UConn Journalism introduces its newest students to the varied fields of journalism with its UNIV 1810 course: Introduction to Journalism Practice.
The course is one of a wide range of First Year Experience courses (FYE) at UConn. FYE started in 1999 to help new students adjust to college and succeed here. Sarah Scheidel, who until recently was managing FYE through her work in the Office of First Year Programs and Learning Communities, has said that the small classes (capped at 19), caring instructors and peer mentors influence students’ decisions to remain in school after the first year.
First-year retention rates at UConn were 85% in 1998, the year before the FYE program started. They are now at 92%, according to the latest report.
UConn Journalism’s FYE course is taught by alumna Lisa Caruso '90, the department’s educational program coordinator. The one-credit course is open to first year pre-journalism students and first-year transfer students.
The course exposes students to the many ways journalism is practiced. “We also introduce them to the faculty and different media outlets on campus,” Caruso said.
Students have taken tours of the newsrooms at the UConn student newspaper — the Daily Campus, UConn’s radio station WHUS-FM, and the student-run television station UCTV.
Current and past students in Caruso’s class say the once-a-week 50-minute sessions help them get involved with campus outlets and see career choices. Journalism faculty members take turns visiting the class, speaking about their specialties in photojournalism, broadcasting, print, digital and environmental journalism, and documentary filmmaking.
Freshman Alec Beane said he learned something new every week. “We learned about broadcasting, which I was interested in,” Beane said. “The guest speakers were really helpful because I didn’t know about different types of journalism like photojournalism.”
Beane said he plans to take broadcasting and sports journalism courses next semester. He already is working as an anchor in UCTV’s sports department thanks to Caruso’s help. He is thinking of double majoring in journalism and sports management.
Sophomore Jalen Allen, a journalism and communications major, said the class helped him identify his interests in public relations and journalism last year. He working in advertising at UCTV. “I got connected with them after I toured the station,” he said. “I found the class helpful because I want to get into PR. This class introduced me to different people and got me familiar with the department.”
Caruso requires that students create LinkedIn accounts. “Since they’re first-year students, a resume isn’t ideal since they are just starting to gain experience,” she said.
Beane found this helpful. “I check in every week on Linkedin to see if there’s anything new like a connection or opportunity that is available,” he said. “Our instructor had us all connect with her.”
Caruso’s leadership has made a difference, Beane said. “She is really getting us to where we need to be.”
by Crystal Elescano