Journalism student meets the real world

By Katie Finlon

Oh my God, do I fear for my collegiate education.

Yes, I know I have expressed that sentiment before, but now I’m talking in terms of time–as in I’m scared I won’t be able to graduate in four years and it won’t be my fault.

I’m a journalism major, right? The major itself is 36 credit hours, right? Because it’s such a small major, the program requires you to have a minor or a double-major, and I went the route of the minor. I thought to myself, “Seems straightforward enough. I could theoretically graduate a semester early if I really tried.”

HAH. Nope. Couldn’t even if I wanted to.

Here’s the thing: I’m part of a music fraternity that requires participation in an ensemble every semester, and this would be my last full year to participate in NIU Steel Band. Because this is how my life works, two classes that could fill my course obligation for one group of electives (both of which are supposed to be corequisites) directly conflict with the ensemble. Knowing the directors of the band and how I’m in and out of the ensemble due to my major and other conflicts as is, I know they wouldn’t be happy with me missing two out of four rehearsals a week. I know they would be as understanding as they could be, but I couldn’t blame them for being frustrated.

Believe me.

Thankfully, I’m at least able to have enough journalism coursework to be considered a full-time student for fall 2013, but I got to thinking: What if I run into the same problem again the semester after? What if I’m forced to take classes I didn’t originally want to take because I want to graduate in four years? What if, depending on the course selection for spring 2014, I have no choice but to take these classes?

Better question: Am I the only one who has this problem in any major, let alone journalism? I really doubt it, and that’s why I don’t get why the university is making a big deal of getting students to graduate college in four years instead of five. They really don’t make it easy, at least.

Maybe I’m getting a little ahead of myself. After all, I’m waiting on an email back from the department to see why press photography and editorial and opinion writing aren’t listed for fall 2013. I reasoned that I’ll panic based on the response.

But am I? Am I really getting ahead of myself when I only have a year left? Should it be this hard to get a 36-credit-hour journalism major and 18-credit minor and yet still make the most out of my college experience?

I’d like to think not; should’ve been a music major, after all.