By: Gabe Thomas
When I started my college career in the fall of 2018, I was unsure of what I wanted my major to be. After taking the time to go through every possible career choice that interested me, I narrowed down my possible majors to communication studies and business. When I looked through the possible courses I could take through UNCW’s Communication Studies department, I was excited by the opportunities available. Four years later, I am incredibly grateful for the decision I made then, and have learned so much along the way. As I reflect on my experience at UNCW, there are three main factors that contributed to a positive experience.
Variety of Skills
First was the range of options offered to students in the program. As I freshman I entered school knowing that I was interested in sales or marketing as a career, but that was the extent of my hopes for my professional future. Communication studies allowed me to take a variety of classes that allowed me to broaden my understanding of the professional workplace, and later narrow my focus on a more specific career path. Taking classes such as strategic writing grew my skills in writing with a target audience in mind, while classes I took in integrated marketing taught me how to build a brand, understand your message, and develop campaigns.
Skills that I learned through the courses I have taken are much more than learning “how to communicate,” and have expanded my understanding of many facets of business and the workplace. I am not only more prepared for the workplace now than I was before college, but am also confident that the information I have learned will be of practical use to me in my future career.
Another factor that led to a great experience through communication studies was the class structure of most of my courses. I have many years of experience from an early age through high school and into college to know that I do not thrive when taking exams. Not only have I always been slow to complete standardized tests, but I learn less when I am studying simply to pass an exam. While I did not manage to fully escape tests throughout my time at UNCW, most of the classes that I took during my college career gave me many other ways to weigh my grade that suited me much better. In most of my classes, I was graded on assignments with team members, presentations within the class, and writing assignments. All of which will better prepare me for future jobs.
Learning…Not just about COM Studies
The last factor that led to a positive experience as a UNCW COM student was the freedom to take classes outside of the department. I know is a slight juxtaposition, but because of this, I was excited about my learning through taking classes that I was curious about and interested in. Communication studies have fewer credits required to complete the major than some other majors, and therefore to complete my credit hour requirements for the university I was able to fulfill them through a range of interesting classes. Compared to many of my friends in different majors that spent all four years taking classes that were all related, I was able to study many different topics such as concepts in film, the theory, and practice of hip hop, religion classes, and much more that kept me inspired about the experience of learning.
This ability to take courses outside of COM also led to me minoring in leadership studies. I took Leadership 211 as an elective course during my junior year and was blown away by the professor, and my understanding and growth of myself as a leader. Because of the flexibility I had in my major I was able to dive further into this subject and ended up completing my minor, which I could not have done otherwise.
As I finish up my last semester at UNCW, I can say without a doubt that I have no regrets about becoming a communication studies major. The courses I have taken gave me practical experience in the workplace, kept me excited about learning, and presented me with opportunities that were both challenging and rewarding. I am eager to begin a new part of my professional life and I am forever grateful to UNCW for the many amazing experiences.