When I started my college journey, it felt a little slow, and I couldn’t seem to figure out my life. Through time my college years flew by, and the next thing I knew, I was walking across the stage at commencement. Once I got my hands on my diploma, it finally hit me that I’ve closed another chapter in my life.
I’m happy to share that my degree in communication has taught me so much about myself and my career. I have utilized my communication skills in so many ways since I’ve graduated from college. I think it would be fantastic if more people were comm majors because it’s a valuable skill to have in every industry. So today, I’m sharing five tips for anyone interested in having a degree in communication.
Communication (without the “s”) focuses on a broad spectrum of communication in daily life. Some courses that you may find in communication is leadership, ethnography, intercultural communication, argumentation, et cetera. Students who choose communication as their major will usually want job flexibility, become a professor, or go into research. In other cases, they may want a Master's degree in communication.
Now that we have a general idea of what communication is, let’s dive into the tips. Here are some tips on excelling as a communication major or minor.
Have An Open Mind
Communication is a flexible major that can stem in various directions. If you’re someone who loves to set your own rules and create your path, then communication is a great major for you. However, if you’re someone who prefers a major that has some structure to it, then communication may feel overwhelming to you. It’s good to keep in mind that there’s no right or wrong way to approach this major.
Communication is not a set and stone major where you have to take specific courses to graduate. You have many options to choose from to fulfill your major requirements. The only course that every comm major at my university has to take before they graduate is Capstone. This class may have a different name and purpose at your university, but it’s usually seen as a “review” class or a final project that is completed in your senior year. At SDSU, Capstone is a course that reviews everything that you have learned in communication in the past four years.
My best advice is to approach this major with an open mind and be prepared to be your own leader. From picking your presentation topics to paving your career path, there’s a lot of freedom as a communication major. I encourage you to explore your options and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need the help.
Be Prepared For Feedback And Constructive Criticism
I’ve heard many people say that communication is an “easy” degree, and we do the least amount of work in college. In actuality, communication is not a “rainbows and sunshine” major. Like any major in college, there’s the good, the bad, and the ugly. One of the toughest things about being a communication major is receiving feedback and constructive criticism after every presentation. You don’t hear this a lot for upper division classes, but it’s quite common for lower division classes.
Receiving feedback in a communication class may differ compared to other majors. We generally get our input in front of the class. Even though this is not as scary as I’m making it out to be, receiving feedback isn’t easy for some students. Sometimes it feels overwhelming, and most students do not like being put on the spot.
However, I want to emphasize that your professors and peers are not trying to insult you as a person or as a student. They want what’s best for you so you can do a better job in your next presentation. Most, if not all, feedback should help you improve as a speaker.
Reading And Writing Are Equally As Essential As Public Speaking
This may come as a surprise to some people, but communication will require a lot of reading and writing. From my experiences, I wrote at least one research paper for 70-80% of my communication classes in the past two years in college.
Most people would assume that communication majors will do more public speaking as they advance in college. In actuality, upper division students at my university were seen as “mini/mock researchers.” Therefore, we were required to write research papers. However, this is not the case for every communication class, but roughly 70-80% of it will require a research paper.
APA Style Will Become Your Best Friend
Most communication professors cannot stress enough how important it is to know (at least) the basic rules of APA style. APA style is difficult to understand because there’s a rule for everything. APA style is utilized for your presentations and research papers because you have to cite your work (even if you paraphrase it.) So, you have to use APA format for everything in communication. My best advice is to use Owl Purdue or go to your professor’s office hours for help.
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You Will (Almost) Always Socialize In Class
If there’s a major out there that requires socializing with people as part of their class participation grade, it’s going to be communication. One way or another, your professors will find a way to motivate and encourage you to interact with your classmates.
Whether you’re in a class with 20 or 200 students, your class activities will usually, but not always require some form of a talking activity. Some activities are only 5 minutes long, while others may be the entire class period.
Like I mentioned in the beginning, communication is a fantastic skill to have because not everybody is comfortable talking to the people around them. It’s also a huge résumé booster because hiring managers like to see excellent communication skills in a potential candidate. So, socializing with your classmates is a great way to practice your communication skills. I highly encourage you to take advantage of those activities in class.
Have you ever thought about majoring in communication? I promise it’s workable and fun major. I hope that these tips helped you get excited about your new life as a communication major.