Why a communication major is not a “cop-out”

#Commnerd argues the importance of a major often dubbed useless.

When introducing yourself to a new friend here at Christopher Newport University, one of the first questions asked is, “what is your major?” In college, your major is a huge part of your identity. When telling this new friend I’m a communication major—comm, for short—there is an automatic judgment towards me and the major I study. To students who study the sciences, I am a slacker and useless to society; to business majors, I am their future barista at Starbucks; for the rest, I’m simply an obnoxious comm major that gets to take the cool classes.
While all these pre-notions of comm majors are prevalent and may have some validity, they are by no means representative of what the communication major provides. I dare to say studying communication may be the most useful major you could study during your four years at CNU. From harnessing your public speaking skills, to studying the ever-changing technology we use to communicate, to learning and discussing in-depth contemporary issues in our society, the communication major proves to be no cop-out.
Ask yourself this… How many times today have you gone on your phone and texted, tweeted, instagramed or scrolled the newsfeed on Facebook? Heck, you’ve probably checked once or twice since the time you began reading this piece. Every time you use your phone or social media, you are validating communication studies. We live in a world dominated by communication and the technology that allows us to communicate instantly with anyone in the world. We live in a world that depends on communication and getting information out as soon as possible. With the comm major, I study the past ways of communicating, the current ways of communication, and I am prepared for the future of communication. From day one, comm professors preach public speaking skills and demand the ability to write, no matter what field you go into. Every employer is looking to hire people with those skills.
The best part about the comm major is the wide variety of areas you can concentrate on within the major. It allows you to focus on specifics, while at the same time taking in a wide variety of topics that are relevant in every day life. In one comm class, I’m learning about the rapid growth of social media and how it influences society, and in the next, I am discussing Stand-Your-Ground laws in Florida. The various umbrellas of topics that a comm major incorporates in their studies allow us to be multifaceted and up to date with the world we’re living in.
All of the topics in the comm department are relevant, contemporary and, above all, applicable. Every lesson you learn in your comm class can easily be applied the minute you walk out of class. For example, in my Public Dialogue class—or to be technical, Comm 425—we analyzed the different techniques used in political ads to evoke different emotions out of consumers and potential voters. The next time I went on YouTube, I had to sit through yet another Ken Cuccinelli ad with his wife telling me what a great man he is. As I watched the video, I quickly analyzed every detail of the video, realizing he was trying to appeal to women voters and was using his wife to humanize himself as a candidate. Using the lessons I learned in Comm 425, I then came to the conclusion that this was like every other political ad ever created before. It lacked any real content and didn’t address any of the issues voters care about, but it will still be effective because we learned people are easily manipulated by political ads.
For those who think comm majors won’t find jobs after college, I turn to specific data, a tactic all comm majors learn how to use to their benefit. According to the U.S. 2010 Census, communication majors have an unemployment rate of 6.3%, and it is the seventh most popular major. Students with a comm major have a lower unemployment rate than students who study history (6.5%), neuroscience (7.2%), Pre-law and legal studies (7.9%), international business (8.5%), and most fields of psychology. And it’s not like comm majors are taking a pay cut to work as well with a median income of $50,000 a year. A bachelor’s degree in communication is one that offers many different job opportunities, all of which can lead to sustainable and rewarding careers.
Comm provides the knowledge that allows me to be a well-rounded, well-informed individual that can go into any interview room in America and be confident that I can hold an intelligent conversation. I understand there is a need for scientists and people who know the periodic table back and front, but is that going to help you when presenting yourself to a future employer? In life, no matter what job you are doing, you are going to have to be able to speak in public, and nothing prepares you better than studying the inter-workings of rhetoric and how to use it to your advantage. In the end, it is about learning skills that you can apply in the real world, and no study applies to the real world as much as communication does. n