As a second semester college senior, I quite often get asked “What was the favorite class you’ve taken?” While the specific class may change, one thing remains the same – they are all communications classes. Today’s post will not only serve as my love letter to communications class (+ ultimately the Department of Communications at U of I), but will hopefully convince you to take at least one communications class during your college career.
How did I get started?
To begin, I’m one of those people who hasn’t stopped talking since I said my first word. It wasn’t until my AP U.S. History Class during junior year of high school that I realized the power of words. I’ve always loved to talk and to write, but what made this class different was debate. Throughout the course, we were to engage in debates about historical topics in front of the class. It wasn’t until I was given my graded rubric from my teacher and he said, “You should consider a career in debate.” At the time, I took that to mean that I did a good job during the debate, but, over time, that phrase has reminded me of the true power of words.
Then came college and every major I was interested in required a public speaking class. As someone who loved to talk, I felt like this class would be a waste of my time. After all, I could have a perfectly fine conversation with myself and a wall – what did I need to take a public speaking class for? Boy oh boy was I wrong. That class was harder than I anticipated, but it lit a fire under my but to take other communications classes.
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Much of Real Life is Based in Theory
When I signed up for my first communications class, I didn’t expect it to be theory-based. I figured we would do some talking with our classmates, maybe give a speech and that would it. Most of my communications classes started with theory. Theories can be boring, but I found them to be a lot more useful when applying them to my life. Yes, you read that correctly. I loved being able to learn about theories and apply them in real life situations nearly every day to better communicate with my peers, professors and difficult group members.
Learn to Communicate, Not Just Talk
How many times have you heard the phrase, “you hear me, but you’re not listening.” I’ve learned that there’s a difference between merely talking and actually communicating. Anyone can talk – I can talk at a wall for way too long, not everyone can communicate. Communicating requires conveying your message successfully to at least one other person so that they comprehend what you’re saying and remember it. Great communicators convey their message in a way that is easily comprehendible, memorable and unique.
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Communication isn’t only verbal. In addition to learning about body language and other ways of non-verbal communication, a large part of communication classes is focused on honing your written communication skills. I took a business communication class during my sophomore year and I haven’t had to do so much writing ever since. Sure, business communication encompasses elevator pitches and giving presentations, but it also includes writing memos, cover letters, resumes and other forms of written communication. While that doesn’t sound like sunshine and daisies, it was one of the most practical and useful classes I have taken throughout my academic career.
We Do Not Live in a Bubble
If I could summarize my love for communications classes into one blurb, this would be it. All of my communications classes further illustrated the true impact that words can have on one another and ourselves. The words we use can be profoundly impactful on our peers and our loved ones not only in terms of lifting them up, but also in their ability to tear other people down.
Every single one of my communications classes made me fall in love with people. Humans are so unique not only in terms of our genetic makeup and preferences, but also in terms of our communication styles, behaviors and personalities.
If you are just beginning your college career or if you are nearing the end, please take at least one communications class. I promise that you will learn more than you would expect, in ways you wouldn’t expect and it will change you for the better. I am not the same person I was at the beginning of my college career and I have the Department of Communication to thank for that.
What class had the largest impact on you?