It's easy to make the case against journalism school.
You don't need a degree in journalism to get a job in news, and professional journalists are much less likely than academics to say the degree is valuable. Newspapers and magazines shed 50,000 jobs between 2003 and 2012, while journalism school enrollments climbed. A year after graduation, 60 percent of the graduating class of 2012 from 82 journalism and communication schools had a job in their field of study; 13 percent were unemployed.
But however beleaguered, it turns out journalism schools are doing one thing very right: They embrace practices that make it likely that students will be successful after graduation, no matter what career they go into.
Gallup conducted a nationally representative survey of 30,000 college graduates earlier this year. The research firm, as part of a project with Purdue University and the Lumina Foundation, was searching for another way to measure the value of a college degree. They asked adults about their college experiences, and tested them to see if they were thriving at work and in their lives — a high bar involving a mix of measures of financial, personal and professional well-being that most American adults don't meet.
The Gallup researchers uncovered what they say is a six-step formula to have a good life, as the research firm describes it. Three of the steps relate directly to the academic experience:
- Have at least one professor who makes you excited about learning
- Feel your professors care about you as a person
- Find a mentor (whether a professor or a peer) who encourages you to pursue your goals and dreams
- Get extremely involved in an extracurricular activity
- Have an internship or job that allows you to apply what you learned in the classroom
- Work on a project that takes a semester or more to complete