What it’s like to be a media student

What it’s like to be a media student

By Lois Looker,

There seems to be a certain stigma around being a film and media student. I can’t quite place my finger on where it stems from but it seems to be that generally people don’t take media students all that seriously.

This is a problem that often deters people from studying media despite the fact that media is always around us and is such a vast and interesting study that there is constantly something new to look at. In this day and age, we can’t help but consume media in our daily lives and so therefore it shouldn’t be a surprise that we want to understand and shape it for ourselves.

When I first started studying film and media I was under the impression I would be looking at the main aspects of the media that we come into contact with every day; film, television, radio and journalistic. However, it only took a few modules for me to quickly understand that this is not simply a route to understand how film works and how to analyse its hidden meanings; it’s also a huge focus on theory within the media and how we are shaped by it.

One of the most interesting classes I’ve ever taken was my Gender and Representation class which looked at gender roles in the media and how they are represented. Although living in the 21st Century, it was only too apparent that the gender roles we thought had long been abolished still exist strongly within our society and was a major factor in things like advertising. We discussed what ‘gender’ really was and how it could be defined, something I definitely never expected to study in a film and media class, maybe philosophy, yes, but not here. But as it turns out, that class is one of the most relevant things I have been taught in my time at university and can be applied to everything I want to do in within the media.

Telling people that I am a media student, they immediately ask if I want to work in television or become a film director and I can understand why they might assume these things if you don’t know what media students actually do. For one module I studied digital media which looked at all forms of media online. I have to admit, my parents didn’t really think much of me studying Facebook and having to use it as part of my coursework but just because we use these things for fun doesn’t mean there isn’t a structure and science behind why we do. For that module we had to use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and Blogger where we were given tasks to complete and each of us had to create something based on our own creative merit whilst incorporating the academic aspect which we had been taught. It made me realise my place in the digital world which is constantly expanding and gave me a much deeper understanding of the things we are subjected to and why it’s so important.

As I study a joint degree of English and Film and Media, I am very fortunate to know that there are a few extra paths that I can go down when I graduate but whilst English might be the subject which is given more academic merit and considered something worthy of being studied by others, I have found that there are many more jobs and opportunities open to me through studying media.

My advice to those who are looking to study media is that you should never go on someone else’s opinion of whether it’s something worth studying, because only you know what you want to do, where you want to go and what you want to know. If media is something that interests you then I urge you to look at the modules offered in film and media at your chosen universities and ask students who have gone there what they found from the teaching. As media is such a diverse subject, many universities will focus on different aspects and several universities have yet to up their funding for such courses and so you might find that they don’t have much to offer at all - but if this is something you really want to do, you shouldn’t be put off. Especially if you don’t want to work in film, just remember that that’s not what it’s all about!

What have your experiences been in studying media?