Making your Gen-Eds work for you

Like all liberal arts colleges, part of your time at Temple will be spent taking general education courses – the “GenEds”. Temple’s ultimate goal with the GenEd curriculum is “equipping students to make connections between what they learn, their lives and their communities”. Even with this in mind, it’s easy to lose sight of the purpose GenEds serve in our education. As aspiring PR professionals, classes like “The Chemistry of Wine” and “Math Patterns” don’t offer much in the way of preparing us for our careers. But there are ways to take advantage of your GenEd requirements and make the classes work for you.

With so many options, choosing your GenEds can seem like a difficult task, but it helps to consider your professional goals and take note of specific skills you (and potential employers) find important. Forbes.com lists the top 10 skills employers most want in recent graduates, as determined by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). The list highlights basic skills like working in a team environment and problem solving, and other more specific skills like data analysis and software knowledge.

Using this list as a guide, here are a few suggestions for more relevant GenEd courses:

Human Behavior GenEd: Instead of “Human Sexuality”, take

Interpersonal Communication – Critical Competencies for Personal and Professional Success (AOD 0836)

Skill #3 on Forbes’ list is “Ability to communicate verbally with people inside and outside an organization”. This course will teach you just that. Learning how to effectively communicate your ideas is an invaluable skill that employers seek. You will work in groups to better understand how communication is important, as well as individually on self-reflective assignments to learn your own strengths and weaknesses.  This class takes you through the steps of effective communication at all levels and prepares you to navigate a variety of communication issues in professional settings.

Quantitative Literacy GenEd: Instead of “Math Patterns”, take

Critical Reasoning & Problem Solving (MATH 0828)

Making decisions and problem solving is skill #2 on the list. This course teaches students how to solve complex problems by confronting them with critical analysis. You’ll look at problems from both a historical perspective and the practical view of how and when these types of problems arise in your everyday life. As communications majors, math isn’t a big part of our future careers; but problem solving certainly is. And while we tend to avoid math in general (I’m guilty of this), it doesn’t hurt to have a few more problem solving strategies up our sleeves, even if it forces us to pick up a calculator.

Science & Technology GenEd: Instead of “The Environment”, take

Data Science (MIS 0855)

As PR professionals, we need to be able to understand how numbers translate to public opinion in order to effectively do our jobs. This course will teach you how to harness the power of data by mastering the ways it is stored, organized, and analyzed to enable better decisions. You will get hands-on experience by solving problems using a variety of powerful, computer-based data tools virtually every organization uses. You will also learn to make more impactful and persuasive presentations by learning the key principles of presenting data visually. Ability to analyze quantitative data is skill #6 on Forbes’ top 10.

Other worthwhile alternatives:

Cyberspace & Society (CIS 0835) Science & Technology GenEd. Proficiency with computer software programs ranked #8

Emotional Intelligence & Leadership (STRC 0821) Human Behavior GenEd. Ability to work in a team structure ranked #1, ability to influence others ranked #10

Remember, you absolutely can (and should!) put relevant coursework on your resume to fill in any gaps, especially when your experience is limited. The skills you can take away from these GenEds will make you more marketable and valuable to potential employers. Whether you are just starting your GenEd sequence and are looking for some direction, or if you’ve completed your requirements and are in need of a few extra elective credits, these classes will help you practice important skills – and you take care of a few credits. It’s a win-win.

This guest blog post was written by PRowl staff member Samantha Cox. 

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