Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What I Learned: Part 6

This blog post is the sixth in a series where I go through my college transcripts, class-by-class, to determine what exactly it was that I spent six years learning. Come with me on this magical journey that might lead me to the promised land of employment and the American dream! (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.)

Fall 2006 & Spring 2007
We've finally reached my senior year, the final two semesters of undergraduate education at Marshall University! Let's see what I learned on my way to figuring out what would be the next step, which ended up being grad school (and I'll talk about those classes in the next post in the series).

JMC 302 — Advanced Editing & Design
I was the managing editor of the student newspaper when I had this class, which was basically supposed to teach you how to be a copy editor, the people I was overseeing. I pretty much just did my actual job while the professor was in the newsroom teaching the other students in the class and got credit.

JMC 304 — Computer-Assisted Reporting
This class was probably the biggest pain out of all the ones I took in college. I never did so much work for one class, even in graduate school. And it was all tedious work with databases and spreadsheets and such. To make it even worse, there was group work. However, I can't say everything about this class was bad because it gave me a prep in statistics, and the in-depth stories I got out of this class turned into some really great clips and earned me an in-depth reporting award.

JMC 360 — Digital Imaging for Journalism and Mass Communications
All I can say is this is one of the most valuable classes I have ever had. I learned the principles of photography, magazine design and video editing here. I can only wish that the class had focused a little more on convergence than having projects assigned by major. I'm told now that the class is much more converged so that everyone, even print majors, are doing video projects in addition to their print final projects and such. This class was made even better because my wonderful adviser was the professor.

JMC 430 — Magazine Article Writing
I think this class met maybe two or three times. We did most of the work independently and just met outside of class with the professor as needed for advice on our two big magazine article projects, for which we were required to do quite a bit of research. I really liked that format, especially during my busiest semester of undergrad.

JMC 490 — Journalism and Mass Communication Internship
I interned in the university's Office of Communications and Marketing, as a public relations intern. It was here I began to realize I liked the variety of PR more than hardcore journalism.

PSC 433 — Public Administration and Policy Development
This old guy who looked like Mr. Rogers taught this class where the only assignment the whole semester was one paper. He gave reading assignments too, but we never really discussed them in class. He always just talked about the U.S. Forest Service and no one really knew what he was getting at. I wrote my final paper on the leadership style of Jim Sinegal vs. Sam Walton.

ENG 360 — Creative Writing
Another English elective here, and what a fun one it was! There was a lot more poetry involved than I liked, but we did get to write two short stories in peer-review fashion, which was helpful and interesting. This class was just more writing practice, and a chance to get away from the concise, boring writing of journalism.

JMC 414 — Public Affairs Reporting
I think I did my project for this class as an in-depth piece about whether or not athletes are good role models for children, comparing NCAA and professional athletes. This class only met a few times, and we just checked in with the professor as needed for guidance on our projects. As long as we finished our list of assignments by the end of the semester, we were good to go. This was a great format for me because I worked really hard to turn in everything on the list by mid-semester, and then I didn't go to the class anymore or have to worry about it.

JMC 440 — Ethics
The dean of the journalism school taught this course, where we discussed Plato, Aristotle, Locke, Kant and others in terms of ethics and how they relate to journalism. We often had to turn in papers examining ethical issues in the media, and we generally had some good discussions. The class ended with our senior capstone papers and a group debate about various ethical issues.

I'll admit, I got to do a good bit of shamming at some points during my senior year. Some classes were very loose as far as having solid meetings, and others I had already basically completed through other means and were just there as a formality. I learned to persevere when the going gets tough, like when I had computer-assisted reporting and was also working at the newspaper 30+ hours a week. I also looked back and realized I had done pretty well at this college thing and that maybe I should look into graduate school. And, of course, I began to get a taste for public relations and open up to exploring the "dark side" of journalism, as some call it.

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