Alumni Profile: Kasey Mitchell '10

Monday, November 28, 2011

How Communication Studies at USD Prepared Me for Law School

There are many things I enjoyed about the communication studies major at the University of San Diego. The professors were amazing, and the classes were engaging. There were also a lot of things I expected out of that degree. I expected to be able to anticipate the effects that the media would have on my peers. I expected the critical skills I learned to stay with me throughout my life, affecting everything I do from developing opinions on new shows to raising my future children. However, as I jumped into the post-graduation chapter of my life, there was a pleasant surprise that I did not anticipate: how much the Department of Communication Studies prepared me for law school. 

I will be the first to admit that I was terrified of attending UCLA School of Law. Being accepted alone came as a surprise to me, and believing in my ability to succeed there is a challenge I still face every day. Walking in on the first day of orientation, I encountered group of students that just graduated from places like Duke, Stanford, and UC Berkeley. Even worse, some had spent years working in the real world already. How would my degree in media arts and culture be enough to succeed? Don’t get me wrong, I learned invaluable skills that I would not trade for anything – but how was that paper on tabloid coverage of Chris Brown and Rihanna going to help me in these law courses?

The courses I took in the Communication Studies Department left me more prepared than the majority of my peers. All of the students that just came from larger universities were not used to being called on or expected to question the material they read. They just did the reading, memorized it, and regurgitated it for the final. Memorization was key. But law school is different than that. Law school expects you to critically engage in the reading, question it, and come to class prepared to discuss it. Then, at the end of the course, you are expected to be able to apply the analytical skills you learned throughout the semester to new situations. Does this format sound familiar? For me, this is precisely what I did every day in courses like Professor Del Rio’s Media and Conflict course and Professor Moran’s Comm. Criticism.

So ultimately, it did not matter that I did not spend my undergraduate years memorizing the political history of our country. My major taught me all of the skills I needed to succeed in law school. Those courses got me in the habit of reading critically and coming to class prepared for discussion. The small classes and accessible faculty helped ease my fear of talking in class. Even the process of studying for my finals at USD was the same as it is here at UCLA School of Law. I was able to skip over all of the difficult study-tactic transitions that most people face when they get to law school, because I was already doing them.

I am not really one that is comfortable talking about my success, but for the sake of proving my point, I will admit that I have succeeded. After my first year in law school, I had achieved grades near the top of my class, which helped me line up an amazing job for next summer (and hopefully, for after graduation). And I can honestly say that feel like I owe it all to the faculty in USD’s Communication Studies Department. 


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