This week marks the end of my first semester of graduate school; the end felt unreal until I received my grades today. They’re my roller-coaster-photo-finish proof the last five blurry months actually happened, complete with wild hair and shocked expression. If you’re just starting this adventure, fasten your seatbelt and prepare yourself for a wild ride with a few suggestions from a recent first-timer in mind.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING:
Most students I’ve met are also juggling several roles, and online programs allow flexibility for those with a lot of things up in the air. However, the ability to attend class in pajamas can lend a false sense of security; it’s easy to lose track of deadlines and projects when classwork is squeezed in whenever you find a spare moment. I carved out mornings for classwork, and after the kids came home from school, we did homework together. During my lunch breaks at work, homework; after I came home from work, homework. Basically, the semester was homework with real life “squeezed in whenever”. But those hours I’d specifically carved out for school work were sacrosanct (in theory – I’m a parent). Which brings me to my next point…
MOVE IT OR LOSE IT:
When I had pneumonia shortly before the semester began, I asked my doctor how long it would take to recover. She replied it would be a few weeks and joked, “Why, do you have a marathon planned?” I explained I’d soon have a full load in graduate school, plus my part-time job and three kids, so yes, I had a marathon planned. She advised me, as she survived medical school and residency with kids, to make time for exercise. When I asked hopefully if “exercise” included the movement of Dr Pepper or chocolate in hand to mouth, she laughed and said it could at times, but actual exercise would keep me sane. It didn’t matter what I did, as long as I got up and moved for at least 30 minutes a day. Remember the wise words of Elle Woods? “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.”
REMEMBER YOUR PASSION:
It’s a safe bet if you’re in graduate school for library science, you want to be there. If you’re exploring the ALSC site and found this post, you’re probably interested in library services for children. Nevertheless, at one time or another during library school, you’ll find yourself wondering why you traded Netflix binges after work for writing research papers until dawn. But then you’ll find that one class or idea that sets your world aflame with possibilities and everything’s touched by the burning to know more. That’s the hope, at least. If your studies haven’t uncovered something yet, then recall what inspired you to be a librarian. Was it a librarian who touched your life? Quirky picture books? Your love of cardigans, cats, or library-cake memes? Suggested pick-me-ups: Neil Gaiman’s “libraries are the future” lecture or Library Journal’s inspiration board on Pinterest.
One last tip:
There might be a learning curve on your ride, but don’t worry. Just lean into it. Embrace the opportunity to grow and stretch your skills, maybe even throw your hands up in the air and scream. It will eventually come to an end and you’ll roll to a stop, amazed you’ve come so far despite how quickly it went.
Today’s Guest Blogger is Stephanie Milberger. Stephanie is a youth librarianship student in the College of Information at the University of North Texas and children’s assistant at the Highland Park Library in Dallas. You can contact her online at Twitter (@milbergers) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.
If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at email@example.com.