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NPR's Student Podcast Challenge Opens For College Students!

LA Johnson/NPR

What does college sound like? For the past two years the NPR Student Podcast Challenge has been open to students in grades 5-12. We've heard podcasts about climate change and racism and what it's like to be young at this moment.

And now, today, we're opening the contest up to higher education. We want to hear the ideas, the issues, the discussions that are bubbling up on campus — the stories that will make us laugh or cry, and everything in between.

Last year, despite a massive disruption to the school year amid the global pandemic, the Student Podcast Challenge brought in more than 2,200 podcasts from high school and middle school students in 46 states and the District of Columbia. And ever since the project began in 2018, we've been hearing from college podcasters all over the U.S. saying, "Hey, what about us?"

The basics are pretty much the same: Students will create a podcast about a topic they want to explore — and that can be just about anything. In the past, we've had podcasts about tater tots, homework and life in the pandemic. We've listened to semester-long investigations about hometown mysteries and dramatic readings of fictional stories. The world is your oyster!

There are some rules to keep in mind: All students, regardless of age, pursuing an associate's or bachelor's degree can apply. College students — as long as you're 18 years or older — can enter on your own.

One big change this year: The maximum length of your podcast will be 8 minutes. We've found, after listening to a lot of podcasts, that shorter is better.

And, as always, we've got a host of training materials, guides for sound recording and audio production, what you can — and can't — do with music, lists of do's and don'ts, and we even made a podcast about making a good podcast!

The Students' Podcast is in its second season with new uploads every Sunday. This year we're sharing advice from some students who are pretty good at podcasting: last year's finalists. Listen to our first episode on the hometown coming-of-age story "Popo the Clown."

The NPR Student Podcast Challenge: College Edition opens today, Dec. 1, and will close on Feb. 15, 2021. You can submit here. The middle and high school editionbegins Jan. 1.

Make sure to sign up for our newsletter with more tips and advice, and follow us on twitter @NPR_Ed.

Ready, set, record!

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Steve Drummond heads up two teams of journalists at NPR. NPR Ed is a nine-member team that launched in March 2014, providing deeper coverage of learning and education and extending it to audiences across digital platforms. Code Switch is an eight-person team that covers race and identity across the network, and in an award-winning weekly podcast.
Sequoia Carrillo is an assistant editor for NPR's Education Team. Along with writing, producing, and reporting for the team, she manages the Student Podcast Challenge.