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dotWhat to Expect

Advertising students are encouraged to be creative and think out of the box -- way out of the box. But it's not all creative development. Advertising is a business.

Students learn about media planning, account management, integrated marketing communications, advertising sales and marketing.

"I am looking forward to being successful in an exciting, fast-paced career. Advertising has endless creative possibilities and communicates to so many people in a unique and important way," says Elena Sotirin. She is an advertising student at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. She's also the communications director of an ad club.

Advertising teaches the creativity of communication. "It explains how to appeal to people's interests by finding out what consumers want in their products and their lives. Since these interests are constantly changing, the field of APR [advertising and public relations] is always changing and adapting," Sotirin says.

Dan Giusti and Sarah Thornley are advertising classmates. Their three-year program is very business-oriented. The faculty at their college are industry professionals, and both students have found that very helpful in terms of the experience.

Homework will include projects, reading, reviewing notes and preparing for classes. Project work is important to ad students so they can develop their portfolios.

Students are often assigned to work in groups. You have to have good time management skills, be able to handle stress and work well with others. Group work means completing the project even if some of the members don't pull their weight.

Some students spend long hours pouring their all into the finished product. "I put extra work into projects in order to learn more for myself and put my best work out there for people to see," says Sotirin. "The most difficult thing for me to deal with is having too much to do at once. It is important to do one thing at a time and not get overwhelmed."

Textbooks are the main expense related to the program. Try sharing texts, buying used books or shopping online to trim your budget. Depending on your programs focus, you might need some creative supplies.

How to Prepare

Sotirin counsels future advertising students to know their own skills and how you can apply them to your interests.

"You have to learn how to market yourself before they will believe you can market a product," she says. Start building your resume early by getting some experience in high school.

Giusti and Thornley both stress the importance of presentation skills, including public speaking. If you have trouble with public speaking, practice in front of a mirror or a small audience. They recommend taking drama, art, photography, English, writing and graphic design.

Sotirin encourages students to belong to professional organizations and attend their social events. Networking is priceless in advertising.