Johns Hopkins University
BackgroundInterview Date:Summer 2018
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2018, transferred in spring of her freshman year
First Generation College Student: No
High School Experience: Private all girls school in Baltimore with about 70 girls in my graduating class. It was a college prep school, so there was a strong culture of going to college.
Major: Writing Seminars
Minor: Marketing and Communications
Extracurricular Activities: I was part of the Student Government Association and I was in a sorority.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have an especially big impact on your experience?
The sorority definitely did.
What are you doing now?
I’m currently enrolled in the Carey Business School at Hopkins. They recruit pretty heavily when you enter your senior year. You don’t have to take the GRE in your application, and if you go straight from undergrad you get half off tuition.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
I had a lot of reading and writing. I had a lot of creative work, like workshops. Everything I wrote was at least seen by the professor and very often seen by my peers and critiqued.
Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or especially poorly?
I think they did an especially good job of recruiting talented people. My adviser is actually a knight and was the poet laureate of England before he came to teach at Hopkins. You feel like you’re learning from the best, which is really cool.
Traditionally, Hopkins is a formalist program, and it can be kind of rigid for people who are used to writing more in free form for poetry.
Can you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s competitive or collaborative?
In my major it wasn’t super collaborative, but it was a team environment. Everything I submit has my name on it and everyone critiques it, so there is a camaraderie there because we have to present everything to our peers. For all my friends who did not have a humanities major, it was an extremely competitive environment and was very different from the environment I was in.
What is your favorite class in your major?
I really liked a lot of my comparative literature classes. I took one called Fiction Pairings Across Time where we read books that were pre-19th century and paired them with a modern novel. We got to cover everything.
What is your least favorite class?
Science Fiction. I took it right when I transferred and didn’t have a good picture of the classes.
How accessible have your professors been?
Very accessible. There were no barriers to get to who you wanted to speak to. They were very open and very friendly.
Why did you choose your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I chose it because I wanted to have something with more of a writing focus. We focus on all facets of writing, so I’ve done poetry, journalism, nonfiction short stories, etc. I just wanted something where I got to do more original, creative, and personal work.
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you like to participate in?
Sorority life is kind of big here. [About 26% of undergraduates participate in Greek life.] It seems like if you want to go out and socialize, you’re in a sorority or fraternity or at least on a sports team. There’s the joke of the “Hopkins 500” because only 500 people like to go out here. It makes the group of people who like to go out on the weekends very small.
What nights of the week do you regularly go out?
I would go out on Fridays and Saturdays. I like to reserve weekends for going out, and I feel like that’s part of me that subscribes to the nerd culture here. With where we’re positioned in Baltimore and the academics, most people who go out would go out just on the weekends. We normally stay around campus and have frat parties.
What have been some of your favorite times at Hopkins?
My sorority did some activities around Baltimore that were really fun. We did a booze cruise thing down in Fells Point on the water. We have a big thing that everybody comes out for called Spring Fair. It’s a really academic environment, so some people really save up all their energy for that weekend.
What is the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
It’s a big impact. There are a lot of date parties and formals and a lot of times you feel like you want to know somebody to get into that party. Everybody’s really friendly, and it’s really easy to get to know everybody. But, it’s easier and preferable to get in if you know somebody there.
How happy are you with the nightlife? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I think the change that I would make is more of a broader structural change across colleges in general, and that’s the fact that sororities don’t host anything. You’re always stuck with what the frats are doing because they’re the only ones with off-campus houses. The sororities don’t have that.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Sophomore: McCoy Hall in a quad. The first floor is freshmen, and then usually the other floors are sophomores. The dorms are pretty mixed, and they try to mix people by major, sport, and other activities.
Junior: I lived in an off-campus house in Oakenshawe, and then I moved to another house near campus with people in my sorority. I had four roommates in both places.
Senior: I lived in an apartment by myself. It was the closest to campus I’ve lived.
What was your favorite living situation?
Definitely my apartment because I love to entertain and have people over. It’s also the best building to be in because it’s closest to campus. It’s easier to be in an apartment because the houses are kind of old and there is more upkeep.
Can you describe the level of safety you experienced on and around campus?
Yeah, that’s definitely a concern here. We have so many international students and I’m noticing that they’re very scared of Baltimore. I would say it’s really safe. There were a couple of phone snatching incidents in the daylight, which is a little scary. Hopkins responded to that by putting a guard on every corner and on some corners they have multiple guards. There has been some controversy over them wanting their own police force because some people feel that there are problems with Baltimore police.
How was going to college in your hometown?
It’s weird, but I like it. I think that sometimes I didn’t get the full college experience because I got to check out and go home whenever I wanted to or see home friends. What I liked the most is that I felt familiar with where I was and feeling like I didn’t have to take the extra time and steps to acclimate.
What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
I like going to The Avenue in Hampden.
Pros and Cons of being in the Guilford-Oakenshawe neighborhood of Baltimore, MD?
Pros: You get a taste of an urban campus, but it’s not overwhelming. It’s very manageable.
Cons: (1) We don’t have all the modern amenities of a campus like NYU that’s really in the city. Some of the food options and bar options are limited.
(2) It’s not as walkable to the entertainment options as I would like.
How did you meet your closest friends?
I met them through my sorority and through my classes. People here are so academically focused that they get to know people in their classes.
How was blending in as a transfer student?
It was pretty easy. I don’t know how much I could apply my experience to a general population because I knew a few people going in who really looked out for me. I think that if I didn’t know people here, I would’ve been absorbed pretty well.
How would you describe the overall social scene at Hopkins?
You have to work a little harder to have fun. The community is a little bit smaller, which I like. I think a lot of private school kids like that because you come from having smaller classes and knowing everybody.
To what extent do you think people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I think that Hopkins does a great job on that front. There’s always a little bit of work to be done because people gravitate towards their own identifiers, but I have found that there is more diversity here than any other place that I’ve been. [In the class of 2021 about 29% of students are Caucasian, and 30% are Asian.] It’s more than just U.S. domestic demographics, I have so many international friends. [In the class of 2021, 11% of students are international.] It’s a really cool environment because people come from all over.
Do you think people are happy with their choice of Hopkins by senior year? Do you think people leave loving Hopkins?
This might sound bad, but I think if you jump into the social life you enjoy it. I think a lot of people come and they’re in the books and in the library all day, and that’s all it was for them. Those people we rarely interact with.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Yeah, a lot of the professors have really, really helped me find jobs. They’ve put me in touch with alumni. I think if you find yourself in groups and organizations, they’re always sending jobs back and of forth. It’s nice because of the competitive environment there is in undergrad everybody is trying to get you to work at their company after you leave school.
How helpful was the career office?
I used it for some of the resume building stuff, which was kind of helpful. I think that you need to go in with a bit of a focus of what you want to do because otherwise you’re just jumping into the void and they don’t really know how to help you. So many of the kids here are premed and are looking for things like consulting, finance, and healthcare that if you’re a creative type it will be more difficult for you here.
Have you learned any computer programs that will be especially helpful to you professionally?
I’ve learned Excel and Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. I’d say I’m mildly comfortable in them, not enough that I’d want to teach somebody.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Hopkins before you entered?
Hopkins is unique in that young people are usually superficial, but those markers are less significant here. People are very driven and ambitious, which can be kind of intimidating, but people take you more easily for what you are than when you were in high school. People aren’t bogged down by surface level things here. They’re pretty accepting.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
They should know there’s more to Baltimore than just Charles Village and Hampden, so the surrounding areas of Hopkins. I think some people don’t get out of the three-block vicinity here and they hate Baltimore, and that’s really to their detriment. They need to explore the city more and realize that there are so many cool parts that they can go see.
Reasons to attend Johns Hopkins:
1) It’s a really good education that you get from good people.
2) It’s a good class environment because you’re around people who actually care and who you want to get to know and network with when you’re out of school.
3) Because it’s not a party school you get more of a relaxed social environment. You get to know everybody here if you choose to join.
4) Baltimore is a cool city.
Reasons to not attend Johns Hopkins:
1) Sometimes there’s so much work it’s really hard to deal with. If you’re somebody who likes to go out on weeknights, that might not be an option. You can’t coast here. If you’re looking for something not too intense, this can be really intense.