Johns Hopkins University
BackgroundInterview Date:Winter 2019
Graduation Year: 2020
High School Experience: Public school outside of Orlando, FL with a graduating class of about 450 students. There was not a culture of going to college. It was oriented towards people going to the workforce after school.
First Generation College Student: No
Extracurricular Activities: African Students’ Association, Pre-Dental Society, and I volunteer at Shepherd’s Clinic in Baltimore
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
All of them have had a pretty big impact. The African Students’ Association was a big impact because it taught me time management skills because it was a bigger time commitment than I was expecting. The Pre-Dental Society had a big impact on my career interests and showed me the career path I want to go down. I intend to be a dentist.
Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
I have labs at least once or twice a week just for Chemistry, and then usually I’ll have another lab for another subject, like Physics. In labs, not only do you have the lab work but you have pre-labs and post-labs that take up a lot of time because you have to conceptualize everything. We have about three exams per semester and a final depending on the class.
What are your major graded assignments?
Mostly exams. We don’t do a lot of lab practicals. The last time I had a lab practical was Chemistry during freshman year.
Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
In terms of doing things well, I think the professors who they hire are pretty good. In terms of poorly, I think the general chemistry courses, like Organic Chemistry or General Chemistry, the curricula are not very solid, and the people who teach it are not the most adept at teaching. When I took Organic Chemistry 1 I did really poorly and I felt the professor could have been better at teaching it, and I hear a lot of the same things from my friends.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
Oh my gosh, it’s competitive! [Laughs] It’s not very collaborative here in my opinion. It’s collaborative if you’re getting something out of it. It’s especially competitive because our classes are graded on a curve.
What is your favorite class in your major?
Chemical Chirality, which is basically Organic Chemistry lab.
What is your least favorite class in your major?
Chemical Structure and Bonding
How accessible have your professors been?
They’re very accessible. You just have to email them and ask for a time when they’re available.
Why did you choose your major? Are you happy with your choice so far?
Just because I think I could conceptualize that better. I don’t like to memorize, I like to understand why things happen. Chemistry is a lot of understanding of why things happen the way they do. I’m very happy with it.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Building A in AMR III with two roommates and one suitemate. I had a triple room.
Sophomore: Charles Commons and I had my own room and one suitemate.
Junior: I live off campus in an apartment with one roommate.
What has been your favorite living situation?
I liked Charles Commons better because I had my own room and there were amenities given to me by the school, like central air conditioning and stuff like that.
How was transitioning from Orlando, FL to Baltimore, MD?
For me personally, the only issue was the weather. The weather is definitely different here. I had to buy winter clothes.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I feel completely safe walking around campus and have never had an issue. If I ever feel [unsafe] I just take the Blue Jay shuttle around campus to anywhere I need to go. I never feel not safe.
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
I don’t really leave campus, but when I do, I like to go shopping so even the grocery store or the mall are nice retreats from campus.
Pros and Cons of being in the Charles Village neighborhood of Baltimore, MD?
Pros: (1) It’s close to the Inner Harbor and other schools [like Loyola University], so you can do research or whatever with them.
Cons: (1) I feel that the students at Hopkins are scared to go out of the Hopkins area. I think it’s a con that Hopkins is making the area around it so different from the neighborhoods around us. I know that they try, but I think they need to try harder to teach students how to integrate with the community and understand the impact that they have on people who have been living here their entire lives. I’ll often hear students say they don’t want to go to a grocery store on Greenmount Ave. or something because it’s “scary” or “sketchy.” That’s not the case, it just seems sketchy to them because there are people there who live there that students are not used to because Hopkins has turned this place into a bubble.
(2) There are no lower-cost food areas around campus like Wal-Mart, so you end up spending a lot on groceries.
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at Johns Hopkins?
When I have time, which is once a month if that, I like to go to parties off campus. They’re hosted by fraternities and sororities or just random people that want to throw a party.
What nights of the week do you like to go out?
A Friday or Saturday night.
Can you describe a typical night going out freshman year?
I would start by getting ready with my friends, and we’d head out around 10PM to go pick up some more friends and go to a fraternity party with Hopkins who has registered their party with Hopkins. We’d dance and whatever there and come back home around 2AM.
What have been some of your favorite times at Hopkins?
I like Intersession. It’s a really great time because there are no official classes. You can sign up for classes if you feel like it or if you don’t you can just rest.
What is the impact of Greek life on nightlife? Do you feel that people outside and inside of Greek life mix?
I think that everybody mixes. People in Greek life here are very welcoming, and they want everybody to come. I don’t feel like there is an issue with mixing. The only thing you can’t do is their little chants with their group and stuff like that.
How happy were you with the nightlife options at Hopkins?
The only thing I wish I could change is that we had more time at Hopkins to actually enjoy ourselves because if we had more time, then people could throw more interesting parties than we have, and people could enjoy themselves closer to campus rather than having to leave because it’s not as fun here.
How did you meet your closest friends?
One of them was one of my random roommates freshman year, and we are still roommates now. We had a lot of the same classes because she is pre-med. My other best friend I met during admitted students weekend, and we kept in contact and we also have a lot of the same classes because she’s also pre-med.
How would you describe the overall social scene?
I think it’s awkward to me personally. Everybody has their own little group of friends that they stick to. I also think that with the academic environment of school not being very collaborative, why would they want to talk with people they don’t really know?
How would you describe the student body?
Everybody is pretty stressed out [laughs]. You go to the library and you can literally feel the tension of stress, especially before exams. There’s one group of people who somehow have it together and can go party and also do well on their exams, and the rest of the people are kind of nerdy and keep to themselves because you kind of have to pass through this school.
To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
In terms of race, everybody sticks to their own group from what I’ve seen. White people hang out with White people, Athletes, who tend to be kind of White, stick to themselves, Black people hang out with Black people and the Asians stick to each other. In terms of LGBTQ, they stick together too. [About 7% of the undergraduate students are Black or African American.]
Do you think people are happy with their choice of Hopkins by the time they graduate? Do you think people leave loving Hopkins?
I’ve heard mixed opinions. Some people who graduate say it’s not worth the stress they endured here. I’ve also spoken to other people and they say while it was difficult to get through it was worth it because it taught them a strong work ethic and they believe that the name of the school will also help them in the future. It’s a mixed bag.
How was transitioning to a school with such a strong international population?
I thought it was really cool. I was exposed to a lot of new people who I never would have met. It really was interesting to see how different people interact. It was not hard to transition.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
Have you used financial aid? If so, how accommodating was the office to your needs?
I’ve used financial aid. For my first year on campus, they were extremely helpful and the second year was also pretty good. I didn’t have to go to them because everything was sorted. But, this third year it has been horrible with financial aid. They are not accommodating my needs like they used to. I think it’s because I’m a junior and they know I’m going to stay here. I’ve had to submit two different appeals for my financial aid and have explained my situation many times that it is basically impossible for me to afford what they’ve given me, but they don’t really care so right now I’m in trouble financially.
What is something you wish you knew about Hopkins before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew the learning environment was not so collaborative. I don’t like competition, so I didn’t realize how competitive it would be when I got here. I wish I knew it was competitive.
What is something a prospective African-American student may want to know that we haven’t touched on?
They should know that they should expect to be the only Black person in all of their classes. Also, even if sometimes they may not feel that they are worthy of being there, they are worthy of being there, and they should seek out all resources, especially the groups that are there to help people of color.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Go to the Hutzler Reading Room in Gilman Hall. That place is absolutely beautiful and it may be a future study spot for them.
Reasons to attend Johns Hopkins:
1) The opportunities they give are endless, especially if you are going into health care.
2) If you’re a competitive person and thrive off of competition, this is a fantastic school to go to.
3) If you like to be in the city and not be in too stagnant of an area this is a great place to live because it’s not too loud, but it’s not too quiet.
Reasons to not attend Johns Hopkins:
1) If you thrive off of helping others and people helping you.
2) If you’re going to be pre-med because the grade deflation will hurt your GPA.
3) They force you off of campus your third year, so if you don’t think you will be able to live off campus after your third year, then don’t come.