The Princeton University Summer Journalism Program
What is the Princeton University Summer Journalism Program? We welcome 35-40 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 sixteenth summer in 2017. It will take place from August 4 to August 14.
What is the program like? Classes at the program are taught by reporters and editors from The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, The Daily Beast, Politico, Sports Illustrated and CNN, among other media outlets. Students tour The New York Times, New York Magazine, The Daily Beast and Bloomberg; 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 2016 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 350 students have graduated from our program during the past fifteen years, and many return each summer to serve as mentors to our current students. We are proud of their academic and journalistic accomplishments. Since 2008, 61 of our students have gone on to Ivy League schools—plus, four have gone to Stanford, five to Swarthmore, seven to Georgetown, three to Wesleyan, eight to Berkeley, five to Barnard, three to Bowdoin, and three to Bard.
Our students have gone on to write for college newspapers across the country, including The Daily Princetonian, The Harvard Crimson, The Yale Daily News, The Brown Daily Herald, The Columbia Spectator, The Cornell Daily Sun, The Daily Pennsylvanian, The Amherst Student, The Wesleyan Argus, The Middlebury Campus, The Bowdoin Orient and The Georgetown Hoya. Our alumni have also landed jobs or internships at The New York Times, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, The Daily Beast, Foreign Policy, National Journal, The Huffington Post, The New Republic, The American Prospect, Newsweek, The New York Observer, Sports Illustrated, Huffington Post, Architectural Digest, The Star-Ledger, NPR, MSNBC and NBC, 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 Richard Just as well as by Marin Cogan, Amanda Cormier, Eliza Gray, Walter Griffin, Lyne Lucien, Tonya Riley, Amanda Rinderle, Brian Rokus, Chanakya Sethi, Tasnim Shamma, Katie Zavadski, and Simon van Zuylen-Wood. Except for two student interns who are 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 by Princeton University, as well as by grants from foundations and donations from Princeton alumni. In 2016, we received more than 350 applications, but, because of funding limitations, we were able to accept only 11 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. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.