There are days I’d like to be a biology teacher or a marketing professor. You give your notes, you grade your tests, your students’ successes (or lack thereof) show up on the grade book, and then you go to the next semester.
In mass comm, particularly in public relations, our successes don’t just show up in final grades. They’re very PUBLIC (no pun intended). The work our students do, in and out of class, tends to appear in very public places: the pages of the newspaper or magazines, online or enacted in front of other people.
If a student does badly on a test or project, they can bury their heads in shame, swear to do better the next time and buckle down to pull that grade up.
If a mass comm major screws up a writing assignment or layout, it’s there for the world to point fingers at, mock or even ridicule in print.
It’s tough to take criticism from a client who says your campaign isn’t feasible. Get a 54 on a Scantron test, and you hide it in your notebook. You don’t have to share that 54 with anyone. Try doing a special event when dozens (or perhaps hundreds) of Monday morning quarterbacks and self-proclaimed event planners are just waiting to say, “Well, it could’ve been better if you’d done this” or “Why didn’t you do that?”
Of course, these same opportunities ultimately lead to better, more experienced students. They also lead – eventually – to solid internships, bulging portfolios and incredible job offers. Because while the efforts of mass comm majors are very public, they’re also very hands-on. It’s not about memorizing dates for a test or simply making an oral presentation. It’s experiential learning, doing the work they came here to learn, implementing theory into real-world practice. It’s thinking critically and acting on that thought, then evaluating the result to see how it could be improved in the future.
Sure, nobody likes public humiliation. The very thought of it drives us to be our best selves. As Nietzsche said, That which does not kill us makes us stronger. In mass comm, it makes us better writers, editors, designers, photographers, event planner, PR practitioners, advertising copywriters and media planners.