As a high school senior, I couldn’t explicitly define what I wanted in a college, outside of a few grand, bland generalities: a strong writing program, small- to mid-sized population, good location (preferably urban-ish), and affordability.
On paper, I had a myriad of options that satisfied each of my conditions. The application process was a broad foray into the world of higher education via the Common App and many an insertcollegehere.edu perusal. Acceptances/denials came out, I compiled my top four schools, and off my dad and I went on our two-weekend college visit extravaganza, in search of the “perfect” school for me.
While my Hopkins tour was a nice, informative jaunt across campus on a lovely spring day, it wasn’t the end-all be-all experience that many other prospective students are lucky enough to have. Did it make Hopkins seem like an increasingly viable option? Definitely. But I’d be lying if I claimed the choice was obvious.
My acceptance packet took several thorough explorations to fully process all of its contents: the official letter, the parents’ info, the other official letter about my being chosen as a Bloomberg Scholar, and, my favorite part: the Insider’s Guide, a Hopkins-Interactive publication that shows an extensive first-hand look at what Hopkins life is really like. I can remember sitting in my room and being taken aback by how familiar Hopkins was starting to feel, simply by reading about this student’s favorite spot on campus or that student’s memorable experience in a course on Victorian England. Comely pictorial vignettes of tree-lined campus walkways, various student activities and Baltimore’s architectural charms had me aching to see it myself, maybe even to be a part of it. Still, my inclinations felt only slightly more defined.
Ultimately, my decision last May came down to a lot (I mean a lot) of reflection on an opportune amalgamation of pros. From the inexplicable thrill I felt at acceptance as a Bloomberg Scholar to the prestigious Writing Seminars department and opportunities for personal growth both on and off campus, my college experience would be a life-changing one, no doubt. Rehashed memories of the tour, at least 10 read-throughs of the Insider’s Guide, and various Hopkins-Interactive blogs served as personal capstones to a logical sequence that ended with my enrollment into JHU’s Class of 2018.
To give a singular specific answer to the “Why Hopkins?” prompt would be an unfair compartmentalization to create, if not a static one. Perhaps the best way I can characterize my reasons for being here is for the way they consistently evolve at a similar pace as I do. From last May until August, I wanted a school that was reassuringly awesome, to put it bluntly. Hopkins gave me that from the get-go: an amazing scholarship (thank you a thousand times, Mr. Bloomberg!!!!), a beautiful campus, academic flexibility that lent itself to intellectual exploration, and more.
First semester brought a new set of needs, along with a slew of difficulties inevitable to the hypersensitive freshman who often times felt very out of place — as a writer who didn’t want to be a novelist, a student who didn’t want to do scientific research, and, most importantly, as a member of the Hopkins community who had only fleeting moments of “loving” her college experience. From those times of anxiety came a deeper appreciation for rewarding moments in classes, the one part of first semester that felt the most consistent for me. Despite my self-doubt/stress/worry, I knew that in a Hopkins classroom, I was getting an education that surpassed most and, more importantly, that I was actually working towards something. I stretched myself as a writer, advancing in both creative (Fiction/Poetry Writing I) and analytical (Expository Writing: Visions of War) spheres. In addition, I learned from both my professors and my peers in collaborative discussion-based settings that spurred deeper intellectual thought and new appreciation for my position as a Hopkins student.
As of now, my reasoning would be slightly different. While my classes are still of a caliber beyond comprehension, I’ve found that my experiences outside of class are shaping me in ways I never could have predicted. Such adventures have informed my in-class self, my motivations more directly in contact with my coursework. With this new progression into arts journalism has come the support of many of my peers here, friends and classroom acquaintances alike, who reflect the overarching atmosphere of diverse academic exploration that makes Hopkins great. This semester, it’s the people and the place — Baltimore, and its habit of surprising me with random spots of awesomeness — that make me so grateful to be a student here. I draw equal inspiration from the passion with which my classmates work and the unpredictability that typifies Baltimore in all its idiosyncratic glory.
The Hopkins experience is more of a “choose your own adventure” sort of deal. New personal discoveries are mirrored by the ability to forge meaning in your own way, academically and otherwise. Your opportunities grow with you, and your inclination to seize them becomes all the more powerful. It’s an unparalleled sort of journey, and I’m honored to be a part of it.