Journalism, Ohio University

Another week in the books at Ohio University

My view from the sidelines of Ohio's 23-20 loss to Ball State last Saturday. Just part of the "college experience."

Whoa. It’s 7:49 p.m. and I have no tasks for the rest of the night. This is a first for… like… ever!

It’s been another hectic week here at Ohio University, for those who have been keeping up on my slightly less frequent posting schedule. If it’s not one thing, it’s surely another — tests, online homework and journalism stuff occupy the vast majority of my time.

I have to say that I like it that way, though. It seems like every day I’m learning something new or tacking on a skill that I hadn’t really thought about before. I’ve had enough technical difficulties to drive me up the wall and have taken a lesson or two to heart about time and stress management.

This college thing might actually be helpful after all.

It’s coming to that time in the quarter when students should start looking into the future again. As much as many of us have a 10-week countdown going (the length of a quarter here), there is yet another quarter that comes after it, meaning that there’s still something to prepare for.

For the remainder of the year I have been doomed to taking classes that aren’t related to journalism due to our quarter-to-semester switch that is taking place next year. The more I get to know about this change, the more I realize that it is not fun.

The good news is that starting next fall, I will have the opportunity to soak in a bit more journalism knowledge, for pretty much all of my classes will be in the field of journalism. For now, though, I’ll focus in on economics, gender studies and whatever else is deemed “a liberal arts background.”

In all reality, it gets what I like to call “the crap” out of the way, which is a totally good thing. On the other hand, I’d really like to get my feet wet in actually learning a classroom-style thing or two about journalism. Every day I fly by a lot of the habits and rules that my older peers take for granted because they have taken courses that have drilled them into their brains.

That leads me to my next point, which is that my learning outside of the classroom supplements the lack of teachings inside it. I get my fair share of tough love and life lessons outside of class, where I’ve been doing everything from covering administration, to football to covering administration about football.

It’s not all fun and games — I’ve had my fair share of little setbacks and reality checks, but all in all I feel that I am getting what I’m supposed to (and more) out of my decision to attend OU.

Rambling on, it seems like so long ago I was making “the college decision.” At this time last year, I hadn’t visited anywhere but Ohio, I didn’t know if I had made it into the Scripps school and I was blind to the wonders of a FAFSA.

Folks, I’m a full-out college student.

Okay maybe not quite. I refrained from eating the roast beef sandwich that’s been sitting in my mini-fridge for breakfast this morning simply because it wasn’t “breakfast food,” so I’m not completely there yet.

Seriously though, the novelty has worn off and the subsequent reality has set in that this is not a game, it costs a lot of money and what I’m doing now has a direct correlation to the ominous future that everyone likes to talk about.

For now, I have absolutely no idea what that future holds. I’ve been looking at a lot of internships lately (and had my first interview, with the Columbus Dispatch, Monday.) The more I read, the more I realize that experience is at a premium. You have to be very good at what you do to score a spot in one of the country’s top programs.

Everyone has the ability to contribute at an on-campus outlet, so it’s up to each individual to do what he or she can to stand out from the pack. Besides what I’ve done back home, I don’t know what that is for me yet; it’s part of finding my niche, I guess. It doesn’t really impress people here when I rattle off my experiences. To many, it’s the same thing that they have done in the past.

From here on out, I’m on a mission. It doesn’t need a catchy title (maybe I should give it one anyways — Operation: Niche) or a particular direction. It doesn’t really even need much of an initiative. I’m simply out to find what is going to set me apart from the 200ish other journalism students that are 18 years old, hopeful and generally naive onto how we fit into the scheme of things.

Maybe it’s simple and I’ll find it tomorrow. It might take a year, two internships and a kick in the pants — I don’t know.

To wrap this all up, I’ll send it back to the revolving theme I’ll rant about to anyone who’ll listen: “that’s why we’re here.”

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My name is Jim Ryan, and I'm a breaking news reporter for The Oregonian and OregonLive in Portland. I'm an Ohio University graduate from Gaylord, Michigan.

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