Aileen O’Leary chose Arts with her Journalism degree at NUIG. Here she discusses why.
I never wanted to become a doctor, or a teacher or a scientist or a businesswoman. I did want to be a lawyer, a writer, then a human rights advocate but I always wanted to be a journalist growing up. It was the one constant career that I wanted. I knew it was my dream to write for newspapers or maybe even work on the news when I would finish college but I didn’t choose arts with journalism for that sole purpose. I wanted to have options when I graduated, if I didn’t want a career in journalism what else could I do? So I chose arts with journalism in NUIG.
I was sixteen when I filled out my CAO , 17 when I started college and I turned 18 at the end of my first semester. I was young when I started college. I was young when I decided to spend four years studying in a place that was nearly five hours from home, a place that was big, with 18,000 other students compared to the 96 girls I graduated with when I finished secondary school. Of course I was unsure of my decision, I doubted it and changed my mind a lot during that year. At first journalism wasn’t what I had hoped for, it was more theory than practice. Arts wasn’t great in the beginning either. I took History, English and Sociological and Political Studies. I figured History and English would follow on from the leaving right? Wrong. In college you don’t have a small class, it’s a lecture hall of 500 and a tutorial of twenty for an hour once a week.
I knew I made the right decision after my first semester; I got my results, I passed and I found my balance of college and social life after that. Of course, when the summer exams came I had been procrastinating and I was cramming for them, but looking back at my decision to take this course and study in NUIG I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s daunting at first but when you can shape your course and choose what you want to study it makes it a lot easier. I’m at the halfway mark now, and if journalism doesn’t work out well at least I have options; I can do a masters in education and teach at second level, or go into research, go on to become a lecturer, work in the civil service or communications, PR etc. The point is, no matter what the next two years throw at me at least I know I made the right call. I could’ve gone off and studied journalism and I could’ve hated it, given up at the beginning but I think doing arts, as much slack as it gets, provides the balance, and journalism works in the same way.
At times, arts can seem repetitive and while there is a lot of independent thinking and learning, it doesn’t have the creative outlet that journalism does. In the same way sometimes journalism doesn’t have a definitive answer to some questions, unlike the way that arts does. In arts you can compare and contrast the work of those before you and create your own interpretation, but in journalism a lot of the work we do is new or unheard of and we have very little to compare it to unless we look at the greats, and there is very little literature on them. It’s a learn as you go kind of degree, it’s experience and practicality at the same time.