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Communications Major: Is it worth it? | Major Spotlight

My academic journey as a college student was anything but normal. From transferring schools to transitioning to remote, pandemic-friendly learning, I found myself also struggling to land on a major that really fit my interests. I started as an education major, then social work, then psychology. My junior year I finally chose communications and I have never felt more confident in my decision. I love the wide range of content that’s covered in the courses I get to take and the variety of students I get to interact with. Communications (yes, it’s plural!) is not just giving speeches or writing articles and press releases, it’s pulling back the curtain of human interaction, language, and society. Whether you’re a burgeoning freshman grappling with discovering what your passion really is, you’re considering adding a minor, or just curious about what other students study, it is my pleasure to share the fundamentals of the communications major at SAU.

What is communications?

First, you probably want to know: What is the end goal of getting a communications degree? Well, it depends. Communications students all have different interests and strengths, which is what makes this field of study so fascinating and versatile. It is kind of the “every man’s major” because the skills you develop can be applied to any job in the modern workforce. With a degree in communications, in a broad sense, you are essentially gaining a solid understanding of how organizations communicate with their audiences, but you are also learning how humans interact with each other and all of the external factors that contribute to these relationships. If you have an interest in any of the items below, communications might be a field worth looking into:

  • Writing
  • Event planning 
  • Public relations
  • Television or radio broadcast
  • Advertising
  • Marketing/sales
  • Journalism
  • Human resources
  • Politics/law

What kind of classes do you take?

The courses you take as a communications major at SAU depend on what you find most interesting about the major. All communications majors take the same core classes that focus on different styles of writing, such as media writing and advertising copy. Writing is a great skill to have at any job, but it is extremely beneficial to finely polish your writing skills in the communications field. You also take classes on media theories, technology and its impact on communication, and you learn about the legal aspects of media and communication. If you study public relations you will also conduct a semester-long research project and learn how and why in-depth research is important to any organization. Once you have your core classes completed, you can narrow down your studies and focus on a specific attribute of communication.

What do you really learn?

If you are interested in radio or TV broadcasting, a lot of your classes would focus on the techniques behind the camera or mic, but you’ll also get to practice anchoring and hosting a program. There are digital production classes and even a podcasting class. You learn how to operate the technology, but you also learn strategies on how to produce and maintain audience members. This is where public relations classes come in handy.

If you are interested in public relations, you will take courses on what public relations really is. According to the Public Relations Society of America, public relations is “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” You learn how to conduct research to support a public relations campaign and you also learn how to execute that campaign. You study the history of public relations and what tools have been created to enhance the relationships with audiences. Learning what “good” PR tools are is a very vital part of this field.

If you are a multimedia journalism student, your classes are heavily focused on writing as well as the digital production of media. You will write for the student-lead paper, The Buzz, and you can also take creative writing classes.

Many students will combine this major with a double major or minor in a related discipline (or one totally unrelated!). Common minors that students have are marketing, sales, psychology, sociology, graphic design, and journalism.

Is it worth it?

A common question about communications has to do with salary and job security. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage of media and communication workers in 2020 was $60,000. There is a common misconception that because the field of study is so broad, there is no guarantee of full-time employment after graduation. False. A communications specialist is needed in every organization, big or small. Communication is a key role in effective business. 

So to answer the question “is it worth it?” Yes! Studying communications is totally worth it. For some real-life perspective, I am a graduating senior and I’m currently searching for jobs in the communications/marketing/public relations department of a college or university (my degree will be in PR and Strategic Communication with minors in marketing and psychology). I have some classmates who want to start their careers working in medical sales, some who want to work at law firms, and some who want to be journalists. As you can see, there are so many opportunities that come with being a communications major, and the professors are great too! 

All of these opinions are a reflection of the author, not of the Communication department as a whole. If you are an SAU student that has further questions about this major, feel free to contact me via email @trimblelydiai@sau.edu

Lydia Trimble is studying Public Relations and Strategic Communication with minors in Marketing and Psychology. Lydia's interests outside of school include food & wine, mixology, and good television. Instagram @lydiatrimble Twitter @lydiatrimble23
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