We will explore a bachelor’s degree in information science or combined with library science for this post. You could start with an associate’s degree offered at smaller colleges, particularly community colleges. For example, East Mississippi Community College offers an Associate of Arts in Library and Information Science. Or you could take an Associate of Science in Information and Library Sciences at the University of Maine-Augusta. Each of these may qualify graduates for an entry-level job in a law, medical, or public library. However, to have a career in the field of information science, a bachelor’s degree should be the goal (at the minimum).
By the time students enter elementary school, they face competition. Each student receives a letter or numerical grade for each subject and an average. These determine if the student should advance to the next grade. Attending school is no different than sports; the world thrives on competition. Just as athletes compare statistics, like batting average, goals scored, running yards, students exchange grades with classmates. This procedure can be intimidating for some children as they may label themselves stupid when comparing their marks with others. However, the private and public school system for K through 12 is not the topic.
The point of the above paragraph is to illustrate that a college or university application is a competitive process. If it wasn’t, every applicant would receive a notice of acceptance. Admissions scrutinize each prospective student’s application. Consequently, some learning institutions set the bar higher than others. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), in the fall of 2019, 11,533,110 individuals applied to degree-granting institutions in the United States. The percentage admitted was 56.7%.
Boston News reported in April 2021 that Harvard had its lowest acceptance rate for the class of 2025. The record-setting low of 3.43% resulted from a record number of applicants (57,435). That figure was a 30% increase from 2020. Increases were prevalent at other notable institutions; for example, MIT had a 66% increase, Northeastern up 17%, Tufts University up 35%, and Boston University up 24% over 2020. Judging from this trend, interest in a college degree is escalating – making it more difficult to enroll. And elite schools can be more selective.
The School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina explicitly states that admission is limited and competitive. However, there are no prerequisite courses; instead, evaluation is based on academic record, work experience, extra-curricular activities, and a 100 to 300-word essay.
The University of Maryland (UMD) has specific admission requirements for all freshman applicants. Individuals interested in their B.S. in Information Science must meet the following:
- Four years of high school Mathematics, including Algebra I and II and Geometry
- Four years of English
- Three years of history or social science, and two different sciences, including labs
- Two years of a foreign language
UMD’s stringent review process consists of 26 factors. These considerations are as diverse as geographic origin and demonstrated leadership or socio-economic background and special talents. None of the factors are discriminatory; the school’s Statement of Philosophy outlines the purpose for carefully reviewing each application. This material is a must-read for those who have this school on their list.
The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has similar requirements as UMD’s for first-year students. The recommended years of high school English, math, lab sciences, socials sciences, and a foreign language is four. Extra-curricular activities and experiences related to your major are also a consideration. Act or SAT I scores are also needed. The School of Information Sciences SAT score (no writing) is 1370-1500, and the ACT is 29-34 for the middle 50%. An essay needs to accompany the application that explains in 300-400 words why you selected information science and your future goals.
As with the University of Illinois, the University of South Florida (USF) also requires the SAT or ACT – you may submit both. Although USF doesn’t ask for a personal statement for undergraduate applicants, they examine your high school coursework. How challenging were your high school classes, and what grades did you earn? Did you satisfy the years of English, math, and sciences for grades nine through twelve, as referenced above for UMD?
When a school looks at your application, it wants students who have the best chance to excel in the chosen major in their estimation. Colleges want students of admirable character, be responsible, are community advocates, and have academic prowess. Many elements go into some applications, as noted above. The more selective the institution, the larger the magnifying glass. One way to avoid scrutiny and rejection is to narrow your choices to schools with high acceptance rates. According to U.S. News, these have 100% acceptance:
- Broward College
- Cameron University
- Dickinson State University
- Glenville State College
- Herzing University
- Mary Baldwin University
- Montana State University – Billings