With prices soaring to a whopping £9,000 for top journalism courses, Wannabe Hacks asks- is it worth paying the price?
Picture this: you’ve just left University shouldering a debt of £18,000 when you’re told a post- graduate course would increase your chances of getting a job. So that’s at least another £3,000 added to your ever- increasing black money hole. Or if you want to go for the J-school of the moment- City University- you’re looking at setting yourself back to £7,500 for an MA.
Do people who
learn pay more get the best jobs in journalism? Somehow to me that doesn’t seem fair. Sure, there are career development loans which just like the student loan boasts of its 0% interest rate. But you can guarantee as soon as you have left (they give you one month) the interest will start piling on. And unlike the student loan, monthly repayments start straight away.
So, if you took out a student loan for your original degree you now have two loans with the extra interest and no guarantee of a job. Not great, when statically we have the worst unemployment figures for 16-25 year olds since 1992.
I’ve found when people can’t find a job they look to further education. But is further education the answer? I’d say look for experience first before entering into an MA, that way you can see if journalism suits you as a person. Nowadays especially, it’s not just a question of having the qualifications but having the experience to match. In this competitive job market you’ve got to have it all, but do you have to pay top dollar for top jobs? Shouldn’t it be about your determination, hard work and most importantly talent to secure your dream job- rather than where you did, or didn’t do your Masters?
I’d say think before you stretch your purse strings. MA’s may be expensive but there are other alternatives such as the fast track NTCJ. Quicker and less expensive it is a popular choice in these hard times. Prices range from the premier News associates at £3,750 to the more affordable £800 at Lambeth College. Lambeth College is free if you are receiving benefits and is available at a discounted amount if you are earning less than £1,000 a month. This seems the most adaptable course financially and if it is the same accredited NTCJ course that gives you the practical skills of journalism, why not pay less?
MA’s boast of teaching you “how to start a blog”, or how to engage with “social media”- well I think we can do those ourselves, without parting with the hefty price tag. Journalism should be about creativity, skill, an eagerness to write and to share your opinions with the world. Sure, you may need shorthand if you want to work at a newspaper, but magazines mostly use dictaphones. I know, I’ve transcribed countless interviews for magazines and no, I didn’t need a course to teach me how to do it.
During my internships I’ve had the opportunity to conduct my own vox pops; transcribe and carry out my own interviews as well as compile pages of magazines. Online wise, whilst on a three-month internship I’ve got to know my way around a CMS system and written my own
blogs with working knowledge of SEO. I learnt on the job, so to speak, in the working environment of a journalist- not sitting from afar in a cosy lecture.
Granted, I do not have the knowledge of media law, ethics and short hand and perhaps this may come back to haunt me later on down the line. But I fell into internships and happened to gain experience of journalism from there.
Perhaps people need to take a post-grad now more than ever, because of how competitive the job market is today. If you look at journalists already established in the industry, like Lucy Vine who I interviewed last week, she undertook an English degree and worked her up the ladder via work experience before landing a job at Zoo. Can people even work their way up anymore? In this generation, it seems who has the most qualifications, wins.
Now with tuition fees for undergraduate degrees rising, it will be interesting to see how the landscape of the British job market changes. Certainly less people going to University, but perhaps more students will opt for undergrad journalism courses instead of studying say, English and then undertaking a post- grad. As how is anyone going to afford £9,000 a year fees and then on top of that an expensive post grad. The debts are just not worth thinking about.
They are many different questions to ask and debates to argue but I suppose the most important aspect is that whatever route you decide to explore, you make it work for you.
Determination, ambition and persistence (and perhaps some spare cash) and you could just make it as a journalist.