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Don’t let anyone fool you. Choosing the environment you’ll spend your next four years learning and growing in is an incredibly difficult decision. Here are the factors I considered when making my decision.

  • A strong research culture. The process of discovery through experimentation has always fascinated me. However, I had never had the chance to conduct research before coming to Hopkins because no opportunities existed in my hometown in Iowa. By coming to Hopkins, I knew I would not only have countless opportunities to conduct research but would also be surrounded by like-minded individuals who were just as hungry as I was to advance scientific knowledge. Since arriving at Hopkins, I have found just that. I am currently working alongside PhD students and postdocs in a brain-computer interface lab and am surrounded by friends who are doing incredible work in their labs.
  • An open curriculum. One of the best aspect of Hopkins to me is its open curriculum. Students aren’t required to take “gen eds” or required courses outside of their major. Instead, students must fill distribution requirements in areas like the natural sciences and the humanities, and we are given the freedom to choose which courses we want to take to meet those requirements. I love that I am able to create my own path.
  • Strong STEM programs. I’ll happily admit it—I’m a STEM nerd. Although Hopkins is much more than a STEM environment, it does attract some of the world’s brightest minds to teach the neuroscience and biology classes that I love. For instance, I was able to take a class taught by Dr. Peter Agre who won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2003. I’m excited to start taking the numerous upper-level STEM classes starting this fall.
  • A new environment. My small hometown in Iowa is much different than Baltimore. However, I was attracted to the opportunities living in a large, urban community would provide me with—from countless restaurants, shops, and neighborhoods to explore to experiencing an entirely new culture. I have enjoyed experiencing what Baltimore has to offer and love its proximity to other major cities, like DC and Philadelphia.

My friend, Ryan, and I exploring DC in late January.

  • Personal reasons. Hopkins was the only school that could provide me with the above reasons and access to my primary neurologist (who practices at The Johns Hopkins Hospital) and one of the best spinal cord injury rehabilitation centers in the world. Choosing Hopkins would provide me with the resources I needed academically and in my recovery.

Final words

For those of you reading this who were just accepted to Hop, I wish you the best of luck deciding where you’ll spend your next four years. I know it’s tough. My advice is to listen to your gut and just go for it. Think about your needs and wants and find the school that can fulfill all or most of those needs.

Again, I wish you the best of luck. Hopefully, I’ll see you around campus in just a few short months 🙂