Expanding the Question

In Media academic advising conversations, students sometimes ask very specific questions, which I could answer quickly and correctly, but I sometimes sense that what they are asking isn’t what they really need to know. Here’s an example.

Student This Week majors in another area and called to ask if she could get a dual degree from our college. My short answer to her was, “No, I’m sorry. Our college offers only the first bachelor’s degree.” I could have hung up then. Instead, I stayed on the line and followed with, “Tell me about what you are hoping to accomplish.” Turns out, she is unclear about her career path but has no internship or work experience. I recommended work in student media for the fall. She thought that sounded good. Then I suggested she consider a master’s degree if she found out she likes media work.

By the end of the phone call, she had mentioned media studies, advertising and journalism interests. She also didn’t understand about the 30 extra hours of coursework a dual degree requires and she was not interested in an extra year of school. She thanked me several times. All she really needed was for someone to listen to her talk about her plans and goals – so that she could listen to herself. That’s often our best help – making an environment for students to talk through their situations so that they start to see possibilities. That sometimes happen when we broaden the question.

That’s all. Thanks for listening.

One thought on “Expanding the Question

  1. I learned on the University’s annual magazine trip to New York that going to graduate school for journalism isn’t necessary. Well, that is what the U of I alumni said that we ended up talking to. (I just looked up “alumni” in the AP Stylebook to make sure it was correct!) They said that if you major in journalism as an undergraduate, you don’t really learn much more in graduate school. They basically said it was a waste of time and money. I’m really glad I learned that because I may have gone to graduate school. Obviously, the girl in this example should go on to graduate school if she did not major in journalism as an undergrad because how else do you learn how to be a journalist?! Just thought I’d share!

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