With the slew of campus activities, course work and social opportunities vying for college students’ time and attention, many ambitious writing students have little free time to devote to future aspirations. However, Harvey Rachlin argues in his article for The Writer, “The College Try,” that any college student determined to become a writer must find the time and opportunities to get published now.
Some may assume college students would have a harder time entering the publishing world due to their youthful age, but there is no other time in a young writer’s career when he or she will be surrounded by so many qualified mentors and professionals who are willing and able to proof writings, offer advice and make recommendations. Universities are a prime opportunity to network with seasoned professionals and make contacts for the future through professors, clubs, career services and seminars. All of these expose students to people who may help open company doors in later years.
There are also a number of on-campus resources for students to embrace that may capture the attention of larger publications and build reader bases for the future. Campus newspapers, alumni magazines, literary journals, ect. all offer college students the writing experience and networking connections necessary to break into the magazine writing world. While some universities require article contributors to be upperclassmen journalism or writing majors, other student media opportunities like those at Texas Christian University allow even first-year students to produce content for publication in the campus newspaper, The Daily Skiff, and online site at TCU360.com. Individuals should check with their specific colleges in order to find out how to get involved with their particular student media.
Social media is another great outlet to utilize as a college journalist. Students can publicize their writings through social network posts, the university website, or readings on and off campus, and such personal marketing is a gateway for others to notice, read and share written work. The more an article is shared, the more a writer’s fan base grows and the more likely it is that the article will be noticed by another magazine publication. Also, blogging helps students develop voice, demonstrate knowledge about the industry and make connections with followers. Even if you don’t want to start your own blog, popular blogs for college students like The Thesis Whisperer and College Thrive welcome student contributors.
Today’s college students not only have ample avenues for getting published on campus, but there are also a number of ways beyond the college world for students to enter the magazine writing sphere while still in school. First, there is the traditional method of pitching work to publications through query letters. There are a number of “how to’s” and “step-by-step” directions for writing a query letter online, but in order to be seriously considered by magazines as such a young writer, college students must go above and beyond to stand out amongst other contributors. To do this, they should include more than one idea or provide links to sample work online in order to increase the likelihood of getting a response from the editor. Above all, they must be prepared to act like the professional they are trying to become in the future.
Finally, the last and probably most helpful tool for getting published in a magazine as a college student is a writing internship. Internships are the golden door to insider views of the magazine publishing world. Many magazine internship programs, like D Magazine’s in Dallas, Texas, often offer opportunities for interns to practice story writing, develop article ideas and even produce content for the publication. These internships that offer professional experience as opposed to coffee making or errand running tasks are the perfect chance for students to gain writing experience for the future and get a foot in the door of the desired magazine. Specifics of different internships are often found on the company’s individual website.
While many may consider college students too young to be competitive writers in the professional world, universities actually offer students ample opportunities to be published in both on and off-campus publications while still in school and provide a number of exceptional resources to be utilized in a writer’s future career. Young writers must find time in the midst of the chaos of college to write and exploit all of these resources readily available at their fingertips. There is no reason to wait when college students can begin getting published now.