You may have a few (or several) questions regarding the Communication Major. Maybe you are curious about the discipline. Maybe you want to know about the courses that we offer. Or maybe it's "What can I do with this degree?"
Why attend USC Aiken to study Communication? You will have the opportunity to:
- Work with outstanding faculty, including a two-time recipient of the USC Aiken Teaching Excellence Award.
- Develop your communication and leadership skills.
- Department faculty are dedicated to helping you learn and achieve your goals. We strive to be innovative teachers who use active and experiential teaching tools to promote understanding and application.
- Co-curricular activities like the Pacer Times student newspaper, Lambda Pi Eta honor society, International Association of Business Communicators, and other organizations provide opportunities to apply your knowledge.
- Learn with others who are supportive, helpful and capable. Our students have been recognized for leadership excellent and have won awards from the South Carolina Press Association and the South Carolina College Speech Association
- Make a difference in the community by participating in service organizations or classroom-based service-learning.
- Obtain one of several academic scholarships we offer each year to communications majors at the sophomore level and above
Here is where you can find answers to some of the concerns or interests you may have about the Communication major.
Just what is the study of communication?
Those of us who study Communication look at verbal and nonverbal symbols, spoken and written messages, interactions, relationships, networks, persuasive campaigns, media effects, new media and social media, broadcasting, communication ethics, and more.
Why do students major in communication?
A practical and important discipline, communication prepares students to enter a wide range of careers as well as graduate study in the discipline or in related disciplines, such as law or higher education administration. The topics and issues covered in communications classes apply to a wide range of experiences in one's career and also in one's personal life.
What can I do with a degree in Communication?
Some students go to graduate school to continue their study of the discipline and some go to grad school to study related topics, but most of our graduates go directly into careers. One recent graduate is the Community Relations Coordinator for a local blood bank, another is an assistant basketball coach on the college level, still a third is a youth minister, while another student is a writer at the local newspaper.
What are some other kinds of jobs available to those who earn a B.A. degree in Communication?
A BA in communication can help you secure a variety of types of jobs. Here are just a few options:
For Communication Majors
Are you a Communication major who has questions?
Here are answers to some questions commonly asked by communication majors. See also the section on questions asked by non-majors, and never use web-page information to substitute for a good conversation with your advisor.
What if a class I want is full?
If the class has multiple sections, you can look for an open section of that class that fits into your schedule, and register for that section. If that doesn’t work, you can select a class from the list of alternates your advisor approved for you. In some cases the dean or department chair can sign an override--you can always ask. Please see your advisor before you register for any class.
Do not add a class that you and your advisor have not discussed.
What if I want to add a class?
If you and your advisor have discussed taking the class, and the advisor approves, you can add the class. Courses can only be added during the first week of classes. Do not add a class your advisor hasn’t approved.
What if I decide I don't want to take a class for which I've registered?
You should always consult with your advisor before dropping a class. There are several issues; for example, is the course a requirement for your degree that isn’t offered again soon or is it a prerequisite to a course you need? Dropping a class might delay your graduation. You should also be sure that dropping a course will no thurt your financial aid, scholarship eligibility or insurance coverage.
What are my chances of graduating in four years?
A full-time student can certainly graduate in four years. You must complete 120 credit hours, so on average, you need to complete 15 hours per semester. You must keep track of your own progress and make sure all your courses will count toward graduation. Work closely with your advisor on that as well as on timing of classes. We do not offer every class every semester, so be aware of course rotations. Finally, if you have changed your major, you may have taken courses that will not count toward your Communication degree, and that may result in additional semesters. Obviously, dropping or failing a class can delay your graduation.
How can I be sure I am taking my classes in the right order?
- Freshmen must take AFCI 101 Critical Inquiry during their first semester.
- Take your English composition classes (AEGL 101 and 102) right away. These courses develop your writing skills and help you do well on papers and exams in other classes. Passing AEGL 101 and 102 with a C or higher is a prerequisite for some communication courses. You need good writing skills to succeed in communications.
- Take your math classes right away before you have time to forget what you learned in high school.
- During your first year, you will want to sign up for ACOM 190 Introduction to Communication.
- Consider taking AFYS 101 The First-Year Seminar. This elective course helps new students succeed in college by helping them develop good study habits, improve note-taking skills, learn how to work with professors, gain strategies for improving test taking skills, and overcome test anxiety.
- Take ACOM 201 Interpersonal Communication and ACOM 241 Public Speaking during your sophomore year.
- If you want to continue your second language from high school, take those classes right away.
- Take classes to complete your General Education requirements and to help you select a secondary area of study. Be sure to take at least one class every semester that really interests you.
- Pay attention to course numbers and plan to take 100 and 200 level courses before 300 and 400 levels. Also, please note course prerequisites.
- Once you have completed 60 credits, submit your Writing Proficiency Portfolio. You must pass this before you can take your Capstone. AEGL 201 with a grade of C or better also meets this requirement.
- Not all courses are offered every semester. The "rotation schedule" of courses on the Department's website can help you plan classes in the Communication major. This rotation schedule is a plan, not a guarantee, so do not leave too many required courses for the last semester.
My friends have to take a non-western world studies course. Do I?
Yes. However, you will meet that requirement when you take ACOM 450 Intercultural Communication, which is a core requirement for communications majors.
Do I have to take Writing Intensive courses?
All USC Aiken students who are meeting the requirements of the 2011-2012 or later Bulletin must take three courses designated as Writing Intensive, including one in their major. The Department of Communication offers a number of Writing Intensive courses.
What math should I take?
First, entering freshmen should take the on-line math placement test. Watch prerequisites carefully. You have several choices of math, statistics or logic classes from which to choose, including the following:
- Statistics (ASTA 201). This is a helpful class for students interested in media, public relations, political campaigns and many other communications careers.
- AMTH 103 and/or AMTH 104. These classes, which focus on math for practical purposes, emphasize contemporary mathematical thinking.
- AMTH 108. Designed to help you learn to think logically, this is the standard college algebra class. It is a prerequisite for more advanced math classes.
- APHL 110 Logic. This class studies deductive reasoning.
These are just some of the choices. Work with your advisor to select the math courses that best meet your needs.
How do I choose a minor, and what minors are popular?
You should select a minor that interests you. Your minor does not have to connect with the major. Communication students might minor in English, business, studio art, political science, psychology, sociology, or any other approved subject. You probably don't have to declare your minor to your advisor until late in your sophomore year, but think about it and explore options before then. Be sure to talk to professors in the discipline and find out about course rotations and any special requirements for the minor. The USCA Bulletin lists subjects in which you can minor and explains the requirements.
Although we recommend a minor, you may choose a cognate instead of a minor to meet this requirement. Consult with your advisor about this.
I see that Communication majors take a "capstone." What is a capstone and what are my choices?
The capstone should bring together all that you have learned in the communication classes you have taken. It helps you to evaluate, integrate and demonstrate what you have learned. Students complete this experience as one of their senior year courses. Students work with an organization and make all arrangements for their Capstone experience with approval and guidance from their Capstone instructor. Talk with your advisor and the Capstone instructor before you contact an organization.
USCA Communication majors have two options for the Capstone experience. One is the internship (ACOM A497), where you apply the knowledge and skills you've obtained to a position in newspaper writing, broadcasting (radio or TV), public relations, graphic design, magazine writing, advertising, or another communication field. You will work with a professional who has education and/or work experience in the chosen areas as well as with a faculty member from the department. You should both deepen and expand your understanding of the discipline in this practical experience. Students have completed recent internships at local TV and radio stations, Global Spectrum, the Augusta Riverhawks, Aiken Electric Cooperative, the Aiken Standard, and many other organizations.
The second option is the service learning experience (ACOM A499), which involves applying us your knowledge and skills in a non-profit, charitable organization. During your experience, you should find yourself integrating theory with practice, gaining a greater understanding of communication principles, and making a difference in the community. Students have completed service-learning capstones at many agencies, including the American Red Cross, Sunshine House, Helping Hands, ACTS, The First Tee of Aiken, The Ronald McDonald House, and the Aiken Area Council on Aging.
With either option, the capstone instructor will require additional written and oral assignments.
To enroll in a capstone experience, you must have completed 90 hours of coursework, including at least 18 hours in communication. You must have at least a 2.0 GPA and have successfully completed the Junior Writing Portfolio, as well as communication course prerequisites with a C or better. For more information, see the capstones web page and contact your academic advisor.
What is the exit interview?
All Communication majors complete an on-line exit interview before they graduate. We use this to help judge how effective your education here has been.