Back to school Fall semester. It actually used to start in the fall. Now Fall semester starts in the Summer. Go figure.

Whenever it starts, it’s a time of excitement. However good the summer was, most students get the itch to return to campus. It’s probably more about seeing friends, showing off your tan, and attending fraternity and club parties.

It’s also fun for the faculty. It’s a time to start again. Fresh faces in the classrooms. Updated syllabi.

No matter how rough Spring semester might have been, somehow we don’t remember it well. And we embrace our own return to campus. I, for one, had a particularly rough Spring. I was “visiting professor” for a semester, which means instead of the one or two classes I usually teach, I taught four. That’s on top of my full-time consulting business. And the magazine I publish. And the blog I write. Oh yeah, and the family I am a part of.

At the college level, “back to school” usually marks a change. For freshman, it’s huge. It’s the move from compulsory high school, to the choice of college, if you can get in the one you want. The schools are usually much bigger. The classes are harder. The competition is tougher.

And you’re on your own. Don’t want to go class, don’t go. No one calls mom. Well, that’s not true anymore, since she may be your best friend.

You just pay for it later in the semester. Or later in life.

Londre, my co 2 Guyz on marketing said his Fall semesters (he has taught for 42 years) was his favorite, too. Students were more invested. Fall classes were always better.

For the other years, the Fall semester often marks changes in major, new sequences of classes. You go from the 100-level lecture halls and survey courses to the next level labs and deeper learning. As you advance over time, lectures make way for projects, team assignments, presentations, case studies, and application of material. Add you need to start thinking about internships too.

Your final Fall semester marks another change…statistically likely to be your last year of school. It’s when you are deep in your major, but the itch of anticipation of graduation spreads with each day of class. As a senior, coming back to school is actually the beginning of the end.

For Marketing school, of M-School at the 2 Guyz On Marketing like to call it, back to school has its own unique meaning. At Pepperdine, we are firm believers in applying learning in advertising, marketing, and public relations, through campaign projects and real world experience (internships). Juniors and seniors might do semester-long campaigns in half a dozen classes.

M-School is also somewhat unique in that’s always been a moving target. If you study math, the formulae does change very often. Study art, and the masters of yesteryear are still considered masters. With advertising there are always new campaigns,

But in Marketing, who or what was hot one year, might be gone another year.

Case in point…2005…my first semester teaching at Pepperdine. My students went on and on about this cool website, called MySpace (those who don’t recognize it, Google it). Add Friendster to that mix of RIP websites.

I was fascinated about what a colossal waste of time I thought it was, but my students didn’t let up. So we integrated discussion of it in the media class I was teach.

Semester ends, I come back, and include a MySpace case study on my next semester’s syllabus. I’m on top of things, right? Wrong. Week one, students, in unison, tell me MySpace is dead, that I have to check out this Facebook-thing.

No way, I thought. Couldn’t’ be. Rupert Murdoch just paid $580 million for it! My students must be wrong.

Nope, they were right. Murdoch was wrong.

My point is, with every “back to school”, every year, heck, every semester, Marketing changes. I think that’s one reason I love teaching. Never a dull moment in Marketing. Add advertising to that, too.

So as student return for this Fall semester, I urge them to open their eyes…wide! Let go of your preconceived notions. And you know what I (we) taught in Spring? Well maybe it will still hold, but maybe it won’t. You won’t hurt my feelings if I find out it was all crap.

Come back to school ready for change. Learning to adapt to change is one of the best marketing skills a college student can acquire. The Yogi Berra in me wants to say, “The only constant in marketing is change, and the only constant in change is change. Count on it.”

Marketing is like warfare. The terminology reflects that. Targets, campaigns. To analyze the competition you have “war rooms. “ You plant flags in new product territories. In Marketing, we don’t do things to be right. We do things to achieve goals. We do things to win. We do things to sell.

And it is that spirit in which I return this fall to the classroom. I am anxious to meet my new students. At Pepperdine this means great tans, cool sunglasses, and hungry minds.

I love going back to school…M-school.