Tuesday, 11 June 2013

ADVICE: Is a Journalism Degree worth the time and money?

Hi!
Following on from the post I did about whether university is worth it or not, which you can check out here I've decided to do a post on my specific degree, Journalism and English. It's going to be pretty similar in terms of layout to the last one where I'll give you a bit of background info then I've got Josh to offer his opinions again as we both did the same course. Again these are purely our opinions and experiences and we're not saying this will be/has been the same for everyone doing a Journalism course. 

Is a journalism degree worth it?

So onto why we chose to do a Journalism and English degree... well to be honest I'd never really considered journalism before, the year before I went to university I'd applied for a Sociology and Criminology course and was set to go until a few weeks before my A-Level results when I decided it just wasn't for me. After that I went back to college for a year and the natural progression from there just seemed to be university. At the time I was doing an extra AS Level in English Literature having previously done the full A-Level in English Language both of which I'd enjoyed so the sensible thing at the time seemed to be to apply for something English based and I suppose that's how I got to applying for Journalism and accepting a place on a Journalism and English course. 

For Josh it was very different, again like me he did three years at college, doing Music Pratice BTEC in his first two years as well as an English Literature and Language combined A-Level. Then in his third year he did Music Technology AS Level. So for him the jump to journalism was even more of a strange one whilst he has always enjoyed creative writing I think it's fair to say that the fact he gets bored of things easy so likes to try lots of different stuff and the fact I'd chosen that course were the reasons he chose to do that degree.

Before we move on to our opinions on the degree I should point out that the fact that neither of us have ever known what we want to do or the fact that in an ideal world a journalism degree wouldn't have been our first choice has not effected our opinions at all.

Lauren: To answer the title of this post is a journalism degree worth the time and money I'd have to say no. For me in the past three years I haven't learnt anything that wasn't common sense or that I couldn't have Googled and understood within 5 minutes. Actually I should change that slightly I haven't learnt anything to do with Journalism, English I have learnt new stuff but then again I'm not too sure when I'll ever need the International Phonetic Alphabet again. I feel a lot of the stuff that would have been useful and enjoyable wasn't shown to us, take InDesign for example, the computer programme used for making flyers and magazines which on just a couple of occasions we were expected to use without really been shown what to do. Only a small number of us were shown the basics which means I've left university with a basic knowledge of the programme and Josh has practically no knowledge of it. Looking past my hang-ups with the way my course was run I'd still say a journalism degree just isn't worth doing, our course cannot differ that much from other journalism courses so I still stand by the opinion that I wouldn't have learnt anything new on any journalism course. For three years I've hardly been in university (easily around the 6 hour mark every week) and when I was what I was been told was to me fairly pointless and I've listened to lecturer after lecturer lament at how journalism is on it's arse and now every job I look at wants tonnes of experience which translates to work for a year at various places without getting paid. I don't want a career in journalism enough to do that, I love writing but I just don't want a traditional journalism career so if I'd have known what I know now there's no way I'd have chosen the degree I did. If journalism is really what you want to do, if your extremely passionate about it and it's a career you've always considered than I'm in no place to tell you that you shouldn't do a degree in it but if it's just something you're considering then I'd tell you to seriously look into interning, gaining experience and working your way up without university instead in been in the position we are now at (almost) 22 and 24 years old and basically starting from scratch.
Despite all this there are a few things I have gained from the course which I will be covering in a separate post.

Josh: If you want a career in journalism - and 99% of the people that actually took our journalism degree want nothing more to do with it - then you're best off just going and trying to get experience at a local paper or something like that. Because experience is what employers look for. Not degrees or grades or anything like that, they don't care if you were the top of your class or if you got a first for everything, they care about if you can do the actual job. Its all well and good saying that in theory you're a genius and *this bit of paper* from university says so, but if you cant prove that you have the credentials and experience you have next to no chance. Why would they waste time, effort and money bringing a fresh-out-of-uni student up to speed when they could just get someone in that has been doing the job for years that would just get on with it. By all means go to university and do a journalism degree, go out, have fun, meet people, get the tip top marks in your class and a bit of paper that says so...but don't expect a job out of it. 

If you are doing or have done a Journalism degree I'd love to hear your opinions too. If you have any questions for us on this post or on uni in general please leave a comment.

Over the next few weeks I'm going to look at doing similar post on, tips and advice for uni along with what I learnt and something on what we'd like to have done at uni in an ideal world. So let me know if there's anything specific you'd like to see covered. 

8 comments:

  1. I hope this doesn't come across as harsh but I completely disagree. I studied journalism at degree level and now, 3 years on, work in communications (PR), and am still to this day applying the lessons I learned on my course. Also, magazine journalism is a good one if people want to go straight in without a degree and just get the experience, but with news journalism more and more the candidate is expected to have not only a degree, but an additional NCTJ qualification (if not included in the degree) to even get accepted for an interview

    I'm sorry your course didn't work out for you, but I honestly wouldn't go back and change a thing about doing mine, I wouldn't be where I am today without it

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    1. No I don't find it harsh at all I asked for other people's opinions so I expect someone to disagree with me, what's above is purely my experience of my course at the university I attended so everyone is bound to be different. I wouldn't go as far as to say it didn't work out for me though, there are aspects I enjoyed and there have been a few things that I learnt or discovered on the course that I am very grateful for and opportunities that without that course I wouldn't have had but these have been few and far between. Based on the course I did at the university I did it at I still wouldn't recommend journalism, it sounds as though your course differed from mine in that I can't really think of anything I was taught that I didn't already know or could have easily found out without paying over £3k a year for. Things such as the NCTJ qualification and different aspect of journalism such as print and broadcast were not made available to us.
      Thanks for your opinion it was interesting to read someone else's experience! X

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  2. Eeeek, I'm going to study journalism at college in September and I'm already worrying whether I should go to university afterwards. I would definitely prefer work experience than sitting in a classroom but I would imagine it would be harder to find experience than go to uni? I hear quite a lot (mainly on twitter) about how a journalism degree is pointless and how its so hard to find a job after graduating.
    I'm in exactly the same situation as you about not knowing what career I want and not specifically looking to be a journalist but have seen the other career opportunity's a journalism degree offers such PR as Charlotte said above.
    Its really making me think/worry (Im a big unnecessary worrier ha) a lot about the whole journalism course/degree at the moment! Thanks for shairng your experiences :) xx
    http://xsarahspeaksx.wordpress.com/

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    1. Don't let my experiences put you off. As you can see Charlotte had a very different experience to me. Don't worry about not knowing what you want to do, I'm nearly 22 and I don't have a clue! It'll come to you eventually! xx

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    2. Yeah, I suppose everyone is different. I'm also nearly 22 (late start I know ha) so I feel I need to make the right decision. But as you said, it must come to everyone eventually :)xx

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  3. It's ashame when you figure out university isn't beneficial to you, especially when you fork out so much money and write countless essays.
    I would never change the experience of uni e.g. living out, meeting new people etc but I definitely think I could have gotten where I am today without a degree.
    My degree doesnt even relate to my current job.

    http://blondeambition3.blogspot.com

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    1. I wouldn't change my uni experience for the world, in fact I wrote a post on exactly that last week. I've loved every minute of it. It's just the course could have been better! xx

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  4. I'm so surprised that you didn't get much out of your journalism degree! I am doing a liberal arts degree at the moment, and for my first semester considered doing Journalism as my major. The only thing that held me back from it, is the lack of work in the industry and the guilt that I was doing well at the course and didn't actually have a passion for actually making journalism my career. The journalism degree at my uni is so comprehensive, has mandatory design classes embedded in it, and has tonnes of support for finding internships, and even a chance for work experience at the end of your three years. We were told time and again that our best chance of actually having a career in journalism was to start blogging, since these days you sort of have to make your own job in journalism. In the end I decided even with a comprehensive degree, a blog and an internship, journalism wasn't worth it for me and I have decided to become an English and History teacher,

    Anyway, sorry for the long comment - it was really interesting reading your perspective! xx

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Thanks for your lovely comments!