The Communication Degree: More Than What You Think

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I’m sitting in my class at 9 o’clock on a Friday morning waiting for the next five minutes to pass. This is going to be a big weekend.

It’s not too long after that I’m on my hands and knees taping an outline for the set I’m about to build and the film I’m about to create. Mentally, I run through a laundry list of things that needs to get done. It’s long but I’m ready for the challenge. Like my professor said, I’ll be basically living here this weekend, right?

IMG_6050            It’s now 1 in the afternoon. The sun is beating and it’s more humid than usual. I’m dressed in a ratty old Harvard shirt, a pair of running shorts and my sneakers. Instead of going to the gym I’m making my way through my own form of workout – moving 13 large wooden panels in and out of the studio multiple times to paint.

Fast forward 6 hours and I’m finally putting down the paint rollers. All 13 panels are now double coated with a shade aptly named pine green. It’s what I would want my living room colored as, but after 6 hours of painting, I don’t think I ever want to see this shade of green again.

Walking around Santa Clara, a communication degree is often seen as an easier major. It wouldn’t be uncommon to hear jokes or ridicule about students like me. Statements such as “doesn’t really contribute to anything” or “useless major” are often thrown around, according to Sophomore Makeda Adisu.

It seems that the general idea constructed by others is that classes do not entail as much work as other subjects like engineering or the hard sciences. Sophomore Bioengineer student Jack Huber says that he has heard communication classes are not as time consuming and homework mainly consists of essays and readings.

Other stereotypes generalize communication as the “easy way out” and according to Junior Chelsea Andon, “athletes do it.” Student athletes split a lot of their time between practice and school and often are not viewed as serious students as described by sophomore Deja Thomas.

“I feel like a lot of people that I know that were undeclared end up in comm,” said Sophomore Biology major Jessy Singh.

Another six hours later and I’m finally home. Emerging from the shower, I look back on my day. I’m not even halfway through my laundry list. The weekend has just begun. I look down at the ground and it’s a welcomed delight that my legs are not covered in green paint anymore. My muscles are aching and now uncovered are the battle wounds from moving those panels. I guess my professor was serious about pouring our blood, sweat and tears into this project.

It’s Saturday now. While my friends are celebrating Cinco de Mayo, I’m riding in the back of a truck. It’s probably not legal but it’s the first breath of fresh air I’ve had today. Im tucked into a little corner of the bed of the truck and around me is couches and tables and picture frames. The cab of the truck can hold no more people and we didn’t want to walk.

The fact that the hard sciences are one of the harder majors on campus is undeniable. Biology majors are always seen worrying about their next lab report or midterm. However it should not be overlooked that communication majors spend a lot of their extracurricular times focused on projects outside of class. Producing a film or writing an article doesn’t happen overnight and entails a lot of work that is unseen and unacknowledged by their peers.

“It’s pretty much all the this that business students do minus the money,” said graduate student Pia Candalaria. “It’s all the things design engineers do minus the buildings.”

It’s now Sunday morning. The crooning voice of Ben Howard floIMG_6174ats through the speaker system in the room. I’m sore from running around all weekend. My group and I have kept a count and are currently on hour 30 in the studio. We’re almost done with our laundry list but it’s crunch time now. Leveling picture frames and generously spraying hairspray on anything remotely shiny, we’re getting ready for an inspection. We call our professor. He’s impressed by our progress. After checking multiple monitors, adjusting cameras and light
, our set is finally approved and we’re ready for the actors to come in for their first rehearsal.

Hour 40 has arrived. There’s a broken pepperoni on the ground. We decide it’s almost symbolic of our journey in the TV studio. We look at our set like proud parents before turning off all the lights and alarming the alarm. Tuesday cannot come soon enough. After weeks of preparation and planning, our visions are finally going to come alive.

At 10:10 in the morning on Tuesday, I’ve already been here for an hour. Class officially starts at 10:20. I’m running around setting props down and managing the chaos of the room. The director calls quiet on set and you can feel the buzz of energy in the room. It’s magical.

“And Action.”

— Charmaine Yuen

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