Monday, November 24, 2014

Letters of Recommendation

We know prospective students often have many questions about letters of recommendation... who to ask? how to ask? when?

I've pulled together two posts from the last two years in which we can help answer some of those questions...

Check them out here:

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Ann Arbor Data Dive 2014

My name is Jeff Bennett and I'm a first year MSI student and a UMSI Peace Corps Coverdell Fellow. Prior to beginning this program I live and worked in the Dominican Republic for two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer encouraging the use of Information and Communications Technologies to support literacy education. UMSI was a natural fit for my interests within graduate education because of the school's emphasis on community service opportunities. My transition to graduate school here has allowed me to get real world practice with the skills I am learning in a service context.

Along these lines, this past weekend I had the privilege of participating in Ann Arbor Data Dive (A2D2), a weekend event that brings together students and community members to help nonprofits receive much needed data analysis and allows students and community members to learn from the manipulation of real world data sets.

Back in September my team met with our client representative, Kate, with Safe House Center for the first of many meetings to prepare the organization’s data for the actual dive. We learned about the organizations vision, to help survivors of domestic violence, and about the organizations seemingly endless list of programs. Not only does Safe House provide shelter for survivors of domestic violence, they work with hospital outreach, operate a crisis hotline, and provide LGBT community services. As government funding for Safe House has been decreasing over the past several years, it has been extremely important for the organization to increase donor giving to compensate for the loss. Kate worked with us to learn how to get the best donor data possible out of their current system and our student team cleaned up this donor data to prepare it for analysis.

Data Dive is an incredible service engagement learning opportunity. From participating I learned not only more about data analysis through work with great team players, I also learned a great deal about managing a real world client relationship. Information is a great field to be in because it combines both these hard and soft skills to produce compelling results that “real” people can understand and use.

In the end, we were able to give Kate future predictions of potential recurring donors who may lapse. From this list, it will now be possible for Safe House to target individual donors for more personalized appeals. Additionally, trends within donor giving were presented and it became clear that some organizational campaigns were much more effective than others. This information will should allow Safe House Center to generate more revenue in the coming year. But perhaps more important than any actual data analysis, we were able to give Kate some clear recommendations for best practices going forward. Safe House Center now has a clearer tool kit with which to collect their data going forward which will hopefully be allow sustainable growth in their donations to occur.

With all that was accomplished in just one weekend, I am excited about the prospect of continuing to work with Safe House going forward to implement some of the solutions we talked about. Fortunately, with sustainable projects in mind, there are plans to continue this relationship between Safe House and the UMSI community.

One of the reason’s I choose to attend UMSI for my MSI degree was that I truly felt there is no better place for someone interested in service opportunities to learn about the Information field. Now that I am here several months into my first year as an MSI student, I see even more clearly how important it is for those of us who work as Information professionals to give back our services to organizations who truly need them. And the opportunities to pursue projects similar to Data Dive here at UMSI really do seem endless.

If anyone has any questions about Data Dive, what it's like to be a Coverdell Fellow at UMSI, or service engagement opportunities here in general, please feel free to contact me at any time.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Navigating the UMSI Admission Process

Let’s admit it - applying to grad school can feel a bit overwhelming at times. Deciding on what schools to apply to, deciphering what each school requires and wrangling letters of recommendation takes a lot of time and effort.

This guide will aim to break the process in helpful bites and point you in the right direction.

UMSI has created lots of resources to help paint a picture of life during and after your time at UMSI. Our website has so much information on the courses and specializations, faculty and their research areas and all the great student groups.

So you can see yourself thriving at UMSI and enjoying living in Ann Arbor. Now it is time to pull together a complete application that tells your story.

Connect with us
Still have questions about the program or the application process? We want to hear from you! Sign up for our mailing list to get updates like this one or contact directly at

Remember that you are not alone in applying to this program. We have set up a Facebook group for students just like you to get to know each other and ask questions.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Online information sessions for prospective UMSI students!

UMSI will host online information sessions that will present basic information about the program and answer any questions you may have.

Join us for one of the following sessions:

     - Thursday, November 13, 10:00-11:00 a.m. EST
     - Tuesday, November 18, 3:00-4:00 p.m. EST
     - Friday, December 5, 12:00-1:00 p.m. EST

Alissa Talley-Pixley will be presenting, and there will be a current student or two to help answer questions. Please RSVP here now, and closer to the session, you will receive information about how to join online.

Check out the recruiting events calendar to see all upcoming events!