Boston University College of Communication officials are contemplating the creation of specialized required writing courses in lieu of CO201, or Introduction to Communication Writing, that would allow COM students to begin taking classes within their major as early as freshman year.
Though all COM students may not be required to enroll in CO201 in the future, the class will still be available to those who wish to take it.
“A lot of our entering freshman, far more than in the past, are coming in with AP credits,” said COM Dean Thomas Fiedler. “They’re ready to move forward much more quickly than maybe was the case five or 10 years ago.”
CO201, a gateway requirement for all COM students, builds students’ writing skills while introducing them to various areas of communication, including journalism, public relations, advertising and film and television, Fiedler said.
“The way we have approached this for many years is we wanted our students to hold back a little before they take a deep dive into any particular areas,” Fiedler said. “We want you to get a taste of what each of those fields may expect.”
Fiedler said students interested in the film and television track often wish to pursue classes within their major sooner than the CO201 gateway course allows.
“They’re eager. They’re frustrated,” he said. “It’s like holding back a horse that wants to run.”
COM’s film and television department has established a 201 course that will focus primarily on visual communication, Fiedler said. The new course FT201, called Screen Language, may be available next February as an elective, and COM officials are hoping to establish it as a mandatory course for film and television majors by the Fall 2015 semester.
Fiedler said similar alternatives to CO201 might be established in other COM departments. JO201, which would focus on an introduction to journalism, and CM201, which would focus on an introduction to advertising and PR, may be available by the Fall 2015 semester as well, Fiedler said.
Paul Schneider, chair of the film and television department, said FT201 intends to tighten the focus on film and television for freshman that wish to major in the field.
“It’s a course about how to communicate visually,” Schneider said. “They’re going to be getting a number of writing courses, and this is an opportunity to get them thinking in a different way.”
Tinker Ready, an adjunct COM professor of CO201, said CO201 helps students hone important writing skills with a particular emphasis on grammar.
“The value for my students of [CO] 201 is that a lot of them don’t know what they’re going to major in yet,” she said. “Some of them say to me that it helps them to try out the different areas to figure out what they want to do.”
Assistant Director of the COM Writing Center John Hall said because FT201 would primarily teach visual communication, students taking the course might need to pursue help with essential writing skills outside of the classroom.
“The Writing Center is probably going to have to be a more active supporter in terms of helping students,” Hall said. “We work with students currently on all levels of writing from structure and content organization down to grammar issues, so we might have to start to do more of that.”
COM freshman Annie Kemper said she would prefer a 201 course specializing in film and television if it were available as an alternative to CO201.
“I personally find it a little bit frustrating, because I’m not really interested in public relations or advertising,” Kemper said. “But all the professors say that in today’s world, you need to know how to do everything in communications, so they do have a point.”