Yesterday I visited North Carolina Central University. This was the college that my Petsmart manager had recommended. I wasn’t really sure what to expect.
While NC State had had the feeling of being a small town inside of a larger town, NCCU felt like a community college. The set-ups were similar — a collection of buildings surrounding actual public roads, with lots of bricks — NCCU just felt small. It felt like walking around the Annandale campus of Northern Virginia Community College. The athletic areas felt like the athletic areas of Loras College — small and overblown in importance.
I had actually scheduled a tour, so I went into the Admissions building to wait for the tour to begin. It was supposed to begin at 2:00. By 2:10, there was no sign of such a tour beginning, so I got up and walked around campus by myself. Besides, I had looked at a map, which showed the agenda of a tour. It seemed geared towards potential undergraduate on-campus students. I am none of those things.
Both the staff and the student population is predominantly black. That’s something that I realized right away. I’ve never spent a whole lot of time being obviously a minority someplace. Except maybe Italy? It felt unusual to me.
I managed to find the graduate school office fairly quickly (I took that picture on the steps of the building, just before it began raining). I walked into the office and met with the executive assistant for graduate admissions.
She admitted up-front that she didn’t know a whole lot about the Library Science program (on purpose, she had learned a while ago not to guess and give false information), but she could answer all my questions about admissions. She took down my name and contact information so she could forward it on to the relevant Library Science people. Literally all of the Library Science faculty and staff were in a department-wide meeting right then. But she named off two people in particular who she would pass my info on to, who she said were “very quick to respond.”
I asked about admissions requirements, since the website gave very little information on what standards they were looking for. She said that they took a “holistic approach” to admissions — a poor GPA could be made up by a good GRE, or a bad GRE could be followed by an excellent letter of purpose.* Having excellent everything could still lead to a rejection if the staff felt like you weren’t a good fit. She used 3.0 as a basic excellent GPA, which made me feel less bad about my 3.09 GPA.
I asked if, since the Library Science program was part of the IT program, it was a technology-based program. She had never heard the question before, had no idea what the answer was, and wrote it down to pass on to both the people she was going to email about me and the people in charge of overhauling the new website. It was a very good question apparently.
She asked if I was looking for a Yes or a No to that question. I replied that I wasn’t sure. I had worked in a library during my undergrad, where I had worked with more technology than actual books. Which was good — yay more technology understanding — and bad — boo not enough books. Then we both got on a random tangent where we declared e-readers worse than physical books.
I left soon afterwards.
I still have not received an email from her or from the professors she was emailing. I don’t know her email address, either.
I walked out of there with a better understanding of what I want to do with my life. Why do I want a degree in Library Science? So I can work in a big university library, and be surrounded by quiet, books, and a learning environment (at least, it was quiet in the interlibrary loan office at Mason). I want to work in a big university specifically, so that I can have a variety of classes to take every semester, even if I’m not working towards any one degree. So I rejected NC State out of hand. I don’t want a degree in Public History. I want a degree in Library Science.
Next up is UNC. I’m excited.
*Letters of purpose seem really big in the graduate community. At NC State, the student affairs woman I spoke with went on a tangent about how some people say that they are interested in history — “Not even American history, or ancient history, just history — it’s a big subject!” The executive assistant I spoke with mentioned that they reject people who want degree just to have a degree, since they tend to not finish the program.