What have people asked us most about Jschool and our approach to journalism education and training?

  • I hadn’t heard of Jschool. Do you advertise?
    Jschool advertises in selected specialist outlets, but most of our students come from either personal recommendation (from the industry or from previous students) or by finding us through their own research, especially via the internet. We’re very well known in the industry by the way. Jschool is not into trying to talk students into being journalists or into doing our course. We find that students who ‘have what it takes’ will find us through their own investigative efforts. If they’re any good they’ll do their research, compare what’s on offer, ask lots of questions, evaluate the claims of various schools (including job success rates, graduate satisfaction level and editors’ opinions) and choose the right course. They’re the students we’d like to have!
  • How practical is the course?
    There is no more practical course around. Students get extensive practice in reporting and news writing, they do lots of field work and are given every opportunity to get their stories into print. At some universities offering journalism courses, students now do only two assignments for assessment per semester. By contrast, Jschool students do stories and assignments every week.
  • Do you teach shorthand?

    In response to industry advice that recruits to newsrooms should have shorthand skills (which are not normally provided in tertiary courses), Jschool requires students to study Teeline shorthand as part of their course. Editors say this gives them a tremendous advantage when looking for a job.

  • How is the work assessed?
    The emphasis of Jschool is on teaching and learning, not grading. Students are expected to achieve at a high level for each assignment, and are asked to resubmit work which doesn’t meet the required standard the first time. We don’t ‘punish’ students with low grades, but instead put extra time into bringing individual students up to the required standard. This requires extra work by students and by staff, but the results are worth it.
  • A lot of uni students complain about overcrowding in classes and insufficient feedback on their assignments. Lecturers don’t even know their students’ names. Can Jschool do things better?
    Yes we can, and we do. Jschool believes that effective preparation for a journalism career requires small class sizes, a lot of hands-on assignments and quick turnaround of student work. Teaching staff at Jschool take a close interest in individual students’ progress, and guide them towards understanding of course content and development of skills. (Universities once did it this way, but unfortunately many of them have become like sausage factories: they include journalism in the curriculum to attract large numbers of students, without any serious commitment to quality teaching or vocational outcomes.)
  • My friend in a university journalism course said she wasn’t allowed into the internship program because of quota restrictions as there were too many students. Do all your students have the opportunity to do an internship?
    Yes. The Jschool view is that work experience is essential in preparation for a journalism career — hence internships are an important part of the Jschool Diploma of Journalism. Not only does practical experience in a newsroom help your development as a journalism student — it often leads directly to a job.  All our students have the opportunity to do an internship.  In addition, Newsbytes (www.newsbytes.com.au) gives students the chance to be published in an online newspaper.
  • What do students learn apart from reporting and news writing?

    The whole course is designed around journalism career outcomes. The core involves learning to be a reporter, but closely associated with this is instruction in the context of journalism — e.g. study of political and social institutions, law, ethics, arts and culture as they relate to journalism. Through carefully selected and stimulating learning materials and assignments, the course also aims to broaden students’ understanding of literature, language, history, politics and culture, so that they are well-rounded in their general education and hence better journalists. Students are also introduced to photojournalism, subediting, broadcast journalism and online journalism.

  • Can I transfer credit from the Diploma of Journalism to a university degree?
    The University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) has given Diploma of Journalism graduates a year’s credit towards USC degrees. Several graduates have articulated into USC under this arrangement. Other universities have given credit on a case-by-case basis. Most Jschool students aim to find work in journalism as soon as they have graduated, but we encourage a continuing commitment to education — both general education and in-service professional education. It’s also worth noting that there are opportunities for Jschool graduates to go straight into postgraduate study in some fields after several years of professional experience.
  • Do Jschool staff help students find jobs?
    Yes, we work actively with students both before and after graduation to guide them in the search for employment. No course can guarantee students jobs, but we make a commitment to give continuing help and guidance to students in their search for work.
  • How do students rate the Jschool course?
    Ever since we started almost 20 years ago, our students have given top ratings to Jschool.  Students enjoy the regular feedback and sense of achievement that comes from developing their skills quickly and thoroughly. The most recent survey found that 100% indicated high or very high satisfaction with the course – significantly higher than the result for most university courses.  An earlier breakdown found that of Jschool graduates, 83% gave a high or very high rating to the quality of the teaching, compared with just 50% of university students graduating from communication/journalism courses.  Jschool was also ranked top in providing students with generic skills — 81 percent compared with a national average of 66 percent.
  • Do you need a strong academic background to get into the course?
    Students come into the Diploma of Journalism from a variety of backgrounds, ranging from a university degree to completion of high school. We expect students to be bright and energetic, but do not prescribe a tertiary entrance score. Academic records are considered in the selection process, and applicants are given a test on their writing skills and general knowledge. We also interview applicants and ask them to supply examples of their writing. Many top Australian journalists weren’t high achievers at school, so we look closely at the potential of our applicants, taking into account their life experience, achievements and motivation.
  • Does the industry support the Diploma of Journalism?
    In planning the Diploma, Jschool consulted editors of every daily newspaper in Queensland and of most dailies in NSW and Victoria, as well as editors and senior staff of other media and in other states. The curriculum for the Diploma is based upon the industry’s recommendations, and industry leaders have indicated strong support for the course.
  • What are the chances of getting a job?

    Most of Jschool’s graduates are now working as journalists, at metropolitan, regional and suburban levels as well as overseas.  Historically, more than 60 percent of Jschool’s graduates have embarked on journalism careers.  The comparative rate for universities has been estimated at only around 20 percent. Other Jschool graduates have gone on to further study or other forms of employment in which their writing and research skills have been assets.

  • Does the Diploma of Journalism prepare students for employment?
    Yes. This is the purpose of the course. Unlike many courses with ‘journalism’ in the title, the Jschool Diploma of Journalism is focused on preparing students for careers in journalism. The skills developed in researching information and writing clearly and concisely have also proved to be invaluable for other careers.
  • I like to write, but I’m not sure if I want to be a journalist

    Then this course may not be the best one for you. The diploma is designed for people who are committed to journalism, which involves much more than writing – especially interviewing and news gathering.

  • Is Jschool government-registered?

    Jschool opted to withdraw from the regulatory system after failure by the Federal Government and Education Department to support vocational journalism students with student loans. This was despite representations from industry and graduates attesting to the importance of journalism and confirming Jschool’s success in preparing students for news media careers. On the positive side, we were able to reduce tuition fees by cutting regulatory costs. Our students need to pay fees, but by not paying through the government student loan system they avoid a 20 percent overhead charge.

  • What are the qualities of a journalist?
    You should have an interest in people, a sense of what is newsworthy, a curious nature, an ability to write, persistence, a commitment to accuracy and a willingness to work hard. Jschool can help you develop your potential, but first you must be sure in your own mind that you want to be a journalist.

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