Worcester State University

Bachelor of Arts in Communications with a Minor in Computer Science

The job market in 2003-2004 wanted four-year degrees for better paying jobs. I was here from 2003-2008 and went through a major change before graduation.

When I first started Worcester State University (WSU) in 2003, it was still referred to as a college.  In 2010, Former Governor Deval Patrick signed legislation conferring university status to all of the state colleges.  Their impetus for doing so was to bring Massachusetts state colleges in-line with the national recognize standard of being a university considering they award graduate degrees.

“As comprehensive institutions offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in a wide range of disciplines, the State Colleges all meet nationally recognized criteria of being universities. Now the state has recognized us for what we are.  We cannot thank Governor Patrick and our supporters in the state legislature enough.”

“The Massachusetts legislature has taken an important step forward in recognizing the fine work of our nine state colleges by voting to rename them state universities,” said Richard Freeland, Commissioner of the Department of Higher Education. “As I see it, this action simply aligns Massachusetts with the practice found in more than 40 other states, where public four-year and Master’s institutions were long ago designated as state universities. This action reaffirms the growing importance of our public higher education institutions.”

As I look at WSU’s updated website, it seems that they don’t do individual program descriptions.  For classes not available from the university, I was able to do some Googling to find a class description.  (FYI:  QCC = Quinsigamond Community College)

Fall 2003

Beginning Spanish II:  This would be a continuation of where Spanish I left off, and taking it is inadvisable unless you did fairly well in the first one.  The second-level class involves more instruction in sentence structure, usage of words in different forms (masculine/feminine), and gives you exposure to Spanish culture.  Typically, native speakers can get this class exempted.

Analog & Digital Electronics:  Basic principles of digital and linear integrated circuits. Laboratory on direct-current circuit elements and theorems; breadboard testing of digital and operational amplifier applications.  This was the advanced-level of the class I took at QCC.

Everything else I had was a transfer from QCC.

Spring 2004

Analog & Digital Electronics II:  A continuance of the first class, with additional applications of digital integrated circuits.  Again, this was more geared toward manufacturing majors than anyone else.

Discrete Math:  Sets, algorithms, directed graphs, relations, matrices, equivalence relations, partial orders, functions, logic, mathematic induction.  First time failing the class.  I do recall blaming the professor because her teaching style was not the easiest to follow.  This is where engineers-to-be get their start in complex math.

Critical Thinking:  Critical thinking through informal logical analysis of argument styles, including identification of fallacious arguments.  This is that “course that all college and high school students should have to take and pass” that people constantly reference when they are debating people who can’t seem to form coherent arguments.

U.S. History I:  From colonization through the Civil War era.  A study of politics, society, economy, diplomacy, and culture in that period.  I’ll admit that History has always been my worst subject even though I have a fairly good grasp on history with respect to civics.  As I recall, I did have a professor who has very enthusiastic about the subject.  There is a greater emphasis on the colonization of America in this class than anything else.  Those that do fairly well in high school history should be content with this.

Fall 2004

Discrete Math (Take two):  I retook the class on the hunch that perhaps I would get it the second time around, and with the same professor.  The force was not with me during those three months, though I did pass, but by the skin of my teeth.  I also was able to pass this class before the Math department changed their policies and made passing a class with a C+ or better a requirement to get credit.

Computer Science I:  Familiarity with basic computer operations.  Introduction to fundamental structures and concepts of Computer Science including object-oriented programming.  We programmed in Java the whole time.  For a class that only met one-third of the time throughout the whole semester, I somehow made it with a B-.  I recall learning more in my C++ classes at QCC, than I did with this Java class.

Introduction to Logic (formerly ‘Critical Thinking’):  Same class, but I think a different professor since I failed the first time around.  The structure of the class focused more on the types of arguments and how fallacies can develop, using actual arguments, versus hypotheticals.

Introduction to Sociology:  Introduction to the scientific study of our society through the identification and analysis of regularized patterns of human behavior and relationships.  Take a psychology class and throw in analysis of how societies form, their values, and how people interact with it, and you have this.  This was the first class that I voiced objection to being shown material that could disturb me, completely in contrast to how I feel and think today.

Spring 2005

Computer Science II:  Digging into the Java API further and the start of learning how to develop an application.  It was at this point that I should have realized that Computer Science was not my major, and I suppose to be polite, my professor neglected to ask why I was in the class to begin with.

U.S. History I:  Same class, different professor, different teaching style.  This iteration took the same route as before, but tying in the reasons for our declared independence from England.  There was no civics lessons, but we did cover the Boston Tea Party.

Technology, Public Policy, and Urban Society:  Examination of technology and its impact on urban society – privacy, ethics, intellectual property rights, sense of community, and access to information and services.  Think of a class that merges an ethics class with a lesson on intellectual and private property rights.  If it were taught today, there would likely be an emphasis on how social media has changed how we behave, and how it has influenced our public policies.

General Psychology I:  For those looking to study social work, or to become a therapist, this is where the journey begins.  It is an introductory course, but it begins the discussion of mental health conditions and the different types of disorders.

Fall 2005

Discrete Mathematics II:  I had no clue there was a second-in-the-series until I registered for this.  Same professor as DM and same teaching style.  Halfway through the class, I was in a funk, not understanding anything.  After at least the fifth attempt to work with the professor to understand the material, she literally asked me, “You don’t seem to understand any of the material in this class.  Why are you a Computer Science major?”  Not only did that infuriate me, but it gave me enough reason to request permission to withdraw, which she kindly granted.  Her question affected me because this was the point where I was starting to question whether I was cut out for the CS major.

Personal Health I:  Gym memberships often include a class like this.  This was the first class where I outwardly called out a professor multiple times for engaging in hypocritical behavior.  She was a smoker while telling us it was a bad idea, her eating habits were unhealthy despite her admonishing students for doing the same (she always came to class with junk food), and she was a frequent consumer of soda, despite telling us all the harmful effects of drinking it.  Still managed a B-.  This was also the first class where her department received a complaint from me.

Physical Science I:  Taught by a guy that dressed and looked like Santa Claus.  Knowing what I do now, this guy frequently touted Global Warming during his class.  He also had a frequent habit of mentioning that it was 50 miles from Worcester to Boston.  Boring, stuffy, but the guy had a sense of humor.  I came out with a C+ considering I had issues following the content.

Photography I:  Covers the basic theory and practice of 35mm B/W photography, including camera handling, film processing, light meters, printing and picture content.  Digital cameras were out for consumer use, but the trend was still using film.  I had a number of firsts for this class:  (A) Getting to know my fellow classmates, (B) Being in total darkness by myself and having to figure out how to get the film out of the camera and into the film case, and (C) exposing photography paper to the light almost three weeks prior to finals.  With (C), I was not only a lesson to my class, but I was fortunate that a fellow student had extra paper after she completed her final projects that she shared.  Craziness aside, the professor was very knowledgeable and passionate.

Spring 2006

Discrete Math II:  You might be wondering why I re-enrolled in this class when I withdrew from it previously.  This was with a different professor who had a different method of teaching.  Still had to pull out and really put for the the energy into re-evaluating my major.

Digital Computer Organization:  Learning how a computer operates with respect to the internal coding.  This one was taught by a guy whose English was lacking, but knew some stuff.  I think I learned more about his family’s past with the KGB than I did about computer coding.  Another class that was more appropriate for manufacturing majors.

Calculus I:  Same professor and class as the one I originally bombed.  Sometimes, the second time is the right time.  After midterms ended, I had to pull out.  Like DM, I had to re-evaluate what I was doing with my time.

Summer 2006

Pre-Calculus:  I took this class during a very humid and nasty summer summer with a professor who would have been content with passing us all if it means not having to sit uncomfortably in a classroom.

Understanding Movies:  My first online course at this university.  We had to view M, Citizen Kane, and Psycho.  This went beyond watching the movie and discussing its elements – we dissected each movie’s elements, the production value, and explored the movies as an art.

Fall 2006

Data Structures:  This involved a newer professor with some skill at teaching.  To say that this class was a headache was an understatement.  I had reached the point where I was looking to change majors to Communications.  In the end, I still managed to pull a B-.

Digital Computer Architecture:  See ‘Digital Computer Organization’ above; mostly the same class, but dealing with how a computer operates versus the hard coding.  Same professor, revisited his family’s experiences with the KGB, and learned that he’s rather be in America than deal with Communism.

Calculus I:  Yes, I am a glutton for punishment.  I was determined to pass this class, to the point where I sought the assistance of a private tutor.  I do recall this being with a different professor.  Still, didn’t come out alive.  That would be the last time I took a high-level math class.

Introduction to the Theater:  This was a class that I could work with.  The professor was a professional actor, screenwriter, director, and producer.  He was also the first professor to give us his personal cellphone number as a method of contact.  We had to travel into Boston to watch “The Ice Breaker.”  We were asked to report on our surroundings, technical aspects of the play per our lessons in class, and give our overall impression of the performance.

Spring 2007

Operating Systems:  This is essentially where we broke down an operating system and analyzed how it operates and performs tasks, all using Ubuntu Linux.  It also was a class that truly belonged in the Computer Science major.

Unix Systems Programming:  My first exposure to programming in C, from a younger graduate student professor.  We had some fun with the class while learning.  I managed to annoy one of my classmates by asking him to clarify material.  It reinforced me deciding that this wasn’t the right major for me.

Discrete Mathematics II:  Again, with the gluttonous behavior.  Actually, this time I took this because I needed a fourth course to remain full-time.  I’m pretty sure the professor saw my name and face-palmed.  This would be the last time I take the class.

Summer 2007

Object Oriented Programming C++:  In this class, we essentially created a program in C++.  This was a class where I was fortunate to work with someone who understood how to program, and seeing my weakness, he asked me to plan out the program while he coded it.

Selected Topic –  Perl Programming:  I actually took this class because I needed a 400-level course, and Perl sounded interesting.  This could have been a 200-level class, but because it was a special topic, it was given the 400-level designation.  It was also my first exposure to a Wiki page, how to build one, and how to edit one.

Fall 2007

Systems Programming:  The design and implementation of assemblers, linkers, loaders, editors, and high-level translation software. Algorithms solving specific problems of a system program are investigated.  I won’t bother describing how this one went as (A) I barely recall it, and (B), I failed it.

Calculus I:  Okay, I lied, apparently, I would take it again…

Object Oriented Design and Analysis:  Much like Object Oriented Programming, only this course was more dedicated to the design than the programming.  Of all the 400-level classes I took, this one was my best with a B-.

Microcomputer Applications in Business:  This was literally a class in how to use Microsoft Office.  After all punishment I put myself through in the 300 and 400 level programming classes, this was a relief, and an A-.  In case you’re keeping score, I had taken this previously at QCC, but it never transferred.

Intersession 2008

Reader’s note:  At this point, I had switched my major to Communications with a Computer Science minor.  After coming out of the previous semester with a 1.7, I had to switch majors, or face the possibility of not graduating.  For those wondering where my advisor was during my struggles, she “voted present.”  Hindsight being 20/20, I never should have listed longer than a year in Computer Science.

Introduction to Mass Communications:  This class was a pivotal moment in how I viewed what I now call the ‘mainstream media’.  I’m convinced that this professor was politically conservative and it was her indirect way of teaching us that the mainstream media isn’t always honest.  This class was also the pivotal moment when I realized that my political viewpoints were all based on lies.  You might call it the beginning of my ‘transition to conservatism,’ but I never actually identified as a liberal.  The B I earned helped get my GPA above 2.0, which was victorious for me.

Spring 2008

History of the English Language:  A study of the origins of the English language from Old English through Middle English to the present.  I thought this might be an interesting course in learning how my primary (and only) language came to be.  What’s interesting and what’s palatable to me, often vary.

Visual Media Literacy:  This is where you learn how to break down media content and analyze them for more than just the final product.  You learn how colors, shapes, and the visual elements of an image all play their part in telling a story.  Despite the professor seeming a bit creepy with his erotic descriptions of some of the women whose advertising he showed, it was decent.  This class was also my first introduction to “Culture Jams,” which in today’s vernacular would be a meme.

Opera:  I needed a music education class for my new major, and this seemed to be an easier way to approach it.  The professor was very charismatic, somewhat old-fashioned, but also a professional opera singer (and she demonstrated it more than once).  She came across as a hard-ass to those that slacked off, but was fair and firm on approach.  It was that class that I learned the name of the score from the beginning of Star Wars (in fact, we were allowed to refer to it as such on the final exam), and the score from Apocalypse Now (think of it as a battle theme).

Interpersonal Communications in the Media:  This class could be titled as “Writing for the Media”.  This was also the first communications class where social media was discussed as a legitimate form of mass communications from a corporate standpoint.

Reader’s note:  This was the first semester where I’d earned at least an A in 75% of my classes.

Summer 2008

Gender in the Media:   This was the first class where I learned that there’s a such thing as “liberal bias” in the classroom, as well as a professor who took exception to her viewpoints being challenged in a class.  Neither the class nor the professor would ever forget me.

Media Criticism:  We learned how to form intelligent criticisms of media performances and learned how to discern between ethical journalism and dishonesty.  It made a nice introductory class for those looking to become journalists.

Reader’s note:  I ended up earning Dean’s List for my summer performance.  It was the first time I actually felt a sense of accomplishment for my course of study.  I began to regret not making this change sooner.

Fall 2008

Survey of Radio and Television:  This was a class required of all communications majors to graduate.  It was nothing more than a history of television and radio as it applies to the mass media.  Aside of the professor being old enough to have seen first-hand the history he taught, it went along well.

Media Writing:  An introduction to various types of mass media writing, from print and broadcast to public relations, advertising and online media.  Exactly what the description implies.  We learned how to write press releases, how to construct copy for radio, TV, and print, and I’m sure if it was taught today, it would be a lesson in how to manage social media accounts.  It was also the first time that a class would consider using social media as a credible and viable means of communication during a crisis.

Television Production I:  If you wanted to learn how a show shot on-set is put together, this is what you take.  We all took the different roles – directory, producer, scriptwriter, set design, graphics, camera person, and switching, and had each student perform them in various situations.  I don’t think I’d ever sweat so profusely being a producer as I would other things in my life.  We also learned about green-screening.

Introduction to Video:  A beginning course in video program production, using lightweight and portable equipment.  Learning how to storyboard a shoot, film it, do basic edits, learning the rule of thirds from photography, and learning how to shoot an interview with one camera.  The professor owned a professional production company, though I’m not sure how; most of what he taught us was considered bad practice in the real world.  He also had an aversion to anyone who didn’t use Final Cut Pro to edit.

Creative Dramatics:  Apparently, the course is so archaic that I can’t find it anywhere.  We learned how to utilize drama in a theater setting, how to create a dramatic performance in a theater setting.  I suppose if you’re a theater major with the desire to go to acting school, you might take this course.

GPA upon completion:  2.4

Time taken to complete:  5