Do high GRE scores translate to scholarships from MLS programs?
January 7, 2010 7:28 AM   Subscribe

MLS Filter: Should I bother taking the GREs?

After reading many of the previous posts on AskMeFi, I'm considering applying to master of library science programs. Some of the schools I'm looking at exempt holders of advanced or professional degrees from submitting GRE scores with their applications. I have a JD, so presumably I wouldn't need to take the GRE and submit scores.

My question is, should I take the test anyway with the hope of getting merit-based scholarships? As background, I scored in the 99th and 98th percentile on the SAT and LSAT, respectively, and my scores on those tests got me a lot of admission and scholarship offers from various schools (I imagine this is because my score would help inflate the school's average test scores for incoming students, making them look more selective and prestigious). I am good at taking standardized tests and assume that with a little bit of studying I would do pretty well on the GRE.

Comments on a previous question indicate that some schools don't care much about the GRE and some don't require it at all, so I'm wondering if the high test scores=scholarship experience that I've encountered in college and law school applies when you're pursuing an MLS.

(I've seen the couple posts on the topic but I'd also love to hear any stories of people who went from JD to law librarian, feel free to MeFi mail me.)

Thanks in advance.
posted by jalexc to Education (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I went to one of those schools without a GRE requirement, but I've never heard of scholarships for library school programs being tied to GRE scores. I wouldn't bother, unless you're pretty confident that taking the GRE would be worth your time and effort anyway.
posted by the dief at 7:58 AM on January 7, 2010

I think the best thing to do is to look into the schools you're planning on applying to and take a look at their scholarship criteria. Most list them on their websites.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:01 AM on January 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, PhoBWanKenobi, but I haven't seen much specific information. For example, this is from UNC's financial aid page:
Most SILS financial aid and assistantships are given to students who begin their programs in summer or fall semesters although awards generally do not begin until the fall. There is no separate application process for merit-based financial aid.

Many SILS awards are of one-year duration; others are renewed for a second year, contingent upon academic and service performance. Second-year students have a number of opportunities to apply for part-time internships offered by area corporations, information agencies, or libraries.

Here's Denver's:
The Morgridge College of Education awards over $4.5 million in merit and need based aid annually in the form of grants, scholarships, fellowships, graduate teaching/research assistantships, work-study, work stipend and loans.

The financial assistance is disbursed from the following categories:

* Boettcher Scholarship/stipend * $510,000

Total aid for 2007-2008 academic year: $4,521,271

*total annual awards are based on number of students admitted to program, amounts may vary.

Our awards are decided by faculty of the academic program to which you have applied. You must be formally admitted to a degree granting program before a decision on financial aid can be made.
Other schools just say "merit-based" or "qualified student" without elaborating. I understand that there are scholarships with specific criteria or that past experiences and academic work may factor in to the decision to award certain scholarships. I'm not asking about those. Essentially, I'm wondering if any of the many librarians on metafilter have received "merit scholarships" based almost solely on their GRE scores.
posted by jalexc at 11:01 AM on January 7, 2010

Other schools just say "merit-based" or "qualified student" without elaborating. I understand that there are scholarships with specific criteria or that past experiences and academic work may factor in to the decision to award certain scholarships. I'm not asking about those. Essentially, I'm wondering if any of the many librarians on metafilter have received "merit scholarships" based almost solely on their GRE scores.

I would first try googling the individual scholarships, then call the schools and ask them directly if taking the GREs would make you more competitive for merit scholarships. Anecdata about merit scholarships is unlikely to be helpful, because (in my graduate school experiences), you're not told why you're awarded money when you receive it.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:13 AM on January 7, 2010

Best answer: I got assistantships all through my four semesters of library school, tuition plus hourly wage for up to 20 hours a week. I know it helped that I had a PhD, and nobody asked for my GRE scores.

The assistantships were great, I spent two semesters as the research assistant for a nationally-prominent professor and two semesters doing reference and instruction. I urge you to get as much hands-on experience as you can. Are you planning to be a law librarian? If so, choose a program that will allow you to work in a law library on campus.
posted by mareli at 11:13 AM on January 7, 2010

Best answer: As a JD-MLS, I did not take the GREs. I managed to get scholarships (not full-ride or anything, but they paid for a few classes) by being involved in the local law librarian association and applying for the money. Tell them why you chose librarianship over law practice, what you hope to do in the future, and what you'll use the money for, and they will give it to you. I haven't heard of test-based scholarships, but maybe I just didn't know about them. PhoB has it right about asking the schools.

Absolutely seconding mareli on getting a library job before or during library school. You will make enough to live on, you will be getting all-important resume-building experience, and you will make important connections that will serve you later in your career.

[wandering a little from the subject; bear with me]

One thing about librarians, we love to stick together. The person who applies for a job and mentions that they are considering library school is far and away ranked above the person who doesn't want to go to library school. Librarians love to help library students. At bottom, the library student basically affirms our choice of career, and who doesn't like that?

As for connections, you never know where the people around you will end up. When I was in library school, I took a 26k job as a library assistant. I filed, I faxed, I entered data. My boss from that relatively small library is now head of the Law Library of Congress.

Unlike law school, library jobs don't care what your grades were. All you have to do is have the degree. What improves your career chances are paraprofessional experience and extracurricular activities, like writing for the local law library association newsletter or serving on a committee.

Feel free to memail me for any questions. Like I said, librarians love to help other people become librarians. :)
posted by cereselle at 3:47 PM on January 7, 2010

I am not a law librarian. I did, however, get a scholarship in library school and I worked at a T-15 school's law library during my program; I also interviewed for a position at a very well known law firm while I was in library school (I ultimately decided against taking the job, for various reasons that had nothing to do with the job itself. Paying your job for the privilege of parking? Just isn't my style). All this was awesome experience that very much helped me decide against working as a law librarian.

The school where I got my MLIS has both a top law school and a high-ranked library school, and internships in the law field are not uncommon (there's an internship available now at the county law library, which one of my friends did while in library school). There's issues with the MLIS program there, though, and feel free to MeMail if you are interested in applying and want details.

To answer your original question, I would recommend taking the GREs if you're sure you're going to score *that* well on them; I can't dig up the details right now, but I'm pretty sure that the scholarship that I got from them was partially based on my GRE scores.

If you are qualify for a Spectrum scholarship, many schools match ALA's money with department money and that can add up to a significant savings. Not to mention, there's a good number of fellowships (including Georgetown law library, the one I'm familiar with) that are earmarked for Spectrum scholars or other minorities.

Also, I have encountered law librarians who state that their firms refuse to hire librarians who have JDs because these librarians 'inevitably' want to jump ship and go back to becoming a lawyer. This was more than one person, for those who are reading that and scoffing. I disagree with the statement but do be aware that some slight amount of prejudice exists. On the other hand, if you wanted to work at a university or other academic law library, you'd have to have the JD. So, it depends on your goals and the wackiness of firms in your area and a thousand other things.

Keep in mind that sometimes it can seem like the only field doing as badly as librarianship is law; combining the two may not make for the securest career path (but a lot of debt is a virtual certainty).

Finally, are you familiar with AALL? If you are serious about becoming a law librarian, you should probably become familiar with them.

Memail if you would like more information; I may not be a law librarian but I do have a good friend who is.
posted by librarylis at 1:01 AM on January 8, 2010

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