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More reasons to be thankful for student journalism programs

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On this Thanksgiving Day, I am thankful for how student journalism programs across this country prepare their graduates for real life. Districts cutting their journalism programs need to hear this story.

This week I was visited by two former student editors. As a journalism adviser I know about the study “Journalism Kids Do Better” and often hear about how successful those high school j students are in college. I hear every year from former students who are excelling in college.

This week I was reminded of something much more. Neither of these former students were able to attend college out of high school, but both of them credited their study of journalism in high school with having helped them secure good jobs in a tough economy.

Student #1 was a photo editor and after graduation applied at a new Target store going up in the area. She interviewed to be a cashier. Not only did she get a job (she says because of the communication skills she learned from interviewing numerous people), she was actually put in charge of the new photo lab and setting up the entire operation. She subsequently moved on to set up other stores around the state. She has now changed careers and is a corrections officer, but she credits those same communications skills with her successful interactions with her employer, her coworkers and the inmates.

Student #2 could not continue her education because she had a baby just a year out of high school. She too credits her communications skills with landing her current job. She is an animal research assistant for a major medical company and, because of her journalism experience, is now the editor of their division newsletter. She shared that getting to tell her bosses they need to get their articles in and meet deadlines is a highlight of the job.

The skill to get a decent paying job without a college diploma and job security – that’s what the journalism program gave these students – and in this economy that is truly a reason to be thankful.

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