Guest post by Maggie Quinn, UCM PR Program Alumna
Individuals perusing this blog will surely come to the conclusion that the UCM PR Program offers students a unique experience as they pursue undergraduate degrees. Countless entries could be written about the challenging coursework, required real-world experience and engaging classes. In fact, read on further, and these topics certainly will be covered. However, another vital piece to the program deserves a bit of blog real estate. A piece that is often overlooked in the hectic, occasionally egocentric, college years: the professors.
A recent article in The New York Times titled “What’s the Point of a Professor” inspires readers to reexamine the role educators play today. All pupils of higher education have had their fair share of professors: the good, the bad, the ugly and the online. They inspire fear in freshman walking into their first college class. If lucky, that fear evolves into admiration by graduation.
But is it all luck?
At UCM, PR professors are more than intimidating individuals with impressive credentials forcing students to drag themselves out of bed at the unearthly hour of 10 a.m. Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays. They are seasoned mentors, accomplished scholars and, perhaps most importantly, role models for success in the very field their students wish to explore.
A faculty that constantly makes themselves available to engage with students and provide feedback is invaluable. College might be the only time in life when aspiring professionals are treated as colleagues, while simultaneously benefiting from the safety net provided by the learning environment. Students certainly should be taking advantage of the wealth of knowledge, and networking connections, professors possess to graduate well-prepared in writing, speaking, critical thinking and decision-making.
However, one caveat remains. Students must meet professors half way.
According to the article, that is no common feat:
“In their first year, 33 percent of students report that they never talk with professors outside of class, while 42 percent do so only sometimes. Seniors lower that disengagement rate only a bit, with 25 percent never talking to professors, and 40 percent sometimes.”
The collegiate myth that students should only interact with professors during the required 50 minute class periods is quickly dispelled in the PR program at UCM, where faculty is constantly accessible. Perhaps this engagement and feedback is not necessary in every university degree program. But in a field such as PR, which relies so heavily on interpersonal communication, this interaction is an invaluable resource.
Technology has revolutionized the education system. Why trudge across campus in the middle of a Warrensburg winter to discuss coursework in-depth with a professor, when a quick emailed question will suffice? But with this revolution comes consequences. Professors have a point. They can be more than instructors, if a student takes the initiative to engage. Tap into this source of advice, experience and job connections while possible. Remember, a consult with a seasoned PR professor might cost a hike to office hours, but that consult will cost significantly more when it’s charged by a working PR professional post-grad.
Guest blogger and alumna Maggie Quinn graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.S. degree in Public Relations and a B.A. degree in Spanish from the University of Central Missouri. She is the communications coordinator at Suddenlink Communications in St. Louis. You can find her on Twitter @MaggieQuinnPR.