Disclosure - I’m not a journalism major, so I don’t really know every little detail about the program, but I do know a little bit about it from what I’ve gathered from friends.
That being said, all of my friends that are in the journalism major seem to be really happy with it! They take several journalism classes in their first year and even first semester (which is standard in Park), so they get a sense of whether or not they like it from the very beginning.
Just to briefly go over some “highlights”(in my opinion) of the program, journalism students are required to take on a minor outside of Park. Most students use this as a way to specialize. For example, some students want to be political correspondents, so they minor in politics. I’m not sure if this is standard or not in other colleges, but I personally thought that was pretty interesting. Don’t let the minor requirement scare you though, all students in the communications school, regardless of major, are required to take a certain amount of credits outside of Park (in journalism and most other majors cases, this requirement is 60 credits). In addition to the minor requirement, there is also a foreign language requirement, which I think is fairly standard for journalism programs. More information about the academic requirements for a journalism degree can be found here: http://catalog.ithaca.edu/undergrad/schools/park-school-communications/department-journalism/journalism-major-ba/.
Personally, I believe the true value of a Park education comes in the experiences you get outside of the classroom. Journalism has a ton of these opportunities. You can join ICTV or the Ithacan, which are both award-winning student media. For news, ICTV is primarily known for Newswatch, but there are a ton of other shows you can become involved in. The Ithacan does some very hard-hitting journalism at times, so it is also a great thing to be involved in. You can also study abroad or away during your time as a student at Ithaca. In Park, internships are a primary reason students leave campus, so you’ll gain real experience. Some examples of places you can go to are London, NYC, LA, and even Washington, DC through Cornell. If you plan carefully, you may even be able to study abroad for two semesters!
I would describe the environment at Ithaca as fairly laid back. There are some parties if that’s something you’re interested, but I don’t think many parties actually occur on campus (admittedly, I’m not a partier, so I’m not actually sure). There is no Greek Life on campus, with the exception being academic fraternities. I wouldn’t necessarily call Ithaca a super academic school, but I think students do tend to be super involved. This is especially true in Park, where a lot of students are heavily involved in the student media, and you’ll also find people working on side projects, freelancing, etc.
Ithaca is a great school, and I’m really happy there. Let me know if you have any more questions! Good luck with the rest of your admissions process, and I hope to see you on campus next year!