As an undergraduate recruiter at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies (iSchool), I spend a majority of my time meeting high school students and answering their questions about the iSchool. I’ve learned a lot about what makes students excited about college, but I also learn what makes them afraid of the iSchool – or even college in general.
When I talk to parents and students, I realize that a lot of students don’t consider even applying to the iSchool because they don’t understand what an iSchool is and what you can study here.
So I’ve put together a short list of the most common myths and misconceptions I hear about the iSchool and our information technology degree program – and why they’re wrong.
I’m not a techie and I don’t code, so I won’t do well at the iSchool.
We know that the name iSchool makes it sound like you need to be a computer whiz in order to apply, which can be intimidating if that’s not what you want to study. But you don’t have to start the program knowing how to program a computer, build a database, or know every coding language to be successful once you graduate the iSchool.
The point of college is to learn. To do well at the iSchool, all you need to have is the desire to be a problem solver. Then, the iSchool teaches you how to use information technology (IT) to help solve those problems. It’s as simple as that.
And while you can (and many students do!) take coding classes at the iSchool, there is so much more to the iSchool than coding. Many iSchoolers have graduated and gone on to be successful in positions that draw more from business or communications, but their understanding of information technology is what sets them apart.
For example, Jon Lee ’15 a dual major in Policy Studies and IM&T now works for the Department of Defense as an IT Operations Analyst. Francisco Ramos ’13 combined his interest in sports and technology and currently works for ESPN. Hailey Temple ’15 graduated with the iSchool and Newhouse dual degree, and specializes in design thinking at SAP.
I want a business degree, so the iSchool doesn’t offer the classes that I need.
This my favorite question to answer. I ask often as students, “Can a modern business function without information technology?” It’s typically met with hesitation, and then finally, the answer: “No.”
And it’s true: IT and business are tightly intertwined. Everything today uses information technology. Think of how an app as simple as Venmo is changing how people move their money around. Think about how companies like Google and Apple are advancing technology each day.
Now think about the uses of technology in any industry: healthcare, politics, accounting, marketing, and even journalism. Data and information drive today’s economy. Studying information technology not only gives you the business experience you want, it also gives you a niche and deep technological savvy that other business students won’t have.
Information technology is not a creative field and won’t challenge me enough.
We say it all the time here, but it’s worth repeating: at the iSchool, you can take the things you love, and learn how to pursue them through technology. The iSchool is bursting at the seams with creative folk. Within the walls of the iSchool, we have:
- A business called SIDEARM Sports that does web development for hundreds of college teams. If you’re looking for a creative challenge, try making 900 college athletics websites look unique!
- NEXIS, a lab (that anyone can apply to join) where students run their own independent research projects over the course of a semester and showcase them to all of campus.
- As a final project for one of our classes, students learn how to use real-life data to create illustrations and visualizations that can uncover patterns and important insights.
This doesn’t include the hundreds of projects that iSchool students work on on throughout campus. And this doesn’t count the hundreds of alumni who are succeeding in creative positions or running their own companies. For iSchool students who want to create: if you can dream it, we’ll do everything we can help you do it.
I’ll be the only girl in my iSchool classes.
This is a common concern that I hear a lot. We believe that there needs to be more women in STEM professions (that’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), and the iSchool is proud that 40% of our students are young women pursuing IT studies. We believe in creating a diverse learning environment – and that includes gender diversity.
We make it a priority to mentor young women of all ages and foster any early interest in technology. Every year, we host the It Girls Overnight Retreat, which brings 100 high school girls to campus. Our faculty, staff, and – most importantly – our students are given a chance to meet with these young women, show them how awesome information technology is, and enthusiastically support and encourage their interest in technology that they may not get every day.
We also do a similar, shorter program for middle school girls called Girls Are I.T., which gives Syracuse-area Girl Scouts a chance to take workshops about information technology taught by iSchool students.
If you’re a girl interested in IT, you will meet others just like you at the iSchool. Meet some of the young women who have recently graduated, and some you may meet in your classes if you go to the iSchool!
- Meet Kristy, an IM&T student who can also tell you a little about the iSchool in her video tour
- Meet Sarah, an IM&T student who can also give you a tour of the Syracuse University campus
- Meet Fatma, who just graduated from the iSchool and was in the first class of It Girls
- Meet Hailey, who got her dual degree from the iSchool and Newhouse
- Meet Alexandra, who was an IM&T student who wants to share IT with women
So … why not check out the iSchool?
You can use the iSchool to explore your interests in creative ways using information technology, and you can find a way to work in any industry you want when you graduate.
Interested in learning more about the iSchool, or still have questions you want answered? You can always email, call, or set up a visit to the iSchool!
Do you have an information technology degree? Did I miss any other benefits of having an IT degree? Add your thoughts in the comments below!