Feature image: Pabak Sarkar

A MatadorU student once asked asked me “what do you think are the biggest strengths of the program?” After a couple years in the job it was the first time I’d been asked that and I’d like to share what my answer was.

I see MatadorU as a complete travel journalism ecosystem. At the surface, like many other online schools, we offer curriculum material and provide feedback on assignments. But this is only part of the story. There are two areas where I believe we excel: community and real world experience.

The reality for many of us who work in digital media is that we work independently, either as contractors and freelancers, or maybe we work for a company but remotely. Working alone, just as taking an online course alone, can be very isolating. It’s extremely important to have a supportive community that can give you feedback, motivation, and inspiration. At the U we have a community of thousands, both students and faculty. The tools we have to communicate are the Forums, the Showcase (giving each other feedback), the student Facebook group. Immersing yourselves and engaging with the community will elevate your learning experience to another level.

The second strength is our approach to experiential learning, or, learning by doing. This isn’t just theory we’re discussing. We’re jumping into the real world, getting students working one-on-one with editors to produce publishable content and sending students on press trips and assignments. We don’t just want to teach skills, we want to see you applying what you learn in here “out there.”

As with anything else, you get out what you put in, which is why I’m always offering encouragement to connect with each other and faculty, and to ensure your student profiles are as dialled in as possible with detailed bios, links, and published work. You just never know what opportunities will arise.

Those are my two cents. I’d love to hear what you think. If you’d like to share your thoughts on what our strengths and weaknesses are, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.