PROGRAMMING SUCCESS: Louisiana Tech students explore options, expand marketability with School of Communication
This is the first article in a six-part series highlighting academic programs at Louisiana Tech University that are having significant impacts on the region and whose graduates are contributing to the growth of the economies, communities and competitiveness of north Louisiana.
RUSTON, La. – The possibilities for a career in a communications field are not necessarily endless, but they certainly have a wide range.
“Students in our School of Communication will be able to enter business, public relations, government work, news media, non-profits, journalism, education, broadcast journalism, and the film or entertainment industry,” said Donald Kaczvinsky, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “In fact, degrees in communications are some of the most sought after in the current market.”
The newly formed School of Communication at Louisiana Tech University merges the disciplines of journalism, speech and theater to offer students a well-rounded and highly-marketable degree. As each of the fields are converging with technological advancements, the School of Communication will put all the skills in one place.
“Consistently, employers state that they are looking for students with strong oral and written communication skills,” Kaczvinsky said. “In other words, it’s a hot field. I also feel these are the skills that are at the core of a liberal arts education. We have reorganized to give greater emphasis to the array of communication skills we teach. We also allow students to work a vastly greater range of the communication formats than previously available, including social media, films, digital design and web media.”
According to the 2013 Job Outlook Study from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the ability to verbally communicate with persons inside and outside the organization was identified as the top “soft” skill sought by employers when recruiting college graduates.
Lisa Merritt, an instructor of speech communication, said she is excited about the future collaborative efforts.
“It’s an invigorating opportunity to work directly with faculty in each of the disciplines and to appreciate the work that each area is doing all in an effort to better serve the students,” Merritt said. “Communication studies is a major ideal for students with multiple interests and diverse talents.”
Louisiana Tech is seeking to prepare all of its students, regardless of major, with strong communications skills that many employers don’t feel are being provided by the nation’s colleges and universities. A 2012 Chronicle of Higher Education and American Public Media study titled, “The Role of Higher Education in Career Development: Employer Perceptions,” found that when it comes to the skills most needed by employers, job candidates are lacking most in written and oral communication skills, adaptability and managing multiple priorities, and making decisions and problem solving.
Blake Bolin, a junior journalism student, said he thinks Louisiana Tech’s new School of Communications will offer students more opportunities.
“It gives me more freedom in regards to my career path,” Bolin said. “A communications degree is extremely diverse and would allow me many different career options upon graduation.”
Students who want to major in communications take four core classes, including a web design or photography/videography class and a class in media literacy. Then the student will choose a focus in journalism, theater or communication studies.
All of the courses within the School of Communication contribute to building skill sets in the graduates of Louisiana Tech that are attractive to nearly every industry in north Louisiana and that can create new opportunities for growth and innovation for any company or organization.
“The field of communication is one of the most rapidly changing in today’s society, so we wanted to make sure our curriculum and offerings were up to date,” Kaczvinsky said. “We asked ourselves, and we asked the students: What makes a Tech education unique? What we came up with time and again was the emphasis we placed on communication skills. It also goes along with the larger university interests of creating more interdisciplinary classes and collaborative efforts among the students and faculty.”
Written by Judith Roberts – firstname.lastname@example.org