Joining university societies better than a course?

As some of you may know I'm studying Broadcast Journalism at the University of Leeds. As well as this I've signed up to the three media societies - Leeds Student (newspaper), Leeds Student Radio and Leeds student: TV (LSTV). 

I've had a huge amount of fun over the past ten weeks at these societies, doing everything from reading the news, to investigating and interviewing people, running around doing supermarket sweep for the radio, doing links for LSTV, being a cameraman and writing articles. All very practical stuff. All stuff which is relevant to the course.
And I guess that's where the question comes from: Can joining a university's societies be better than a course?

Of course this will depend on your definition of better - does better mean more practical skills or does better mean being more professional or does better mean having a greater appreciation of the media?

If it means the latter then the course is extremely useful - you learn about the history of media, how it has changed, how and why things are done now.

If better means that we get more practical skills then for the first year the societies win hands down - we have a camera and editing module coming up next Semester which I'm very much looking forward too, but that will no doubt be basic due to me having studied the media for 4 years previously. For now the societies allow me to experiment with new things - vision mixing, sound mixing, radio recording, white balancing to name just a few. Societies for the first year win hands down in this case. The only exception to this would be learning to use the Marantz audio recorder and Cool Edit on my course.

If better means being more professional then both have a role to play - through the theory (and practice) of some of the modules you learn how to conduct yourself, through the societies you learn how to act around the public in certain situations that you might not yet encounter on the course, such as when you lug a huge camera into the uni as opposed to just a microphone for audio.

Then again I'm very lucky to have chosen and been accepted into Leeds Uni which has so many award-winning societies which are directly relevant to my course and profession. For other courses, and/or at other universities it may be different.

Overall, if I had to make a decision over which I am enjoying more it would be the societies - but at the end of the day I came here to get a degree. That is what employers want to see as a bare minimum. The societies will show initiative to them, while letting me enjoy myself. The degree IS enjoyable, don't get me wrong, and there's so much that we'll be doing on the course that I can't do with societies - Newsdays for example, or teleprompter reading (I hope).

Image: Leeds University Union


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