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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

How well are Communications Schools adapting to the digital world?

As a student about to graduate college with a strategic communications degree I often wonder to what extent my increasingly expensive education has prepared me for a career in public relations. In today’s digitally focused public relations industry did my schooling really teach me what I need to know?

These questions are not only being asked by many students in journalism and communications schools, but by foundations that fund these schools as well. A recent letter to journalism and communication schools from the Knight Foundation warns that, “schools that favor the status quo, and thus fall behind in the digital transition, risk becoming irrelevant to both private funders and, more importantly, the students they seek to serve.”

The letter in its entirety can be found here: Knight Foundation’s open letter to journalism schools.

While I have a general outlook that all knowledge, no matter what the topic, is beneficial in some way I cannot help but think that I may have missed out on learning some skills needed to compete in the real world digital marketplace.

I think back to the seemingly endless classes based around the history and principles of public relations and cant help but wonder, “Should I have been working on my online presence and learning practical skills instead?”

While I understand that the basics and foundation of public relations may be important to learn, will knowledge of these topics make me become a better professional especially as the foundation of public relations is changing?

Colleges are supposed to prepare their students for the job market, giving them the skills needed to succeed. However, it seems that many schools are finding it difficult to adapt to this new digital world and are unsure of how to correctly teach such skills.

Many people will say that students learn these practical skills through internships. However, with the price of college on the rise what about those who cannot afford a summer internship? Where and when will they learn the practical skills needed to succeed?

I believe that this is an exciting time to be involved in the communications industry but I also believe it is time to bring journalism and communication schools into the 21st century.

Sarah Wiley
University of Minnesota
Jour 3279
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