Rules, Tips, and Suggestions for COMS Majors:
A Top-10 List
1) Use PeopleSoft to track your progress in the COMS major and with your GEs -- and be prepared with specific questions and (when necessary) the appropriate forms when you meet with your COMS advisor for academic advising . When you have a deadline to get an important form signed (especially when they have to be signed by more than one person, like graduation forms), do not wait for the last minute. Plan ahead.
2) You need 48 COMS units to graduate, so if for instance you took courses elsewhere that satisfied COMS requirements but were only 3 units, you still need to make up the remaining units even if you’ve satisfied COMS course requirements.
3) If you take the introductory part of a sequence such as COMS 201, 210, or 265, and decide that you actually want to do one of the other complete sequences instead (if for instance you take 265 but afterward decide you want to do 210 and 318), that first introductory sequence course you took can still count toward your 12 required COMS elective units.
4) COMS 315 and COMS 402 are courses that students are not allowed to take until their last semester at SSU. In rare circumstances students are allowed to take these courses during their 2nd-to-last semester, but never earlier than that.
5) Summer COMS courses are a great way to satisfy requirements, especially your COMS elective units requirements. Many of the courses taught during the Summer are elective favorites of the professors teaching them; they would teach them more often during regular semesters but there is rarely space in the schedule to do so. On that same note, keep in mind that many of the major’s electives are only taught once a year or even only every few years.
6) If you are a COMS major and think you may eventually want to study abroad, plan ahead. Speak with a COMS adviser and with International Programs long beforehand about which courses you need to take at SSU, which COMS-related courses might transfer from your time abroad, and in general how to make the most of the study abroad experience. If you don’t, you may end up taking many more units than was necessary.
7) If you want to minor in something else while you are a COMS major, plan ahead. COMS majors who need 51 GE units and 48 COMS units have 21 units left over to reach 120 units, and those 21 units can be anything. To take one example, some COMS students wish there were more business-oriented courses in the major, such as Marketing. That course and others are offered in the Business Administration department, and so some COMS students decide to minor in that. Also: If you don’t want a minor but want to make the best use possible of the 21 units required apart from GE (51) and COMS (48), keep in mind that COMS elective units over your 12 required units will count toward those 21 units. So for example, if you spend several semesters working at The Star, KSUN, or SSU-TV, and end up with 24 COMS elective units, 12 of those extra elective units can go toward the 21 units you need separate from your 51 GE and 48 COMS units.
8) Think ahead about the future necessity of getting recommendation letters and/or references from your professors. If you hope to receive a strong and effective letter of recommendation or reference from a professor, it would be a good idea to: a) Do really well in that professor’s class(es), not just okay; b) Get to know the professor a little, and share with him/her who you are and what your interests and goals might be; and c) Obtain a copy of the handout on asking for recommendation letters from the plastic slot across from the COMS Office. (Many other forms are there too…)
9) In terms of media production/industry skills, to get the most out of your sequence and out of the major, take the initiative yourself to go beyond what is specifically taught in the sequence courses and make good use of the resources available at SSU and elsewhere. So for example, it would make sense to: a) Do at least a semester at one of the three campus media outlets (The Star, SSU-TV, KSUN); b) Take other elective courses (when taught) that relate to your interests and skills; c) Take free training sessions available in the Information Center for various programs and technologies; d) Do free training and tutorials available on the Internet; e) Begin frequenting blogs and other kinds of Internet sites related to your particular production/industry interests, including sites where you can virtually meet and collaborate with others; f) Exploit the video, radio, and writing/digital/graphic design resources at SSU while you’re a student here (it’s easier to get your hands on them as a student at SSU than it is at many bigger schools and programs, and obviously much easier than it is for people who aren’t students); g) Seek out appropriate professors and speak with them about your interests and career goals; and h) Be a pro-active, social, and generous collaborator with your peers, who can be sources of inspiration, information, and networking. Take advantage of those things while you are here.
10) Following from that, start thinking early on about what kind of communications-related internships you might want to do while an SSU student (for COMS 499 and otherwise). Internships can be an extremely important learning experience when it comes to developing your skills and furthering your career plans. Use the Internet, word-of-mouth, your professors, COMS-Announce Emails, the Career Center in Salazar, and any other resources you can to target internships that you’d most like to do while you are here. Then take seriously the process of applying for them.