College Factual has ranked Drake University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication in the top 10 percent of journalism and mass communication schools in the nation and the best in Iowa.
The ranking was based on graduates’ average earnings, the quality of the college overall, the school’s accreditation, how much the university focuses on the program and other factors.
“It’s nice to be recognized like this,” Kathleen Richardson, Dean of the SJMC, said. “I’m not a big fan of rankings … because I don’t think that’s the best way to choose a college, but at the same time, it is a way to get our name out there a little bit more. I think to me, a better gauge of whether we’re doing a good job or not is all the awards that our student’s work wins and in recognition from their peers around the country.”
One main difference between Drake’s SJMC and other journalism and mass communication schools is that students are taking journalism classes during their first semester.
“[We throw] our first-year students right away into some labs where they are learning and getting their hands on everything,” said SJMC professor Lee Jolliffe. “It is very different from state schools where you usually don’t get anything but your big lecture class about intro to mass [communication] until your junior year where you’ve only got four semesters to jam everything in.”
Drake SJMC requires all first-year students to take a multimedia lab during their first semester which teaches the students a variety of basic skills.
“Taking [JMC 31, the multimedia lab] first semester I did not think was going to be that important, but I use it probably more than any other class [when] working in my internship,” SJMC student Alexia Simonton said. “Having that base in photography, video editing and audio editing right off the bat was super important.”
The student to faculty ratio at Drake is 10 to 1. The small class sizes allow students and faculty to get to know each other.
“I have seen the school from different lenses, as a student, as a faculty member and now as an administrator and to me the strengths of the school have stayed the same over time,” Richardson said. “It is the relationship between the students and their faculty, the classes are relatively small, the faculty and students get to work together and get to know each other, it is very personal.”
Students are provided many opportunities to apply the skills they learn in the real world.
“We provide our students, not only to work on student media but also tons of internships in the community,” Richardson said. “A lot of the classes do work for outside clients or they are very hands on.”
All the faculty have previously worked for media organizations and have knowledge and connections in the field that they are teaching.
“We hire faculty who come out of the industry, they were public relations professionals, they were reporters and editors, they worked at radio and TV stations,” Richardson said. “They still have a very strong connection to the industry and so that helps set their students up for success.”
Drake students can make connections with potential workplaces through Drake alumni that are working at various companies.
Jolliffe has what she calls the “Bulldog Mafia” on her LinkedIn which allows current Drake students to connect with past Drake graduates.
“If you can get into my followers you can find all these recent Drake grads going back at least 10 years and find out where they are,” Jolliffe said.