Dear Emma I am in year 12 and I am very interested in studying journalism and communications. Can you please tell me about your experience in studying communications and whether you would recommend it or not or do you enjoy it because I have no idea what it would be like thanks xxx
Hi! I’ve written a similar answer before so I’ll put that in and add in extra bits. Hopefully that is okay!
Communications was my main choice of degree after I began researching the kind of things I was interested it. I really struggled picking a degree during my senior year but eventually settled on communications after going to a few open days and discussing my hobbies/interests (of blogging) with my parents and some of the professors and students. I noticed that a lot of my career inspirations had done comms degrees so I felt it would fit me and my future career plans/hopes well.
As far as the communications/core part of the degree goes it is great. It is very interesting and makes a really good course. You might have seen on my blog that I started university doing journalism and later changed to digital and social media. For me, it was the best decision to change. I enjoy my degree so much and love everything about it. I am enjoying the digital/social media major so much more than journalism. Obviously this is my preference and you might be completely different. I don’t want to have this come across as “no, don’t do journalism, I hated it so you will too” because that might not be the case at all. I’ll note down my experience and thoughts/feelings during the time I was doing journalism so hopefully you can see what I went through and get a feel for it.
So, journalism was my major preference when I applied to university. All the orientation talks and introduction presentations were really interesting. I thought it seemed like a great way to pursue my dream of writing about fashion for a magazine or website. As well as that, I’ve run blogs for several years and thought that journalism would be a good fit for me because I enjoyed that. However, my parents were worried about my choice since I was incredibly shy and not ever being very sociable in a ‘journalisty’ way, shall we say. I wish I’d listen to their concern more to be honest. At the time I was like “I’ll learn not to be so shy”, “maybe this is what I need to improve”, “other people have become confident so can I”. During the final few days before university applications finalised and closed, I debated about changing my order of preferences from journalism as my first to digital and social media as my first. I was very nervous and doubtful about my choice. That was probably a sign to begin with. However, my ATAR was 3 points higher than the requirement for journalism and 12 for digital and social media so I thought I’d just attempt for the higher.
When I started, it was good. We learnt about the basic practices of journalism, structuring articles, how to find stories, etc. In the first few weeks, I was enjoying the lectures and tutorials. They were really interesting! But once we got to the assessments, I found it more and more difficult. I wasn’t pushing myself like I had told myself I would. I was comparing myself to other students who were amazing at it. They would be super involved and coming up with incredible sources and ideas, whilst I was taking the escape route on everything. I would email people instead avoiding actually interviewing them in person or over the phone, not going to places to find stories like I was supposed too (I did an entire assessment from home when I was supposed to go to visit the place), interviewing friends even though I wasn’t allowed too. This became a tell-tale sign that I was struggling. If I’d have had more confidence I think I’d have enjoyed it but I didn’t.
With my university/teachers, I felt they made everything extremely invasive. Looking back, a lot of the journalism I was learning was quite like this. I now can understand why people who are outgoing and like to dig deeper/be a story-teller enjoy this kind of degree. One assessment (which I ended up not doing because I knew I was dropping) was to write an article on someones health problem(s). They wanted us to interview the person, their family, their doctors, etc. I was super uncomfortable with that idea. That kind of became the point where I knew it wasn’t for me. I didn’t like the idea of having to invade someone privacy to that extent. Quite frankly, the idea of having to speak to someones doctors scared me so much. Whilst being shy or reserved doesn’t ultimately mean you can’t do journalism, I think it is something that you need to conquer in order to be more comfortable.
Also, I felt very separated from my classmates because they were all very passionate about it and had this drive for storytelling - it sounds cliché, I know! I felt like I didn’t have that same love for journalism they did. That might be something for you to think about. I even went to a club meeting about a journalism society/channel they were running. In my mind I thought “this is awesome, I’d love to do it” and then when I got there I was like “nope, I’m not into this at all”. Additionally, I had a group of friends that one day were basically bitching about a girl who wasn’t interviewing people and only doing the bare minimum to get marks. This was so similar to me that I felt really uncomfortable and more like I didn’t fit in. I think not having a solid group of close friends at the point was also something I didn’t enjoy. With my other classes, I’d really clicked with the people but I didn’t feel anyone in my journalism classes was actually a good friend. Another thing was when the younger year to me graduated and got into university, a sister of a friend uploaded a photo to Facebook this quote about journalism. When I saw this it made me feel 1) like I never had that passion for journalism which she clearly did, 2) that it solidified my idea that I wasn’t confident/willing enough to dig into things I had no place going, and 3) that I was glad I wasn’t doing it any more. That might seem very odd but hopefully it makes sense.
Besides that, I was originally thinking it would be relatively content based at the start, rather than practical. I thought I could find a nice base, get a bit of confidence with my writing and go from there. As I was researching my degree and future classes, I learnt the journalism course became very news/broadcasting based (it didn’t allow you branch off into different parts until Masters) and that certainly wasn’t the area I was interested in. I wanted to do fashion journalism since I was heavily into my fashion blog at the time. I was extremely nervous about what was involved in the upcoming classes which put me off even more.
Another thing to note was despite having a blog and writing for that constantly, I really hated having my work read/graded by someone. I was extremely shy about it and just didn’t ever want to give in work. It seems so weird but I’d never experienced it as a problem before starting the course! Also, I was interning as a journalism/editorial intern in my first semester and did some research on my bosses/coworkers. It turned out many of them actually didn’t do journalism but were still doing the job I was interested in (at the time) so I thought maybe it isn’t super necessary to keep doing a degree if I really hated it. Interning really helped me decide if I wanted to keep doing journalism so I’d recommend seeing if you can get some work experience before hand.
Definitely do as much research as you can. I think if I’d have looked into it more, If I could go back and acknowledge my initial doubts, I’d have either not chosen it at all or put it as my second choice, not first. Obviously, I didn’t do journalism for very long and only got a brief insight into it. However, that small insight taught me that journalism wasn’t what I wanted to do. I’m sure many people have had extremely different experiences doing journalism and love it. If anyone has experiences, please feel free to share them in a reply below!
I apologise that this is so incredibly long. I just wanted to be as detailed and clear as possible since picking a degree is so complicated and tricky as it. Let me know if this is helpful. I’d also love to know what you end up picking so please update me later :-) xx