“So, like, I don’t have to write a super long paper anymore in 498?!”
This question has tumbled out of the mouths of Comm Lions for the past year. The prospect of the department no longer requiring the formidable senior thesis has rattled DVIC occupants more than the latest Kardashian scandal.
With Priority Registration Week for the Spring 2020 semester on the horizon, I’m going to put a rest to the rumors.
No, the Comm department is not getting rid of the senior thesis.
Yes, you do still have to write the thesis. Or you don’t. It depends.
Don’t ball your fist like that Arthur meme just yet. Let me explain.
As we know, Comm 498 is the capstone course of the undergraduate communication curriculum. Students are required to write a research paper about a communication phenomenon and pass a comprehensive exam on the previous CORE classes. Then, students attend what’s called the senior colloquium, where they dress in their Sunday best, present their theses, and get promptly interrogated by Dr. Burns.
Here’s where the changes come in.
As of next semester, Dr. James O’Connor, our new Department Head, will teach 498. There are two sections available for enrollment. One section is for students who will write the research paper, as has been done historically. The other section is for students who will complete a special digital project.
In the latter section, students will either complete a video production project or a digital client project. The video production project is for students who have been trained in video production because, obviously. They will create a video that is several minutes long reflecting writing, planning, production, knowledge and editing skills.
The digital client project is for social media enthusiasts and aspiring PR practitioners. Students will create a strategic digital media plan for a client and develop a social media campaign, website copy and design, blog posts and more.
If you think the project will be a much easier alternative than writing the thesis, then think again. Completion of the project will take all semester, as the thesis does.
Here’s the thing, though: you have to be QUALIFIED to complete the project. Your qualifications are determined by the comm electives you’ve already taken, such as 357: TV Studio Production or 400: Social Media Comm. Then, you have to set up a meeting with Dr. O’Connor to discuss your plans.
What if I don’t qualify to do the project? Well, you’ll just enroll in the 498 section just for students writing the paper. Then you’ll write the thesis.
What if I do qualify to do the project, but I would rather write the thesis? Then, you can write the darn thing.
The kicker is that you can’t opt to do the digital project simply because you don’t want to write the paper, hence the qualifications.
However, if you do qualify to do the project and would rather do something else other than the aforementioned options, then pitch it. Dr. O’Connor is the one to talk to about that.
As for COMPS? Stay tuned.
And yes, Dr. Burns may still interrogate you at the colloquium because yes, that’s still a thing.