What I Wish I Had Known 19 FORMER HIGH SCHOOL JOURNALIST REFLECTS ON HOW PREPARED SHE WAS FOR COLLEGE MEDIA PROGRAM By Sarah Heet VIDEO T he transition from a high school journalist to a private university journalist is a lot like moving away from home: sentimental, difficult and necessary. As a former journalist for one of the top public high school newspapers in the country, The Kirkwood Call, it was no surprise that I joined the newspaper staff in college. After a few months on staff, I was chosen to be the next editor-in-chief of the Maryville University newspaper, Pawprint, an opportunity that would have never been possible had I stayed in my comfort zone. However, the transition from writing for a publication at a public school to a private school was eye-opening. As an online-only publication, Pawprint is updated weekly during the academic year and is offered as an undergraduate class. There is one editor who reviews stories on Mondays and uploads them to the website every Tuesday. The staff size varies anywhere from four to 20 contributors per semester. Staff members can take the class for one to three credits, depending on how many stories they plan on writing each semester. While any major is welcome to join Pawprint, most communication students participate to gain journalistic experience. While it is important to understand private universities have to maintain a more neutral diplomatic approach, it is surprising to realize how much a program differs when student reporters do not have as much journalistic freedom. Blessed with a high school journalism program that did not censor, The Call published stories ranging from divorce to drugs. However, I have come to acknowledge SARAH HEET As a junior at Maryville University, Sarah is majoring in communications and is currently the editor-in-chief of Maryville University’s newspaper, Pawprint. In high school, Sarah held multiple staff and editorial positions on The Kirkwood Call. She is an advocate for the First Amendment and can talk about picas for hours. After college, she hopes to find a way to channel her creative design energy with her communication skills as a brand or campaign manager. that I developed a certain amount of entitlement that came along with such verbal liberty. Had I come from a school that censored, I would be a completely different journalist than I am today, and I probably would not have been inspired to join the newspaper staff in college. I probably would not be a First Amendment advocate because I would not know how it felt to be uncensored. No matter the element of change, the shift to the college medium was necessary. I needed to know what it was like to invest in my craft with a new environment and support system. It is clear that journalistic styles vary; however, both are effective in their own way. One of the most important lessons to be learned, though, is to let go of the things you outgrow. There came a time when, even though it was comfortable, being on The Call staff was no longer beneficial for the staff or myself. With so much love for your craft comes a need to improve and be challenged. As important as it is to feel comfortable, it is equally important to challenge yourself and step outside of your comfort zone occasionally. Know yourself, and believe in your craft because no one knows your college experience better than you.