On the radio: The highs and lows of a practicum

By Melanie Greenberg
September 28, 2010

Melanie Greenberg

Give me a ton of work to do, no time, a filled planner and one credit? Many students can sympathize with me on this one.

If a person was to walk into the communication wing Monday nights, it could be filled with frenzied journalists, photographers, video crews and radio personnel.

Actually, come in at any point during the day and likely the wing will be a crowded place. Many students will be close to tears or ready to snap at the first person who looks at them the wrong way. One class that I have found is very time-consuming and stressful is my radio practicum course.

An hour and fifteen minutes is dedicated each Monday night to learning the ways of radio style news, laws and history.

Two hours a week are dedicated to a radio show of our style choice. I’m not going to lie, Sunday nights may be my favorite two hours of the week. Wait, let me rephrase that. Sunday nights may be my favorite required time of the week.

Once a week, I broadcast a sporting event, on top of the events, homework and production hours put in. I know I am not the only student struggling to keep up.

At this point, you would probably think I hate my major. As much as I complain and as often as I sit and stare at my planner wondering how in the world I will get my work done, I do love it. Once the assignment or event is over, I can breathe a sigh of relief. And then I do it all over again.

To be in control of a show people actually listen to and actually enjoy is amazing.

I love the feeling of being accomplished after broadcasting a game but it is very hard to be dedicated to a course which requires so much and rewards so little. It is like asking someone to spend all their money on clothing and never wear a single item.

There are other courses that offer one credit such as yoga, pilates, ballet and modern dance. These courses require attendance once a week. Compare those hour and 15-minute courses to an hour and 15 minutes, two hours, events and a game.

Let’s look at this even closer. As a communication major, we are all required to attend a professional development course three to four times a semester with various guest speakers. Only two papers are asked of us. This course is worth half a credit.

Practicum courses are meant to be like an internship. Typically in U.S. colleges, one credit equals two hours of study time. However, an internship requires eight  hours of work per week per credit. Practicum courses are intended to provide college students with real-life experience, similar to an internship.

As great as real-life experience is for preparing for the professional world, I already take 14 and a half credits and have two jobs. When I enrolled in this class I was not aware of the workload. I expected two hours of work, but got nearly quadruple that.

I believe the experience will be worth it in the end. The friends I have made by bonding through the amount of work will be there for me until senior year and maybe beyond.

I am ready to do the work we are given and enjoy the opportunity I am given to experience hands-on type courses. I am just positive that my time and energy wants to see more than just one credit on my transcript.

Melanie Greenberg

9 thoughts on “On the radio: The highs and lows of a practicum”

  1. I just read this and I have to tell you that if you’re going to complain about doing work then you should definitely switch majors because COM is not the right major for you. If you love your major as much as you say you do this article would have never been written in the first place.

    By writing this you are completely disrespecting the entire department and all of the hard work put into it. I don’t know if you noticed or not but Cabrini is very much about converging in the COM department which means you combine all of your skills to be the best you can be. You obviously don’t care too much about perfecting your radio skills if you would take the time to trash it in Loquitur. You’re turning off a lot of people from getting involved in something great by writing this.

    You’re in college. I don’t know who told you it was easy, but they lied to you. College is hard work, especially being a COM major. If your skin isn’t tough you’re going to get ripped apart. I’ve seen it happen to a lot of people.

    Your only a sophomore and this isn’t going to help you get ahead at all. You want to make an impact? You want to make a statement? Then write about something worth while, don’t complain about a course. Be grateful you have a professor who is willing to give you that extra experience of having your own show and broadcast games. If that’s not something you want then get out of the COM wing.

  2. 2008 English/Comm Grad


    Were you desperate for a topic to fill your weekly article requirement? This is a horrible topic, let alone a horrific depiction of the Communications Department at Cabrini College. I’m all about having touchy subjects as Opinion pieces, but I’m shocked this was run; it’s disrespectful to all those hard working professors who work hard to teach you how to be ahead of the curve in the industry.

    Is being a Communications major hard? Absolutely. Is it horrible that you put in all that work for 1 credit here, half a credit there? Yes. But guess what honey, if you’re struggling with this work load now, as a sophomore, you’re in the wrong major.

    If you truly want to be a great Communications student, you will be involved in everything; TV, Radio, Journalism, Creative Writing. To do all that takes a lot of time and effort, it doesn’t come easily. It’s not a Math major where you study for a test and it’s over. You put in the time to learn your craft to the best of your ability so you have an advantage over the other people your age you’ll be graduating with.

    Right now, you’re only a sophomore, barely putting your feet in the water of the Communications Wing. What are you going to do when you’re a junior, and you’re an editor on the paper, on the Radio Exec board, taking all your classes plus an internship?

    I completely agree with you that you do have to do a lot for a half credit for Comm practicum, and a lot for 1 credit for Radio practicum, but guess what? There have been hundreds of kids who have graduated before you that had even more on their plate and have done the work without complaining.

    Heather Shandley puts everything she has into making her students better, and if it’s a lot of work, then it’s obviously things she feels you need to know to put you out there in the world knowledgable and above everyone else to get a job.

    I truly think you need to reevaluate your major if you’re having difficulty with the work load. It only gets harder and more time consuming from here!

  3. Melanie,

    I honestly think this article opens my eyes to one credit practicums. Thank you so much Melanie for following your heart, and writing an article that shows students what a ONE CREDIT PRACTICUM truly is. Chances are this is your only one credit practicum, and as a student here I can relate to the hard work you need to put in, and it is a small reward. One credit, for all that work is just not fair. To the people who have complained; I am sorry if you feel spited about this article, but if you look at it from a different perspective maybe you can realize that she is not attacking your communication department she is attacking one credit practicum as a whole. Maybe! Before you read the article you should read the title. Put down your little defensive guard, I think its honorable that you wrote the article, thats what journalism is! Keep the articles coming Melanie, I love reading them!

  4. Not to jump to the aid of a fellow com. student just for the sake of solidarity, this article is merely speaking up for the all the students (and there are plenty) that agree. I am not personally in Radio Practicum, but i certainly thought about it. In the end, reasons like Melanie has articulated gave me enough pause not to take it. Whether comm courses offer a disproportionate amount of work for the experience/credits is one matter (Im on Loquitur as well, so I’m well aware), but Radio Practicum is really demanding more for less. There is no question it asks more of students than many (possibly most) other Cabrini courses on this level, while giving them 1 third of the reward. If we parallel being a full time student to a job, would you do your job for 1/3rd of the pay? Its unfair that the school, or possibly the standards for course credit ration is so skewed that a course that does provide valuable experience and covers a profession of interest for many, is worth only one credit. There are plenty of students I know personally that would love to get into radio, and for all anyone knows have the talent to really take it somewhere, but literally cannot because they don’t have the credit hour-leeway or actual time to substitute two courses worth of work for the pay of 1/3. To imply that if a student has genuine interest in something they should “do it for free” as it were, is borderline silly. While I understand these comments’ point that Comm. is not for the weak, I’d have to agree with Melanie that this system is unfair and its good someone has articulated what plenty more are thinking.

  5. Melanie—

    Please don’t let any comments resulting from this article discourage you as a communications major. Although the major isn’t for everyone, you need to figure that all out on your own time. This one article should not make that decision for you, in fact this sounds like an amazing start to a communications career. Everyone is allowed to have opinions and your love for the major seems to over ride the work load, did no one else pick up on that?

    Although I don’t agree with a lot of your statements, this is one of the most honest Perspectives articles I’ve read in years…because god forbid we’re all subjected to read another water bottle or parking issue article!

    I am almost positive students regardless of their opinion of your argument will agree that communication practicum courses are all not treated equally credit wise. Having taken radio practicum, it definitely should be given more then one credit.

    And lastly, I say well done editors who allowed this to run. Journalism is not about being scared of the outcome of your articles; it’s about facing any issues head on. I’m sure Melanie is not the only student who feels this way, and not just about communication courses but college in general, and you gave them all a voice.

    How embarrassing would it have been if people outside of the major found out you had stopped this article from running? How would they trust that The Loquitur would continue to run ‘the news’ regardless of how it makes people look? This might have been the best thing to happen to Loquitur, people will be talking about the article, but most importantly they will be reading your paper!

  6. 2009 Comm Department Award Recipient

    A perspectives piece is meant for your opinion, to state why you do or do not like something, and then possibly offer a suggestion for a solution. What you did was whine and complain and flip back and forth from trashing radio practicum and all of its work to loving the opportunities you are given from taking this course. Well, which one is it? From your lead, it seems to me that you don’t enjoy the class, the requirements or the experience you’re having, however, your conclusion states otherwise. If you have an opinion, please state it and stick with it, no need to be wishy-washy.

    It seems to me that you don’t understand that you need experience in order to enter the real world. Employers don’t care how many credits your classes were worth or what paper you wrote or how filled your planner was, what they care about is the real world, hands-on experience that you’ve had – broadcasting games, DJing your own radio show, etc. They also care about your time management skills, are you able to handle a lot of work and a lot of pressure without cracking? With this article, seems to me like you can’t. You’re a sophomore, wait till junior and senior year when you get deeper into the communications department and take on leadership roles, are you going to be able to handle everything?

    Let’s talk about internships. It’s been widely stated and known that communication PAID internships are few and far between. You’re also lucky if you can find an internship that allows you to take it for credit. However, you need an internship during college to show an employer that you have real world experience, but are you going to complain that you’re doing it for no pay and no credit? You cry and whine about all the work you’re doing for Radio Practicum now and are only getting one credit and you should be happy about that. Believe me, when it comes to internships, you’re doing more work, putting more time into something that you receive no payment for, no credit for, just the gratification of knowing you learned a real world trade in a real world setting. Will you be able to prepare yourself for that?

    Were you sleeping in your J1 class when Dr. Zurek was talking about how to market yourself? Are you aware that by writing this article, you seem weak and quick to complain once the workload gets too tough? Are you also aware that once things are on the internet they will always be on the internet? So, by writing this and publishing this on internet, in 2 years, after you graduate and are ready to look for a job, a potential employer could Google your name, find this article and make an opinion of you and your work ethic right then and there? I hope you’re prepared for this to follow you for the rest of your life.

    There’s an old saying that goes “If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen,” and you, my dear, are about to be consumed by fire if you continue with this major.

  7. The first time I read your article, I was annoyed. The second time I read your article, I was annoyed. But now that I’ve read it a third and fourth time, I’m starting to understand where it is you were trying to come from when you wrote this.

    I never took part in radio, except for a few times I interrupted my friends in theirs and a class I hated during first semester of my freshman year. But I did have a lot of friends who were involved in it. I heard them complain about not wanting to go to their radio show, and I understand how annoying it must be sometimes to lug around radio equipment and spend time preparing your music or news for your show. Sure, it’s probably a pain, I get that.

    But the great thing about the experience you get at Cabrini is that it will pay for itself over and over again. Trust me, when you start putting together your resume and portfolio, a lot of people in other majors will still be listing their time as ‘Sales Associate’ as their number one experience. To say that you worked on WYBF and have more portfolio pieces than an English paper and a Creative Writing project is going to make up for the hours you spent in the studio. Like your clothing analogy, it’s something you buy and that will pay for itself over and over again.

    I know you probably know how many awards WYBF has won and how far it has come in recent years, so I won’t go into that. But I do have to say, WYBF offers a very unique opportunity to comm students, as do Loqation and the Loquitur. I know that sometimes it’s stressful, but I remember people I graduated with, and people who are still there, who have been involved in video, radio, and journalism. Talk about a full schedule.

    I’m sure you started writing this article with the intent to say that, yes, sometimes, it really doesn’t seem worth it but that, in the end, the experience you gain IS worth it. The only trouble is that it seems you are trying to convince yourself, not your readers.

    PS–I have to give you credit for writing a perspective that got people talking; I just think the way it was written doesn’t convey the message you intended it to.

    Megan Kutulis
    Cabrini College ’10

  8. I’m sure you’re getting a lot of backlash – from alumni, staff and peers. So instead of adding to it, I’m going to say that I enjoyed reading your piece. I was very involved during my time at Cabrini and I understand the pressures to dedicate yourself, not to just one form of media, but to diversify and excel in each. It’s a TON of work, but it’s definitely worth it and it sounds like you realize that. At the same time, the way you started your perspective only focused on the negatives. I’ve felt the same way, where all you want to do is vent. At the same time, hearing someone vent that’s just getting started can upset those who have already put in the four years of work to earn the degree.

    I like that you wrote it. I like that you’re so gutsy despite Cabrini being a small school and the COM dept being even smaller. I will say this, just be thankful that Cabrini offers what they do. Because the radio station is so hands on, I was able to land an on-air job after my freshman year of college. If I went somewhere else I wouldn’t get credit for radio, it’d be a club. It wouldn’t be run nearly as efficiently and I would have had the opportunities I was so lucky to have.

    Take it all in stride and realize this is your chance to learn. You can make mistakes now. Interning or working at a commercial station isn’t usually so forgiving. Work out the kinks now and figure out what you enjoy. At most schools you pick one track and that’s what you study. Cabrini puts emphasis on converging forms of media, a rare an innovative approach.

  9. to the self-named 2009 award recipient, while you are certainly passionate about your dislike of this piece, it was quite clear that you have little idea what you’re talking about. In fact, your first too line are contradictory. you state what perspectives pieces are supposed to be (something that this piece does almost to the T, minus the proposing a necessary solution) and then you call this article “whining”. Which is it? Melanie here did nothing more than give an opinion (several in fact) on something, and then made points defending or fleshing out that opinion, according to your own definition thats what a perspective is supposed to do, not to mention cause discussion, which id say it has done in spades. Also, you’re right that internships are about work experience not necessarily credit (though the whole idea of co-ops is that you get credit for interning). And even the federal government has been trying to crack down and regulate unpaid, uncredited internships because they hugely favor the wealthy who can afford to not have a job/school at the same time as the internship. What we find is that Radio-Practicum falls in between those two, its unpaid, but it is also not for as much credit as many true co-ops are. In addition, ask anyone in the hiring business…or headhunting business…any “internship” or “experience” with your school’s name tacked on the end, does not carry nearly as much weight as independent ones in the “real world”. Radio Practicum, while im sure its hugely valuable and gives one great experience, would not look half as good on a resume as “interning at Q102” (insert other pro radio station name) or something similar. And for that you would likely either get paid or get more than one credit. This perspective is, after all, just that, a perspective. One that honestly, and if we let our defensiveness over the apparently infallible comm. department down, makes a lot of sense.

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