Why Every Class Counts and How We Can Keep Our Focus

I am a Public Relations student. I live and breathe all things PR. In fact, my Twitter tagline literally states, “Lover of Jesus, coffee, and books. Future PR extraordinaire. Coffee enthusiast.”

But, I am a communications student first. Something that I often forget.

One of the perks of how the department is set up, though, is that while all of us have a variety of classes that train us for our specific major, our core classes are set up to reflect a well-rounded understanding of communications as a whole.

To be honest with you, I have not always been the biggest fan of this practice. But, since entering my junior year and my second year in the major, I have started to see the many benefits this approach has to my future as a PR professional. In fact, I have developed a system. Whenever I get frustrated or lose focus, I try to center in on what it is about these classes that I can glean to help better me as not just a student, but also a professional.

So, to help dissuade students away from wasting energy on disliking classes, I have chosen four that I have taken to help show just how important each class in our curriculum is and why they will help you in your future career endeavors as a public relations professional:

Performance Studies – This class has taught me voice inflection, tone, body language, and how to always be prepared. PR is not a performance, but knowing how to get up in front of an audience and deliver my message even in times of crisis and be able to remain calm and collected.

Intro to Journalism – This is probably the most important. PR professionals cannot be successful without their dear friends in the journalism world and we need to know how it is they work in order to make the most out of this partnership. Learning how to craft an article, AP style, and the inverted pyramid writing style are all useful hacks that will not only make you better in your own profession, but it will help you be helpful to your journalist friends. They will love you for this.

Team Building and Leadership – Now that I am in leadership within the agency, I have really been able to see why the skills I acquired in this course have been most helpful. It taught me how to assess teams and learn how to not just diagnose problems, but it also has shown me many ways how to avoid conflict just by maintaining healthy communication among the whole team. This is definitely one course that you should not skimp out on the notes!

Professional Communication – This is one class that I struggle with. But, I would be lying if I didn’t say that this is arguably the most important class you will ever take in your undergraduate career. I often lose sight of the goal of this class because I get overwhelmed at just how out of my comfort zone this is. But just like performance studies, this class has given me the set of skills I need to feel confident in jumping right in to any situation that might be presented in front of me where I need to be the one to address the public. I need to be able to jump right in with little preparation and say what needs to be said in the most professional way possible.

There is a point to all of it. The classes that seem pointless or trivial have all been strategically organized to help make us the best students possible. Don’t let your emotions distract you from what is important. If you find yourself losing sight, take a step back and list off three things that point to why this class will help make you better and allow that positive thought to dissipate your negative energy.

The reality of it all is that we need to make the most of our time in college. We need to take advantage of all the wisdom and knowledge that is at our fingertips. Our future employers will be thankful for it, but more importantly, WE will be thankful for it.

By Kate Cox, Account Executive, Kankakee County Center Against Sexual Assault (KC-CASA)

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