university of huddersfield chipper

University of Huddersfield: An Open Letter

It may not be top flight, but the University of Huddersfield is the best place I've been

Before getting into a rather long tale thanking the University of Huddersfield, it is worth noting this will be a personal post. In fact, it’s basically a blog. Nevertheless, it feels like something that has to be said. Chipper exists because of Huddersfield and I am an editor so get to abuse my power a little.

Prior to the University of Huddersfield, I pretty much hated everything and was going from one educational institution to another wasting my potential. Dedicating myself meant vulnerability, and that would mean sacrificing the walls I’d built. A family tragedy resulted in not caring about my GCSEs, though there was still enough common sense rattling around telling me to at least pass them. The A Levels I chose were a mistake, none of them really coming with job prospects. Still, I passed them, but continuing to under-perform, and went onto Chester University in 2012.

Guess what. Hated that too. The Drama and Journalism course was going nowhere and I didn’t click with the university. Time to actually make a decent decision for the first time since 2009. I applied to the Music Journalism course at Huddersfield and dropped out of Chester in January of 2013.

So, the first impression the University of Huddersfield got of me was not exactly positive. They were presented with a tired (I had found a job and the hours were insanity) and miserable girl trying to be a woman but lacking the attention span.

First year…

university of huddersfield chipper

This is a book my brother gave me in first year. Never even opened it

The variation in modules signified a change in pace. Chester had focused entirely on the word journalism and cared more about teaching the writing style. Straight away at Hudds, there was a Politics, Society and Journalism module which explored the moral decisions journalists face and how it impacts the societies they try to inform. It was interesting, but that wasn’t quite translating to my input yet.

I honestly cannot figure out how a single teacher in the place saw any positives, as my general self-evaluation has always been ‘not good enough’ and I could be very rude, but words of encouragement did come. Marks were disappointing and anxiety prevented full commitment even if I wanted it. Yet, even while distant and disengaged, people told me I had potential. When someone has given barely anything and is at degree level, those kinds of words are both extremely confusing and endlessly valuable.

By the time second year came around, my brain was waking up. I had spent the summer in another job, which had hours a normal human being can put up with. University staff had made a point of encouraging students to seek work experience during breaks, and following that advice is how I met Chipper’s now editor-in-chief. We filmed a piece about a bike orchestra before the Tour de France came to Yorkshire. It was awkward.

Even with work and CV filler, I realised how excited I was to go back to university.

Round two…

Second year was, despite the extra workload, more fun. The course became more practical, engaging us in radio production, video creation and sourcing interviews for articles. There were also the more academic modules which tested independent thought. At the time, I hated creating video content, but looking back I realise it was crucial for pushing students out of their comfort zone and forcing personal development.

Another acknowledgement of the excellent staff- my dog died in second year and one lecturer in particular offered support. Instead of being greeted with derision for taking it so badly, I was invited to talk about how I felt and recite memories. This may play into the hands of those who admonish university students for being molly-coddled but… I adored that dog, man…

One last shot to get it right…

university of huddersfield chipper

This represents the process of writing a dissertation and the general mood when progressing through university

Third year was the highlight; the payoff for actually caring about education. In the summer between second and third year, there had been more CV bumping. I managed to get work published in Huddersfield’s local newspaper, sought out work experience in PR and secured the part-time digital marketing job I still have. Also, Chipper launched, so that was great. The University of Huddersfield is keen on pushing industrious tendencies, so thanks are due again for that. Many peers also used breaks to hone their journalistic skills, not that there was much choice. It is compulsory for third year journalism students to undertake some kind of work placement.

Like most students, I have complained endlessly about studies. The essays topics were ‘ridiculous’, expecting me to source enough interviews for a case study/ dissertation was ‘preposterous’ and it was teachers ‘didn’t know what they were talking about’. None of these things were how I claimed, I’m just naturally predisposed to complaining. When my marks started coming back (with the exception of one essay which can never be mentioned again), I had to zip my mouth. Being told I had potential, praised when necessary but not excessively, was impacting my grades positively.

In three short years, I have gone from socially inept and doubting myself completely to confident in my abilities and able to actually converse with strangers. This is not just my own personal assessment, lecturers have told me I’m completely different to the person they knew/ had to suffer with in first year.

Yes, this story is specific to me, but to say that this university is not the turning point for others may be naive. What I personally needed was something to inspire confidence, and I got that with excellent facilities and career prospects. Luckily, a few peers from the school of humanities and media are utilising those prospects. Turns out they weren’t lying about transferable skills.
Thank you, University of Huddersfield. Sincerely. Sorry to the staff I was a bit of a tosser towards but hopefully I fixed it with enthusiasm later on. Everything I achieve in life is thanks to the staff, especially the First Class Honours degree that doesn’t seem real. I feel bad about accepting a place on a Masters course at the University of York now…

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I forgot my Netflix and email passwords so spend every day dreading the moment my computer asks me to type them in. Character references include: "I'm not sure you ever stop talking"- my gran; "You're nice when you remember to have emotions"- my dad, and; "You are so awesome I don't know where to start"- me
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