College communications classes prepare students for careers in business, advertising, broadcasting, education and public service. Topics range from specific ways to develop interpersonal skills to more general concepts, such as marketing and politics. As a student, you can expect a wide range of academic material that covers effective and productive communication strategies. Undergraduate upper-level courses often require supervised research.
Many introductory-level communications courses center around public speaking, casually referred to as speech. Students learn to compose well-constructed, thought-provoking content and present their material to classmates and instructors. Academic instruction focuses on organization, analysis and presentation strategies to help students learn and practice public speaking. Professors often encourage students to evaluate each others' speeches to encourage classroom interaction. Some universities, such as the University of California, Los Angeles, require students to meet entry-level writing requirements before taking communications classes.
Technology and globalization have made multimedia an important part of communication. Introductory and advanced communications courses stress the value of different forms of media, such as digital media, photography, printed text, audio and picture graphics. For example, the University of Wisconsin offers a digital production communications course for freshman that teaches students how to use cutting-edge technologies to develop and present creative ideas. Students learn how to make an impact with multimedia resources and analyze various forms of communication so they become well-informed media consumers.
Because some students purse careers in advertising, business, marketing and politics, mass communication is an important topic in college communications departments. For example, third-level communications courses at Boston College cover subjects such as social and economic factors related to advertising, media research, mass marketing, crisis management, mass data analysis, public affairs and employee relations. Many of these topics are influenced by pop culture, current events, historical trends, generational values, socioeconomics and the current political climate. Mass communication is an effective tool for reaching large populations with a specific message.
An important part of communication is instructing and educating listeners about factual information. However, persuading others to form opinions and respond to those opinions also is a large part of communication. For example, one of Boston College's senior-level communications courses focuses on ways to use persuasion to influence public attitudes. The course studies communication strategies that organizations and businesses use to sway public opinion. This topic often requires in-depth research, statistical analysis and case studies to determine what causes, influences and impacts public opinion.
- Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images