Social media has made its way into the classroom, illicitly at first, but more and more with teachers’ approval. But it has received its biggest endorsement yet at Newberry College in South Carolina, where starting next year, students can major in social media.
The major is the first interdisciplinary major of its kind, according to the college. In order to better prepare students for the types of skills that today’s economy demands, the program will blend graphic design, communications, business, marketing, psychology and statistics.
Social media — and how to use it effectively — has become increasingly relevant. Every kind of industry is hiring in social media, and by 2017, it is estimated that advertising by social media will overtake TV advertising as the most popular method.
Of course, most of the students will already be familiar with the basics of social networking; after all, most of them have been on Facebook or Twitter since before high school. But the major will allow students to explore the methodology behind such sites, as well as techniques for maximizing its effectiveness. The program will go beyond Facebook, teaching students how to create tools like QR codes, the black and white square that anyone with a smart phone can scan to directly access a product or a website.
The question is how to develop a major in a field that changes as quickly as social media. It’s very possible that students who graduate in 2017 will encounter a vastly different social media landscape from what they were taught in their classes. Even between now and August, when the first class is offered, social media trends could dramatically change. However, social media skills are undisputedly in demand, and oftentimes for all their practice, graduates are ill-equipped to fill the jobs. If its program is effective, Newberry College could be ahead of the curve in addressing that.