Frequently Asked Questions
- My confirmation email from Round 1 said that I would be notified about my decision for Round 2 in mid-February, but I haven't received anything. Have you released decisions already??
We released decisions about Round 2 on March 7. If you did not receive your decision, please check your spam and if it's not there, contact the program at email@example.com.
- How do I submit my documents for Round 2?
Students who were selected to submit additional documents for Round 2 of the application process should have received detailed instructions with their update email. Please refer to that message for more information about what to submit and how. Be sure to read the email thoroughly, as some special circumstances are already explained in there. If you have a special circumstance that is not addressed in the email, please contact the program at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- I submitted a transcript with my initial application. Do I have to submit another one?
The short answer is yes. Since we required only an unofficial transcript for the first round of the application, we now require an official transcript for this round to verify your most recent academic record. If the transcript you submitted during the first round was your official transcript and it included final grades from all completed terms (trimester(s) or semester), you can just mail it in the same envelope with your financial information. You should still identify a counselor or person to upload the transcript and have them choose one of the options on the submission form that indicates that they will not upload a document. If the transcript did not include mid-year grades or was not official, your counselor or school record keeper should upload a new document.
- The Round 2 email asks for final grades from 11th grade. My classes are still in progress. What should I do?
Yeah, we see how that can be misleading. Sorry for the confusion. Your official transcript should include all final grades from 9th and 10th grades and all mid-year grades (i.e. final grades from completed terms (trimester or semester) so far) in 11th grade.
- How many recommendations can I submit?
We require students to identify at least one teacher who has taught you in an academic subject to submit a recommendation electronically. We strongly recommend choosing a teacher from a humanities course, such as English or history. When you submit your Round 2 Documents Request form, it will generate an email to your teacher with a link for them to upload or write their recommendation. If you would like to submit an additional recommendation AND you have not already submitted your Round 2 Docs form, you now have the option to identify an additional recommender through that form, as well. It will work like the teacher recommendation.
Applicants who have already submitted their form and would like to submit another recommendation, please have your other recommender print a copy for you to send in the mail with your financial information. They can give it to you in a sealed envelope, if they prefer.
Please do not submit more than two recommendations.
- What tax information should I submit? What if my parents do not file taxes?
We will require the 2018 tax information of everyone by the end of the process. If you do not have the 2018 tax info, please submit 2017. If your parents cannot find their tax information, they can request a copy from the IRS or from the company they used to submit them, if applicable. If your parents do not file taxes, please submit a signed financial statement.
Students who were invited to Round 2 received a detailed email with instructions about what financial information to submit. A follow-up was also sent on March 18 to clarify confusion about tax information. Please review that information in both emails for further instructions. If you have a special circumstance that is not addressed in the emails, please contact the program at email@example.com.
Please note that we reserve the right to request additional financial information as we have questions.
- My newspaper adviser/journalism teacher is also an English teacher, although I haven't taken their class in an academic/core class. Can they still write a recommendation for me?
Absolutely! We welcome recommendations from newspaper advisers, journalism teachers, and editors as an additional recommendation. However, you must also submit a recommendation from a teacher who has taught you in a core academic area.
- I don't write for a school newspaper, but I do write other news or opinion-style pieces for myself, a blog, or another publication. Can I submit those?
Of course! If you have written pieces in the style of a news or magazine opinion, feature, or investigative story (not a school report), we welcome you to submit those. However, please note that submitting a writing sample is entirely optional. Students who do not submit any written work beyond what was asked on the initial application will not be disadvantaged in our process.
- I accidentally submitted my Round 2 Documents Request Form and noticed [insert error here]. Can I go back and change it?
Applicants should not submit their form more than once and cannot change the form after submitting it. It will cause computing errors in our system. If you noticed an error on your form, please contact the program at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Can you let me know if X document has arrived? I did not receive a notification.
Please note that due to the small size of our staff and the volume of incoming documents we are processing, we are not able to notify you when your documents arrive and will not respond to inquires about the status of application materials. However, we will be in touch sometime after March 26 with an update, especially if we need more information.
- I haven't mailed my tax forms yet, and the deadline for Round 2 has passed. I'm worried they will be too late. Can I just fax or email them?
No. Please mail your documents to the address provided.
- What if I don’t meet one or more of the eligibility requirements?
We will review all applications submitted by high school juniors and make decisions on a case-by-case basis. While students meeting the eligibility requirements are prioritized above all others in our process, we understand that there can be extenuating circumstances that warrant a second look. Read on below for more specific information about different situations.
- Do students have to be juniors to be considered?
In effect. Students must be current juniors during the 2018-2019 academic year or students who will otherwise graduate in the Class of 2020. Otherwise, no current senior or sophomore will be considered. No exceptions.
- If my GPA is lower than a 3.5 unweighted, can I still apply for SJP?
PSJP will review every application that is submitted. If your GPA is below a 3.5, we will require an explanation of why you should be considered and take into account an upward trend in grades, the rigor of your courses and any disruptions to your education.
- If I attend a private school on financial aid, am I eligible to apply?
As a journalism AND college prep program for high school students from socioeconomically underresourced backgrounds, PSJP gives priority consideration to students attending public schools. However, we do review every application and try to understand the full context of students' experiences. If you think your school and family background still qualify as "under-resourced," you should apply and add additional information about that.
- If I am not a US citizen, can I still apply?
All students living and attending high school in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, including refugees and undocumented and DACAmented students, are encouraged to apply.
- Our family’s income exceeds the cutoff for eligibility. Should I apply?
Any student whose family does not meet the income requirements specified should write a statement on their application explaining why they think their background still qualifies. PSJP will review every application that is submitted, taking into account family size, cost of living in your area, and all other application factors when making a final decision.
- My income and family circumstances would not qualify as low-income or socioeconomically disadvantaged. Can we pay for my child to attend?
No, we do not accept payment for students to attend the program. It is a free program funded by donors who believe in our program’s mission and intended for low-income students. We recommend looking into the paid programs offered by other universities and news outlets. If you would like to contribute to our mission, please visit our “Support PSJP” page.
- I don’t know if I want to pursue a career in journalism.
PSJP is, first and foremost, intended for students who are interested in journalism—who are planning to write for their college newspapers and who are at least strongly considering an eventual career in journalism. Some students have not been able to write for a formal school paper, do not have access to one in their high schools, or have only just started writing in their spare time. That’s OK!! You should apply. We don't require students to have experience as a journalist. However, every year, we receive applications from students who are smart and talented—but who are not really interested in journalism. Apply to this program only if you have a serious interest in learning about journalism.
- The application deadline has already passed. Can I still apply?
- Unfortunately, we are no longer accepting new applications for the summer of 2019.
- Where can I find more information about the application process?
You can answer most questions by exploring our website, including the Apply section. However, if you do not find the answer to your questions, feel free to reach out to our staff at email@example.com.
- I’m nervous about my essays. I don’t know what to write.
When writing your essays, don’t stress over perfection. We are not looking for professional quality work ready for the front page of a newspaper. However, we are looking for:
- Passion/interests: our number one goal is to learn more about you by reading about what’s important to you. There is no “right” answer or topic. Let your curiosity and your interests come alive in your essays/articles.
- Focus: pay attention to the question or essay prompt and be sure to stay on topic.
- Writing ability: while your work does not need to be cover-ready, we do expect you to take the prompts and the essays seriously and to put effort into making them good. We expect essays to flow well, have a clear structure and message, and to follow basic guidelines about grammar, sentence structure, punctuation, and spelling (i.e. proofread).
- Do you have any advice on completing the application?
We do, actually!
- Plan ahead. The application asks several questions about you, your education and interests, your family, and your financial background. Give yourself enough time to complete the application without feeling rushed. Since the application allows you to save your work and return, we recommend completing the application gradually, filling in the easy questions as soon as possible, and taking the time you need to write the essays and fill in any explanations.
- Look through the application to review the questions ASAP when you have a chance, even if you don't fill them all in just yet. That way, you can plan ahead and collect the information you need in advance. The last thing you want to do is sit down to complete the application at the last minute (as some of you inevitably will) only to find that it's late at night, and you need to ask someone for information that you do not have but need to complete the application.
- We recommend writing your essays and article in Word or Google Docs, and then transferring them into the application form.
- Proofread and edit your application carefully before submitting. It is the most commonly given advice because it is the most commonly overlooked mistake!
- Please follow all instructions (including the word limit) and read the prompts carefully.
- Pay attention to the deadline(s) for submitting the different components of your application. If you have any questions or just want to double-check, it’s better to send us a quick email or call to verify. We’re happy to help!
- When submitting your application or when contacting us for any reason, use an email address to which you will have regular access throughout the application process. Do not change your email address or stop checking email in the middle of the application process. Be sure to clearly state your concern or question.
- Can you contact me when the application opens next year?
Yes! Please join our mailing list.
Family Information Questions
- I don't currently live with my parents. Whose tax information should I send?
- Please contact our office at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can talk through how best to proceed.
- My parents haven’t yet filed taxes for 2018. Can I use tax information from 2016 or 2017?
- Please refer to the note about tax information under "Round 2" above.
- Should I include people who live in our house who aren't my siblings?
There is a place on the application for you to include siblings and "other dependents." This includes every minor or grandparent living in the home who is supported primarily by your parent or guardian’s income. Do not include live-in significant others (boyfriend/girlfriend) if they are not married to your parent/guardian. Aunts, uncles, family friends, and other adults living with your family are not included in your household as a dependent for our purposes, even if your parent/guardian supports them.
Questions about PSJP
- When are the program dates for 2019?
Our residential summer program runs from Friday, August 2 - Monday, August 12, 2019. Students arrive on the first day of the program, Aug 2, but may leave from home the night before if they are coming from far away. Students leave from the program the afternoon of August 12. Please see the 2018 Program Schedule for a detailed itinerary of last year's program.
- Do I have to stay the entire time?
Yes, participants are expected to stay for the duration of the program from Aug 2-12. If you are accepted into the program but have a conflict -- for example, the start of the academic year at your high school -- that requires you to leave before Aug 12, you should make alternative preparations with your high school or those in charge of your obligations to ensure that you can stay for the full length of the program.
- What is the cost of the program?
PSJP is completely free. We arrange and pay for all travel, lodging, food, and supplies during the summer program, although students are encouraged to bring spending money for souvenirs or treats off-campus.
- How will I get to Princeton? Do I need to arrange my own ride or flight?
All transportation to and from Princeton and while in NJ and participating in the program is covered and arranged by PSJP. We will work with participants and their families to arrange the best travel plan, taking into consideration distance, time of travel, arrival and departure needs, and available options. Students and their families are responsible for getting themselves to and from the airport or train stations in their hometowns. Students traveling from NYC Penn Station on NJ Transit will be accompanied by a PSJP staff member. All other students will be met at the airport or train station by a PSJP intern or counselor.
- Where will I sleep during the program?
All of our participants live in dorms on Princeton’s campus during their stay. We have counselors stationed at the end of each floor. Students from nearby must sleep on campus for the duration of the program.
- I have family in the Princeton area. Can I stay with them?
No. All participants must stay in the dorms. Students are not permitted to leave campus during their stay unless attending a PSJP field trip or accompanied by a PSJP staff member.
- Am I guaranteed admission to Princeton if I participate in PSJP?
No. PSJP is not a recruitment or bridge program. Admission to Princeton is not a guarantee for any PSJP participant. Students should only apply for PSJP if they have a genuine interest in journalism.
- Does PSJP provide any financial support for college?
PSJP is not a scholarship-granting program, and we do not provide any funds for the college admissions process. However, PSJP counselors work with students to identify and apply for colleges and universities with a strong commitment to financial aid for low-income and first-generation students. Counselors guide students through applying for financial aid.
- What if I get sick during the program?
Students should bring any legal over-the-counter and prescription medicines they are taking with them to the program. There is a CVS across from campus for students to purchase any additional health-related items they will need. PSJP participants also have access to the McCosh Center through Princeton University Health Services.
- Do PSJP participants really go into journalism afterward?