Having decided I wanted to be a journalist, I chose to pursue the Postgrad route, as I had some inkling that this was ‘doing it properly’. However, knowing that competition was steep, I had no idea what my chances were of getting offers. Luckily I had offers from each course I applied to, at Sheffield, Cardiff and City University in London. This gave me a dilemma: which should I choose?
To help fellow wannabes in a similar situation, this is how I made my decision.
I think most people would automatically choose London. This was my first instinct. I want to work in London eventually; so City seemed the obvious choice.
Cardiff had the allure of a capital city, and I’d heard that Cardiff students got access to important Welsh politicians, which was appealing.
Although I’ve heard Sheffield is a fun place to live, for me it seemed too far from the action.
At this stage, the scores were London: 1, Cardiff: 1, Sheffield: 0.
Many wannabes will be aware of the National College for the Training of Journalists, but for those who aren’t; the NCTJ offer accreditation for skills such as shorthand and Media Law. CVs boasting NCTJ qualifications basically have a big rubber stamp saying “I’m capable, and you won’t get sued because of me.”
I’d heard employers preferred reporters with NCTJ qualifications, so I sought out accredited courses. Sheffield and Cardiff are accredited, but City is not. City still cover the same essentials as their counterparts, but have their own way of doing things. City feel that their outstanding reputation is enough assurance to employers that ex-students are more than capable. I think City are justified in thinking this, but it wasn’t enough reassurance for me.
Current scores: City: 1, Cardiff: 2, Sheffield: 1
Fees might not be an issue for everyone, but for me they are an important factor. For my course City charge £8,700, Cardiff charge £6,500 and Sheffield charge £5,655. For a skint graduate Sheffield seems a bargain. However, exam fees aren’t included in Sheffield’s tuition fees. City’s fees seem expensive considering they lack NCTJ accreditation. Additionally, London’s living costs are triple those of Cardiff or Sheffield.
City: 1, Cardiff: 3, Sheffield: 2
Interviews are subjective for everyone. As far as facilities go; I was very impressed with those at City, while Sheffield was slightly shabby.
In the interview, the Sheffield tutors were very friendly and made me want to study there. I found the City tutors quite rude; barely glancing at my cuttings portfolio that I’d lugged across the tube at rush hour. Cardiff consisted of a group interview, which was daunting. The Cardiff tutors seemed really interested in candidates and there seemed to be an emphasis on nurturing talent. Overall I felt that Sheffield and Cardiff made an effort to sell themselves to me, whilst City seemed to assume their reputation could do all the work.
The final scores were City: 2, Cardiff: 4 and Sheffield: 2.
I start at Cardiff next week, and still don’t know if I made the right decision. Only time will tell.