I didn’t immediately know I wanted to study journalism at college. In high school, all I cared about was watching movies and writing. After graduation, I decided to do a one-year general program in media studies. As the year came to an end and I saw all my classmates going on to apply for various film degrees, I found myself only wanting to write. I had no idea what kind of writing I wanted to do: all I knew was that my high school English class was where I felt most at home. I practiced a script, memorizing how I would disappoint my mom by telling her I was dropping out at the end of the year. Instead, I ended up telling a friend I was going to leave, and he advised me to try journalism. Not expecting to like it, I submitted a portfolio and packed my bags.
I got in. When I called my mom, she was curious because I’d never mentioned wanting to become a journalist before. But I wanted to write more than anything: and journalism made me fall in love with nonfiction writing. Journalism school is a whole different world than my high school creative writing class. We learned how to interview people, we made our own magazine, we wrote authentic stories about people who needed justice. I went to protests and marches.
I wrote about politics, arts, history, environmental justice, and human rights issues. I fell in love with nonfiction writing in every aspect. To this day, I cannot picture myself as the on-camera reporter that so many people think of when they imagine journalists. But I know I want to create something authentic. When Mark Twain famously declared that truth is stranger than fiction, I know it’s true. And yes, I still love movies just as much now as I did in high school (actually, probably more). Being critical of the media I consume has made me a better, more authentic writer.
If you’re thinking of studying writing, do it. Making mistakes is basically required in college. This doesn’t mean you have to take journalism like I did. Having a one-year general media program allowed me to branch and learn what I don’t like. A creative writing class is a really effective way to learn different ways to enhance your skills, whether you’re interested in nonfiction or fiction. There are even specific literature classes: my school has courses on graphic novel analysis, Gothic horror literature, short story writing, literally so many. You don’t have to major in English, but odds are, if you’re considering studying some form of writing at university, there’s a reason. If you’re passionate about writing, allow yourself room to grow and discover what forms of writing you like and dislike.
is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Journalism at Ryerson University in Toronto. When she isn't writing, she's reading and working on her bullet journal. You can read more of her work at ashaswann.com