After last week’s post, I got a comment from a prospective GSLIS student, Jodi. She
writes, "As a prospective student (probably West), I would love to hear more about the differences between the two, especially from a student's perspective. Anyone care to summarize that discussion at the Squealing Pig?"
Jodi, and all who are curious (this is certainly a frequently asked question!), I will do my
best to answer your question. We did talk a lot about some specific differences.
I personally have not yet taken classes on both campuses, but I am taking a course in
Boston at the main campus next semester. After talking with GSLIS Boston students,
it really seems that the biggest difference between the campuses is class size, with the
smaller classes at GSLIS West. My classes have never had more than 20 students, and
only the core (required) courses were that large. Last Spring, I had a class with only 8
total students. According to the Boston students I spoke with, classes there tend to have
at least 20 students. This certainly has to do with the student enrollment numbers. GSLIS
West has approximately 70 total students, where there are about 700 on the main campus.
Another difference was the level of involvement of the student body. At GSLIS West,
some of us have very long drives, most of us work at least part time and many of us
have families. It is therefore difficult to form student groups and organizations, since
so many students are unable to participate. That is not to say that we do not have an
active community; we do have events, both social and academic, hosted by the Library
and Information Science Student Organization (LISSA West) that get good turnouts.
However, the Boston campus is able to have active chapters of a variety of student
organizations such as the Progressive Librarians Guild (PLG), the Society of American
Archivists (SAA), and many others.
Similar to what I mentioned above, the final major difference that we discussed at The
Squealing Pig is the campus environment. Because GSLIS Boston is a larger community,
there is a lot more happening. While we visited, there was a conference being held on
campus. If you check out the GSLIS Events calendar, you will see there is something
going on at least once a week. At GSLIS West, we only meet on campus once a week.
We do hold events almost every Saturday, but they are not as large or involved as some
of the events held on the Boston campus.
I really don’t think there is one campus that is better than the other; it is all a matter of
preference. I personally prefer GSLIS West because it is a smaller community. I like
the intimacy of smaller classes and I enjoy having the same people in my classes every
semester. However, I can certainly see the appeal of going out to Boston. It would be nice
to have so much library culture happening around me every day. So the choice is yours,
Jodi. I think that no matter which campus you choose, you’ll love Simmons GSLIS!