If you’re a communication major, you’ve probably been asked, “What do you even study?” After your 20 minute sermon, your inquisitor looks confused, so you give up on even trying to explain. Then, he asks, “Well, what are you planning on doing once you graduate?” Now this question starts a fire in the pit of your stomach because he isn’t asking out of curiosity, he’s just trying to prove his major is better than yours. Tired of coming up with answers to these daunting questions? Go take a nap because CM asked professors and doctoral candidates at Florida State University to clarify the top misconceptions about communication studies.
1. Communication is a Single Discipline Study
People often believe communication majors only learn the methods of effective communication and how it affects society as a whole. However, there are more fields that come into play including sociology, marketing, advertising and public relations. Doctoral candidate Danyang Zhao said, “The field is so broad but one can find their interest through different focuses, whether it be analyzing the messages of communication or the process of communication through quantitative and qualitative research. However, we are an interdisciplinary major because we combine studies such as psychology and computer science and science in general.” The beauty of communication majors is that although their diplomas will read “Bachelor of Arts and Sciences in General Communication,” they’re actually mini experts in many disciplines.
Communication majors also learn about rhetoric, persuasion and research skills. Doctoral candidate Qihao Ji said, “Communication has a major impact on our society…We are the only ones that have the knowledge of how to analyze certain skills, like helping a misconducted athlete be depicted to the media in a certain way.” Not only is communication an interdisciplinary major, it’s a major that allows for people to create something impactful that will grab people’s attention, making them reflect and take action.
2. Communication Majors Are Unemployable
When you’re told you’ll be a Starbucks barista for all eternity, it’s a pretty bad feeling. In reality, communication majors have created job titles that didn’t exist 25 years ago like an online brand manager or a social media manager. Professor Donna Nudd said, “Though the title of a communication and media studies major does not scream out to you the ability to get a job, the school creates this idea of education being lateral as teaching students to research, think, write and speak well. If you can write, think and speak well you will be able to keep up with the jobs that are constantly changing.”
This adaptability makes communication majors useful in many different fields. Professor Laura Arpan said, “Communication majors can do almost anything in a wide variety of jobs no matter what the field is. Engineers create innovation, but someone needs to convince the public why they need that product. Communication majors can work in sales, pursue law degrees, marketing and non-profits because our education is so broad based, such as the CEO of Spanx who was a communication major.” STEM majors, guess what? Business, accounting and law degrees aren’t the only ingredients for a recipe to success.
3. Communication Majors Have It Easy
Just because communications students aren’t required to memorize formulas or the human anatomy doesn’t mean they don’t face challenges in their studies. Counseling advisor Arlin Robinson said that the FSU communication department only wants the best students, requiring a minimum of a 3.0 GPA and numerous prerequisite credits. The competitive admission process leads to individual success. “We have one of the highest graduation rates of any of the other schools at FSU because we choose students who are reliable and have a need to succeed,” Robinson said.
4. Communication Degrees Are Useless Unless You Go To Law School
Studying communications is one path that can lead to law school, but it can take you many other places as well. Professor Arthur Raney said, “In reality all business fields whether business or government or education, people are constantly communicating and communication majors are at the heart of managing the flow of information. Every field requires communication whether it is writing, researching and managing; communication majors have a flexibility to pursue a variety of interests.” The real question is actually what can a communication major not do?
5. Communication Is the Same as Broadcast Journalism
Though some alumni become radio and television broadcasters, the communications degree isn’t synonymous with journalism. Media production professor Malia Brucker said that communication majors and media production majors that fall under the same school allow students to have careers in news, sports media, non-profits, corporate and communication departments. “Communication majors know what is good media and content, and attempt to reach people’s attention and essentially make a difference,” Brucker said.
Communication students are multi-skilled, creative and cultured. They want to make a difference in the world one medium at a time, so maybe next time you’re using Facebook or Pinterest or watching something on TV, make sure to thank communication alumni because they’re the sorcerers behind the curtain.