Studying Communications at Drexel
April 13, 2021
When you think of the humanities or liberal arts classes in college, what do you think of? Do you think about event planning or learning how to use social media to promote a company or a brand? How about blogging? If you attend Drexel University, you can learn more about all of these areas. Drexel's communications majors in the College of Arts and Sciences still study theory but it's supported with real-world experience. Plan to debate what are the most socially influencing types of marketing? TikTok? Instagram?...Sorry, Gen Z, it's still Facebook according to Susan Magee, faculty member in the Department of Communication who teaches "Social Media in Communication," soon to be renamed "Strategic Social Media Communication," and another class, "Digital Publishing." Magee teaches both undergraduate and graduate students in the Department of Communication. Her classes discuss topics like search engine optimization, micro-influencers, should you include comments in your blog (or not), link building, and how to build authenticity and brand engagement.
Students have talked about topics like Black women in pop culture, mental health issues, dog rescues, and recipe and lifestyle blogs.
Students also study the social medial presence of existing companies and how they interact with their followers. Students collaborate in group projects and learn from each other's research, addressing areas like emotional content and approach content. For example, this past summer when many corporations were taking a stand in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, some companies were doing a better job than others. Students were observing this in real time as it was happening. They investigated companies that encourage use-generated content — you know, when companies encourage you to post or take a selfie while eating their product or wearing their clothes (or even just trying them on). Since social media is constantly changing, Magee said that her classes don't use traditional textbooks, but one class uses an online textbook that is updated twice per year. Students can then continue to use the book well beyond graduation and into their career.
If you are a strong writer and wonder where that can take your career, the class in digital publishing will allow you to launch your own blog aimed towards a specific audience. Magee said they learn "how to format their work for online readers to scan, how to promote and monetize their blogs and how to title their posts to draw readers." Students have talked about topics like Black women in pop culture, mental health issues, dog rescues, and recipe and lifestyle blogs. Some students have even been able to promote themselves as social media influencers. One of her students, Richmond Comey, just received over 1,000 views on his blog, the Accolade. As an athlete at Drexel, Comey interviews college athletes from around the country. Having this kind of blogging experience can lead to full-time job offers as well. One former student recently accepted a job with Urban Outfitters as a content writer and she attributes much of it to her blogging experience in the "Digital Publishing" class.
Several years ago, Drexel's Office of Alumni Relations charged Rosemary Rys's Event Planning class with developing an interactive event to engage alumni of all ages over Alumni Weekend. Her class developed the Campus Crawl. The Campus Crawl was a new take on a campus tour with a unique food and beverage treat hosted at each location. Tour groups would rotate to four locations around the University City campus and were entertained with a brief presentation about each location from experts representing that building, many of which were newly constructed. And while the presentation was going on, the group was treated to a food and beverage item highlighted by that location. The plan was so successful that the Alumni Office hosted that event three years in a row.
Magee emphasized that students can also use what they learn in student organizations like Drexel's Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), led by communications faculty member Scott Tattar. Tattar and Rys have both served as President of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.
Catherine Campbell-Perna is an Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Drexel University. In her free time, she can be found chauffeuring her 11-year-old daughter around to dance class or hoping that her husband decides that he doesn't feel like cooking dinner and that the three of them should go out to one of the many local restaurants in her Delco neighborhood.