According to the 2015 Survey of Journalism and Mass Communication Enrollments and their Annual Survey in 2013, journalism remains a popular choice for many recent high school graduates even as programs show declining enrollments. The combination of fewer students choosing journalism studies coupled with journalism programs like digital journalism and public relations has lessened the competition to get into a journalism program. Even with an easier entry point to programs, high school students still need to prepare if they plan to study journalism.
In addition to journalism coursework, English and writing classes are required to further develop a potential journalist's skills. Reporters write stories, photojournalists write captions and copy editors write headlines. The more exposure a student has to writing, the better he will be able to write quickly and effectively. High school students should explore advanced and AP English courses. These give high school students a more in-depth opportunity to think critically about their writing and develop the skills to analyze other writers.
School Newspaper or Yearbook
The most practical experience a student can receive is on the school's newspaper or yearbook staff. This after-school activity or class allows students to learn to write on deadline, prepare well-written, thoughtful stories and develop interviewing skills. This activity is also a great choice for aspiring photojournalists who want published clips of their photos. Newspaper and yearbook activities will also add clout to a college application to a journalism school. If the student has a strong relationship with the adviser of the club or class, he can ask the adviser to write a reference for his college applications.
In general, aspiring journalists aren't hoping to spend most of their college studies in math courses. Most colleges don't require journalism students to take statistics courses, reports Justin Martin of the "Columbia Journalism Review." However, journalists' math skills are increasingly being tested, and those who can properly interpret data can have an edge. Martin, a journalism professor at Northwestern University, argues that "statistics is too pressing a global language for journalists to neglect."
Traditionally, general education courses in most journalism schools might include study of a foreign language, political science and history. These related courses are important in journalism degrees and after graduation when the student enters journalism fields. Journalists might have to report on political events or focus their journalism efforts in an international field. Having course focuses in subjects outside of journalism help prepare for reporting in those fields. Students coming into the reporting process with that course knowledge can find practical journalism in different subjects less of a learning curve. However, some colleges are revamping their curriculum because of recent changes to the way people receive news. For example, Columbia's Journalism School is incorporating more digital and blogging-focused required courses, reports "Crain's New York Business." Photography and other art classes may of interest to students interested in majoring in photojournalism.
Tracy Jones is a Jacksonville, Fla.-based multimedia journalist. Most recently, she was a reporter for "The Florida Times-Union," where she wrote about nearly every topic. She is a graduate of the University of Florida's journalism school and has been a reporter since 2000.