Picking a journalism school is a tough decision. There are so many options in this country, as well as all around the world. Much of the decision is a personal one, based on your needs and interests. You also consider your location, tuition costs, overall vibe—you name it, but one specific quality to keep in mind is what the journalism program offers you, a journalism student. A post-secondary education is not always necessary to get into the journalism field, but it is definitely something employers look for. So, instead of spending the next four years in a program that isn’t going to offer you much insight into the journalism world, make sure the program you are looking at has some, if not most, of these criteria.
1. Courses that Interest you
This may be an obvious one, but you’re going to a specific school and are going to be enrolled in the specific program because you want to be there, not because you have to be. Make sure your program offers courses that spark your interest. You don’t want to dread going to school every day. This also goes for your choice of specific types of journalism as well. There are so many types of media out there to study and not all schools teach you all of them. Some schools have you choose right away between broadcast or print journalism, so if you don’t know, try to see how similar the courses are between the two tracks or even if there is an opportunity to at least try the other type of reporting. Or simply find a similar school that gives you the opportunity to study both.
2. A Chance to Explore your Interests
Your entire post-secondary career does not have to be all journalism all the time. Most schools ensure that you have a well-rounded education through general electives and core courses, but double-check that you are able to take courses that you find interesting and can count towards your degree.
Another important thing to consider is minoring in another subject or double majoring in two subjects. If you can’t decide between two of your favourite subjects to study or you simply want to find a different outlet, this could be an option for you. Some schools give you this opportunity, but others do not as it is hard to keep up with your first programs course load.
3. A Chance to Take on an Internship
Usually, in your third or fourth year, schools give you the option to take on an unpaid internship for credit. You can take all of the information you have learned in your previous years of school and finally apply it and get real world experience. Although it is unpaid, you are one step closer to getting your degree and don’t have to sit through another lecture of how to do something. Even if your school doesn’t have specific arrangements for internship, there is usually an option to pay for an internship credit to count toward your degree.
4. A Hands-on Experience
Yes, an internship is considered hands-on experience, but hands-on also describes the ideal way for a journalist to learn in the classroom. It’s one thing to read and listen to a lecture about how to write and why you are writing a specific way, but it’s also important to apply these skills when completing assignments. Your classes should be giving you both of these learning situations to ensure your grasp of the material and that you have a practical understanding of what you are learning. If there is an imbalance of these two facets of your education, you may feel like you’re sitting around too much or not absorbing enough and just winging your journalistic assignments.