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By Elizabeth LaScala

My Guide to Good College Communications Programs

Uploaded: Jun 5, 2016

Careers in digital, print and broadcast journalism, advertising and public relations are among the most desired by college students. However, early success in these fields requires students to build their resumes while they pursue their degrees.

What are some of the things that particular colleges do to help their students succeed?

• They maintain faculty and staff relationships with major employers. One stand-out is the University of Cincinnati, which requires all communications students to do co-op assignments, usually with the major media outlets or employers in the city. Co-op extends the degree program over five years. Students alternate semesters of paid work with on-campus classes during the middle three years of their education. Scholarships are available to further reduce educational costs, since communications positions are noted for low entry-level salaries. The opportunity to work and receive scholarships is quite attractive.

• They employ career counselors dedicated to the major. Northwestern, Penn State and Syracuse are highly regarded not only for their faculty and resources, but also the career services that are dedicated towards helping their students find internships as well as full-time jobs. Northwestern has the benefit of a major media market location, but Penn State and Syracuse do not. However, the career centers at Penn State and Syracuse do an excellent job at networking with the universities’ alumni to help their students find work.

• For students who are interested in advertising and public relations, they offer an education that balances business and the liberal arts with the technical skills required to work. It is not necessary to be an advertising major to work in advertising or a public relations major to work in public relations. A general business major or a liberal arts major with a business or communications minor can suffice. However, potential employers will expect interns and entry-level employees to have skillsets that include strong writing, presentation skills and analytical skills. Several small and mid-sized colleges that fit the bill include: Franklin & Marshall College and Muhlenberg College, both located in Pennsylvania; I would also mention Marist College, located in New York, and The College of New Jersey.

• For journalism students, they offer an opportunity to complete a second major. Most college journalism programs will recommend that students double major; criminal justice, economics, international relations and political science are popular second majors. Also, reporters with strong academic backgrounds in the sciences will be in high demand within major media markets. Although smaller liberal arts colleges can often make it easier to complete a double major, there are larger universities such as the University of Connecticut, the University of Delaware and Rutgers-New Brunswick that place their communications majors within their college of arts and sciences, making a double major possible.

• They host a high-quality college daily or weekly newspaper. The Associated Collegiate Press recognizes excellence in student media with collegiate journalism’s preeminent award, the Pacemaker. Pacemakers are awarded in each category of publication — online, newspaper, yearbook and magazine. Among the best daily newspapers: the Indiana Daily Student at Indiana University-Bloomington. Among the best weeklies: The Ithacan at Ithaca College (NY) and The Pendulum at Elon University (NC).

No one needs to attend a super-selective school to work for a quality college media outlet, become an attractive candidate for an internship or to move into a rewarding career after graduation. But anyone who expects to be a serious candidate for employment in journalism, advertising or public relations needs to show that s/he has taken advantage of the opportunities that their college and its community had to offer. Their employers will expect them to be go getters from the very start.

Elizabeth LaScala Ph.D. guides families through the complex world of college admission. She helps students identify college majors and career paths, develops good fit college lists, and provides essay coaching and application support to help students tackle each step of the admission process with confidence and success. Each cycle 90% of Elizabeth’s students get into one or more of their top choice colleges. Elizabeth also helps families maximize opportunities for scholarships and financial aid awards. Visit Elizabeth Call (925) 385-0562 or email at elizabeth@doingcollege.com

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