As of yesterday, I was officially finished with my classes for Fall 2011. For some reason it seemed like a good idea to take both Reference Services and Cataloging in the same semester. I went into both of these classes expecting to be challenged by the material and to have to put in quite a bit of hard work. I worked hard at each of my classes but I thrived in Reference and fell short of where I wanted to be in Cataloging and while unfortunately my GPA may suffer from it I know I will at least have an answer for the “tell about a time you’ve failed and learned from it” question that seems to crop up on interviews.
I spent most of the past weekend collaborating with my classmates on the difficult and tricky cataloging final. Several of us mentioned more than once during the chat sessions that we wished we had done this earlier, it would have made the class easier to navigate. I do not always reach out to classmates as much as I should, perhaps because we are working online. This seems like a major mistake since each of them knew how to do something or had an idea on how to solve a problem that the others were missing, by working together we still got stuck but we were ultimately able to get much further than any of us would alone. All it took was one brave classmate to admit that she was having a hard time on the final and was anyone else still working on it and wanted to collaborate. In future classes and work endeavors I will be sure to look for help among my classmates and coworkers, to pool our skills and knowledge and make the whole experience easier.
I also learned what I do and do not like in terms of class structure and organization. One professor had everything neatly laid out in a grid on the syllabus: the textbook information, due dates, when to post initially, when to have our follow up posts written, when she planned to be online, when we could start the next week’s session of information and checked in with us constantly if a change was made. I always felt prepared and like I knew what to expect in her class – the organization freed up my concentration to focus on the materials rather than trying to find out what was going on. The other class was packed full of information but disorganized, there was no way to easily find information without wading through several weeks worth of material, due dates were given at the beginning of the semester but arbitrary additional assignments were slipped in unannounced with some weekly material. I realize that my duties as a student include reading all of the material given to me and in the future I’m going to take the time to try and organize any material given to me in a haphazard fashion so I can focus on my work rather than trying to find my work. I cannot control the work style of my instructors but I can affect the information they give me.
Lastly, I learned that I need to keep a balance on my home and work life. I had to stay late at the library or up late at home in order to complete assignments because my apartment was too disorganized for me to think in. I now know that in the long run taking some time out for myself, even when I am very busy, is beneficial in the long run because it makes the time I do spend on my work more efficient since I am not distracted by other things that need to get done.