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Making the big decision

Many high school students and transfer students know Elon is the place for them as soon as they stroll across campus. Others prefer to ask lots of questions in order to compare Elon and our School of Communications to large state universities or other private institutions.

This Q&A section is designed to help prospective students make that big decision. In fact, these questions come from prospective students who have visited Elon's campus or have sent us a query via our communications@elon.edu address. If you have a question not answered here, send it to us!

Q: Is Elon's School of Communications nationally accredited?

A: Yes. Elon is one of only 18 private colleges and universities in the nation with an accredited communications school. The School hosted its six-year reaccreditation review in 2011-12, and the site team representing the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC) found the School in compliance on all standards. The site team wrote, "The growth of the School -- in quality and quantity -- is nothing short of spectacular." The team listed these strengths: positive educational environment built upon mutual faculty-student respect and high expectations; exemplary culture of collegiality and esprit de corps; talented faculty members dedicated to preparing students; impressive and enthusiastic students who are proud of the education they receive; and strong and caring academic advising by faculty, complemented by impressive internship and career services programs.


 

Q: How does the School of Communications rank in comparison with other programs?

A: Each year, Elon is highly ranked in the college edition of U.S. News & World Report, the National Survey of Student Engagement, and other comparative measures. Communications schools are not separately ranked. Media professionals and visiting deans call us one of the premier communications schools in America. But don't take their word. We encourage you to visit our campus, talk with a professor and students, and sit in on classes if you wish.

Q: Do students apply for admission into the School of Communications at Elon?

A: Students are admitted to Elon University, not to the School of Communications. Once at Elon, students can select whatever major they desire; schools do not have their own entrance requirements. Also, what you designate as your intended major when applying to Elon has no bearing on whether you are admitted. The most important factors in the admissions decision are the academic record (courses taken, grades attained, class standing), SAT or ACT scores, the student's personal statement, extracurricular activities and involvements, and the student's potential to contribute positively to our campus environment.

Q: Can first-year students take School of Communications courses?

A: Absolutely. We believe students should enjoy their chosen major from the start. Many students take COM 100 Communications in a Global Age in their first or second semester at Elon. New students also participate in the voluntary FreshTV program in the fall term or get involved in student media.

Q: Are scholarships available?

A: Scholarships for entering students are granted at the university level. The only first-year scholarships awarded by the School of Communications are five special Fellows scholarships each year.

Q: What will my first semester at Elon be like, academically?

A: Elon has 4-credit-hour courses, which means you'll typically take four courses a semester instead of the five 3-hour courses that most universities offer. That extra hour a week is designed to take each course deeper and to enhance the engaged learning. Courses typically meet MWF or TTh. Your first semester will probably include a couple of First-Year Core courses such as Writing: Argument and Inquiry, General Statistics, and The Global Experience. Other courses will be from areas such as public speaking (required of all Communications majors), science, history, philosophy, fine arts and foreign language, plus the one-hour-a-week Elon 101.

Q: Will I graduate in four years at that rate?

A: Easily. If you take 16 credit hours in the fall and again in the spring, with 4 credit hours in Winter Term, that's 36 hours a year. Multiply that by four years and it's 144 credit hours, and this calculation does not include summer school or Advanced Placement credits. You need a minimum of 132 credit hours to graduate. Some Elon students graduate in less than four years, but many students take advantage of this flexibility by pursuing double majors or a semester abroad. In the School of Communications, our students may accept a leadership role in student media or pursue a semester-long internship. Four years to graduation is the norm.

Q: Is it hard to double major?

A: No. To encourage students to develop a second area of academic depth, the School of Communications waives eight hours of COM electives for any student completing a double major outside of Communications (COM). For example, a student double majoring in journalism and history would need a total of 44 COM hours instead of the normal 52 hours.

Q: Who will be my adviser?

A: The teacher of your Elon 101 class serves as your adviser during the first year. After that, students who declare a major in the School of Communications are assigned a faculty member in Communications who serves as their adviser for the rest of their academic time at Elon. You meet individually with your faculty adviser at least once each semester.

Q: What courses transfer to Elon from other schools?

A: The registrar's office designates which courses taken elsewhere will count toward an Elon graduation. Coursework in the arts and sciences such as math, English, history and the sciences normally transfer in, as does the introductory communications course taken at another college or university.

Q: What are class sizes in the School of Communications?

A: The School has four class sizes: 33, 25, 18 and 15. We average about 20 students in the typical communications class. Conceptual courses such as Communications in a Global Age and Media Law & Ethics can have up to 33 students in a class. Courses such as Communication Research are held to a maximum of 25 students. All lab courses, such as Media Writing and Digital Media Convergence, are capped at 18 students. The School's capstone seminar, titled Great Ideas: Capstone in Communications, has up to 15 students in a seminar setting.

Q: Does the School of Communications require a minor?

A: To promote academic depth, all students must complete a minor or double major outside of Communications (COM) or complete a semester abroad (totaling 12 credit hours or more) in an Elon-approved program.

Q: What kind of computers do you use in your labs?

A: The School of Communications is a Mac environment. Students can bring any personal computer they would like, but our computer labs and edit suites will have Macs. If you are interested in a Mac, please visit the Elon University Apple Store.


 

Q: I'm curious. What would you consider the key indicators for a communications career?

A: The magic words, we believe, are your opening words: "I'm curious." To succeed in a communications career, you first need curiosity about the world you live in. Do you ask lots of questions? Do you probe under the surface? If so, then that curiosity needs to grow into knowledge so that what you communicate will have depth, context and accuracy. Being a good writer is important because clear and logical writing reflects a clear and logical mind. Of course, hard work is necessary, with a generous dose of creativity. Finally, you need a strong sense of who you are and what values you hold, so that when you face temptation to do wrong, you will have the courage to do right. These are six ingredients for succeeding: curiosity, knowledge, writing, hard work, creativity, values.

Q: How do I get involved in student media and organizations?

A: Volunteer to work at the student newspaper (The Pendulum), the student television news show (Elon Local News), the student radio station (WSOE-FM 98.3), the student entertainment television group (ESTV), and the student yearbook (Phi Psi Cli). Or get involved in our student agency (Live Oak Communications) or the student cinema group (CinElon). We highly recommend investing your time in student media and rising to leadership positions.

Q: What kind of career can I have with a communications degree?

A: Roughly two-thirds of our graduates enter careers in journalism, broadcasting, public relations, advertising, cinema and other communications fields. The other third use their communications degree to go to law school or graduate school, go to work in business, join Teach for America, or enter an endeavor that is not media-related. A communications degree is ideal for a wide range of interests, since everyone benefits from becoming a better writer, speaker, thinker and strategist.

Q: What guidance do you provide students about internships and careers?

A: The School of Communications has a full-time internship director who guides students toward quality work experiences that will lead to professional references, networking opportunities and an excellent portfolio. The School also has a full-time career services director who meets with students, particularly seniors, to guide them toward life after Elon.

Would you like to tour the McEwen School of Communications? We offer 11:30 a.m. weekday tours to prospective students interested in talking with a Communications faculty member and taking a deeper look at our facility and student media operations. Just email our School at communications@elon.edu or call 336-278-5724 to set up a tour. We look forwarding to seeing you in the near future.