Over the course of the last several years, social media has gone from a new curiosity to a relatively powerful part of everyday life. Networks like Facebook connect people with old friends and relatives that they haven’t seen in years and years. Twitter lets the world communicate almost instantaneously and helps news and information spread like wildfire — just this last year, Twitter helped the victims of Hurricane Sandy in New York and aided flood victims in the Philippines through the use of hashtags. Businesses are similarly beginning to rely on social media for things like marketing and advertising, and the data that’s gathered from the innumerable hours that users spend interacting with various fan pages and liking or discussing certain items has yielded copious amounts of marketing research and social data. Social media has gone from something that takes up a bit of our spare time to a part of our culture that perhaps tells us a bit more about who we are than we’d like to admit. As such, it might not come as such a huge surprise to learn that some college students in the United States can now actually major in social media — because that poetry or philosophy degree wasn’t enough to make your parents wonder about how well their investment was going to pay off.
The South Carolina-based university Newberry College is the first and presently the only campus to offer this type of program, but it’s made some impressive news as it gets ready to fully offer this degree course to its students in August of next year. Why might a student be interested in studying social media? Well, the answer is something that more than just a few of the industry’s thought leaders have contested. Those at the university who have organized the degree program describe it as a relatively multidisciplinary one that actually combines a good variety of applicable areas of study. Psychology, business, marketing, and even a bit of graphic design will be just a few of the concepts that are explored and studied when a student gets his or her degree in social media.
Many argue, however, that the social media “industry,” if one could describe it as such, is something that’s still far too nascent to pin down in a way that allows for efficient academic consideration. The way social media works is constantly changing as technology develops and programmers find new ways to do different things. Working from an RN to BSN program means that you study something that won’t really change anytime soon. Getting a degree in social media, however, means that you place your studies on the back of a business that follows its own agenda. Social media will continue to ferociously grow and change, regardless of who’s studying it, and these are some of the concerns that Newberry College’s exciting new degree program raises. Either way, a college degree in social media is certainly an interesting way for a student to bring his or her academic focus into the twenty-first century