During the two years that I studied in Harlow College, it was defiantly the worst two years of my life. I started in September with high hopes, dreams and aspirations for the future; I left in May the following year with depression, insomnia and low self esteem. The main problem you ask? Most defiantly the teachers! The work was never marked on time even on one occasion it took one teacher 14 months to mark the work (the work has to be marked within ten days according to their policy) you were spoken to like a piece of dirt off the end of their shoe, if you ever gave an opinion or concern you were put into a meeting and the teachers acted like children themselves. For example if you went up to a teacher for help they would act like a 2 year old going through the "terrible twos" screaming and shouting. For anyone with a disability (like I have) don't go into the childcare department! I was hounded for almost a year to have a teaching assistant and I kept refusing to have one, as I am within my rights to do so, and they would not listen. (That is where the insomnia comes in). To make matters worse they decided to change the rules I think a term before we finished the course. Before we were allowed to do an essay as many times as we liked to make sure we got it to the right standard required for university or at least to pass the course. In January they changed that to you can only do it 3 times then that's it! So as you can imagine everyone was stressed out as we had not learnt how to write an essay to the right standard first time round. That explains how insufficient their teaching is because they kept changing their minds about what needed to go into the essay. Because of this, the teachers believed that we (especially young people with a learning disability) would not be able to get into university and if we did we could not complete the whole 3 years or however long your course is. (That is where the low self esteem comes in).Every Year when all the results come out we always do really well, for example this year we came out with 99.6 per cent pass rate. Ever wondered how they got it that high? . We started out with 23 pupils in my class. By the end of the first year their was 13. Half had left because they didnt like it the others were manipulated out by the teachers saying things like "we think your struggling with this course a little bit" rather than think well this child needs help. lets help them pass. Yet in the childcare department they always come out with either 99 per cent pass rate or 100. Maybe 100 per cent pass because they only keep the children that are able to pass the course and dont bother helping the children who might stuggle abit
Thanks for taking your time to this review together. It covered everything I wanted to know and has very much put me at ease, about doing it in September this year. Well written, articulate and great structure! Good luck in finding a job!
Absolutely appalling. If you're thinking about studying here, don't, and if you currently studying here I really feel for you. The 'intensive' postgraduate jounalism course has days upon days of tutors either not turning up, not teaching nearly half of the curriculum, or spending the lessons attempting to get 'down' with the kids by looking up amusing pictures of ugly models on the internet instead of teaching those that pay for this course about journalism law (a bit specific, yes, but that happenend just yesterday). I cannot believe the shoddy standards of this college and that they get away with charging students for this terrible level of teaching. There should be an investigation into this course and heads should roll.
So, to sum up, do not even think about applying to do journalism at Harlow, you WILL regret it. If there's only one star on this review its only because they won't let me leave zero.
I attended Harlow College for four years between 2000-2004 and I have to say that it was the best four years of my life. I studied media production there and it was taught in such a professional manner by actual profesisonals that have worked in their fields so they brought an extra dynamic way of teaching to the College. I don't think that I would be at University now if I hadn't been taught so well because there is no way, without a doubt, I wouldn't know as half as much as I would now. Harlow College has given me the springboard to continue my studies at university, and becuase I have been taught so well by the lecturers at Uni now I have to say that I have quite a bit more knowledge than people from other Colleges.
I want to thank the lecturers greatly for being understanding, helpful and suppoertive. I would highly recommend that everyone gives Harlow College a try, you certainly come out with a lot more knowledge and understanding than when you first enter.
One last thing, its a caring community that you work in and everyone is willing to help everyone.
I hope to return after I have graduated and I'm pretty sure that it will still be in the good same state and when I started and completed my course.
Anyone who studies at Harlow College, in my opinion, are the people who will do very well in life, and that's no exaggeration.
Harlow College is the best!
... and study journalism at Harlow College! Having recently graduated from this college as a journalist, I feel ready to shout about how much I enjoyed the course... I confess, this may be partly due to qualifying with an overall distinction (sorry, still buzzing with joy - had to share that!). Before you get too comfy, let me just make it clear that I'm actually writing about the course I did rather than the college itself (although there are a few things I can say about that too...) I hope I'm in the right section of dooyoo; forgive me if there's a 'postgraduate courses' board... Let's start with the particulars: MY COURSE A 19 week fast track postgraduate pre-entry NCTJ Certificate Magazine Journalism course (try saying that after a few drinks... something us journalists did quite a lot of, by the way!) THE AREAS OF STUDY * Feature writing (consumer magazines) * Business writing (B2B magazines) * News writing (short sharp snappy facts) * Subbing and proof reading * Design (using Quark Express and Photoshop on Macs) * Teeline Shorthand (80 words per minute) * Law (Defamation, Contempt of Court) * Public Affairs (Parliament, European Union etc) * Photography ASSESSMENT Exams in Law, Public Affairs, Shorthand, Subbing and News Writing A portfolio basically designed as a source to show off all the work you've done on the course to future employers (containing features, research, cuttings etc) - take it along to interviews A two week placement on a magazine of your choice (you're responsible for organising this, by the way) CLASS SIZE Two classes of 13 students (of all ages) Classes are growing now as more people become aware of the course's existance THE HOURS Monday to Thursdays (Fridays off to (cough) stu
dy) 9am - 5.30pm THE COST Around £660 plus exam fees (£11.50 for Shorthand and £33.50 for the other exams) TRIPS Parliament A printing company (Those who do the course from Feb-July may have the chance to attend the Ideal Home Exhibition, and if you're a newspaper journalist you'll be able to go to court, inquests, council meetings, the cinema) WHAT DO YOU NEED IN ORDER TO DO THE COURSE? A degree (hence the term postgraduate journalism course) Some experience in journalism (perhaps on your local paper) or some published work, although I'm not sure this is a strct requirement; see how the interview goes becuase that's where the teachers make the decision as to whether or not you're suitable Unlike the newspaper journalist, magazine journos don't have to sit a pre-entry exam! ME AND MY EXPERIENCE AT HARLOW COLLEGE I've always wanted to be a journalist, and the beauty of this course is that it concentrates on the magazine industry rather than traditional newspaper journalism, although it doesn't neglect the news side completely. More and more colleges are introducing magazine journalism courses now but what initially impressed me about Harlow College was that it's taught the likes of Kate Adie, Michael Buerk, Piers Marchant, Jeremy Clarkson... I could go on... OK, I will... Anne Diamond, Sue Lawley, Andrew Morton... The course is well esteemed and the teachers are professional journalists - they know their stuff! One of my teachers used to work on The Mirror and used to amuse us with endless tales of encounters with Robert Maxwell etc, another worked for the Guardian, one was Editor of her own magazine... At the interview I was told that 90% of students find jobs by the end of the course but, while this was the case for the newspaper journalists, I'm afraid that the magazin
e industry is a tougher world to break into. One of the aims of the work placement is to make contacts and hopefully land yourself a permanent job from your fortnight there... well, it worked for one class member... On our first day we were given a map of the college which seemed a big place with its 'A' and 'K' buildings, prefabs and library. However, since the journalists only ever frequent the J building and library, it soon 'shrunk' in my mind! Every morning we could collect a pile of 'free' daily newspapers - well, actually, we were entitled to these as they formed part of our overall course fee, but we didn't always get them... I'd go in early to pick up a bundle for my class and some elusive person would already have taken them. Who was this mystery person? Obviously very well read! By the end of the day though, there would be loads of papers lying around J block so we'd always get our news fix eventually. The lessons began at 9am, the shortest lesson being an hour and a half, the longest being two and 3/4 hours (don't panic! This was a design lesson; the time flew by, designing double page spreads on the Apple Macs). We'd have half an hour or an hour for lunch, and two 15 min breaks (usually at 11am and 3pm), and the day would often end at 5.30pm, sometimes 6pm or 4pm. Monday began with an hour's tutorial; a chance to share any concerns/queries with our tutor - we certainly needed this time towards the end of our course; a frantic race to get our portfolios in to deadline! THE LESSONS DESIGN This was such fun, and the newspaper journalists envied the amount of time us magazinies had devoted to the use of the design suite... It was a chance to be creative and we left the course knowing the ins and outs of Quark (not just a soft cheese!) and had some experience of Adobe Photoshop, scanning in photos and
images to make out double page spreads/front covers perfect. Woe betide anyone who dared open a bottle of (gasp) fizzy drink in the suite though, or left their mobile switched on - both strictly verboten! SUBBING AND PROOF READING Correcting and editing press releases to the teacher's requirements. We also had to put our imaginations to good use and compe up with headlines, crossheads, straplines, standfirsts and pull quotes (hey, sounds like an odd language - and the subbing symbols LOOK like an odd language!) SHORTHAND What a wonderful teacher we had! She was amazing; she genuinely cared about each and every one of us, and our progress. When you think about it, learning Shorthand in 19 weeks is a pretty impressive feat. It can take several attempts to actually pass the exam; it's all about speed... Teeline Shorthand looks like a collection of Egyptian symbols but, once you've mastered the theory, you're there. You start by learning the alphabet, then you learn short cuts and spend the lessons getting your speed up to, er, speed. It's crucial that you can write at 80 words per minute... and then you have the task of transcribing your Shorthand back into Longhand (it can take around 30 minutes to write back a 4 minute dictated piece). Practise Shorthand as much as you can; certainly, I found myself becoming obsessed with it; it seemed to take over my mind, appearing in my dreams, and during conversations, I would find myself mentally converting the speaker's words into Shorthand. My friend said she even saw Shorthand symbols in her cigarette smoke! It's a skill worth having; just think - you can write your Christmas present list in Shorthand and no-one will be able to understand it! LAW Don't end up in prison! A handy lesson in how not to be sued. As exam time approaches, you'll find yourself using law terms in every day situat
ions. Remember not to lower a person 'in the estimation of the right-thinking member of society generally' - aaaaghh!!! You must be so accurate; your article has to only TEND TO defame someone for you to feel the sharp tongue of the law. The case studies are interesting; anyone recall Gillian Taylforth (ol' Kathy Beale from Eastenders) and how she lost her case? Then there's the Hamiltons, and Lord Archer v. the Star and the News of The World... NEWS WRITING It's true that it's harder for a journalist who's written for magazines to make the switch to writing for newspapers than it is for a newspaper journo to start writing for magazines. You see, news writing is all about FACTS; the key lies in simple language; we learnt how to write stories in a punchy, snappy way, and how to produce introductions that lure the reader into reading more... Magazinies may find it hard not to elaborate on a point but you must stay focused; stick to the story and don't wander off into paragraphs on what the bride's dress looked like etc. Just find an angle and cut the crap! FEATURE WRITING 'Write a 1000 word article on September 11th targetted at a particular magazine' - yes, that was one of our briefs and the hardest part was finding a fresh angle on a horrific, much-reported subject. The lessons allowed plenty of time for research (i.e. using the Net) and we were marked in terms of whether our work was up to publishable standard. You realise how much your style of writing changes, depending on your target readership; you'd adapt to suit J-17 readers for example; you couldn't write an article for them in the same way you'd write for i.e People's Friend. WRITING FOR BUSINESS MAGAZINES Difficult for someone who reads consumer magazines every day but barely glances at The Economist or Retail Newsagent on t
he shelves of WH Smiths. This was a real eye opener, and I even managed an A+ for one piece... Again, the articles range from 250 words to 1000 words and you write to a deadline, researching on the Net, conducting interviews etc. PUBLIC AFFAIRS Hey, this section of the course involves a trip to Parliament! Yes, we had a day out at Westminster, sitting proudly in the Press Gallery in the Commons and having a guided tour. MP Clare Short was in full flow when we were there, and we rounded off the day at the famous journalist's pub the Red Lion. Ah, alcohol... Oops, got sidetracked there... The treasury, the Home Office, the NHS, the Cabinet, the Monarchy - you learn it all at Harlow, your debates culminating in a written exam. THE WORK PLACEMENT This is designed to give you the opportunity to learn about the magazine industry first hand. Once you've actually found a magazine who will allow you to spend 2 weeks there, you go off into the 'real world' and come back a fortnight later, either enriched or enraged by your experience! And everyone has a different story to tell. Personally, I had a great time. I made up my mind to do as much writing for my magazine as I was allowed. I kept giving the Features Editor my ideas and it did result in having a few bits published (although no bylines sadly). Basically, I made it clear I wasn't there to make tea! Finally (sorry, just realised how long this novel, er, opinion has turned out to be): PHOTOGRAPHY A new aspect of the course, we learnt how to develop photos and how to use establishing shots/instructive (step-by-step) photos to illustrate our articles. It was a laugh going out with my camera and snapping away, and it was even more exciting to scan in the resulting photos and see them come to life in Photoshop, being able to twiddle about with them, perhaps altering red eyes to
a nice shade of blue, or adding warts and boils, or hairy nostrils... not that I abused the facilities in that way, of course! SUMMARY I have no regrets about doing this course - I only wish I had a journalism job now! Still, I keep applying... The course (and my overall grade) proved to me that journalism is what I want to do and what I'm good at. OK, I found Public Affairs difficult at first but the lessons were never dull and the teachers were real characters! Never bored, the portfolios kept us busy to the very end - hey, deadlines are important! We had to keep a logbook detailing the trials and triumphs of the course - perfect blackmail material?! Honestly though, everyone I've met in the journalism industry (i.e editors) always seemed impressed with Harlow College (they'd either studied there themselves or knew someone who had). COMMENTS ON THE COLLEGE ITSELF Someone please turn that heating down! The journalism rooms are on the second floor which means you're kept fit by climbing two flights of stairs several times a day (no lift I'm afraid!). This is not made any easier by sweltering radiators - sweat inducing! As a contrast, the design suite is usually freezing; it's air-conditioned as the computers have to be kept at a certain temperature. The IT suite's open from 9am-9.30pm Mon-Thurs, and til 4.45pm on Fridays, and on Sat mornings 9am-12.30pm, which is great if you don't have access to a PC at home. But remember - no fizzy drinks, food or phones! The canteen is shared by BA students, Post Grads, Post A-level and Special Needs students alike so it can be chaotic with limited space (and I'm sorry but I just don't rate the food). There is, however, a restaurant(The Bonne Baguette) staffed by catering students. I had a nice prawn omelette there once. It's dimly lit, with music, a haven if you can't face the
bright lights and bustle of the crowded canteen. I think that's it really; Harlow may not be the most exciting place to study but it's close to London and I couldn't have wished for better teachers (in fact, I have most of their e-mail addresses!) or a better class (hey, we had a common aim). Each class had a social organiser to keep up relations between newspaper and magazine journalists (those who lived in Harlow often met up for a night out in Chicagos, the closest pub to college! Even the teachers joined us sometimes...) and I hope I'll see them again someday when I'm editor of my 'health magazine for teenagers' - they may well be useful contacts to have!
Between 1997 and 1999 I attended Harlow College before continuing my studies at University. I admit that I chose the college primarily because of its near proximity and secondly because my friends were also going there. Harlow College caters for a wide range of students. Courses available include A-Levels, GNVQs in almost anything one could possibly wish to study and specifically designed courses for students with learning difficulties. Teaching standards were good, especially in the History Department. However, I believe I benefitted socially as well as academically. I met a wide range of people from a number of the areas feeder schools. One problem Harlow College did experience was that of funding. In 1998 class teaching hours were cut in certain topics, German for example, but this problem appears to have been creatd by the frugality of the local education authorities rather than a fault caused by the college itself.