Undergraduate Degree for Communications
International students who earn an undergraduate degree in communications have a better chance of entering the workforce in careers such as journalism, advertising and public relations. A communications major will experience hands-on learning and real work experience throughout the pursuit of a degree. It is important to know what to expect in the program as well as what the program will expect from students.
International students seeking careers in the field of journalism, advertising or public relations should acquire an undergraduate degree in communications. With a bachelor’s degree, career options and higher salaries are further accessible. Though some jobs will accept an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s is preferred or required by most. As a communications major, international students should keep in mind the programs, environment and what will be expected of them throughout their four years and beyond.
Courses and Concentrations
Since the field of communications is so broad, a communications major will typically require international students to narrow their field of study down and choose a concentration. These concentrations may include print or online journalism, broadcast journalism, advertising, or public relations. The classes taken will depend on the concentration chosen, though most colleges require the student to take at least an intro level course in every area of communications.
Most classes regardless of concentration will include hands-on learning. A journalism concentration may have assignments to write articles and interview actual sources, requiring the student to cover events on and off campus. Advertising concentrations may have to design an advertising campaign and test their project. Public relations students may have the opportunity to develop an event for a nonprofit organization. Though each concentration will have different classes and workloads, each concentration in the field of communications will give students the chance to practice their field and not simply learn from lectures and textbooks. Some schools like Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida offer unique programs for the changing world of communications. At Full Sail, areas of focus include written and visual communications, digital audio and video production, new media tools and transmedia storytelling.
Responsibilities and Realities
Along with the responsibility that comes with classes, communication students may have added responsibilities. A communication major learns quickly that to make it in a communications career, experience is everything. Thus, international students may have added responsibilities on campus newspapers, magazines, radio stations, broadcast stations, clubs and more. It may take long hours at times to be a part of campus organizations and campus productions, but if a journalism student becomes an editor on their school paper, or if a broadcast student anchors campus news, he will be more inclined to understanding how the communication industry works and will be more prepared when it is time to go into the career world. Students will be encouraged to accept internships and job offers sometimes as early as their freshman year. Pursuing an undergraduate degree in communications incorporates the reality that students are in college to build a portfolio. If students earn an undergraduate degree in communications but do not have experience, it will be more difficult for them to land a job in the field.
Expectations and Expediency
As a communication major, international students can expect to hold the perception of keeping the end in mind. Every decision you make not only helps you earn an undergraduate degree in communications, but it also helps you develop the experience, skills and knowledge needed for future communications careers. When an international student enrolls as a communications major, he should remember to keep proof of every article, every photo, every brochure that he thinks will help him in his future career.
Because even though an undergraduate degree will help students obtain a career, sometimes the degree isn’t enough. College offers many opportunities to practice the skills learned in class, and international students should try to take part in as many of those opportunities as they can. The resources offered by the top communication colleges should not be overlooked. Pursuing an undergraduate degree in communications is more than taking tests and earning a good GPA. It’s also experiencing the career world while still in college and getting a head start on the other applicants with a similar undergraduate degree.