It’s no stretch to say that the internet is changing the world faster than any prior invention in history. It has managed to break down borders and create a truly international world, where anyone anywhere with a device and an internet connection can follow the news, watch videos and check out life in faraway lands. And thanks to social media, people can interact with each other from across those same distances in seconds. People spend more time in relationship online than in person these days. The postcard or catch up letter has been replaced by Facebook stalking, as friends, families and former classmates can now discretely hop online and discover the intimate details of a life. And Twitter is swiftly becoming the go-to breaking news source for the world. All you need to do is check out the volume of tweets that are posted during major political, social and sports events to see that this is the case. So while it may sound silly, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that ‘Social Media’ is about to become a college major.
Newberry College in the small South Carolina town of the same name may be the first four-year university to offer such a major. But while the idea of becoming an accredited expert in Tumblr or Pinterest sounds a bit ridiculous, according to members of the university staff this major will not be a cakewalk. Associate Professor Tania Sosiak of Newberry College spoke to the local Fox network WACH, and broke this new discipline down. Apparently, the Social Media major will incorporate elements of communications, marketing, statistics, graphic design, business and psychology. And if you think about it, those disparate disciplines do come together to make up this billion dollar industry.
So what type of future will this major actually lead to? While not all Social Media graduates can expect to be the next Mark Zuckerberg, the Newberry College staff hope this exciting curriculum will encourage some kids to stay in school who otherwise are on the bubble. In fact, one thing Zuckerberg and Microsoft founder Bill Gates have in common is that both brilliant students dropped out of Harvard to run their businesses. Even Steve Jobs, the late CEO of Apple left college early. Universities need to change with the times, and Newberry College is hoping a modern major will encourage more kids to stick it out and get their degrees.
The problem is there seems to be more and more incentive not to complete school these days. First off, college is more expensive then ever before. Grants and scholarships are harder to come by, and mountains of student loan debt burden most graduates for decades after they leave college. Today’s internet-savvy youth see these trends, and also see that the recession economy doesn’t automatically reward a hard-working college graduate with a job. So why should you take on that sort of debt if it doesn’t even lead to a career?
In addition there are all of the aforementioned tech geniuses who did it without a diploma. If the Social Media major is aimed at the same types of thinkers, you could have some serious push back. And other entrepreneurs are pouring fuel on the fire. Peter Thiel, the founder of PayPal is actually offering $100,000 to students who win a contest, as long as they drop out of school and use it to start a business. How can a major with questionable future application compete with that? You’ve also got internet classes being offered by for profit and not for profit organizations, RN to MSN programs online for those who want to shoot through school with a practical skill set and heavy competition from foreign programs looking to lure our best and brightest with cheaper tuitions. It’s a complicated problem, and a major focused on Social Media probably isn’t the solution.