The Princeton University Summer Journalism Program
What is the Princeton University Summer Journalism Program? We welcome about 25 high school students from low-income backgrounds every summer to Princeton's campus for an intensive, 10-day seminar on journalism. The program's goal is to diversify college and professional newsrooms by encouraging outstanding students from low-income backgrounds to pursue careers in journalism. All expenses, including students' travel costs to and from Princeton, are paid for by the program. Students who attend the program come from across the country. The program will enter its fourteenth summer in 2015.
What is the program like? Classes at the program are taught by reporters and editors from The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsweek, The New Republic, The New Yorker, CNN and ABC News, among other media outlets. Students tour the Times, Newsweek, and CNN; cover a professional sports event; cover news events in the Princeton area; film and produce a TV segment; conduct an investigative project; author a group blog; and report, write, edit and design their own newspaper, The Princeton Summer Journal, which is published on the program's last day. The program is also designed to give students a taste of what life is like at one of the best colleges in the country—students live on campus and eat in one of the university's cafeterias—and to prepare them to apply to top schools. Students meet with Princeton's top professors as well as the school's president and its dean of admissions. Students attend seminars on every aspect of the college admissions process. SJP administers a diagnostic SAT or ACT exam provided by Kaplan Test Prep. The program's 2014 schedule can be found here. After students return home, program staff remain in contact with them, assisting them during the college application process and helping them to apply for journalism internships once they are in college.
What have our students accomplished? Approximately 260 students have graduated from our program during the past thirteen years, and many return each summer to serve as mentors to our current students. We are proud of their academic and journalistic accomplishments. Ten of our alumni have attended Princeton. Others have gone on to Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, the University of Pennsylvania, Williams, Amherst, Swarthmore, Wesleyan, Middlebury, Georgetown, Bowdoin, Johns Hopkins, the University of Virginia, New York University and many other selective schools. Their work has been published in college newspapers across the country, including The Daily Princetonian, The Harvard Crimson, The Yale Daily News, The Brown Daily Herald, The Columbia Spectator, The Daily Pennsylvanian, The Cornell Daily Sun, The Amherst Student, The Wesleyan Argus, The Middlebury Campus and The Bowdoin Orient. Our alumni have also landed jobs or internships at The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, The New Republic, Newsweek, The Miami Herald, The New York Observer, the Associated Press, The New York Daily News, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, The Dallas Morning News, The Star-Ledger, The Philadelphia Daily News, NPR, NBC and CBS, among other outlets.
Who is eligible? This program is intended for low-income students with excellent academic records who are committed to pursuing a career in journalism. To apply for the program, you must meet the following qualifications:
- You must currently be a junior in high school.
- You must live in the United States.
- You must have at least an unweighted 3.5 grade point average (out of 4.0).
- You must have an interest in journalism.
- The combined income of your custodial parent(s)/guardian(s) plus child support payments, if any, must not exceed $45,000. (Note: This program is for students from under-resourced financial backgrounds. If the combined income of your custodial parent(s)/guardian(s) plus child support payments, if any, exceeds $45,000 and you still wish to apply, you may attach a statement explaining why you believe your family qualifies as financially under-resourced.)
Who runs the program? The program was founded by four Princeton alumni from the class of 2001—Richard Just, Michael Koike, Gregory Mancini and Rich Tucker—who wanted to diversify the world of journalism. Today, the program is run by its four founders as well as by Marin Cogan, Amanda Cormier, Brian Rokus, Tasnim Shamma, Melisa Gao Tucker, Katie Zavadski, and Simon van Zuylen-Wood. Except for one student intern who is hired annually to help coordinate the program, everyone associated with the program is a volunteer. More information about the program's directors can be found here.
Who funds the program? The program is funded entirely through the generosity of donors, mostly Princeton alumni. In 2014, we received more than 200 applications, but, because of funding limitations, we were able to accept only 12 percent of applicants. We receive so many applications because we are, to our knowledge, the country's only high school program that seeks to propel low-income students into professional newsrooms by combining journalism education with intensive college admissions preparation—and pays all the expenses of students who attend. Every year, with guidance from the program's staff, our students apply to, and are accepted at, the country's best colleges, where they go on to write for top student papers and earn internships at the nation's most influential newspapers, magazines and television stations. This year, we could have filled our class many times over with outstanding students. We would like to increase our class size to meet the extraordinary demand among low-income students for spots in the program, and we are therefore currently seeking a donor to help us expand the program in future years. More information about how to donate to the program can be found here. If you are considering a donation and would like more information about the program, the best way to reach us is via email at email@example.com.