Northwestern Medill Cherubs Program

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Students walking and resting in front of University Hall.

Northwestern Medill Cherubs

Are you an aspiring journalist who lives and dreams for reporting the news to the world? Then the Medill Cherubs from the Northwestern Journalism Institute is the place for you!

If you’re thinking of becoming a journalist and applying for college to major in journalism, then a great first step in the right direction would be to apply to this 5-week summer institute, known as the cherub program, if you want an in-depth inside look into a career in journalism and if you want to meet professionals and peers currently working in the industry.

At AdmissionSight we believe that first-hand practical experiences are the best way to get a glimpse into your career of choice. Do you crave a hands-on experience? That is what you get with this program, and why you should definitely consider applying.

The Northwestern Medill Cherubs program will help you work on your writing, reporting, and editing skills while working in different mediums, such as print, video, audio, photography, and digital journalism. You can even learn to code! Even if you only have experience in one of these fields, you’ll learn about the others while in this program, and you might even find a new interest you didn’t know you had.

Are you interested in working with a mentor who can help guide you? Then you’re in luck! You’ll be assigned a mentor you will give you feedback on a weekly basis. At AdmissionSight we know how hard it is to find a good mentor who can really nourish your skills. Here you’ll find trusted professionals that want to guide you into a career in journalism, and who can even become mentors in the long run.

You even get to stay in the Northwestern Medill Cherubs residence halls, interact with the staff, eat at their cafeteria, etc. You’ll get a real taste of what college life is all about. At AdmissionSight we know how important it is for high school students to get a great glimpse into what they’ll be committing to when they apply to college. This program allows you to see this school from the inside, and how life as a Journalism student would be like on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, due to the current Coronavirus pandemic, the program will not be taking place in 2020. But don’t let that discourage you! You can keep working on your craft and apply next year if you want to end your summer with an experience you will never forget, that can also open so many doors for you career-wise.

a female student looking at the camera smiling

What you’ll learn in Northwestern Medill Cherubs

If you have experience in print, broadcast, radio, or digital journalism, but you want to have experience in all of those areas, then this is the program for you!

You don’t normally have access to high-quality equipment? Then this is your chance to experiment and learn from professionals, to really work on your skill sets.

You might have experience in just one area of journalism, but if you really want to dedicate your life to this career, a well-rounded foundation is definitely what you need. And that is what you get at the Northwestern Medill Cherubs program. You’ll learn all that is to learn, and who knows? You might even discover an area you didn’t know you liked or were skilled at, and that might become your future career!

And while students don’t receive any school credit, they do get a very in-depth evaluation of their work, which will certainly help in the development of their journalistic skills.

Students get to write pieces in multiple different areas, such as news, opinion pieces, and features.

Over 50 classes are offered every year: lectures, labs, workshops, discussion groups, film screenings, and even field trips.

What are some important things students get to learn?

  • Writing features: Features focus on one topic and develop it in-depth. They get to explore the human aspect of things, unlike regular hard news stories.
  • Ledes: Students get to learn how to write interesting, compelling, and eye-catching first lines in their articles, which are key to grab the attention of readers and editors.
  • WordPress: Students even get to develop their own WordPress website to showcase everything they do and learn in the program.
  • Deadlines: One of the hardest things to learn as a professional, but also one of the most important ones, is to learn to stick to deadlines. Cherubs definitely get a taste of real-life as they learn to write and work under strict deadlines.
  • Conciseness and Precision: With the help of feedback from instructors, students get to learn the importance of being both concise and precise, key factors in journalism.
  • How to interview: A skill not usually worked on as much as writing, interviewing is something that is very well developed in this program. Learning how to use interviews to their fullest potential, how to ask questions, how to come up with interesting questions, and how to get the best answers from people are important skills to turn students into better future journalists.
  • How to work on their school papers: Students leave with skills that translate into better school papers, as they develop their craft like never before.
  • Competition: Students learn new skills while also learning about good, friendly competition, a necessary skill for professional journalists.
  • Magazines: Students have access to interesting magazine workshops that can definitely inspire them to pursue different concepts.
  • Documentary production: With the current rise of people’s interest in documentaries, this is a very important skill to develop and learn, and here you’ll have a chance to practice with the best of the best.

a journalist holding a microphone whole looking at the camera

What will you have access to academically speaking?

A state of the art broadcast studio is available for the students to practice and experience first hand what it’s like to produce live broadcasts.

You’ll get to interact with other students with the same interests, and collaborate together. Despite it being a very competitive program, students enjoy collaborating and working together to perfect their skills.

Students will get to hunt for sources together. Even social media is a necessary thing to get access to people to interview for pieces, and you’ll get to experience that as you learn the importance of sources in the journalistic field.

You’ll also study the AP Stylebook, a must for any reporter. You need to learn and master AP style if you want a career in journalism, and this program is a great help to achieve that.

This 5-week program is so intensive and immersive, that students leave with an even bigger appreciation and passion for journalism that they had before.

Students can even have articles published in The Daily Northwestern. They get to pitch their ideas for consideration, and potentially see their pieces in the daily news.

At AdmissionSight we know how important it is to be well-rounded when it comes to skills you can offer in any job. At the Northwestern Medill Cherubs program, you’ll come with knowledge about one skill but leave after 5 weeks with skills in so many different areas.

Where do students live at Northwestern Medill Cherubs?

Students can have a college experience while staying at East Fairchild, Northwestern’s Communications Residential College.

Is it all learning, all day, every day at Northwestern Medill Cherubs?

While you will be writing, reporting, interviewing, and developing your craft more than you’ve ever worked on your skills before, there will also be time for other things.

One of the most celebrated initiatives is the daily runs you can take part in. Yes, runs. Starting as early as 6 a.m., before class, the Medill Cherubs get together to work out and hit the trails. Lakefill is one of their most popular spots, mostly because of its beautiful views.

You also get to see the other parts of campus and school while you’re on runs, that you might not see if you’re studying all day. Running is also a great way to exercise, clear your head, engage with nature, and socialize with other students.

There are also Saturday activities after meeting with instructors in the morning, and some clubs are offered on Sundays. There’s also an athletic facility on campus that students can access, for a fee. The campus even offers different religious services that students can participate in. There are also several movie nights a week, where students meet up with instructors to watch movies about journalists and have group discussions. How are journalists portrayed in the media? Can students identify with the journalists being portrayed on screen? So many interesting topics of discussion can arise!

A man and a woman happily discussing while looking at the laptop screen.

Sunday Clubs

Instructors get to teach students new skills that will further their journalistic endeavors, and while clubs are optional, at AdmissionSight we encourage students to get as much as they possibly can from this experience.

Students learn writing, broadcast, coding, and audio. Most realize there’s so much more about journalism than they knew, as they explore new areas of interest.

Working with real professionals

Since the Northwestern Medill Cherubs program is located in Chicago, one of the hubs for journalism, there are lots of chances to engage with real professionals and get first-hand experiences with working in different media outlets.

Students get to tour different facilities, talk to professionals, see how things work in real sets, and experience broadcast, print, and magazine journalism from the inside.

Real Experiences

Former students of the Northwestern Medill Cherubs program describe their experience as one of the best of their lives. The program is very competitive, and only the best of the best get in.

Students make friends for life, meet professionals that can mentor and guide them, and experience life as real journalists to decide if that’s the path they want to follow. They gain confidence, experience, and a one of a kind experience they’ll always have with them.

The ever-changing nature of journalism

Journalism keeps evolving. If students want a career in the field, digital is where it’s all going. And at the Northwestern Medill Cherubs program, they’ll get a great understanding of how the Internet and technology affect and mold journalism.

A great example is the use of hashtags, which nowadays is a must for any journalist.

Ethics is also a subject that will be discussed and studied, as it’s often something discussed in journalism. Journalism ethics is more important than ever these days.

Getting in the Northwestern Medill Cherubs program

Only up to 84 students get in every year, making this a very selective program, accepting about half of all applicants in recent years.

Students from the United States and other countries come together for a once in a lifetime experience as a “cherub.”

By now you’re probably wondering about cherubs since we’ve been mentioning the word so often. So what are they really? They refer to celestial beings or angels. So students of this program have traditionally been called cherubs.

And while being part of the Northwestern Medill Cherubs program doesn’t guarantee admittance into Northwestern University, about 25 percent of students return the following year as undergraduates at Northwestern.

Young woman using a laptop in a room.

Who will you be learning from?

The program director is Professor Roger Boye, an Associate Professor Emeritus-In-Service, and faculty member since 2005.

The faculty is composed of journalists, educators, and alumni. They mentor and guide students, providing helpful feedback to aid the development of their journalistic skills.

Each year there are also many guest speakers that will definitely inspire and teach students looking to pursue a serious career in journalism.

So if after reading all of what the Northwestern Medill Cherubs program has to offer you are sure you’ve found your calling, don’t wait another second. Applications are competitive, but that only means that you’ll be surrounded by the best of the best. Meaning you’ll get to learn from the best, interact with the best students, and end the program having developed your skills to their highest potential.

At AdmissionSight we believe in the importance of getting a leg up when it comes to applying to college. The Northwestern Medill Cherubs program is the program you need if you’re serious about a career in journalism. With amazing lecturers, hands-on experiences, wide approaches, and an immersive program, you’ll get to experience what being a real journalist is all about, and make an informed decision when you decide to apply to different college programs.


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