CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article referred to Carroll Hall as the department of journalism. The correct name is the School of Media and Journalism. The story has been updated with the correct name. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for this error.
This semester, the UNC School of Media and Journalism has reworked its application process to add more intention to joining the School and give more students the opportunity to apply.
In past semesters, students who had predeclared a media and journalism major, had a GPA above 3.1 and had at least 45 credit hours were automatically enrolled into the school, no application required. However, those in charge of this process, including the school’s Academic Dean Francesca Carpentier, believe it was flawed.
“It wasn’t capturing all of the incredible talent we see coming through our building all the time,” Carpentier said. “We wanted to provide an opportunity to be able to actually see what these people have to offer based on how they presented themselves, something just beyond the number.”
In developing the new application process, Carpentier and her colleagues looked into other professional schools on campus, like the Kenan-Flagler Business School, as well as those at nearby universities, like North Carolina State University.
The new application is in a trial-run this semester. Unlike before, students with a GPA below 3.1 will now have the opportunity to apply, providing a personal statement and recommendations to support why they should be accepted into the School. Students with a GPA over 3.1 will still be grandfathered in, as per the old system.
“We have always loved the students that we have and have loved the community feeling,” said Kathleen Collette, a public communications specialist for the MJ-school. “We’re looking for students that kind of match that drive, match that interest in an informed public and in the future of media and journalism."
The plan is to eventually require all potential students, excluding transfer and assured-admission students, to complete the application in the fall 2019 semester and beyond, regardless of their GPA, Collette said.
“We know our students are more than just their GPA and more than just their number,” Collette said. “We don’t know who we were missing out on before, and this will really help that.”
Collette and Carpentier, along with others working closely in the process of creating this new application, emphasized how important this personalized data will be for them. With the new application, they will be able to access much more information about who their students are before they even join the school.
Carpentier also wondered if they were missing out on qualified students who may have had really difficult courses that brought down their GPA.
“Are we passing up amazing people who got their ‘D’ in Calc III?” Carpentier said. “I’m not sure if there is anybody like that out there, but if there is, I would really hate for us to be so blind in how we select people. It just kind of feels yucky to just go forward from here on out with a truly impersonal, robotic, automatic kind of process because these are people we’re talking about.”
Carpentier assured that this was not in response to any changes to the amount of enrollment in the MJ-school, but instead a way to ensure that no student is missing out on their chance to do what they’re passionate about. She also asked for patience, as this is the first time the school has done something like this, and she anticipates that some tweaks will likely have to be made.
Once the new application is required for everyone, Collette hopes it will make the process more intentional and more exciting for the student than just receiving a random email that they were accepted.
“I think just formalizing that process and bringing some structure to the overall admissions flow will be really helpful to students and kind of give more excitement to getting in because it is really exciting,” Collette said.
The new application can be found on the MJ-school's website, along with a diagram of the process of applying and an extensive list of FAQs.
Another change made this semester is that the New Student Orientations, which are planned by current students serving as Media and Journalism School Ambassadors, will now be required for all incoming students and will occur more than once a semester.
“I think it’s really great that it’s required because the J-school has a lot of different opportunities, and so a lot of current students can still be confused on what opportunities there are,” said Martha Bennett, an ambassador for the school and a junior public relations and political science major. “So I think having this student orientation not only establishes the expectations and maybe your major requirements, but it also just kind of gets you excited to be a part of that community.”
The school plans to hold two orientations this semester and increase to three next semester and beyond.
Many in the school see the process as a promising change that has the potential to expand the already impressive class of students.
“We’ve always had great students, even without the application process,” Bennett said. “I think, if anything, it’s just going to attract more passionate students, and I think maybe even those who haven’t decided on Carolina yet, just to see that the school is a great hub for media and journalism.”
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