Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Summer Bridge Semester

[flickr id=”6939350788″ thumbnail=”medium_640″ overlay=”true” size=”original” group=”” align=”none”]

So you’re looking forward to starting your journalism studies at Columbia, and you’ve probably read or heard someone talk about “Summer Bridge Semester.” Hopefully, you’re not shaking in your boots.

Summer bridge is the set of classes you’ll be taking this summer if you plan to start your MA at Columbia. It’s crazy. It’s amazing. It puts the “intense” in “intensive course”, being six credits in one month.

You’ll be okay. In fact, you’ll be more than okay.

Financially, you’ll want to make sure you’ve filed your FAFSA for the 2011-2012 school year, because you will be able to take out federal loans for the summer coursework, based on your eligibility, should that interest you. And it may, because working on anything other than classwork during summer bridge will be challenging.

[flickr id=”7085423887″ thumbnail=”medium” overlay=”true” size=”original” group=”” align=”none”]

Do yourself a favor and try not to schedule work, family gatherings, vacations –pretty much anything– during that month, if at all possible. If you need to supply a reason for your sudden retraction from the world, just show your boss/family/friends the calendar you’ll receive after registration. They’ll understand. Trust me.

We took three classes in the month of August: Foundations of Journalism, Journalism Culture: Trends and Traditions, and Creating News Content for the Web. The exact course titles and content may be different for those of you starting in August 2012 or later, since my cohort was the first under the newly revised journalism curriculum and the department has been tweaking the program in response to student and faculty feedback.

[flickr id=”6939350998″ thumbnail=”medium” overlay=”true” size=”original” group=”” align=”none”]

Journalism Culture was a combination history of journalism class and ethics seminar– it was great! It may very well be the only class you’ll have where you actually write academic papers. If that’s your thing, relish it. If not, just hang in there, it’ll be nothing but memos, briefs, pitches, and articles from here on out.

When you get the book list for Journalism Culture, borrow, rent or buy the books right away. Then, read them. When you’re in the throes of classes, being able to skim and refresh yourself on a book’s content is a whole lot easier than starting from scratch when you’re juggling a paper and reporting assignments too.

[flickr id=”7085424525″ thumbnail=”medium” overlay=”true” size=”original” group=”” align=”none”]

Foundations is great– it really acclimates you to the equally high expectations and level of faculty support you’ll be experiencing in the program. From day one, you’ll be out in the field reporting on local public affairs events.

Foundations is focused on instilling in you the reporting, storytelling, and self-editing skills that will make you stand out when you graduate. By the time you finish Foundations, you’ll know the difference between a publishable quality piece and one that needs some TLC. You may even get published by the end of the month.

[flickr id=”7085424019″ thumbnail=”medium” overlay=”true” size=”original” group=”” align=”none”]

Though you should definitely familiarize yourself with AP Style before August, the very best thing to do is read, read, read the news. Watch the news, listen to news radio. Become one with the media cycle. You will not only ace your news quizzes, but you’ll also begin to pick out the qualities of a good story and emulate them in your own work.

Summer bridge is a great opportunity to immerse yourself in professional journalism and your graduate studies. It will be an exciting challenge, whether you’re completely green or more seasoned.

Are you psyched yet? You should be!