Holidays in Baltimore


The holiday season is almost upon us. As fall semester wraps up, the city is just getting into the holiday spirit—and we’re all excited for the return of some seasonal traditions here in Baltimore. From the 34th Street Lights in Hampden (just a few blocks from campus) to the lighting of the Monument in Mount Vernon, neighborhoods in Baltimore are gearing up to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year.

Happy Holidays from the Johns Hopkins University Office of Undergraduate Admissions

It doesn’t always snow every winter in Baltimore, but when it does, the Homewood campus is a winter wonderland.

This year, there’s a new attraction in town: An ice rink in the Inner Harbor! In fact, the students of Hopkins Interactive already have plans to visit the rink in mid-December. Stay tuned for more on that—they’ll undoubtedly write a few blogs about it.

A few steps away from the ice rink, the Christmas Village will once again transform the Inner Harbor into a nightly festival from Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve. And, yes, Santa will be there!

There’s also one night dedicated to lighting the giant menorah in the Inner Harbor, a night filled with potato latkes, dancing, and even face painting.

A few minutes walk from the center of the Inner Harbor, admission to the National Aquarium is only $12 after 5:00 p.m. October-March. You won’t want to miss The Polar Express 4-D Experience!

And in Fells Point, Baltimore’s historic waterfront community, there’s a Parade of Lighted Boats.

Harbor East, a location most known for its incredible shopping and entertainment (read about one student’s experience), introduces Window Wonderland. Shops and restaurants will feature unique holiday windows designed by some of Baltimore’s most talented local artists.

To discover more about the holidays on the Homewood campus and in Baltimore:

If you haven’t visited Johns Hopkins and Baltimore yet, consider joining us for a campus visit during the holiday season. See our visit calendar for available dates and to register for an information session and campus tour. And don’t forget to explore Baltimore if you have time after you’ve seen campus, met with current students, and talked with our admissions representatives.

Here in Baltimore, we’re lucky enough to witness all four seasons. Temperatures have begun to drop as of lately, and we’re all wondering when Baltimore will see its first snow fall. We’ll keep you posted…

snow tower

Hopkins students got creative during one of last year’s snow days.

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What’s going on around campus



It’s starting to feel a lot like winter in Baltimore. Temperatures are dropping, but there’s plenty happening on the Homewood campus. Here are some updates:

  • Football. The Johns Hopkins University football team ended the regular season with a perfect 10-0 record, and will be moving on to the NCAA Division III tournament. Go Hop!
  • Lighting of the Quads. On December 2 at 8:00 p.m., students will enjoy hot cocoa, apple cider, donuts, free giveaways, and gather to watch performances by their fellow classmates like the Pep Band and…you guessed it…a capella groups during this annual tradition.
  • Alumni career panel and networking session. Each fall, recent international graduates come back to campus to share their job search experience and provide successful interviewing and job hunting tips.

For a closer look at what post-college life is like, check out alumni profiles on Hopkins Interactive:

  • Political activism. Hopkins has a number of active political groups on campus.

Read about one student’s experience during the recent midterm elections:

  • Registration. Fall semester is coming to a close and students just finished registering for spring semester classes—the freshmen can hardly believe their first few months of college is almost over. The good news: Those still undecided still have another semester to explore as students don’t have to declare a major until sophomore year. (Engineering students declare by the end of freshman year.)
  • Intersession. Before spring comes Intersession! Ever heard of it? It’s a mini-semester in between the fall and spring semesters offering courses that are not typically offered during the academic year (like ballroom dance; Baltimore in Film, Fiction, and TV; and more).

Watch this student-produced video for a closer look at what Intersession is all about:

miracle lights

The cold weather also brings wintertime traditions to the neighborhoods surrounding campus—like the 34th Street Lights in Hampden and the Lighting of the Monument in Mount Vernon. Click here to see what’s happening in Baltimore.

Want to check it all out for yourself? See our visit calendar for available dates and to register for an information session and campus tour.

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Early Decision Release Update


Starting this week, our Early Decision (ED) applicants will begin receiving instructions on how to access their decisions when they become available.

ED notifications will be released on Friday, December 12, 2014, at 3:00 p.m. EST. In order to view your decision, you’ll need to follow the instructions in the e-mail to set up your account on our decision release site. It’s important to do this ahead of time to make sure you’re ready to log in. (And, don’t worry—we have a healthy e-mail schedule planned to help jog your memory if you forget to do it!)



Applied ED but haven’t received an e-mail from us? If the decision release date is approaching and you have not yet received an e-mail with instructions on setting up and logging into your account, try these steps:

  • Check all e-mail accounts, including your parents’ and any others you may have used throughout your college application process. We’ll send all official communications to the e-mail you supplied on your application.
  • Check your spam/junk folders. Sometimes (rarely, but sometimes) our e-mails get caught up in spam filters.
  • If you still don’t have the e-mail, call (410) 516-8171 or e-mail us at and we’ll get it figured out.

For more info about decision release, please see

Wondering if your application is complete? Not to fear. We check all files thoroughly for completeness and give students missing any items time to submit whatever is missing. Notifications for students missing items from their ED applications will go out later this month.

If you applied Regular Decision (RD), you won’t receive your account set-up e-mail until late winter/early spring. Missing item notifications will go out in mid-February for RD applicants.

Still finishing your RD application? The deadline for submitting RD applications is Monday, January 5, 2015. See for more information about deadlines and requirements.

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To AP or not to AP?


We know that high school students are constantly faced with tough decisions.

When it comes to choosing your high school courses, try to strike a balance between challenging yourself and pursuing the courses that are interesting and meaningful to you. Prospective students often ask us for advice about which courses to take. Many want to know, “Is it better to get an “A” in a standard college-prep course, or to get a “B” in an AP course?”

Unfortunately, there is no easy or right answer to this.


But, we can offer some insider tips! When choosing your high school classes, focus on:

Course rigor. Admissions officers at highly selective universities are charged with assessing whether our applicants will be able to excel in a highly rigorous, liberal arts environment. Therefore, we are looking for applicants who are pursuing the most rigorous courses available to them, and doing well in those courses. Whether you attend a school that offers AP courses, the IB curriculum, neither of these, or something different all together, we strive to better understand you as a student, within the context of your school.

The core. Most of the applicants who are successful in the admissions process at JHU are students who have focused on core academic coursework throughout their four years of high school: math, science, English, social studies and foreign language. We appreciate applicants who demonstrate strengths in a variety of academic disciplines, as our students here at Hopkins are expected to take coursework emphasizing the breadth of our curriculum. However, if a student is passionate about a particular academic area, he or she should make the most of their opportunities in that discipline.

Your interests. Let’s say you have your sights set on studying engineering at Hopkins; then we would expect to see that you have maxed out the math and science offerings at your school. If you aspire to study political science, we would expect that if your school offers AP government, you took it. If you plan on dropping, or discontinuing, an academic course, then you should be replacing it with something equally academically rigorous.

Your Resources. Remember, your high school guidance counselor is an important resource when it comes time to select or change your courses.


It’s important to keep in mind that your high school courses are just one piece of the admissions application process. Here at Hopkins, we review applications holistically, focusing not just on grades and course selection, but also extra-curricular activities, essays (have you seen our “Essays That worked” page?), and letters of recommendation.

We try to assess your academic character as well as your impact in your community and whether your personal qualities and characteristics make you the right for us. And while you want to challenge yourself, and showcase your academic talents as best you can to the admissions committee, it’s important to remember to be true to yourself, give us a complete and honest impression of who you are as a student, and enjoy the experiences along the way!

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Application Update: Early Decision Deadline


With Halloween on our heels, here in the Admissions Office our thoughts turn to application season. Just a friendly reminder that Early Decision applications are due on Monday, November 3. (The Regular Decision deadline is Monday, January 5.)

College applications don’t have to be scary. Check out the resources below for some help as you start or finish up your Hopkins application:

Already submitted your Early Decision application? In mid-November, you’ll receive information from us with instructions on how to set up your log-in for the decision release site. Admissions decisions will be released on Friday, December 12.

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Fall Sports at Hopkins


JHUAthletic logo3

The Hopkins Homewood campus is an energized, active place. Classroom, labs, and libraries aren’t the only places Blue Jays are making important contributions—they’re also working it on the field, track, and court! Our students are passionate about their athletic endeavors, whether they’re varsity athletes on one of our Division III teams (or Division I lacrosse) or a member of one of our many sports clubs.

Welcome to THE NEST, the student cheering section of Homewood field.

Welcome to THE NEST, the student cheering section of Homewood field.

Here are some quick highlights from fall sports at Hopkins:

  • Our football team is currently gearing up to defend its 6-0 start to the season. (Reading this before October 24? Check out the game live on JHU’s new live-streaming service for sports events!)

    Our football team is off to a strong start for the 2014 season. Nighttime football games are a favorite activity for Admissions staff in the fall!

    Our football team is off to a strong start for the 2014 season. Nighttime football games are a favorite activity for Admissions staff in the fall!

  • Six of our men’s basketball players were named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) 2013-2014 Honors Court.
  • The goalkeeper for the women’s soccer team was recently named the Centennial Conference Defensive Player of the Week.
Our women's soccer team is ranked sixth in the Centennial Conference.

Our women’s soccer team is ranked sixth in the Centennial Conference.

Get to know Hopkins Athletics

Other things you might find interesting about being an athlete at Johns Hopkins?

You might be wondering where news of our Homecoming is--at Hopkins, Homecoming and Alumni Weekend are held in the spring to coincide with our lacrosse season.

You might be wondering where news of our Homecoming is–at Hopkins, Homecoming and Alumni Weekend are held in the spring to coincide with our lacrosse season.

We recently upgraded facilities for our varsity baseball and tennis programs. See the impressive new spaces here:

It’s easy for all students to stay in shape at Homewood. Our Rec Center has a gym, raised track, and a rock-climbing wall. Or, you can just stroll around our 140-acre campus (stop by to take a look with a daily tour:

Want to stay up-to-date with Hopkins sports happenings? Visit

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Making a Financial Fit


Has anyone seen the “sticker shock” Commercial for Marshall’s? The one where the women are shopping in different department stores and think they have found the perfect pair of shoes, but then see the price and shriek in horror at how expensive the shoes are? Then they go to Marshall’s and see the same shoe with a discounted price and jump for joy! Substitute the shoes for a college, and Marshall’s for a Financial Aid Office, and you have the college search process. The key to finding the perfect shoe is finding the pair that will fit you perfectly: in style, in size, and in cost. The same holds true for your college search; you need to find the institution that will fit you perfectly: in style, in size, and in cost.

In this blog, we hope to share some important information on how to approach the financial aid process, and, more specifically, discuss JHU’s commitment to making our institution an affordable option for all families.

What’s most important now is starting the discussion and becoming informed about not only the financial aid process at each school, but what will be financially possible for your family. The best starting place is the Net Price Calculator, which is a tool located on the financial aid website of every college and university in the United States. It will provide an estimated amount of grants, scholarships and other financial aid that is likely to be available based on the financial circumstances of your family. When applying for financial aid, it is important to be aware of the required documents, as they vary by school. You can find the application requirements for financial aid at Hopkins here.

Johns Hopkins is committed to enrolling a diverse student body of the most qualified students who are the best fit for us, regardless of their family’s financial circumstances. Our goal is to support every admitted family and make this a feasible option for you. Know that we will meet 100% of calculated need for our admitted students who apply for financial aid by the deadline. Students can expect the same package whether they apply Early Decision or Regular Decision. We offer many different packages, including merit aid, no loans, and limited loans, all totaling $75M of aid in the past year. Often times students find that their need based package at Hopkins is competitive, if not more generous, than a package given by their state institution.

Financial aid packaging is a conversation and our financial aid advisers are accessible and here to help, both during the application process and as a student. To find your adviser, click here!

Come, sit on one of the many brightly colored chairs scattered around campus, and let's talk about the financial aid process.

Come, sit on one of the many brightly colored chairs scattered around campus, and let’s talk about the financial aid process.

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Campus Traditions


From welcoming incoming freshmen to rubbing the Remsen plaque for good luck before chemistry exams, Hopkins has its fair share of traditions.

First Night. The First Night is an Orientation event that showcases the University’s A Capella, Dance, and Theater groups. First Night serves as an induction ceremony where the freshmen are officially inducted into the Johns Hopkins student body as the newest members of the Homewood community.

This year, incoming students wrote an S-word on the side of a white paper bag to describe what makes them unique—like the “s” at the end of Johns (#EmbraceTheS). Candle-lit paper bags lined the Keyser Quad leading all the way up to Gilman Hall, which was illuminated in blue. Then the clock tower bell rang 18 times, welcoming the new class.


First night

Gilman Hall

Convocation. While first night serves as a welcome to freshmen from upperclassmen, convocation is the official ceremony hosted by the University officially inducting the freshman class into the Homewood community. It marks the end of Orientation events and the beginning of the freshman Blue Jay experience. During the ceremony, President Ron Daniels and other esteemed faculty members speak about the wonderful experiences that await our eager undergrads. The formal ceremony concludes with a reception, an opportunity to meet professors, the deans, and other members of the faculty.

University Seal. Campus lore dictates that the university seal located in the foyer of Gilman Hall holds the fate of those who step on it. As the legend goes, students who step on the seal will not graduate, prospective applicants who step on the seal will not be admitted, parents who step on the seal will not receive financial aid, and professors who step on the seal will not be granted tenure. I guess you could say stepping on the seal AFTER graduation has become somewhat of a tradition.

President’s Day of Service. Every October, students, faculty, and staff, (yes, including the University’s president!) take part in a day of university-wide community service across Baltimore. Projects range from constructing homes and planting gardens to distributing food to volunteering to work with elementary school students. The President’s Day of Service is the ideal opportunity to give back to what will be your community for the next four years. Since over a thousand students take part each year, it’s also a great way to meet new people!

Watch a video of last year’s PDOS here:

Hoptoberfest. Also held every October, Hoptoberfest is intended to celebrate the Homewood community. Students, faculty, and staff gather for a weekend of traditional fall activities, including pumpkin painting, pie-eating contests, a free outdoor screening of Halloween movies, a haunted house, and a game of Laser Tag. The scavenger hunt pits teams of students, faculty, and staff against one another to solve a series of more than twenty riddles that lead them around the campus and surrounding community.

Check out what’s in store for this year:

Lighting of the Quads. This event kicks off the holiday season at Homewood as President Daniels flicks the switch for the lights on each quad in early December. Gingerbread house competitions, a cappella performances, hot chocolate, and a humorous speech by President Daniels make this annual tradition a memorable one. In conjunction with the festivities on campus, just a few blocks away is Miracle on 34th Street, an incredibly decorated row of homes lit up in spirit of the holiday season!

Watch this student-produced video: Warning: It will put you in the holiday mood.


miracle lights

Commemoration Day. Held annually on Feb. 22 to celebrate the University’s founding (and the installation of President Daniel Coit Gilman on Feb. 22, 1876) students gather in the Glass Pavilion to eat and mingle with the President, the Deans, the faculty, and their peers.

Symposium Series. The Milton S. Eisenhower and Foreign Affairs Symposiums run in the fall and spring, respectively, and bring speakers to campus once a week. Each event is free and open to the public. In the past, we’ve brought in a huge range of speakers, from political figures such as Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, David Axelrod, and Rick Santorum to actors and comedians such as Aziz Ansari, Will Ferrell, and Seth Meyers. We’ve also had Bill Nye the Science Guy as well as Jerry from Ben & Jerry’s who brought free ice cream for everyone in the audience.

Click here to see who’s coming to campus this fall as part of the 2014 MSE Symposium series.

A Cappella. A Cappella is extremely popular at Hopkins…extremely popular. Most groups hold free fall and spring concerts on campus and these events are often packed out to standing-room only. The Quarterfinals of the International Competition of Collegiate A Cappella are hosted yearly at Homewood in Shriver Hall. It is not uncommon for the ICCAs to have an attendance upwards of 1,200.  In the last ten years or so, groups from Hopkins have not failed to win or place in the top three of the quarterfinal. The JHU Octopodes won the 2011, 2012, and 2013 quarterfinals, and the AllNighters have won several times in the last fifteen years. While they do not compete in such competitions, the JHU Mental Notes—Hopkins’ only comedy a cappella group—are also extremely highly regarded.

Flamingos. Each year hundreds of pink (plastic) flamingos mysteriously appear on Keyser Quad. No one is exactly sure why. Read more:


Image: Will Kirk /

Homecoming. Homecoming weekend at Hopkins is unique as it takes place in the spring, during our ever-popular lacrosse season. Each year, Alumni come back to campus to relive it all again. Every lacrosse ticket is free for students, and the HOP, Student Life, and Alumni Relations host tailgates on the freshman quad before every game with free food, t-shirts, foam fingers, face painting, and giveaways.

Homecoming weekend

Spring Fair. Perhaps the most widely-loved Hopkins tradition, Spring Fair is a student-run fair hosted on the Homewood campus and bringing together members of the Hopkins community and Baltimore neighborhood for full of food, drinks, carnival rides, live concerts, shopping, art, and more.

Watch our student-produced Spring Fair 2014 video:

Senior Week. Taking place in the week after finals and before graduation, the Senior Class Council plans a “reverse orientation” to celebrate the end of their four years at Hopkins. Some events include the Preakness Stakes, a barbeque on the quad, an ice cream social, an overnight trip to Atlantic City, a cocktail party in the library, and Senior Prom.

These are the ways we honor the university’s history, welcome new students, and celebrate the Hopkins community at large.

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Making the Match


Olivia Zug, one of our Admissions Counselor here at Johns Hopkins, looks back on her college search experience and offers some pieces of advice to current high school students on the hunt for the perfect match.

Oops. Spel corectly pleaze.

Oops. Tip #1: Coleges lik wen students spel corectly.

The most stressful thing I was told during my college search was, “There’s one perfect college out there for you, Olivia, you just have to find it!” What a responsibility to place on me in high school! The idea that my future happiness was determined by my which college I would choose to attend was overwhelming. There were around 4,000 colleges in the U.S., I loved several that I visited, and it was a real possibility that I could make the “wrong” choice.

Luckily, that piece of advice was flat-out wrong. There are plenty of colleges I would have thrived at, maybe even hundreds. For me, deciding which one to attend came down to the academic offerings, affordability, and a gut feeling.

There will NOT be just ONE college that’s a perfect match for you. However, it is important to find the right type of college for you. The criteria students most often consider are location, size, academic offerings, curriculum, support services, extracurricular student life, special programs, selectivity, and financial aid. Below, I highlight a few that I think are most important.

  • Support services. The size of a school does not determine the university’s dedication to supporting students. This support includes resources such as academic support systems; mental and physical health systems; and student life support systems. Keep in mind that there are small, mid- sized, and big schools with all types of resources and support systems in place.
  • Special programs. There are two sides to this. On one hand, if you are positive you want to go into occupational therapy, for instance, you might consider five-year OT programs. On the other hand, don’t limit yourself to thinking that a business degree is the only path to a business career.
  • Gut feeling. If you get the chance to visit, picture yourself spending time there. Do you see yourself being friends with the students? If you have a sudden feeling of inexplicable excitement during your visit, it might be a great match for you. You should be excited about the place you’re going to live and learn for the next four years! If you’re unable to visit, as many students are, student blogs are a great resource.

But, most importantly, keep an open mind. The college search is a learning process; a time to learn about your options and also about yourself. In fact, once you’ve done some investigating, you may be surprised to learn what your preferences and college must-haves are compared to what you thought was important when you first began the process.

An actual useful piece of advice I received was “don’t worry about picking a favorite yet; colleges will make some decisions for you.” And that’s where the Admissions Office comes in. Highly selective colleges have more academically-sound students than they have seats in the class, so we use a holistic review process to evaluate “fit.” Specifically at JHU, we look at your potential contributions to the campus in three main areas:

  • Academic character. How have you shown that you are the type of student to take advantage of an extremely open curriculum? Have you demonstrated you will take your academic involvement to the next level through research or internships? Will you build relationships with faculty mentors?
  • Impact and initiative. Will you be an active member of our campus as soon as you arrive? What sort of impact will you have on the campus community outside of academics? How will you engage with the city of Baltimore?
  • Personal contribution and Fit. Given what Johns Hopkins University offers its students, is this a place where you will find and seize opportunities that interest you? Put another way, given what you’re interested in, will you thrive at JHU in and out the classroom?

Affordability is a factor that can be largely out of your hands, while at the same time a priority in the college decision for many students. It’s possible for a university to be an academic “safety” and a financial “reach” for you, so make sure you do your research beforehand. One resource all schools will have is the net price calculator, which will give you an estimate. Going through this with your family now will help you plan and prepare for what to expect.

Ultimatelyyou will choose where to apply, but universities will decide where to admit you and how much financial aid to award you. It can indeed be an overwhelming process, but if you plan correctly, you will find yourself thriving at a university soon enough.

Enjoy the search!

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Fall Events in Baltimore


Hopkins students have the best of both worlds: A traditional campus setting with 140-acres of green quads (yes, multiple quads) and brick-lined pathways, AND access to a major city. The Homewood campus is located in the center of Baltimore, an especially exciting place to be during fall.

Admissions Counselor Billy Rison gives us a run-down of fall in the city:

It’s easy to lose part of my summer and early fall in Baltimore because of my recruitment efforts that span from New Orleans to Tokyo. I spend a good amount of time on the road talking with high school students from across the world. I get to see some pretty awesome sights (and eat some fantastic food). However, after the souvenir gifts have been given and my luggage goes into hibernation in my closet, I feel a strong sense of relief. After months of living from hotel to hotel, I am finally home in Baltimore.

blog 1

Professional Sports. A classic (and one of this year’s best) way to explore the city is to take a trip to Camden Yards to watch the Orioles play. During the regular season, Hopkins students can attend Friday night games for JUST $6. Also, the post-season starts at the beginning of October and Hopkins students flood the city to support the O’s. There’s nothing quite like the home-town pride that fills the city, especially during big games. (You should’ve seen the celebration happening in Baltimore when the Ravens won the Super Bowl two years ago. M&T (Ravens) Stadium is also always packed and a couple of Hopkins students win the ticket lottery to attend each home game.

blog 2

Farmer’s Markets. If sports aren’t necessarily your thing, there are so many other opportunities to get a feel for the city. Baltimore is attuned to the “farm-to-plate” food movement and there are a ton of local farmer’s markets. A personal favorite is the Baltimore Farmer’s Market. Whether you are buying your weekly produce, craving a cheese stuffed olives or looking for some wall hangings to brighten up your dorm, the Farmer’s market will not disappoint.

Hampden Fest. Just steps away from campus, Hampden is an artsy town hosts an annual festival in September. With live bands, street food vendors, and even a “toilet bowl race,” Hampden Fest is just one of the many festivals in Baltimore. Follow the link below to see photos and learn more about the event:

Halloween at Fells Point Square. Fells Point is a neighborhood right next to the Inner Harbor that has some of the city’s best restaurants and quaint shops. The outdoor gathering hosts hundreds of costumed characters ranging from the Amazing Spiderman to the Flintstones (I’ve seen it all…). Or, go on a ghost tour—it’s rumored that on the night of his death, Edgar Allen Poe was last seen at one of the establishments in Fells Point. Another (less spooky!) popular event that happens every fall is Fells Fest, where you’ll find the cobble-stone streets lined with local vendors and everyone walking around with a spiced hot apple cider drink.

Live Entertainment. Baltimore hosts some of the biggest and most popular concerts in the country. There are several venues to see artists such as the Pier 6 Pavilion, the Rams Head and the Power Plant. Pier 6 hosted Iggy Azalea on September 25 (TONIGHT!) and also had Jay-Z and Beyoncé a couple months ago. Also, Hopkins hosted J. Cole headline for Spring Fair on the Homewood campus last year. If Indie or alternative rock is more your speed, Baltimore has a strong reputation for supporting rock artists like Beach House and Dr. Dog before they were “big.”

As you can see, Baltimore has a little bit of everything. Discover more: check out this student-produced video series, Learn More, See More, B’More. There is truly something for everyone, and it’s a fun and easy city to explore—especially for college students.


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