I recently read an article about how college degrees do not mean success and how obtaining this education is becoming less valuable. With younger generations focusing more on experiences, and not wanting to incur the large amount of student debt most college students graduate with, it got me thinking, is obtaining the degree in PR worth it?
I am not your typical college student. I attended college out of high school, but due to health issues, had to put my Bachelors on hold for quite a few years. I am now 28, and finishing up my last year at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, majoring in Sociology and minoring in Applied Communications. Many of my communications courses have been in public relations and/or related to the field.
Sociology and communications has been a great combination. Learning about society, how it functions, and the social lives of different groups and people, lead me to be able to look at PR from a unique perspective.
There are reasons I could argue why it is necessary to get a college degree, and others reasons why I could argue against it. But for the most part, I do think it is necessary in today’s marketplace.
When going to a job interview, you could be neck-to-neck with other applicants, and your degree, that the others do not have, could be what sets you apart.
One of the most important reasons is the connections you make. Teachers and professors, along with fellow students, are an amazing asset if you let them be. Most of mine offered connections to internships, jobs, workshops, activities, and PR networking groups. College may not be necessary in the field, but if you take the opportunity to make the most of it, it can be time very well invested.
Another is the time it takes to master PR writing. We all know you don’t get great at doing something without practice. The more time I took to focus on my writing, learn how to be direct and to the point, and still be creative, was something that came directly from the time I invested through college. Learning how to write, edit, re-write, edit, and doing this process until the writing is tailored exactly to your readers and audience is a necessity.
My college PR courses challenged me to step out of my comfort zone and be confident in knowing what the PR industry leaders want in an employee. The importance of keeping up-to-date with the news, looking at ways to make stories unique, and the importance of monitoring and communicating to your public audience through social media, are all areas that really grew as my college career advanced.
College may not be a “necessity” in becoming a PR professional, but if you make the most of your time, it is certainty the best way to step into the industry. The mentorships, and connections built during this time can be crucial. Just like in PR, it is all about the relationships you make and the knowledge you learn along the way!