Advice on Advisors for MLIS Students
by Jenn Carter
You can expect your advisor to…• Answer your e-mails in a timely fashion
• Make time to meet with you at least once per quarter
• Help you with course selection, career advising, and the portfolio process
• Help point you toward the right sources of information
• Support your individual needs
Advisors’ styles vary. Some will initiate meetings with signup sheets.
Some will expect you to come to them. Some will want you to pre-arrange meetings.
Some won’t mind if you just “stop by.” Some will have individual
meetings with all their advisees. Some will arrange group meetings. The important
thing is that you develop a relationship with your advisor that works for
Beginning of your first quarter
You and your advisor should meet to get to know each other. Talk about
your goals and reasons for coming to the iSchool. Do you feel comfortable
talking to your advisor? Is this a good fit? Is this the right advisor for
Middle of your first quarter
You and your advisor should meet to plan out a course of study. We recommend
that all students use this form
to create a plan of study, regardless of whether you plan to finish your
degree in two years or in six (it is also available for day and evening
students in your Handbooks).
After the initial run of core courses (usually 500, 510, 520, 530, and 540—although
these may vary) you and your advisor should discuss whether you will do a
portfolio or Masters thesis.
Halfway through your course of study
If you do a portfolio, you and your advisor should meet to discuss the
portfolio. Your advisor is half of your portfolio team. The two of you should
discuss the significant experiences you will include and brainstorm ideas
on areas in which you need more experience.
Beginning of your last quarter
You and your advisor should maintain a continuous dialogue about your portfolio.
How to switch advisors
If your advisor is not working out, you can switch advisors at any time.
First, find a new advisor. Approach a faculty member that you feel has interest
or expertise in your area and ask that person to be your new advisor. Second,
send a message to the Office of Student Services telling them that you have
switched advisors. Student Services will then contact your old advisor and
get your file transferred.
Plan three years in advance
Course schedules are laid out by the iSchool administration three years
in advance and are available on the projected course schedule webpage.
This means you will be able to plan your coursework fairly far in advance.
It is important for all students to plan at least two years in advance because
a particular elective may not be offered more than once during that time
Your portfolio and your advisor
Remember, your advisor is half of your portfolio evaluation team. You are
responsible for communicating early and often with your advisor about
your portfolio. Use your advisor as a resource for brainstorming and advice
your portfolio .
Jenn Carter is a second year student in the day MLIS