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A response from a former communications student

Yesterday I read a blog post that really made me angry. It was called “A Question for all you Communications Majors” on the blog Darwin’s Money. Basically, the blog author thought communications degrees were useless, silly, and a waste of time and money. He believes that anyone taking communications must see that there are no well-paying job opportunities for someone with a “fluff” degree. The author didn’t understand why anyone would consider majoring in something worthless like communications, and likened it to basket weaving.

As someone who has an education in communications, of course I disagree with his stance.

The blog author stated that students majoring in communications most likely started their education with high hopes, only to leave school disillusioned and broke – with massive amounts of student loan debt, a useless “joke” degree, and a low paying job to look forward to. Saying that a communications degree is useless, or that you are unemployable because of it, is a really narrow minded statement. Why is it useless? How are you unemployable? Do people not need to communicate in a professional environment? Are we not communicating right now through our blogs? Are there not PR, media, marketing, advertising,  journalism, broadcasting and writing jobs available out there? Because I’m pretty sure there are. There are so many reasons why I think the author’s statements are dumb, and I think they’re pretty obvious.

Five years after graduating, I’m utilizing my education in communications to its fullest potential by creating multiple streams of income, purchasing my own home, and working towards my goal of financial independence. I travel multiple times a year, contribute regularly to my retirement portfolio, and am living a pretty comfortable life. All this with a “useless” education. Imagine that!

It’s so easy for people to knock down degrees like psychology or communications because they don’t think it’s as challenging as the degree they pursued, or because they don’t understand how to make that kind of education work for them. But you can be successful in anything you do – with any degree you choose – even if it’s no degree at all! For example, I think I’ve done fairly well for myself with just a diploma. Because when it comes down to it, it’s all about work ethic, the desire to achieve and learn, and understanding where your strengths lie.

Choosing the right program

As a follow-up to my post, Furthering My Education, I have narrowed my program choices down to 2 options. My boss spoke to me again, and said that they would probably be able to pay for my courses 100% if I took them one at a time (which I had planned on doing anyway). Otherwise they could look at paying something like 50% if I wanted to take more than that. I’m wanting to start come January.

  • Program #1: Marketing Management – Associates Certificate. 8 courses. This would take me about 2 years to complete.
  • Program #2: Marketing Management – Management Certificate. 16 courses. This would take me about 4 years to complete.

I can see the pros and cons of both options, and I have been going back and forth, trying to figure out which one would be a better fit for me.

  • Program #1 Pros: It will only take 2 years to complete, and I know that unless something goes horribly wrong, I will be at this job for the next 2 years – so financially, this certificate will be almost all paid for. Plus, with my years of experience in marketing, I feel like I just needed that added polish and the “Management” certification to get me to that next level in my career, so perhaps I only need this Associates Certificate.
  • Program #1 Cons: The program is not as complete or as noteworthy as Program #2.
  • Program #2 Pros: It’s the most complete “Management” marketing program I can take with the options that I want. It would look great on my resume. I would learn a lot.
  • Program #2 Cons: Not all courses are offered online & I really want to avoid classrooms. It would take at least 4 years to complete, so if I end up leaving my company within 4 years, I’d have to pay for the rest of the program myself (which is expensive). Some of the programs that are required but look super boring. I don’t know if I want to spend 4 years taking courses.

Right now, I’m leaning towards Program #2. It will be more of a challenge, but I think it’s better for me from a professional standpoint. Plus all of the classes look really interesting. I talked with my mom about it, and she reminded me that I’d probably be able to transfer a few credits from my other program. I looked into it, and it seems like 4-6 classes would transfer over. And if that’s the case, that would eliminate about a year off of the program (maybe more), which would be wonderful. I would hate to waste time and money learning what I already know.

Furthering my education

Now that I’m well past the 3-month employment mark at my job, I felt comfortable approaching my boss and asking about potential educational opportunities. There is a Marketing/Communication Management certification that I would love to get, and I think it would be really beneficial for my career and give me the skills that I need to take that next step in my career into management. There are different options with the program, ranging from 15-20 classes in total. I figure it would take me 3-4 years to complete, depending on how many courses I take at a time. I don’t want to stretch myself too thin, since I’ll still be working full-time and I’m still uncertain with how much time my part-time job is going to take out of me. Plus, there’s field hockey and other fitness goals I have, blah blah blah.

As most of you know, I do not have a degree. I have a partial degree started (2.5 years completed – which I cannot complete unless I move back to that University – and the credits do not transfer over anywhere). I also have a 2-year diploma in graphic design & marketing. I’ve thought really hard about getting my degree, since my 2-year diploma transfers into a program so I’d technically only have 2 years left to get a degree … but at this point, I don’t think it would benefit me as much as this management certification that I want. Now that I’ve already started my career, I know what I want to focus on, and this certification gives me a specialization in management instead of a broad degree program.

So that’s where I stand right now in terms of my education. Ever since I graduated 4 years ago, I’ve always thought about it. But I wanted to make sure the program I chose was the right one, and that I could continue to work full-time in the process. I also want to make sure that once I start the program, I will have the financial means to finish it without going into debt. Which is the main reason why I’ve waited to find a stable company that offers educational opportunities to its employees. Each course in this program is between $400-600 before any textbooks.

Anyway, my boss said she would put in for an education allowance for the next fiscal year … so my fingers are crossed that this could become a reality. And if not, then I’ll have to really dig in and save for it myself.

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