The past four years I've spent my time explaining to hundreds of prospective students and their families why I chose Coe College. It's a story I love to tell and my experiences there continue to impact my daily life in Illinois. However, as time removes me from Coe and instead grounds me here at GSLIS (Graduate School of Library and Information Science), I figured a post was in order about why I am here.
Additionally, I was asked to provide a 3-4 sentence quote about why GSLIS is a good program for me which they'll use (along wish a dashing photo of me) in prospective student emails. I can never seem to get away from the admission world, can I?
My story of choosing GSLIS is unique. My dad believed that I should conduct my grad school search similar to how we did my undergrad search. Apply places, visit places, sit in on classes, meet with professors, try to see if I could imagine myself spending two years there.
So that's what I did. I applied and I visited four school. GSLIS was my last visit, the day before I needed to decide if I was in or out (I have a trend, big decisions I wait and decide at the last minute). My dad drove me down from Wisconsin, after I had just been in Seattle. We were going to stop in, check out GSLIS, and then back to Iowa I would go. I didn't have any strong feelings about Illinois as we drove down at 6 AM on that Monday morning. It was in Illinois an it was a good school.
We drove, somewhat confused, along the one ways that eventually took us to Daniel Street. My dad dropped me off, in front of those doors I'm standing in front of in that picture. The building was beautiful. Is beautiful. We made an old frat house look pretty good.
My entire visit was incredible. I had good conversations with Karla, my advisor, with Kate, a professor and now Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, with Roy from Career Services, and sat in on an adult popular literature class. I learned a lot, including the fancy Chambana lingo. :) I could imagine myself in that building, and could even imagine doing a PhD there; the first time that had happened during a grad school visit.
"How was it?" dad asked as I got into the car.
"Incredible." I said. I was sold. It did take me about four hours from Chambana to Cedar Rapids, pro con-ing each school while my dad patiently listened, being the sounding board I needed him to be.
I called my dad the next day to tell him my final decision. "It's Illinois," I said, with some disbelief in my voice, yet full of excitement for this next adventure.
"Okay Hailley, Illinois it is," my dad said.
Everyone at my undergrad was surprised. They had no idea Illinois was on my radar. They knew I had applied but hadn't made many comments about it. I saw a look of shock each time I told someone my decision, but it was shock that turned into excitement as I enthusiastically explained my reasons why, including that Monday morning visit.
So back to the question: why GSLIS? Now that I've had year, I should have some answers, right?
GSLIS provides me the opportunities I want and need to be a unique candidate when I go and look for a job. They provide experiences in the classroom, supported by passionate faculty, but more importantly, they provide the avenues for hands-on experiences. These experiences allow me to put theory into practice and actually see if it works. I get to be surrounded by peers who are as passionate about libraries as I am, peers who challenge my way of thinking about the world and librarianship, and peers who will be life-long friends and colleagues.