Master of Information Studies at McGill University
Savannah Newton (Year 2)
What did you wish you knew before going to your university? What made you choose this institution over all others? What are advantages and disadvantages of your institution or campus? List any advice for incoming first-year students about your university.
I chose to go to McGill for a few reasons. It's a well-regarded school, is in a city where it's not crazy expensive to live, and it was near family. It's important to know that French is a must in Montreal for getting a job; it's not impossible to find an English only job, but it's very rare. Having French will also make getting around easier in general. The campus is beautiful but a good chunk of it is on a hill. If you have classes in a building near the top of the hill, winter will be treacherous for you so buy good boots.
What did you wish you knew before choosing your specific program? What are the advantages and disadvantages of your program? List any advice for incoming first-year students about your program of study.
The program wasn't terrible, but it was less put together than I thought it would be once I got inside. There were a number of classes that they advertised as being part of the program but that ended up getting cancelled or not offered at all for a lack of a qualified teacher so be aware of that. The courses they did offer were good ones though and I learned a lot about information studies . The program lets you pick elements you are interested in, so don't be afraid to try out a class that piques your interest. There are no specializations here, so no matter what, you'll all graduate with the same degree.
What was your favourite university experience?
Getting a job at McLennon Library while in my second year. I learned a lot and met some great people who helped me with my future career planning.
What was your least favourite university experience?
Being disappointed in a class I was really excited for.
What is the hardest part about your program and what were the steps that you took to overcome any difficulties?
This program is GROUP WORK HEAVY. Every single class will likely have one or two substantial projects that must be completed in groups of two or more. It's not easy for people who, like myself, prefer to work alone. Trying to ferret out who has a similar work ethic to you will be helpful so you can get through it together. It won't always work out, but it's a small program so avoid making enemies when you can. My advice for this is to find out what hills you are willing to die on and which ones you can surrender to fight another day so that the project gets done and everyone can move on.
If you were able to take electives, what was your favourite elective? If you were not able to take electives, what was your favourite course and why?
GLIS 615 (Reference and Information Studies) was my favourite. We learned all about the importance of reference work as it makes up the foundation of library, and even archival, sciences. My professor at the time wasn't tenured and I have no idea if she will return, but I think she did a good job coordinating it and I learned a lot from her.
University is tough, but not impossible. Sleep seven hours a night, take vitamin C to avoid scurvy, learn to cook so you don't go broke, reach out when you need help, call your parents regularly (especially if you're not in the same city as them), and sooner is often better than later for most stuff (especially career stuff). In short, take care of yourself and remember: you've got this.