Everyone and their mother have opinions about different college majors, which ones are easy and those that are more difficult. Going into communications, more specifically public relations (PR), was a simple choice for me. I have loved to read and write since a young age, and have developed more skills in presenting and public speaking. After choosing my major I got a lot of questions about what exactly public relations is and what types of jobs it would offer.
That the number one problem when people assume things about communications majors is that they don't really know what each major entails or the work and skills it requires.
I have heard many different guesses about what PR careers are, varying from Olivia Pope on Scandal to C.J. from West Wing. The truth is you can't really believe what you see on TV when thinking about any profession. Take Grey's Anatomy into consideration, there are so many articles and videos explaining how the show really doesn't show the life of a surgeon at all. Which is kind of the point, these shows aren't documentaries or supposed to depict real life. They are centered around drama and romance, with intense scenarios to keep the viewers hooked. So long story short, what you see on TV for any profession isn't a version of reality for anyone.
Another large issue about stereotypes for communications students is that we don't do any difficult or 'real' academic work and breeze by the college.
My god, this one of the most irritating assumptions of all. Being a communications student doesn't mean we have fluff work or do things with hallow meanings. We have work, from 12 page papers to 20 minute presentations. Things like this aren't easy, and if you assume they are you haven't done them to a communications standard. When we write a paper every single point and sentence is closely looked at for grammatical errors and accuracy. We don't get to fill our papers by citing academic research and call it a day. (I am in no way saying doing papers like this is easy. But in reality they are in a completely different ball park from what we are expected of in the communications school.) There are few majors outside of communications that require the dedication and detail to such specific things.
Every class is easy and our professors really only teach us things the common person would know.
If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me what I actually learn in class I would have a good lump-sum. People think communications is simply writing, reading and talking, and how far from the truth they are. Currently I take a class on persuasion, where just today we learned the techniques cult leaders use to 'persuade' members to join. (Just to be clear, while what cult leaders do can be considered persuasion, since it takes away free will and choice researchers consider it more mind control.) While in my international advertising and pr class we are focusing on different countries and how companies must chose how they promote a product depending on different cultures. In sports promotions we have had speakers from the Golden State Warriors, Green Bay Packers, ESPN Milwaukee, Milwaukee Brewers, and the Chicago Cubs. All of which have given us an insight to the communication world within sports. PR strategies has us focusing on different companies who have had recent controversy and creating a case study on the aftermath and response to public opinion. Explain to me how a psychology or bioengineer would do in those classes. That doesn't mean I think either of those majors are easy, I would probably fail an upper level psychology course and would drop out the first day of any bioscience class. But I don't claim either of those major are easy, so why do people get to do it to mine?
We don't have to worry about getting a job after graduation because there are so many in our field.
This one is just a big fat lie. I don't know a single communications student that isn't worried about getting a job after graduation after their sophomore year. We all do internships in the hopes the company will higher us on after we graduate or recommend us to another company who will. The thing with communication jobs is that it's all about who you know and the connections you make. Just take a look at our LinkedIn profiles, they can be pretty intense. Jobs are hard to come by, despite almost every company needing a communications department or person. Getting a job in the field you prefer while heading in the direction you want is really difficult. So let's stop downplaying the job search for communication students, we have it just as rough as you do.
In the real world, anyone can do what we do.
One of the hardest parts about being a communications major is constantly being told that anyone can do what you do, basically making your major and work in school useless. For some reason, everyone outside of the communications school thinks they can read and write just as well, so that means they can do everything we do. I'm not trying to be cocky, but they can't. A history major can't write an advertising campaign for a company or give a speech on persuading people to give them money for a nonprofit organization. Let's be real, you can't do what we do, because it DOES require hard work and effort to learn how to succeed in it.
To wrap things up, it would be great if everyone could give communication majors a break. Yeah, we joke and laugh when you rag on our majors and our work load, but that doesn't mean we're okay with it. You discrediting the field we are paying money to study and want to work in feels like shit. At the end of the day, you don't have the right to say we have an easy work load because you don't actually know what our workload is like. You don't know what goes on behind the scenes at the communication school or the work and dedication it takes to be a communications student.