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University: Expectations VS Reality

Other | Monday 24th October 2016 | Rachel Adeola

In the perfect world, we'd all love to start university and feel like we're getting £27,000 worth of tuition straight away. I've yet to meet someone who has felt they are getting enough from their university course, however this may be more to do with the fact that tuition fees have increased by a ridiculous amount and less about the incompetence of their lecturers.

In this post I wanted to share the expectations I had of what my journalism degree would be like versus the actual reality. I am now at the start of my final year and thought this was the perfect time to do a post like this, let's be honest first year is not anything to talk about. At times this post may have characteristics of a rant, to be honest it might be one. I wouldn't say I am bashing my course or lecturers, I actually liked the idea of my course, I just expected more for what I was paying for. If I am paying a lot of money for something I expect to get the most out of it. 

Expectation #1

So I'll start off with a positive, my first expectation of university was that I was going to have to sit in a large lecture hall with hundreds of other students. I'm not always punctual so I was dreading walking into the lecture hall late with loads of people staring at me. I also didn't want to be in a situation where my lecturers didn't even know my name.

Reality

To my surprise, my course only consisted of about 30 people and most of the lectures are in smaller rooms. This made it easier when doing practical modules such as video and audio journalism. It was nice to be a part of a small course because I know everyone in my course and it wouldn't feel that awkward if I had to work with different people. 

Expectation #2

I thought my course would be 'hands on' meaning that it would be more about getting out there and putting the things I had learnt into practice. I thought I'd learn a lot about different softwares like Photoshop, InDesign and Premiere Pro.

Reality

I did modules that were practical but these modules were more about sitting in class staring at PowerPoint slides. When it was actually time to go out and try and use things like cameras, Photoshop and InDesign, I felt like I hadn't learnt enough about these things and had to learn a lot from using YouTube and Google. This made me feel like I wasn't getting enough and didn't make me very enthusiastic about my course.

Expectation #3

From a young age I really enjoyed writing essays but I wasn't looking forward to having to write 5,000 word essays that I had no idea how to even construct. I liked essays in school because you could waffle your way through them but at university it's a lot harder to achieve an A in an essay.

Reality

To my surprise, I actually enjoyed writing essays in my course, especially in my theory of journalism module. Although this was not a practical module, I found it interesting to learn how journalism works from a theoretical point of view. Even though I said I enjoyed writing essays this does not mean that I thought they were easy. Essays at university can be very challenging, it would take me a long time to even get my head around the title of an essay let alone write an introduction. It was hard to understand exactly what my lecturers were looking for and sometimes I got even more confused when I went to talk to them about it.

Expectation #4

The first thing you think about when you hear the word journalism is probably writing, right? I imagined my course being a lot about writing and about gaining a lot of writing experience. 

Reality

I did have a module dedicated to this in first year where I discovered the basics of how to write an article properly. This module was helpful and taught me a lot, however, I do not believe that there is enough importance placed on writing and practicing how to write on a regular basis. Part of the reason I decided to start a blog was because I wanted to develop my writing skills and get myself out there. Even though blogging doesn't really abide by the rules of article writing, I think that it's still giving me some kind of writing practice.

Expectation #5

I thought I'd have a lot of help with getting work experience. It was mentioned before I started the course that the lecturers have contacts that they could put me in touch with and this was what I was most excited about.

Reality

I've had a few emails sent to me from my university about work experience opportunities but these are mainly from external sources and not exclusive to the people on the journalism course. I have actually asked a few lecturers for help with work experience but haven't really heard back from them. It's so hard to get work experience nowadays and we live in a country where you need experience to get experience. It is important to get some support from lecturers with work placements, having said that one bit of advice I would give to anyone wanting to do a journalism degree is to find experience on your own, you can't always rely on lecturers for help. 

Well that's it! 

Some people may not want to talk about the negative aspects of their course out of fear of people assuming that they hate their course and regret going to university. I thought it was important to put it out there and say that it's not all rainbows and butterflies. I also wanted to stress that university is not for everyone, young people are made to believe that university is the next step in life after finishing school.

I'm a big believer of the importance of having life experience, go and travel, find out who you are and see what's out there!

Do you think that you are getting enough from your degree? What things would you love to change about your course? If you didn't go to university, do you believe you made the right decision? 

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