Polygence blog / Education and College Admissions

The School of New York Times Gap Year Program

4 minute read

For students seeking an alternative to traditional education, The School of The New York Times Gap Year Program is an exceptional opportunity for hands-on, practical learning. Created for those looking to take a break from the typical academic path, this one-of-a-kind program provides an engaging curriculum centered on journalism, media, and communication skills. 

Rather than conventional textbooks and lectures of any other summer academy, students dive into the world of media through interactive courses and workshops led by accomplished professionals. The New York City-based program enables students to build real competencies and connections in various fields of interest through collaborative projects and networking. Whether looking to explore passions or gain experience before college, The New York Times Gap Year Program promises immersive learning beyond the walls of a typical classroom.

Here, we explore the key components of the program, examining its structure, objectives, and the transformative impact it has on participants.

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Program Overview

Unlike conventional gap year programs, which often focus on travel or volunteer work, this initiative is centered around the dynamic and ever-evolving world of journalism, media, and communication. The curriculum is carefully crafted to foster critical thinking, effective communication, and a deep understanding of global issues. Participants engage with seasoned journalists, media professionals, and renowned experts who serve as mentors, guiding them through a journey of exploration and discovery. The program's interdisciplinary approach ensures that gap year students develop a well-rounded perspective on the interconnected nature of today's complex world.

Students enrolled in this program have the opportunity to complete projects in select courses that can be compiled into a portfolio to showcase their work and talents. Although the program itself does not provide college credits, it does incorporate valuable college prep elements. These include professional development sessions led by faculty focusing on college readiness topics and providing students access to mentors throughout the program who can offer guidance on academic paths after completing the course. 

All gap year students who successfully complete the program receive a certificate of completion and a comprehensive performance evaluation. This focuses on assessing competencies that students develop through the program, including effective communication, critical thinking, information literacy, leadership, and ethics. Students also complete diverse projects in their courses that can be added to their portfolios, such as writing pieces, presentations, analytical work, and creative content. 

The courses in the gap year program are taught by an expert faculty made up of both New York Times staff members and professionals from a wide range of industries and backgrounds. This provides students with direct access to world-class instructors and mentors at the forefront of their fields. To facilitate engaged learning, each cohort section is intentionally capped at a maximum of 24 students per academic term. This intimate cohort enables personalized attention and impactful projects tailored to each student’s interests and aspirations.

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Core Components

  1. Media and Journalism Seminars
    These seminars cover a broad range of topics, from investigative journalism to digital storytelling, media ethics, and the role of journalism in shaping public opinion. Renowned journalists and industry experts lead these sessions, offering real-world insights and sharing their experiences with the next generation of communicators.

  1. Workshops and Skill-Building Sessions
    Students emerge not just with enhanced capabilities but with the confidence to express their ideas boldly and effectively across diverse platforms. It's not just about learning; it's about crafting a narrative that leaves an indelible mark. From writing and editing to multimedia production and data analysis, these sessions empower students to express their ideas effectively across various platforms.

  1. Internships and Experiential Learning
    One of the program's standout features is the opportunity for participants to intern with The New York Times or other reputable media organizations. This hands-on experience allows students to apply their newfound knowledge in a real-world setting, gaining invaluable insights into the workings of a major media outlet.

  1. Global Perspectives
    With this program, students have access to curated experiences such as international reporting trips and virtual dialogues with journalists from around the world. Exposure to different cultures, perspectives, and ways of storytelling broadens students' worldviews and enhances their ability to connect with diverse audiences. This cultural exchange and added awareness are valuable assets in the media industry, where understanding and respecting diverse perspectives is crucial. Participants develop a nuanced understanding of global issues and their impact on media narratives.

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Who can apply?

The program is open to high school graduates between the ages of 18 and 21. It requires the completion of an online application (which is now open), and submission of supplementary materials. The link to Fall 2023 and Spring 2024 application is here.

How long is the program?

The dates vary slightly every year, but generally speaking, the program runs January through April, with two terms, with 6-week and 12-week program options available. 

The dates for Spring 2024 are:
• Term 1: Jan. 22 – Mar. 1
• Term 2: Mar. 11 – Apr. 19

What are the fees?

Tuition varies by term. In 2023, the tuition was $10,350 for the 6-week program and $18,650 for the 12-week program.

Where will I live?

Students have the option of living in a dorm-like facility in Manhattan for $925 per week.. Housing rates may vary by term, and there are scholarships and financial aid available, such as the full-tuition Diverse Voices Scholarship program. 

Are there any scholarships or financial aid available? 

The financial aid application involves submitting personal information, tax forms, and a statement of financial circumstances. The scholarship aims to improve access for historically underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students.

Are applications reviewed on a rolling basis?

Yes, applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. While we provide the suggested deadlines to apply, please note there is limited space, so we encourage students to submit their applications as soon as possible to increase their chances of being placed in the term of their choosing.

Where can I learn more information?

If you’re interested in this program and want to learn more, check out the The School of New York Times FAQ page.

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