In fewer than 24 hours, high school seniors across the country will have all of their decisions laid out before them. On April 1, the schools that are holding out will finally tell prospective students about their choices. The constant poring over grades, SAT scores, recommendations, and essays is long over, but this is where the hard part actually begins. Now the real options are sitting in front of you, and you need to decide what school is right for you.
In the spirit of Hopkins Decision Day this past Friday, March 27, I want to share why I chose Hopkins.
Unlike most of my friends, I had visited none of the schools to which I applied before I found out where I had been admitted. The only exception was Vanderbilt, where I had participated in a summer program and taken a chemistry course the summer after my junior year. They wound up denying me anyway, but there are no hard feelings, because I have no doubt that Hopkins was and continues to be the right choice for me.
I won’t lie: I wasn’t an Early Decision acceptance, and at the very beginning of the application process, Hopkins wasn’t my first choice. My intended major on my college applications was Chemistry. It wasn’t until after I had sent in my applications that I decided I’d rather major in Chemical Engineering. I applied to twelve schools — you name it, I probably applied. As my senior year went on, more of my friends were finding out about their acceptances, and a large majority of my schools kept me hanging until the final day. I had applied Restrictive Early Action to Yale and been deferred, so I spent months of my senior year in the dark. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t stressful.
I hadn’t applied to any schools with rolling admissions and it wasn’t until the final week in March that I got my results. I was admitted to several schools which I narrowed down based solely on friendliness of admissions counselors with whom I had spoken, the types of mail I was receiving from them, and the amount of financial aid the school gave me. (I’m a triplet with a single mom, so financial aid was not something I would have been able to go to school without.)
When I laid out my decisions before me, just those criteria alone seemed to rule out any school that wasn’t Hopkins, but I still hadn’t visited. With high hopes, my mother and I took the trip down to Baltimore for SOHOP during the first week of April, and the reason why I chose Hopkins really lies in that visit.
There are only so many things you can learn on paper: the statistics of admitted students, the number of students who study abroad, the percentage of undergraduates participating in research, and the types of jobs Hopkins graduates receive are all on the website for undergraduate admissions. I would know because I went through it dozens of times, but experiencing the school for myself really convinced me that this was where I should be.
One of the first things I did was take a tour of campus, which was beautiful. I took the tour with my mother, and I remember her asking me if I could see myself going here. I didn’t respond right away. It was overwhelming at first; I was on this campus (which felt huge at the time — rest assured it feels pretty small now unless I’m walking from Bloomberg to Mason Hall) with such smart looking people. How do people look smart without saying a word? I’ll never know, but after taking that tour, going to the activities fair, and sitting in on a lecture about nanoparticles in cancer research (if that sounds familiar, it should because I wrote about it a few weeks ago in The L Word), I was sold…almost.
It was ultimately the people that made me feel like this was the place I wanted to spend four years of my life. By some store of luck, my host wound up being @JHU_Grace and she was the reason I applied to be a student blogger in the summer before my freshman year. She showed me that Hopkins kids are smart and cool, and that there are so many ways to get involved outside of your major. To me, she was living proof of seizing all of the opportunities that this school had to offer, and she showed me that Hopkins is so much more than what it appears to be on paper.
Visiting campus wasn’t a magical clicking experience where I thought to myself that I couldn’t be happy anywhere else, but I think that was because I had that click long before I visited. I don’t believe in destiny, and choosing to come here was a result of choices entirely my own. Truth be told, I think I would have been happy at any of the universities to which I had been accepted, but I chose the place where I felt that being happy wouldn’t be an effort. It didn’t take me a long time to find great friends, opportunities, professors, and classes, and I don’t think it would have been quite as easy anywhere else.
Here are things Hopkins has that I can guarantee you won’t get anywhere else.