One of the most frequent questions I have been asked by high school students, and one which I, too, was curious about when I applied here was: how hard is Hopkins really?

Like any top university, yes, Johns Hopkins is rigorous and will force you to work hard if you want to succeed, but A’s are not impossible. This year, though, has made me question if I really belong here.  This is a common issue I know most freshmen must face at least once.  We have all come from four years of being the star. Being the brightest, the most involved, the best.  It certainly was an adjustment coming to Hopkins. My friends here are all fluent in multiple languages, play instruments and play varsity sports.  Published authors, entrepreneurs, and perfect 2400’s surround me.  At first I had so many doubts. Was my acceptance a mistake? Will I succeed here? Am I smart enough?

I was focusing on all the wrong questions. My mom has always told me that you can never compare yourself to others, because someone will always be better than you at something. If I was to compare myself to my peers here, I would certainly go insane. Instead, I focused on finding classes that I did well in because I really enjoyed putting in the work, I found extracurriculars that were new and exciting, and I relied on my friends for support and encouragement when doubts would fill my mind.   By the end of the year, I felt confident in my place on campus.

Coming back for the summer to take Organic Chemistry brought me back to square one.  Everyone had told me that this was the make it or break it class for pre-meds, so coming into this summer I was already terrified. During my two-week break I spent way too long stressing over my future.  Throughout the five weeks of Organic Chemistry I, I continued to freak out that I wasn’t smart enough for this class. Surrounded by some of the brightest people I have met at Hopkins, I felt like I didn’t belong.

Instead, I focused on studying.  Julia, my best friend also taking Organic Chemistry, and I spent at least five hours every day in the library reading over 1000 pages and doing at least 3000 problems in these past five weeks. I filled up four different spiral notebooks and spent at least $20 in flashcards at Barnes and Noble.  This may have been the most challenging course I have taken yet, but I gave it my best.

So the answer to my question is this: Hopkins is hard.  Very very hard. But I’m no genius, and the majority of this school is not a genius.  What Hopkins students have in common is a passion to learn, and a work ethic to support it. I don’t belong because of my GPA or my SAT scores, I belong because of this.