program in Fall, follow @UofALISSA on Twitter start or join a Facebook group for your cohort, email people whose class introductions sound fun. In short, make those connections happen!
Q. How do I access resources if I'm not on-campus?
A. Get familiar with the U of A Library and its electronic holdings. You can access all of the library's resources with your CCID sign-in.
Q. How do I balance work, school, and life?
A. As an part-time online student we have a unique experience during our degree. Often we are working, busy with other commitments, and juggling life with family and friends.
No one said it'd be easy, but take comfort knowing that everyone is in the same boat. Stay on top of things by utilizing organizational tools and calendars, read up on how to run efficient meetings, and carve out time in the week dedicated to self-care. Most of all, take advantage of all the resources you can. Figure out what works for you and you'll nail it!