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A Question for all you Communications Majors…

by Darwin on May 9, 2011

Like clockwork, the regurgitated article on newly minted college grads with 6-figure debt are flying again.  You can always count on this old standby from CNN, Yahoo, and the like.  Recently, it was HuffingtonPost with a similar tale (here).  What is consistent across all these solemn tales is usually a naive Communications major.  It’s rare that you’ll see the petroleum engineer or nursing student that can’t find a job.  It’s the dreaded Communications degree.  They went into it bright-eyed and bushy tailed only to leave disillusioned and broke.

So, rather than showcasing yet another Communications major without a job and 6-figure debt, I wanted to just pose this question to all the Communications majors out there:

Why Communications?

For the life of me, I just can’t fathom why anyone still chooses this major.  Don’t get me wrong, there are a ton of highly successful communications majors running companies, leading, innovating and minting cash like there’s no tomorrow.  And I could be out a job tomorrow, so I’m not knocking current communications majors out there in the workforce.  But these Communications success stories are only told after the fact and going in, surely, people can’t expect there to be a high level of success compared to other majors, right?  I mean as a high school kid (we’re talking 15-20 years ago), I remember the Communications degree being a constant source of jokes – right up there with basket-weaving. [And this was before internet universities. Getting a Communications degree online just sounds like a punchline just needing a set-up.].  These jokes have carried on to this day.  Who majors in a joke major?  What I don’t get is whether people, especially taking on $100,000 or more in debt, have really thought through the implications of their decision.

I don’t know about you, but paying down $100,000+ on a $40,000 salary (if you hit the jackpot with that major right out of college!) doesn’t seem practical.  It’s already a risky calculus spending 6 figures on a college degree at all, but when you go to a private college, take on tons of debt and choose a major that just doesn’t seem likely to either a) land you a job or b) land you a high-paying job, I just can’t fathom what motivates people to do so.

So, again, I know there are plenty of happy, successful communications majors out there.  But there seem to be orders of magnitude more miserable ones – most of them doing something completely unrelated to their field.  Can you please help us understand…

Why Communications?

{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

101 Centavos May 9, 2011 at 7:04 am

Nice post, Darwin. Same could be said of psychology, sociology and a baker’s dozen of other silly degrees.
Why indeed? Why do colleges and universities even bother to offer courses with no future value? Could it be that no matter how worthless the degree, the college still gets paid?

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Darwin May 10, 2011 at 11:04 pm

Given the hate comin’ my way, I’ll leave the focus on 1 major for now LOL!

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101 Centavos May 11, 2011 at 5:57 am

I may have added fuel to the fire with the “silly” comment. But I’ll stand by it. Given the high levels of debt incurred to get the degree, the marketplace salaries (assuming a job in the field is found) provide a lousy return on time invested.

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repenttokyo May 13, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Yes, psychologists in private practice who earn well over 6 figures a year obviously wasted their time and money on that degree. What were they thinking?

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todd May 25, 2012 at 4:55 pm

I believe we are talking about undergrad. A lot of psychology majors never continue on to become doctors.

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krystalatwork May 9, 2011 at 10:33 am

I majored in communications, and had high expectations for myself before I even started the program. I am career-minded and I know that with my “joke major,” I can move up within any organization. Now, 5 years after graduating, I’m making a pretty good salary (on pace for $75,000+ this year), and I utilize my education to its fullest potential.

It’s so easy to knock down degrees like psychology or communications just because you don’t understand why somebody would be interested in it, or how they could create an amazing career around that kind of knowledge. Just because YOU don’t know how to make that kind of education work for you, doesn’t mean that others don’t know how. I also think it’s really narrow minded to call certain degrees useless, or “silly” when there are millions of people around the world who are utilizing their education, make a great salary, and are happy with what they do.

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Darwin May 10, 2011 at 11:10 pm

Thanks for your perspective. But where’s everyone getting “silly” from? Did I say that?

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retirebyforty May 9, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Doesn’t make any sense to me either. If you want to major in communication, why not got to a community college first to save a boat load of money? When you’re young, you don’t worry so much about these things.

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Miranda May 9, 2011 at 7:34 pm

For many communications majors, especially in smaller schools, you can choose an emphasis, such as broadcast, journalism, advertising, public relations or some other related field. People often forget that these fall in the “communications” field. Also, as part of my communications major (yes, I was a communications major) I took classes on business communication and organizational theory. It may seem like a waste of time to some people, but it has really been helpful to me. My interpersonal classes have also been a great help.

Many communications majors also go on to get law degrees, or to get MBA degrees. I know several of my peers who are now lawyers and MBAs; my cousin, a junior partner in a law firm, has a communication degree.

Anyway, I took my communication degree and went and got a Master’s degree in Journalism. Another useless degree, you probably think. However, my journalism classes trained me to write authoritatively, and quickly. On top of that, I learned a number of other skills that have been helpful as a freelance writer, and the connections I forged have been useful in helping land a few gigs (including writing four assignments for Discover magazine).

I don’t have six-figure debt, however. I did use student loans, but I also had scholarships to help defray the some of the costs. My undergraduate school was an inexpensive state school, and even though my grad degree from Syracuse was a little more expensive, I’ve kept my student debt to a level that’s affordable for me. And, I’ve managed to be reasonably successful, even with such “silly” and “useless” degrees. As a freelance writer working from home, I’m the primary breadwinner in my family, and we live comfortably, with a house payment less than 1/5 of my income, savings, and disposable income to have some fun with. Personally, I think it’s all about having a realistic plan, and, like Krystal points out, knowing how to use your education in a way that turns out to be useful.

(BTW, my husband just finished a PhD in experimental psychology, another “useless” degree. However, during his time working on his degree, with an emphasis on environmental, he has worked on grants from the local public health department, as well as done research for NASA.)

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Darwin May 10, 2011 at 11:13 pm

Thanks for explaining the utility and diversity of the degree. I was
Genuinely interested and learned from your reply. And I’m also aware you’ve parlayed it into a successful blog/ freelance biz.

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Heather November 30, 2011 at 2:43 am

Hi Miranda,
My name’s Heather. I am a communication major at Santa Monica College right now and I’m really curious as to why you chose major in communication/journalism. You seem so passionate and I would love to talk to you more about it. Please email me if you get a chance – hshin2014@gmail.com
Thanks -Heather

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Erica May 10, 2011 at 7:59 am

No degree/diploma or trade for that matter should be described as useless, silly or a waste of time. If that person as an interest in it then it is obviously not a waste of time to them, regardless of the job prospects. Many first degrees/diplomas are stepping stones to PhD’s or MD so to belittle one over the other is pointless.

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leslie May 10, 2011 at 9:36 am

A better question is why do people complain and berate about topics they know nothing about?

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Darwin May 10, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Who complained or berated? I’m seeking to understand. Please “communicate” the virtues.

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leslie May 11, 2011 at 9:10 am

In the field of Communications, you have communications (the interaction of people with each other, with organizations, and with media), telecommunications (radio/tv production), journalism, advertising, and public relations.

Depending on the school, a communications degree could involve a specialization in any one of those fields. Do you consider all of those degrees to be “joke degrees”?

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Financial Samurai May 10, 2011 at 10:34 am

Darwin – Were you an engineering major by any chances? I see only engineering majors make such claims.

You can make the same argument for English majors, History, etc. Don’t we already all know how to speak English?

Communication is probably the most important thing we have as human beings. It’s what prevents wars and creates friendships.

Sam

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Darwin May 10, 2011 at 3:48 pm

Are you claiming if we had more Communications majors we’d have peace on Earth?

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leslie May 10, 2011 at 3:52 pm

“The author has a background in Chemical Engineering and an MBA specializing in Finance and Biotech Management.”

Engineers generally hate liberal arts majors.

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Darwin May 10, 2011 at 11:17 pm

Huh? Hate? Well, Sam, you know my background. I married a woman who majored in German of all things and most of my friends were poly sci, economics, history and all kinds of other non-engineering disciplines. And I don’t do Engineering by trade and never did. So, no hatred here…

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101 Centavos May 11, 2011 at 6:29 am

Most of China’s top echelon of leaders are engineers by training. Maybe they should have been communication majors. :-)
Communication is indeed important. But is it worth getting 50 or 100K in debt to learn that ?

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Financial Success for Young Adults May 24, 2011 at 12:03 pm

I have to agree with Sam. Communication is an important path of study. What is really sad is that companies are not able to see the worth and translate it into a valuable high paying position. I guess there are not enough communications majors working at major firms.

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Josh June 12, 2012 at 5:49 pm

I contend that in the process of completing a larger portion of a STEM major (Many times due to extra hours spent advancing studying and it’s application outside class/in a professor’s office), the STEM student gains enough communications knowledge to finish a communications major. I believe, considering that a chemistry/biology/physics/engineering grad more than generally works within a related field, is the factor at play. Take for example a psychology degree: one learns tons of wonderfully useful information, but never in a dynamic environment. It’s interesting as well that for all the comm majors posting on this page, many placed direct assumptions on others, based whole posts on conjecture, and hardly supported the contention that they serve an important purpose to society: “Communication is probably the most important thing we have as human beings. It’s what prevents wars and creates friendships.”. The fact still stands, as much as a comm major may want to assess an engineer’s harsh judgement of their degree, that STEM majors score higher on the LSAT and most other non STEM GRE’s. Upon closer inspection (http://www.ncsu.edu/chass/philo/GRE%20Scores%20by%20Intended%20Graduate%20Major.htm), it appears that Comm majors score relatively low in areas they generally specialized in. Physics/Ast. scored equal in analytic writing, with most stem majors not lagging but a sliver behind. Between physics and communications, there is a 25% or so difference in quantitative reasoning scores, not to mention most STEM grads outscored comms/psych majors in verbal reasoning. Psychology degrees must become more clinically based to serve a serious purpose, or why not just take communications? and then: Why communications? If a petrochem eng. or physicist could step into a lab environment without years of classroom schooling and gain hands on experience, I assure you I would. Comms. is a very subjective study. If one learned to write and express themself on their own time, instead of attending school, and worked for 4 years gaining experience, you’ll likely have learned more and become more employable than if you had gone to school. Same goes for hospitality management and a slew of other degrees. If you want to do Hospitality, just get a job at a hotel. To go back to Martin’s argument: “It is a good a question that Darwins asks: Why?

And the answer is that instead of creating, designing, building, repairing or producing, they’d rather just report

I do agree that a communications major has aspects of challenges and holds importance in our society. I also agree that a minor in a liberal arts area (in addition to your major) can hold its value and show better in a resume. But in a rough economy, the BS degree’s hold more over than a BA. Plus the BS pay more.”

There are those that never realize that is all they do, all they serve a purpose for – to exposit. Because many have no real driven purpose and clear reason for attending school, it’s solely a matter of convenience or whispered delusions that everyone must go to college to succeed/be considered worthwhile.

It can be reasonably argued that a comms student should instead study a science related field to greater achieve in their field of communications. So where does that leave a communications degree sitting? In a shallow money trench.

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Josh June 12, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Most history/comms bachelors don’t go on to be historians or stand-out communicators (This is only reasonable, as we can generalize that we all communicate daily). Just because things work out better for the student under the system’s status-quo, does not excuse the system from it’s ludicrousness. Communications encompasses so many things it’s hard to not consider it a clumped together liberal-arts Frankendegree composed of small clippings taken from a slew of other nearly non-applicable degrees.

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CanadianCMNMajor May 10, 2011 at 11:35 am

If there were no communications majors then there would be no one to make people like you look good in their chosen field.

What I ask you is why with my Communications degree I was able to get a job faster than all of my friends? The fact is if you are good at something, then you will do well in that field, and possibly make a decent amount of money.

Communications makes the world go round and I ask you to reflect upon that every time you are counting all the money you are making.

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Karen Mulholland May 10, 2011 at 12:09 pm

So…I assume your life is somehow magically free of communication, so you remain unaware that there are lots of communication jobs out there?

The fact that there exist naive communication majors with tons of debt and no job does NOT imply that this is the normal and expected state of things.

Let us know if you find a major that boasts 0% naivete and 100% employment upon graduation, will you?

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Darwin May 10, 2011 at 11:19 pm

Did you read the multiple qualifiers within the post? And I learned to communicate just fine through other life experiences, my job, undergrad and MBA.

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Wojo May 10, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Food for thought: I was an architecture major, and currently am a practicing architect. It’s about as clear-cut of a career path as you could ask for. Yet, the probability of someone graduating from architecture school in the last 2 years and finding a job that’s in architecture is slim to none.

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Darwin May 10, 2011 at 11:23 pm

Job market has a ton to do with it. This is an age old question though, not focused on the current economy though. Admittedly, driven by the same routine MSM college debt articles I keep seeing year after year.

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Christopher Lackey May 10, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Maybe the problem is that people no longer think about education as a matter of educating themselves, but rather an exchange of money and time (not necessarily quality work or rigourous study) for career prospects. Sorry, but you have to know that way more people have B.A.s than 20, 30 or 40 years ago, and they are greatly devalued as far as getting you meaningful well paid work straight out of University. That doesn’t mean people shouldn’t get educated; but its what you make of it, and in 2011 you have to make your own oppurtunities if you can’t find any gift-wrapped ones. Employers look at your major and school for maybe half a second. Those things do not tell them who you are or what you are capable of. They will find that out instead by seeing what you’ve done and talking to you if they think you could fit. Unfortunately, the title of your posting aims to propogate this idea that magic bullet, set-for-life educations exist somewhere (of course they don’t!), and in doing so puts your incredible ignorance of the job market and what is required to succeed in it,
A happy and successful guy who majored in communications.

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eemusings May 10, 2011 at 5:27 pm

I am a journalism major. Communications grad, in fact. And I would not have my job without my comms degree. From what I understand, in the US, you can still get into journalism the good old fashioned way. Not here – you need to be qualified.

I can’t speak for everyone, but many of my friends are struggling post-graduation. None of the engineers have found jobs, although to be far, none of the generic arts ones have either. Meanwhile, almost all of my fellow journo grads are actually employed in the industry.

Why? Because communications, depending on what you specialise in, sets you up for a career in anything from digital media, graphic design, PR, advertising, TV or more. Of course, with the proliferation of PR, that’s probably your best bet to major in… The course at my university (recognised as the best for communications in the country) is inherently practical. You’re actually learning the programmes and software and skills you will need in the workplace. And you are required to do internships and work experience, which are invaluable.

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Darwin May 10, 2011 at 11:31 pm

Do you feel your success is more due to school/program pedigree or major? I.e. If you majored in Comm at a typical state school would you feel the same?

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E May 10, 2011 at 7:17 pm

Why communications? Well, why not communications? I don’t diss other people’s life choices – especially when I have no experience in that field and can’t really make informed comment. I can tell you firsthand that it’s a rewarding choice. I studied Comms and am incredibly happy with my career path, in fact, everyone in my graduating class is spectacularly happy and successful. And I’m not sure I would refer to Comms as a ‘joke major’, considering it equips you with skills and knowledge that are easily transferable to several roles and industries… I’m sure you’re incredibly successful and feel qualified to comment from your lofty perch.

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Tricia May 10, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Saying any one degree is “silly and useless” is silly and useless. I am a professor and many of my students are adults who are back to school for a variety of reasons. Sadly, most of them are clueless about the job market. You have to be clear on what you want to achieve and then match your educational experience to that objective. I give them the brutal truth about their career prospects in my field and then they are free to do as they choose. I would argue that anyone can be “unsuccessful” no matter what the degree – just ask recent law school grads. Being able to think clearly and logically is critical as is the ability to communicate effectively in today’s work force. I think any degree can work and make a good living, but you may have to think outside the box. That’s where I see people fall short. It is not the degree, but it is the willingness to learn and make oneself valuable to the workplace.

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Darwin May 10, 2011 at 11:00 pm

As a professor, shouldn’t you cite your sources properly? You put quotes around “silly and useless” and the post said no such thing.

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Tricia May 11, 2011 at 3:33 pm

Thanks for the snarky response. I will no longer read or post comments to your blog. I was responding to not just your post, but to some of the commentary which suggested that various degrees are silly and useless. I can see that you obviously missed the point of my response.

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Darwin May 14, 2011 at 11:36 am

Sorry, there have just been a few actual blog posts out there that blatantly fabricated language that wasn’t in my post to support their opinion/anger or whatever. I don’t mind the criticism, I own it now that I posted. Just wantto be quoted correctly. Appreciate the rest of your reply.

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Paula @ AffordAnything.org May 11, 2011 at 12:26 am

I absolutely credit my sociology degree (with a philosophy minor) with giving me the critical thinking, reading, writing and analytical skills that have greatly contributed to my career success. An undergraduate liberal arts degree is a broad-based education that prepares you for the next 40 – 50 years by teaching you HOW to think and communicate. A specific degree in a narrow field does not prepare you with these broad, flexible skills.

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101 Centavos May 11, 2011 at 7:59 am

Hi Paula – is it possible to acquire these same skills without sinking 100K into debt? Could or should these skills be taught in high school?

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Serendipity May 11, 2011 at 8:11 pm

So, its okay to go into debt for some degrees and not others? That doesn’t make any sense. It’s okay for doctors and lawyers to go into debt for a degree and not a communication major?

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Darwin May 13, 2011 at 9:20 am

Of course it makes sense. Do a 10 year ROI.

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101 Centavos May 16, 2011 at 7:05 am

For an MD degree? Perhaps. For an JD, debatable. But that’s not what I rhetorically asked. Is it possible to acquire the same communication (or philosophical, or underwater basket weaving) skills without going into massive debt?

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MJ May 11, 2011 at 3:01 pm

I’ve never heard those jokes, but maybe I have my head in the ground. I, of course, have a comm degree. I pursued it because it’s something I’ve always wanted. I did, however, feel that once I got to college it was quite a popular major and the go-to for women, similarly to how business was the go-to for men, who are not 100% sure what they want to do.

Like I said, I went into it because it’s what I always wanted, but once in, I bounced around and got a lot of experience in different principles – media technology, journalism and marketing. I’d say it was as good as getting a liberal arts degree, simply to be able to say that I have a degree, which has made me marketable to the workplace. Also, because I was in this major program, I was required to get an internship in a related field and ended up at a marketing firm that offered me a full time job upon graduation, so I guess I could say it worked out.

I have a friend who has a much more specific undergrad and graduate degree, pursued in part because of his interest in the field and also because of the promise of a big salary and he’s now 27, a year out of grad school and has zero work experience and cannot find a job.

So, maybe I’m saying I have lower standards when it comes to a job, lower expectations, but I have a job. I don’t look at my student debt and look at my salary and kick myself because I think it worked out okay for me.

Majors and success in the workplace is not cut and dry. To each his own. And I guess I can say THAT’S why I picked communication as a major.

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Julie @ The Family CEO May 12, 2011 at 11:30 am

I was a business major, but my daughter is currently in college pursing a Journalism (Strategic Communications) degree. She’s doing it because it’s where her strengths and passion lie. She was editor of her high school paper, received multiple English/writing awards, and scored almost perfectly on the English portion of her ACT. Why should she pursue something that doesn’t interest her, just because the earning power is greater?

Now, having said that, we opted not to go into to debt for her to obtain this degree. She’s at a state school and received scholarships that amount to over half her tuition. We are cash flowing her education so that she can graduate debt free and either have a great financial start in life or pursue a master’s if that’s what she chooses.

I find it amusing that you’re defensive about the responses you’re receiving. You act as if you asked a simple question, but your entire post was condescending. Your real question, “Who majors in a joke major?” says it all. I could go on and on about the world’s need for people with all kinds of skills and how college is about much more than getting a job, but I don’t think you’re really after honest debate. You wanted to make a sarcastic point and you made it.

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todd May 25, 2012 at 4:53 pm

“Why should she pursue something that doesn’t interest her, just because the earning power is greater?” When she was a toddler did you let her eat ice cream all day because she likes it better than vegetables? Are you going to provider her money they rest of her life?

First and foremost, people need to be able to provide for themselves. Choosing a highly competitive low paying although interesting career can be a poverty sentence without working extremely hard or having a ton of talent and luck.

I love music but with my level of talent I would have been close to being on food stamps. I like my uninteresting yet difficult job since it pays a lot so I don’t have to do it that much. I have time and money to do other things like buy guitars I can’t play that well, running shoes, and stuff my family wants… Hey, I can even take care of more than myself!

How well is she going to like journalism if it doesn’t provide time or money for the other things in life outside of work? Although, I don’t think journalism is that bad.

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Julie @ The Family CEO May 25, 2012 at 7:39 pm

Majoring in journalism and supporting yourself are not mutually exclusive. Her father /my husband supports a family of four very well (including sending her to college) and was a journalism major.

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Martin May 12, 2011 at 4:59 pm

The most important thing to remember is that:

As a country, we import (US) a lot of professionals in the fields of medicine, engineering and science; because we can’t produce enough here at home. I can’t recall the last communication related field, pysch, sociology major etc. from India or China I met….

It is a good a question that Darwins asks: Why?

And the answer is that instead of creating, designing, building, repairing or producing, they’d rather just report :)

I do agree that a communications major has aspects of challenges and holds importance in our society. I also agree that a minor in a liberal arts area (in addition to your major) can hold its value and show better in a resume. But in a rough economy, the BS degree’s hold more over than a BA. Plus the BS pay more.

The US gov’t agrees. All the BA degree related fields do not pay as much as the ones requiring a BS. usajobs.com

And for the joke: To work for the gov’t requires a BS degree. Ha!

Seriously, I know this may be the only way to put food on the table for some people, but he was just asking a question. If you’re taking this too seriously, maybe college was a little too easy.

Get a life and loosen up.

Darwin – excellent blog, keep up the good work.

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JT McGee May 12, 2011 at 5:37 pm

Man, Darwin, you’ve struck a nerve in the communications degree world. Watch your back :P

The reality is that the least qualified people are the most likely to spend far too much chasing a degree they can ill-afford in a field that the economy can hardly sustain. If what the communications majors above is entirely true, then they don’t fit into this group of people. Stupid people will show up in every major; you can thank grade inflation for that.

I’m majoring in finance, which isn’t exactly the hardest major in the world but probably not the easiest, either. Everyone hates bankers, so I get to deal with the reality that few people understand finance and yet they all know enough to hate it. End of the day, I’ll get out inexpensively, and with a decent degree in a field where money is abound.

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Alotta Lettuce May 13, 2011 at 12:13 am

Why communications? Because it’s an incredibly versatile and valuable degree that opens more doors than just about any other field of study, and provides students with practical skills to do the kind of work that ANY company in ANY industry could benefit from.

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Darwin May 13, 2011 at 9:26 am

Well, this one didn’t really have it’s intended effect… I don’t have a computer right now and I can’t do justice with replies and more thoughts on this with an iPhone. Next week, I’ll post a follow-up article which is more on point and constructive. Thanks for all your comments.

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Lysander May 24, 2011 at 1:25 pm

I think that it was a worthwhile question, poised badly. The problem isn’t the degree specifically, but the debt load to AVERAGE/MEDIAN earning potential.

Why would anyone want to take out $100k in student loans to earn a degree that where the average pay is only about $30-35k per year?

I don’t care what the degree is (because it isn’t relevant), but that seems to be a terrible burden to graduate with. Because assuming that $20k is needed for basic living expenses, the vast majority of your remaining income will be going towards paying off your student loans. Doesn’t seem like much of a way to start out an adult life.

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Will @ HackingTheBank.com May 31, 2011 at 2:01 pm

I think that college has become a little too much about getting a job, and not enough about academics and learning. There are many benefits to attending college besides getting a “good job”. It’s a period of growth and a time to make great memories and friends that will last a lifetime. I think the focus on which degrees will pay off focuses too much on the money, and not on the person.

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Shae June 24, 2011 at 12:59 pm

I think this is a great blog post because you share your viewpoints, ask the same questions that I’ve gotten from students at my university and I love the comments. I actually read it all from my mobile phone and decided that today morning I have to find the site again & comment.

For the past year I have been battling internally on whether I should keep my Communications: Electronic Media and Visual concentration major (have completed 90 credits already). I have a Marketing minor & am pursuing a PR certification. I check Google every now and then for the latest updates on my future field and criticism.

I’ve been considering picking up a second degree for my undergraduate (dual degree) and do Bachelor’s of Science in Marketing because I thought, what good is a minor? Also, it’d make me more marketable in today’s economy. I want to get an MBA eventually. What scares me is the economy. COMM majors are highly valued outside the U.S, with minimum wage in Australia for the degree starting out at $20 an hour when here in the U.S. it can be as low as $10. Coming from a not-well funded school near the city of Detroit, I’d have to say being a Communications major changed my life (not so much the other classes like Marketing or PR or upper level other courses I was required to take for “cognates requirement”). My Communication classes taught me to think/write/talk critically & analytically. They kicked my butt. I’ve had my shares of all-nighters.

My friends know how hard I work, I have studied in the library with friends who are Science, Psychology, Business or Engineering majors. I put in just as much work as they do (minus using calculators), but mine is more on the thinking & creative side, and bringing the thoughts to life (similar to other majors). I’ve had to take a Communication law class, too, and it made me a better arguer, and taught me how to leave my emotions at the door.

Many of my friends think I’m a very social person, more than them, and am able to handle public crowds well. At an event based job, I was given the most hours to work for 2 years. I applied for an automotive technology business internship with my Communications resume in Detroit and only one Marketing class for my minor completed. I was nervous because I know people say COMM is a major for “dummies.” The CEO said he’d like to hire me instead of a business major. I was allowed to do so many projects, and attend business meetings (which were more than the original position provided). The internship has opened my eyes to the corporate world, and I was lucky enough to meet people from GM, Chrysler, etc, and the guy who helped develop OnStar (his undergraduate degree was Communications).

If you have the hunger and thirst to be successful in life, and the passion and drive, you can make it. It’s important to have a portfolio so you can say “Hey, I know this isn’t a technical degree but look what I can do for you and look what sets me apart from others within and outside my degree.”

You said quote,
“They went into it bright-eyed and bushy tailed only to leave disillusioned and broke.”
I went starry-eyed and excited – uncertain about my future like all other students- but I knew I was going to study something that I was passionate about, and my employers see that. I’ve held four different jobs in the past 3 years and I’m finishing up my junior year. Two are jobs I’ve held continuously for the past 3 years. I work a lot to pay my bills since I live with roommates with no connections to family. I do have about $12G in debt so far, because Marketing classes cost more, cost of tuition rising (few hundred dollar difference) and emergency rent expenses needed to be covered. But I ALWAYS keep my debt load in mind and at the age of 21 I’m already considering saving to start paying this back, investing, and I have $2G in AmeriCorps scholarships to pay toward my loans.

So I’m damn proud to showcase my major and what it has taught me. Everywhre I go I hear negative things, but that’s been my life really growing up in my household and I’ve just told myself go against the odds and hope I land in the right career (not serving fries at McDonalds like some people on other sites I’ve seen claim). This major has given me the skills to get A+’s on all my projects & presentations in my Marketing classes & other upper level courses, which I’ve noticed students in those classes struggle in presentations. My Engineering and Biology friends ask me jokingly if I can do their projects & presentations for them.

Why Communications?
Because I’ve found a way to make it work for me in the present, help me grow from my past & shyness, and I’ve found a way to make it help me add job experiences to help me in my future career. I know what I want to do, and I’m studying something that I don’t mind waking up in the morning to go to classes for. I’m tired of defending it to all those that don’t understand. To be honest, I don’t understand how a career is made from a Physics major, or Art History major but kudos to those that don’t borrow blindly, strive for average grades and end up making a great career for themselves. I’m thankful to you for writing this blog post because I’ve been on and off about whether this major will benefit me in the future but you’re article made me think about myself, and what I have to offer because of my studies so now I’m even more sure (:

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Anonymous August 12, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Now that engineers in general are having a really hard time finding employment in their discipline because of outsourcing and HIB visas, should we conclude that engineering majors are useless? I am only using the same logic that some people use to arrogantly dismissed other people’s college degree. Many engineers end up in careers that have nothing to do with engineering. I have no problem with that, what I do have a problem with, is the elitist attitude that some of the people that are either majoring in one of the engineering disciplines or already have an engineering degree project towards others. Always trying to belittle and humiliate other people for majoring in something else. Than they create a blog as a pretext to pretend that they are only exercising an inquisitive mind by asking the big question(sarcasm); why do people major in a useless major like communication? Because not all people believe it is a useless major. There is your answer.

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Darwin November 12, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Here’s the data; engineers do pretty well both from a current unemployment by major standpoint as well as salary. Many majors do much worse than Communications as I pointed out in this recent article as well.
http://www.darwinsmoney.com/unemployment-by-major/

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Joe November 21, 2011 at 11:57 pm

The comm major jokes are all true for the most part, but how did Psych. get lumped in with it? Psychology is a legitimate science and many Psych. students have to take Biopsychology or Neuropsychology, Research Methods I & II both with additional labs, in depth stats courses, etc. I got my BA in Psych. and it wasn’t easy…I had professors who went to Harvard, UNC Chapel Hill, Duke, etc. who had their Ph.D’s…it was no joke. To compare learning neuron transmission and synapse firing at the cellular level with a comm major having to write a report on dodge ball or the best way to film a football game is just BS. I am now pursuing my MS degree in School Psych at St. John’s University, and the job starts at $55,000 at bare minimum. Some districts will pay you $60,000 to start. After about 10-15 years you will make $100,000+ and remember this is all with your work day ending at around 2:30-3 PM and having every summer off and holidays/vacations. I may tend to agree that you can’t really get a great Psych job at the BA level or lower, but the field still teaches you things. If you have a graduate degree in Psych you can easily make very solid if not great money.

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Skater Dude March 24, 2012 at 2:47 pm

I majored in general Communications from a small school and made 40k out the door. No, it wasn’t handed to me, I had work experience, references, a resume, and oh what’s that thing on here that doesn’t matter… Communication?

Maybe you should gather more research your, adminster surveys, code the data, and analyze it in SPSS. Your IV and DV can be Major and Salary. But what would a Comm major know?

Maybe we can ask my friends who graduated from Uconn in Economics and works as a chef weekend nights, Or maybe we can ask my Psych major friend who worked for GE and now makes 200k plus banking on Wall Street.

You need to do more research. What did you get your degree in?

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