So this weekend was the Fast-Track on campus weekend for MLIS students. What this means is that once per semester, all of the students in the MLIS program at Pitt (that's Master of Library and Information Science) come to campus for meetings and classes all weekend.
It was grueling and tiring and long, and in many ways a lot of fun. It was great to finally put faces to the words on my computer screen to which I've become barely accustomed. No matter how we try not to put on airs or act differently, people have different personalities online than they do in person. It's just the way it is. Something about the anonymity of the Internet--I even get more caustic with my close, real-life friends online (and they do with me). With people I don't know online, I find I'm a bit more reserved and careful in how and what I say than when I'm talking in person. There are nuances of speech and quirks of personality that you can't put forth online. Sometimes what you say on a message board or chat seems much harsher than you intend it--sometimes, you seem more laid back than you are. But you get the point. So it was nice to get to click with people on a personal level. I may even have started a couple new friendships, which at the age of 35 doesn't happen that often.
But more importantly, many (not all, but many) of my fears about the program are alleviated, as Dr. Alman promised they would be. Provided I can manage to pull B's out of my ass in both my classes, I think I'm going to give it another semester before I decide whether or not to drop it altogether. I found out this weekend that I'm allowed, being local, to take on-campus classes. That's a huge relief; I really am not digging the online learning experience. It's too disconnected. Both of the classes I have to take next semester are scheduled for the same time, so one I'll have to do online, but the other I can do in person and that will make a huge difference in my ability to manage my time effectively.
I'm seriously leaning towards changing my track. Currently I'm in the School Library Certification Program. I'd come out of the program with my MLIS and a PA K-12 teaching certification in library science. However, I'm starting to think that teaching may not be the path for me after all. At least, not elementary or secondary teaching. There's WAY too much political bullshit and extreme political correctness required (example: I was deducted points from an observation for saying "blind" instead of "visually impaired.") But that's really only a small part of it. An irritation with which I could learn to live. The bigger issue (by far) is twofold: first and foremost, I don't see my life situation hitting a point in the foreseeable future wherein I can be unemployed for 3 months to do an unpaid student teaching stint. It's just not going to happen. I have a mortgage and bills to pay, and real responsibilities to meet. If I'd have done this when I was 23 or 24, it would've been different. Secondly, the courses for the SLCP track are completely laid out for us. There's ONE elective, at the tail end of the program. We have no diversity or choice in how we go about our degree. I heard about a lot of amazing classes this weekend that I'd never get to take in the SLCP track. For example, there are courses on the history of children's literature, and on storytelling. These are classes that dovetail with my writing beautifully...and are in a similar track that would build many of the same skills but not make me pursue a teaching cert. The track is Children and Young Adult Library Services. I could easily do that and then, later, if need be, pursue a 1-year cert program if I decide I still want to teach.
So I need to schedule an appointment to talk with my advisor. The nice thing is, the courses I have to take next semester are the same for either track, so there's no hurry. The down side is that I've now effectively used up an elective spot with the core course for SLCP--I will have to take the core course for Children/Young Adult next fall. Another option may be to do the individualized track (where you pick your own courses)--this may allow me to stay on path without needing another core course. Have to see where I stand on that (which is why I need to talk to my advisor).
So there's a lot to think about and it's all still predicated upon me actually being able to stay in the program (academics-wise) after this semester. Wish me luck and success, and I'll of course keep posted here.