If you’re an admitted student, you have a complicated love-hate relationship with this question. It’s arguably the most important one to throw at a current student, because while descriptions of various academic programs, impressive statistics, and commentary on our campus aesthetic sure can fill up a good forty-five minutes, “Why Hopkins” wastes no time getting to the point. And the point is this: as a current student working on the “SEAL Team Six” of admissions, I really want you to come to Johns Hopkins University. It’s kind of in my job description.
But it’s a tough question to get right. I remember from my own SOHOP experience that a ton of the “Why Hopkins” answers I received rang hollow and did far more harm to my admissions decision than good. After listening to a girl make a half-hearted plug for her “extremely fulfilling” research position, I was apprehensive and a little weird-ed out. Like, could she not even think of one reason to actually come to this school? Was someone feeding her these lines through an invisible earpiece?! WAS ALL OF SOHOP A LIE?!?
Now that I’m a mature adult, and have two more SOHOPS under my belt, I understand this girl’s struggle. No matter how well I prepare my answer, no matter how many things I absolutely adore about this school, I know I’ve never nailed it either. As I froze my butt off at the “Ask A Student” table this morning, chatting with admitted students and their families, I heard myself answer this question in a thousand different ways, all of which sounded stale and a tad rehearsed. Yeah, Baltimore is great, and the distribution system is great, but after two years of talking about them, I was even irritating myself with my lackluster responses. Looking back, I could have been more honest. In that moment, my “Why Hopkins” was a combination of the LGBTQIA flags lining the Gilman quad, discussing important reality TV with JHU_Kevin, and an email telling me that a huge paper’s deadline was pushed back to Monday. No, that certainly isn’t poignant or mind-blowing, but it’s what was real. When we put pressure on ourselves to be persuasive instead of genuine, “Why Hopkins” becomes a failure or a throwaway. The more I think about it, the more I don’t understand why I got so worked-up over a question that, by its very design, will never elicit the same answer twice.
So I’ve officially faced facts: my answer to “Why Hopkins” will always be in flux. Right now, as I’m snuggled in bed typing up this blog, my “Why Hopkins” is the Reeses Easter Egg I bought at Charmar that’s waiting for me in the freezer. Sometimes my “Why Hopkins” is a casually life-altering short story assigned for my Fiction class. Sometimes it’s finding a source that perfectly supports the argument I’m trying to make in a research paper. Most of the time, it’s walking into my suite and seeing Lauren, Caroline, and Liz working in our common room. And, to me, “Why Hopkins” and Brad Bowers will always be one and the same.
Hopefully you’ll put yourself in the position to have your own ever-changing answer to “Why Hopkins.” Your reasons for choosing Hopkins the day you send in your deposit will be totally different by the end of orientation weekend. That’s because your time here will be the exact opposite of stagnant; life will happen, change will happen, and you’re going to do the most changing of all. In the midst of all this forward motion, “Why Hopkins” becomes less of a sure thing and more of a daily re-commitment to what you love about being a Hopkins student. With a truckload of papers and finals looming, I can say with total confidence that being a Hopkins student doesn’t always feel like the gift I knew it was when I got my acceptance. But it is, and today’s answers to “Why Hopkins” will always serve to remind me.