As the pandemic is forcing universities to continue teaching remotely, many journalism students feel anxious about starting their degree in 2021.
Open days which are normally a fantastic opportunity to get to know your university have also moved online. While that is better than nothing, virtual introductory sessions feel unfamiliar and it is not always easy to get your questions answered.
Journalism.co.uk spoke to some of the students applying for journalism degree at the University of Salford about their worries and we put together this handy guide.
How can I become a broadcast journalist without access to university equipment?
Many worry about missing out on the opportunity to create professional-quality audio or video footage without access to proper software or equipment provided by the university.
Learning to work with what you have at hand is a key journalism skill. Play around with mobile apps, many of which are free. Not only can you find out which ones work best for you, you will be picking up new skills along the way.
You can find a lot of useful advice about mobile journalism here.
How can I talk to my lecturers?
As courses now take place online, chances are you can only contact your lecturers virtually.
If you worry about getting annoying sending countless emails, simply drop them a message and ask if they would be willing to speak to you over the phone or video call.
This saves everyone’s time as you do not have to wait for a reply. Talking, even virtually, is always faster than typing and you will probably resolve your query more promptly.
James Sumner, recent graduate of a Master’s degree in public relations and digital communication at The University of Salford, says: "If I wanted to speak to my lecturer, I would ask them for a one-to-one video call, and would just explain it all through there, or through a normal phone call. I asked my lecturer for a regular meeting every week while I was doing my dissertation during lockdown."
How can I stay motivated at home with my assignments?
Studying at home can be more difficult if you used to do your assignments in a classroom or the library. There are too many distractions and there is no one to check on your progress.
Creating a timetable for the day will help you stay organised and divide your time between studying and relaxing.
Sophie Hodgetts, a second year multimedia journalism student at the University of Salford, says: "It’s important not to put too much pressure on yourself. If you set an unrealistic goal for the day, you’re only going to end up disappointed when you haven’t managed it by the time you go to bed.
Rhys Blanchard, a recent graduate in broadcast journalism at the University of Salford, added:"A real benefit to working from home is making sure that I vary my day and do have set gaps in my workload, whether that’s stepping away from my workspace and going to a different part of my flat, or I will sit and have lunch at my desk and I try not to work in bed."
How can I make friends when we are working remotely?
There are plenty of ways to build friendships with the people on your journalism course even though you cannot meet every day. Universities often have dedicated Facebook groups or virtual chatrooms that you can virtually meet your fellow students.
Joining societies is also a great way of making friends with people who have similar interests to you. Although they may not be running as often as they usually do, you can always contact your university and ask what societies are running virtually.
"Make sure you jump on every online activity and join the digital pub quizzes, it means you have a really good chance to bond even from far away," says Sumner.
Will my virtual degree be looked down on by future employers?
Becoming a journalist during the pandemic may be one of the most challenging tasks you set yourself to do. If you have decided to go to university and get a degree you are passionate about, that is something to be proud in of itself.
"While I’m no employer, I would be impressed that you managed to motivate yourself hard enough to achieve a good grade during such difficult circumstances," says Sumner.
"You are still doing just as much work, just with fewer resources and less support, so don’t feel like you are doing something less difficult than a degree under normal circumstances."
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