Back to School, for Some Reason

Does journalism school still make sense these days?

It’s late August and, among other things, that means back-to-school—including here at the Columbia Graduae School of Journalism, where the latest crop of journalism students showed up last week. And there’ are a lot of them. Applications were up 38 percent for the class of 2010. That, despite widespread layoffs in the journalism industry — and Columbia wasn’t alone in seeing this trend. At the University of Maryland’s journalism school, applications increased 25 percent; at Stanford, they jumped 20 percent; at NYU they were up 6 percent.

Meanwhile, magazines are folding left and right, and newsrooms are cutting their staff to the bone. The Pew Research Center estimates 5,000 newspaper jobs were lost in 2008; Paper Cuts, an online layoff tracker, estimates more than 13,000 newspaper journalists were laid off or bought out of their jobs so far this year.

So we’re curious. If you’re in journalism school this year—why? If you’re a recent graduate, would you do it all over again? And if you’re far removed from journalism school, or never went at all, what skills would you recommend today’s journalism students make sure they learn before graduation? How to wear out some serious shoe leather? How to become a Flash wizard? How to bartend?

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The Editors are the staffers of Columbia Journalism Review.