Julie Walas Huynh, director of academic advising & student engagement at the iSchool greets a group of first year students and their parents as they tour Hinds Hall during Welcome Week activities.

By: Hailey Temple

This week marks the start of the fall semester, and the School of Information Studies (iSchool) welcomes 224 new undergraduate students through its doors. Students from across the country – some from around the world – joined the iSchool community as first-year and transfer students as a part of the iSchool’s program offerings.

The iSchool has seen tremendous growth over the past several years with regards to class size and program diversity. Last year the iSchool opened the Systems in Information Science (SIS) undergraduate program, an interdisciplinary course of study focused on technical development from a user perspective. The class of 2018 features the first full class of SIS students, welcoming 22 students into this dynamic program. The SIS program joins the iSchool's other undergraduate offering, Information Management & Technology.

The iSchool also has a staggering increase of intra-university transfers over with 55 students adding a major or switching into the iSchool’s program completely. “Syracuse University students are recognizing that technology is relevant to any of their interests,” said Julie Walas Huynh, Director of Academic Advising & Student Engagement. “They are living in the Information Age and see that what they are naturally doing can turn into a profession.”

Huynh also noted the large increase of students who matriculated to the iSchool as their first-choice college. In 2009, 31 percent of the incoming class joined the iSchool as their top choice. The class of 2018 features 64 percent of students directly admitted into the iSchool. Huynh attributes this to “increased awareness and enthusiasm for the iSchool, both through Chancellor Syverud’s leadership and references from current students and Syracuse’s Office of Admissions.”

Over the past few years the iSchool has actively recruited more women into the technology field through programs like the It Girls overnight retreat and partnerships with local schools. The class of 2018 is 38 percent women, which surpasses the national average of women pursuing computer science degrees at just 18 percent.

Sara Adam participated in The It Girls retreat and gained exposure to the opportunities the iSchool has to offer: “I met a lot of girls like me who showed me that technology is for everyone. It’s a great community full of people who have been so welcoming.”

The iSchool’s incoming class also features academic strength, with an average GPA of 3.49. As the largest undergraduate iSchool class in the school’s history, 42 percent of the students had GPAs of 3.6 or higher coming out of high school. The average SAT math section score also increased by 40 points over previous incoming classes.

With iSchool students working at a higher caliber than ever, they are looking forward to being a part of the innovative courses and extracurricular activities at the iSchool. Brendan Winter spoke about his academic aspirations, stating, “the iSchool offers both technical and management aspects that I wanted to study at a higher level. I hope that I can network with like-minded people and potentially join a technology startup.”

The incoming class is going to keep the iSchool staff busy, but Huynh is looking forward to the challenge. “These students are talented and are going to keep us on our toes. Their passion is what drives us to create innovative learning methods and offer the best opportunities possible at the iSchool.”