Subscribing to professional journals now will enhance the odds of success in both your current studies and future in your chosen field. It is an excellent idea for students, new and veteran, so the sooner you do, the more you stand to gain.
Communication skills are the most essential that you can possess. A brilliant person who cannot communicate will struggle to convey brilliance in a meaningful and useful manner, yet a person with average knowledge, skills and abilities, who can communicate in an effective manner, can have a significant impact on one’s environment, whether that be in a classroom, office, home, or community. The pen is mighty, but only in the hands of those who know how to use it.
As a student, learn to communicate effectively and you strongly enhance your ability to succeed in the classroom. This is especially true of the online environment where participation in written forums or discussion boards is a major component of the learning and assessment that occurs in the online classroom. As a classroom instructor teaching the American Public University’s orientation course, Foundations of Online Learning, I often find myself working with students who have not yet mastered the concept of “academic” English, which I find myself explaining is very different then “texting,” so common to younger students today. It is not unusual for older students, especially if they have been out of the classroom, to ask what they can do to improve their writing skills. I recommend that all students seriously consider taking their English courses at the very beginning of their degree path, so that the knowledge and experience they gain by doing so will benefit them in every course they take thereafter.
This leads me a little gem of a recommendation, which is directly related to improving one’s academic English skills, but will benefit you in regards to your career, as well. Subscribe to the recognized professional journal in your field of study, read it on a regular basis, and learn from it. If you are unsure what journal that is, ask a professor who teaches in that field, contact a librarian, or if you’re already working in your field of study ask a respected, knowledgeable mentor for recommendations.
A good professional journal will write in the style required by the profession, be it APA, MLA, or some other writing style. A good professional journal will write in academic English. When students expose themselves to these, whether they know it or not, they are benefiting from the modeling of good written communication skills that they should actively seek to imitate. By improving your written communication skills through the emulating of good written communication style and academic English, you are in fact demonstrating that you have interacted with the articles and journals you read. Who knows, maybe not too far into the future, new students will be learning from your articles!
There are additional benefits from subscribing to professional journals as a student. By reading leading professional journals you are staying current with the newest theories and debates in your field. Journal articles speak in the language of the profession, so students learn the vocabulary of their chosen field. This will certainly serve as a supplement to the materials provided to you in your courses. By doing so you also may identify useful articles for future use in research papers or other class assignments. In regards to research, remember to review the references of articles you read in professional journals, as they will more than likely be current and relevant to your studies. Lastly, when that next job interview comes along, it is a distinct advantage to mention how many years you have been reading the journal to those you are interactively communicating with during the interview, perhaps dropping the name of an impactful article or author. It just might be the additional edge you need!
By Craig Gilman
Faculty Member at American Public University