High demand, less faculty plague COMS

By Linda Luk

A high demand for communication courses and a lack of faculty results in students having a difficult time getting into classes.

Communication students may find themselves struggling to get into the classes they want and even the classes they need to graduate.

“I wasn’t able to get in the classes I applied for permits for, but there were alternatives I got into,” said Cheherazad Deboo, a senior marketing major and journalism minor.

The reason students face such difficulties is because there are more students who want to study communication than there are faculty members to teach, said Lois Self, chair of the communication department.

“Classes fill up quickly because both of the majors are in increasing high demand for students,” Self said. “There is only a limited amount [of students] you can put in.”

Self added that as of this fall, there are 215 students majoring in journalism and over 350 students majoring in communication.

“We don’t have enough faculty to meet the students’ demands,” Self said.

There are also 450 who are pre-communication majors.

Communication and journalism in general are growing in enrollment, Self said. Even during times when other departments experience a drop in enrollment, the numbers in the department have held steady, if not increased.

The NIU communication department has many strengths compared to programs in other schools. For many years the graduate master’s program has been one of the best in the Midwest.

“Both undergraduate programs are very strong and we probably have the most complete programs,” Self said.

The department of communication offers both a major and minor in communication and journalism. In communication, students can have an emphasis in organizational and corporate communication, media studies or culture and advocacy. For journalism, students can choose an emphasis in print, broadcast or photography.

A permit system currently is used by the COMS department. For many of the classes, students have to apply for a permit to get into the class they want to take.

“It is the best system we’ve got,” said Jessica Baldwin, a pre-communication adviser. “I think it is the most fair way to divide the classes among students.”

The permit system is a way for the department of communication to make sure that most of the communication courses go to students who are majoring or minoring in it.

“We wish we didn’t have to use the permit process,” Self said. “It is the sure way to fill up the seats and give priority to graduating students.”

Although many students applied for permits, not all of them got what they wanted.

“I think it would work better if you apply for permits in a first-come first-serve basis, regardless to what major or minor you are,” Deboo said.

During this time of year, it is not uncommon to see lines outside the advisers’ doors.

“Students come because they don’t get the classes they want,” Baldwin said.

In a lot of cases, these problems can be avoided. Students should learn to meet deadlines, make appointments with their advisers and find out when the last chance day is, Baldwin advised.

“We are doing the very best we can,” Self said. “We are proud of the department, and we are proud that you want to study.”