Sunday, 24 June 2012

CAO Decisions: Multimedia vs. Communications

CAO Decisions: Multimedia vs. Communications

The CAO deadline for change of mind is the 1st of July. This post will deal specifically with the choice between Multimedia and Communications in Dublin City University. I can see that only a select few will find this post useful - however it contains details that I wish I had access to when I was about to depart on the university chapter of my life, so I feel the need to share!

So if this post is not for you, feel free to check out my other posts instead. And here's an embarrassing photo of me for your troubles.

But why's the rum gone? -Embarrassing photo alert. Image credit (credit, really?): Alan Toye.


This time last year I had my mind made up. My CAO looked like this:

  • Communication Studies (CS) - DCU
  • Media Studies - Maynooth
  • Multimedia (MMA) - DCU

  • I was only going by what I learnt from the universities' prospectuses and from the internet. The vital ingredient that I missed, one which would have possibly influenced the order of that list, was the advice of someone who had experienced the courses. After completing my first year in DCU and seeing how both my course (Communication Studies) and my boyfriend's course (Multimedia) operates, I believe I can offer invaluable advice to a person wondering which choice to put first. The course I cannot comment on is Maynooth, as I do not know anyone in the course. Besides, if I were to go back in time and rearrange my CAO, I think DCU would occupy both the number one and two spot, due to the perfect size of the university, it's location and most importantly, the community feel due to the unparalleled society life.

    Deciding between Multimedia and Communications at DCU is a tough choice, they have similar points (though you should never base your decision on the points of a course), and they are both within DCU's 'School of Communications'. To decide between them here are two questions to ponder:

    1. Do You Prefer Studying Media Theory or Getting Hands-On Experience With Technology?
    This is probably the most important question to ask yourself. In a nutshell: Multimedia equals a whole pile of technical and practical stuff with a side order of the theory whereas Communications equals a whole pile of theory with a smigine of the practical. If your ultimate aim when choosing a course is to get in depth experience with the programs and equipment used by media professionals, then Multimedia is probably the direction you should head. MMA students were creating Dreamweaver masterpieces while the CS students were still learning to close their HTML tags. Communications is suited for those with an interest in the theory side of things. Basically, if you're more interested in the portrayal of women in Gossip Girl than how one would go about filming it, maybe Communications is the course for you. There's rumours that the Communications course will be renamed 'Communications and Anthropology' in the future, which should help clear confusion, deterring students without an interest for cultural studies.

    Are you more concerned with how the shot was framed or
    how women are represented in the show?

    Image source:

    I chose Communication Studies because I wanted to learn the practical side of media production with theory thrown in there too. However, I made the mistake of thinking that the course would be half practical, half theory. Do not make this mistake! Communications Studies is mostly a theoretical course, with a little practical sprinkled here and there so you can get a feel for it. Next year I have the chance to specialise in a field (fingers crossed it's photography), and this will be more in depth than first year. Even then, it is still not considered as important as the theoretical elements and it won't be the 50/50 split I had hoped for.
    Note: One thing to bear in mind is that a Communications student, like myself, and any student in DCU for that matter, can get to grips with the practical by joining societies such as Fotosoc and MPS.

    2. In An Ideal World: What Career Would You Have?
    Another important question to ask yourself. Of course, you may not be sure of where you want to end up career-wise, and if this is the case then focus mainly on the first question. However, if you have a clear idea of your preferred career path then listen up! In my opinion, Multimedia graduates are more likely to excel in areas like web design, graphic design, film-making, and loads of other fields where key practical skills are needed, such as the ability to use industry standard programmes like Final Cut Pro. Communication Studies graduates, however, are often more suited to careers in public relations, advertising, and managerial positions. Having said that, Communication Studies students have practical skills too, and they could end up becoming radio/television producers, photographers, depending on whether they chose to specialise in audio, video or photography. A new strand had been added to Communications, the 'Performance Strand', and this looks set to be a popular choice for those who'd like to see themselves in front of the camera.
    Note: Okay, I'll admit, these are really big generalisations, but I hope they may be useful in giving you an idea of which degree you'd be more suited to. Remember that you could end up anywhere with either degree, so don't feel like the degree you choose forces you in one single direction.

    The degree you'll receive from the three years in Communication Studies or Multimedia is only part of the story. Your course choice isn't everything, often employers are more interested in your extracurricular activities anyway. So take your choice seriously, but once the CAO list has been finalised don't despair. Hopefully this post has added something that the prospectus and open day mightn't have shared. Or it may have confused you even more... Oh well, I can say I tried!

    Good luck with the results in August, and have a fantastic summer!

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