Benefits of Student Publications
I wouldn’t be a good editor and blogger today if I hadn’t been on the staffs of my high school news magazine or their literary and art publications. In the face of more rigorous graduation requirements and budget cuts, I’ve watched those publications struggle to survive. I don’t want student publications to die because they’ve helped so many students, including myself. Student publications give students the chance to exercise their writing, reading, and artistic skills, to explore careers, and to have a voice in their school.
Student publications can be surprisingly academic pursuits even if they don’t result from typical classroom lectures. Writing news stories, editorials, works of fiction, creative essays, and poems exercises writing skills. By gaining information through research and interviews, young writers become more adept at research and interpersonal communication. I for one decreased my shyness because I had to interview strangers. Students may feel more motivated to write these kinds of pieces well because they’re something besides academic essays and because they know their peers will read them. Students should be writing for audiences besides teachers, after all, because they’ll write for more varied audiences throughout their life.
Writing isn’t the only skill students develop from working for student publications. Editors and readers enhance their ability to read and critique different types of text. Those who design the publication and edit the photos enhance their creativity, problem-solving skills, and computer skills. It’s not easy to figure out how to make the material you have fit into a specified number of pages. The ability to convey information visually is valuable, so illustrators also gain worthwhile experience. If students have a hand in advertising and budgeting, they practice math and business skills. On top of these skills, the staff will develop teamwork skills while having more fun than they might in doing a group science project.
I’ve already mentioned a few careers that students can explore while working on publications: writer, editor, and illustrator. Students can also get a taste of photography, graphic design, or marketing. Those who discover their dream career while working on a student publication can attain that career more easily because of the experience they gain. Student publications aren’t merely training grounds for journalists.
Have a Voice
A few staff members of my high school student publications sometimes misbehaved in class, but their behavior probably would’ve been worse if they hadn’t had these creative outlets and ways to express their strong opinions without endangering their grades. Columnists criticized flawed school policies but usually offered viable solutions. Poets, frustrated by strict English assignments, got to write and get feedback on their work. Through news stories, students who participated in triathlons to benefit charity, battled serious illnesses, or were recruited for college athletics programs received recognition. Everyone in the school and community members who subscribed to the publications could respond to what they read through letters to the editor, facilitating communication throughout the school. Student publications give young people a strong voice that they likely don’t have outside school.
I owe my first high school job (contributing writer, the Flint Journal) and college job (staff reporter, Central Michigan Life), to some of the assignments I received in English classes, but more to my experiences with student publications. Every high school should have publications. They can supplement and enhance what classes teach while preparing students for careers and providing a creative outlet.
Photo: leighklotz, Flickr Creative Commons
About Darla Word
I'm a writing tutor and editor from Michigan. My favorite subject to write about is writing because making better writers is my calling. I also enjoy reading, singing, swimming, and cardmaking.