Reflecting on my first year at university

Well what can I say about my first year of university. So much and so little has happened but it seems like such a whirlwind of a year that it is worth writing about.

For those people who do not know I currently study at the University of Kent, Centre for Journalism. To get on to my course I had to complete a two-and-a-half-hour exam, correcting punctuation, writing articles and doing a general knowledge questionnaire. To this day I do not know what my results were for that test but it must have been alright because I got in!

Here are some images that were taken on the day I visited the campus and completed my entrance exam.

I had to read from a teleprompter as if I was presenting the news. There was also a video of me doing this but I will save myself the embarrassment.

To say that the year has been easy would definitely be an understatement. It feels like I have done so many assignments but I can count on both of my hands how many times I have actually been on the campus, due to Covid-19. This was something I did not expect because I literally live ten minutes away from the campus so expected to be there for a lot of the year.

The first year of university does not count towards your final degree and you only have to pass it progress into the next one, but I found that I wanted to push myself to get high grades and see what I could accomplish. I feel that I have done this successfully and all my grades so far have been really good! I have finished my year with a distinction and I am very pleased with it! Part of me wishes that the grades would count as it would be good to get a head start for the next two years but at least I know I am capable of getting good grades.

Even though I have had good marks I do not feel that confident about going into year two, as the first year was supposed to be all about learning the basics but where it has all been online this has not been possible. Things like learning how to use a camera properly or conducting an informative interview would have been something that would have been taught in person but could not be done due to online learning.

I also thought I would be able to gauge which parts of journalism are my favourite. For example: If I prefer print over TV or online over radio, but unfortunately this has not been possible. I have found however, where I have been learning at home it has given me the chance to build up my portfolio by creating this website where I can upload all of my articles and blogs, so that has definitely been a bonus. I am quite enjoying the online and social media side to journalism so maybe that is what I will continue to enjoy in the next academic year.

One of the biggest things I have missed out on is the university lifestyle. Even though I live at home and not on campus I still expected to be able to go out with friends and take part in events on campus but obviously that is not down to the university, but due to Covid-19. Hopefully this will be something to experience next year when all restrictions are lifted.

Even though my first year grade does not count I do have a qualification now that I have completed. Alongside my degree I am doing a diploma called an NCTJ which stands for National Council for the Training of Journalists and this is made up of four compulsory exams and a number of ones that I can choose. Shorthand is one of these modules and is an important practice for journalists to have. Shorthand is a way of writing that includes abbreviations and symbols, so that journalists can write at speed and record interviews. I have had to take exams at 60, 80 and 100 words per minute to finish this module. 

At the start of the year, we were told it would be very good if we could complete this module within our first year as it would free up some time in years two and three, and I am very happy to say I was able to do this and passed my 100 words per minute shorthand exam on the 10th June. Only two of us were able to do it and the other person was my friend Holly. When I received my result, it was a massive relief and I felt very proud that I was able to get it done.

Overall, my first year has been not what I expected. I hope that next year I will be able to use campus facilities and learn some of the basic journalism skills that have been difficult to do because of Covid-19.

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