Communication is a process. Teaching a process requires that many of our courses have smaller enrollments that allow instructors to coach and critique student communication. The interest in Communication Studies as a major has grown tremendously in recent years. This growth has created an awkward situation: If we let everyone who wants to be a COM major in, then we will not be able to teach them the process of communication to the best of our abilities. Since we need to restrict our numbers so that those who become COM majors receive a viable educational experience, we decided to use a system that, although imperfect, stressed academic merit rather than chance (lottery) or simple seniority.
Why COM 105 and COM 200 are the Gateway Courses
COM 105 and COM 200 were selected as the gateway courses because they encompass the core concepts and core competencies of the major. These two courses, along with the others in the core, address the craft, academic discipline, art and science of communication. COM 105 and COM 200 also provide introductions to concepts and processes that you will need to succeed in other courses in the major. Earning a “B” in these courses is not an arbitrary “hoop” to jump through, but an indicator of readiness for the rest of the coursework in the major. Even though individual instructors teach these courses, the course content, major assignments and tests have been examined and approved by the department. The role of the instructors is to help you negotiate these departmental requirements.
What to do if you earn a "B" or better in each course
Congratulations. You will then become a full COM major and be able to take courses that are restricted to “COM Majors ONLY”. You should use the broad understanding of the field gained in COM 105 and the skills introduced in COM 200 as you meet the challenges of other COM classes. Continue to use coursework to clarify your interests and deepen your understanding of communication. Engage in honest self-assessment about who you want to be and what you want to do and pursue courses and projects consistent with the vision you have for yourself. For instance, if you plan on pursuing a career in PR then take the advanced PR courses even if they are offered at awkward times or provide more of a challenge than taking another introductory class.
What to do if you do not earn a "B" or better in both courses
There are avenues for you to retake the courses one more time. You should discuss these options with a PCOM advisor. Retaking a Gateway course typically will involve higher expectation of student performance. But before you attempt to retake a Gateway course, ask yourself why you didn’t earn a “B.” If focus and maturity were key issues, you may need to take some time off to clarify your priorities. If grasping the concepts was a constant challenge, this may not be the discipline for which you are most suited or gifted. Related disciplines such as sociology, political science, psychology and others may be a better fit. If you are still convinced that COM is for you, make efforts to retake the courses only after you’ve determined what went wrong and what you’ll do to fix it.
If you fail to make it through the gateway that doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. It does, however, mean that you need to proactively pick another major or another school. If you choose to stay at UNCW, work with Career Services to complete some self-assessment instruments and facilitate some brainstorming to find the academic home that is right for you.