If you’re considering pursuing a career in journalism, gaining some experience in high school is the best way to get started. Applying for an undergraduate program in journalism, while competitive, can be pretty smooth if you have real-world experience demonstrated in your profile.
We’ve mentioned the program's key details, such as eligibility, location, cost, dates and deadlines, as well as 7 compelling reasons why you should participate.
What is JCamp?
Simply put, AAJA’s JCamp is described as a “national multicultural journalism program for high school students.” The AAJA has operated for over 40 years to increase the representation of AAPI in journalism and media, and similarly, their JCamp program is aimed at helping young teenagers from all backgrounds get a start in the media and news industry.
Ever since the program began in 2001, over 700 high school students have participated and graduated from JCamp, and among those individuals include notable alumni such as Terrell Brown, Jessica Carballo, Hailey Lee, and Taylor Turner.
For JCamp 2023, the program will take place during July 15 - 21 in Washington, D.C.
How selective is JCamp?
JCamp is very selective – while it can be hard to discern the exact acceptance rate, the website states that they receive “hundreds of applications from all regions of the country,” and they accepted roughly 30-40 students for 2023. Therefore, the acceptance rate can vary anywhere from 5% to 20%, making it an incredibly competitive program.
Is JCamp prestigious?
Given the history, connections, and selectivity of JCamp, it is definitely a prestigious opportunity for high schoolers who want to begin a career in journalism. Keep reading to where we list the many benefits of JCamp to learn more on why it’s a valued opportunity!
Who is eligible to apply?
The program is for current high school freshmen, sophomores, and juniors from any area of the United States. Do note that there isn’t any particular preference for Asian-American/Asian students mentioned in the program eligibility. However, priority will be given to sophomores and juniors. Although the program itself lasts for only a short time (six days), you will surely be able to meet influential speakers and gain a greater understanding for the need for diverse perspectives in communications.
How do I apply?
The application cycle begins around mid-January, and closes mid-March. Before the deadline, applicants will need to submit a letter of recommendation, their high school transcript, and student essays (which have a word limit of 250 words). In addition, students can submit any work samples they have or upload an introduction video, but they are not required.
The application should clearly reflect the student’s genuine passion for journalism and communications, such as telling one’s story and explaining why JCamp is important to them. Of course, impeccable writing skills should be evident as well.
7 Reasons Why You Should Try JCamp
1. You will be part of a culturally diverse cohort.
AAJA’s strong emphasis on multiculturalism ensures that participants will get a broader view on different identities and opinions, such as those regarding race, socioeconomics, geography, religion, and sexual orientation. Especially for those looking to become skilled in communications, being able to enhance your cross-cultural insight and perception will be hugely beneficial, helping you stand out from the crowd.
2. You will not have to spend any money.
Some programs will require the accepted students to pay a fee to participate, but not JCamp. All fares, from travel, housing, tuition, and etc., will be free for the participant, so those who are interested in applying do not need to worry about financial limitations.
3. You will build a strong network.
Having a mentor who can guide you or knowing who to ask advice from is very difficult when you’ve only begun your career journey, but JCamp has had many talented participants who have made substantial waves in journalism. Some of these alumni have become professional journalists in CBS News, ABC, CNBC, and The Washington Post, and can therefore answer any questions you have and provide tips & tricks on working for an influential media company.
4. You will learn from and interact with industry experts.
In addition to the robust alumni network, JCamp provides students the opportunity to speak with experienced journalists and media professionals, and these individuals may include Hoda Kotb from NBC’s “Today Show”; Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., former publisher for The New York Times”; and Bo Schieffer, former CBS News’ “Face the Nation” moderator. Many high school students aren’t able to meet with these people face-to-face, but JCamp attendees will be able to listen to them and be able to ask them questions.
5. You will learn about the core principles in journalism.
In addition to cross-cultural communication skills, the JCamp curriculum ensures that students will learn more about the fundamentals of leadership, understand the importance of diversity in the newsroom, employ strong ethics in journalism practice, and apply the value of networking and career mapping. These “intangible” aspects of journalism may be hard to learn, as they are more abstract compared to nurturing one’s writing skills and publishing articles, but JCamp wants their students to come away with the mindset of a passionate and brilliant journalist.
6. You will experience hands-on learning.
Students will be able to receive hands-on training and produce multiplatform news packages for the news site, JCamp Live. There will also be interactive workshops and field trips available, which will aid in the development of next generation journalists. The variety of activities at JCamp will improve the skills of the participants and allow them to gain more experience.
7. You can use your JCamp experience to make your college application stand out.
Given the prestige and honor associated with JCamp, your application will definitely catch the eyes of admissions officers in universities you’re interested in, especially those that have good journalism majors or programs. Joining JCamp will be a good way to distinguish your credentials in journalism before you enter college, and even when entering the workforce, you have a unique experience to highlight in your resume.
Journalism may feel like a daunting field for many high school students, but there are plenty of resources to explore if you look for it. No matter what background you are, you are allowed to apply for JCamp, and when admitted, you're granted a special chance to explore the industry and meet with amazing people, so it is highly recommend that you give it a try when the application open and you’re eligible to apply.
One other option – Lumiere Research Scholar Program
If you are interested in doing research in journalism or related fields, then you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 2100 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.
Lydia is currently a junior at Harvard University, studying Molecular and Cellular Biology. In high school, she was the captain of her high school’s Academic Decathlon team and attended the Governor's School of Engineering and Technology. In her spare time, she likes to create digital art while listening to music.
Image Source: JCamp logo