How to prepare for preparing a competitive college application


If you’re a high school junior, chances are many of your senior schoolmates are either breathing a sigh of relief after being admitted to their first-choice school or anxiously awaiting the release of admissions decisions in a few months. Fast forward one year and you’ll be in their shoes.

We wouldn't recommend taking your SATs using a red marker like this clip art lady appears to be doing.

To make sure you’re as prepared as possible, here are some things you can start doing NOW that will help to create a competitive application when the time comes:

Determine your learning style. Do you like hands-on assignments involving research? Do you prefer lecture-based learning complemented by reading? Would you rather work on projects independently or are you most productive when collaborating with your peers?

Colleges and universities have varying academic philosophies, so figuring out which learning style suits you best will help narrow down the schools that could be the right fit for you.

Pick a favorite subject. One thing you’ll come to find about college life is there’s a lot more freedom and a lot more choices—especially when it comes to class options. Figure out what intrigues you and why so that your application can relay why attending a certain school will support you in following your interests.

For example, if you like English classes, is it the analysis of the work or the writing process that appeals most to you? At Hopkins, we have an English major that tends to focuses on literary criticism and a Writing Seminars major which focuses on creative writing.

Get out of the classroom. Look for opportunities beyond your school walls to pursue something you’re interested in. Summer programs at a local school, classes at a community college, or research projects are all ways to take what you’re learning in the classroom and expand upon it. Make it something you really enjoy, and want to explore further. And then be sure to talk about it in your application.

Challenge yourself. Think about taking courses that will prepare you for the rigor that comes along with college-level academics. Our admissions officers are looking for students who have taken advantage of those high-level, challenging classes available to them at their school.

Go beyond academics. The admissions committee is looking not just for strong students, but also for students who will contribute to the community. Find opportunities (whether it be through clubs, organizations, or teams) to make an impact. Contribute to whatever it is you’re a part of—leading a membership campaign or fundraiser, organizing a team outing, or maybe even starting a new group in your school.

Moral of the story: Take time to really reflect on your experience in high school and what you’ve liked and disliked about it. Discovering what you want to get out of your college experience will help you create an application that shares your goals, interests, and personal character with the admissions committee.

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The Life Cycle of an Application


You’ve done your part: Completed the Common Application or Universal College Application, finessed your essays, and clicked submit. What happens now? We’re going to walk you through the life cycle of an application—everything from application processing to decision release.

This application is ready to go!

The application review process can be broken down into five main steps:

  1. Student Database 

Our Student Database is where application materials sit until we have all required documents for an individual applicant. It’s very rare that all portions of an application come in at once. As each piece comes in, the documents are matched to the student it belongs to. When all of the required documents (the application, Johns Hopkins supplement, transcript(s), secondary school report, and recommendations) are received, an application is considered complete!

  1. Regional Review I 

As files are completed, they are sent along to the Regional Admissions Counselor. It is during the Regional Review that the preliminary read of a file is conducted. What are we looking for? We are getting a glimpse at an applicant in the context of his or her high school and geographic region. Our admissions counselors (find yours here) spend several weeks on the road each year to learn more about the schools and students in their region to make sure we are familiar with the opportunities an applicant has had, such as the kind of coursework available.

  1. Committee Review 

After the regional counselor has done the initial assessment of the application, the file moves to Committee Review. During committee, we consider the larger applicant pool, beyond the narrow regional scope. Committee Review is where we not only discuss each applicant and their fit for the university but where we begin to mold the class and ensure that we have academic, geographic, and demographic diversity while still considering the regional context that surrounds each applicant. Once all factors are considered, the committee places an official admissions decision on each file.

  1. Regional Review II

When an application has received an official admissions decision, the application is revisited by the Regional Admissions Counselor. It is at this point that the regional counselor has the opportunity to make sure that the decisions made during Committee Review are consistent within their region.

  1. Decision Release

After more than 10 weeks since the application deadline and multiple levels of review, it’s time for the big day—Decision Release! Read more about that here.

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What is Intersession?



At Hopkins we dedicate the month after the fall semester and before the start of the spring term to a mini-mester called Intersession. Some academic classes are offered, but the most exciting part about Intersession is that students can take courses that are not typically an option during the academic year—out-of-the-ordinary college classes like ballroom dance and other personal enrichment classes; Baltimore in Film, Fiction, and TV; and more.

“Perhaps the most interesting part of Intersession is the class I’m taking, which is called Magic, Witchcraft, and the Occult in Greco-Roman Antiquity…We learn about curse tablets, voodoo dolls, and amulets, yes, but we also seek to understand the social and political context in which magic existed, and how the interactions between magic and religion shaped the ancient world.” –Grace A., Class of 2016

To learn more about Intersession from a student perspective:

  • Watch this student-produced video for a closer look at what Intersession is all about: com/watch?v=VyRsS-pbgFg
  • Read this blog by senior Joseph S., all about his Intersession experience last year.
  • Visit Hayley S.’ blog page to find out the top seven most exciting things she did in her “Intersession State of Mind.”

Whether it’s learning how to play a musical instrument, exploring the city of Baltimore in a new context, or studying the history of magic, Intersession has something for everyone. To learn more about this year’s upcoming Intersession, visit

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Happy Holidays from Hopkins


From all of us here in Mason Hall, happy holidays!

The Hopkins community has been celebrating the holiday season on the Homewood campus and throughout Baltimore for the past few months. As we look ahead to 2015, we’re excited for our current students to return to campus—although, we’ll see some sooner than others: learn more about Intersession at Johns Hopkins.

This also means that the Regular Decision application deadline is quickly approaching on January 5. Here are some great resources to learn more about applying to Johns Hopkins:

We wish all of our a readers a safe and happy New Year’s!

During one of last year's snow days some students built this Eiffel tower replica.

Some of our students built this Eiffel Tower replica during one of last year’s snow days.

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Semester Wrap Up


campus circle_small

What do you imagine when you think about your college experience? Do you think about the kind of people you’ll meet, the opportunities you’ll have, and the academic adventures you’ll encounter?

To  give you an idea of what it’s like to live and learn at Hopkins, here are some highlights from our fall 2014 semester:

Discover more campus happenings and Baltimore-wide events.

Click on the links below to read blog posts from current students who reflect back on:

If you’re a senior and this sound intriguing, there’s still time to submit your application. Regular Decision applications are due January 5, 2015. More info here:

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An Update on ED Decision Release


Brick and leaves_small

The wait for Early Decision applicants is almost over, and we wanted to give a quick update on the upcoming decision release process.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Early Decision notifications will be released at 3:00 p.m. Eastern on Friday, December 12, 2014.
  • You will access your Johns Hopkins admissions decision through a decision release website. All applicants should have received an e-mail with detailed instructions for setting up your account. If you didn’t receive it:
    • Check all e-mail accounts, including your parents’ and any others you might’ve 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 us at (410) 516-8171 or e-mail us at and we’ll get it figured out.
  • We’ll send an e-mail when admissions decisions are available on Friday. That e-mail will contain a link to the admissions decision site. Once you get there, use the e-mail address and password combination you established to log in.
  • On December 12, our office will be open until 5:00 p.m. Eastern to answer phone calls and e-mails from students who are having problems accessing their admissions decisions. Any other questions will be addressed during normal business hours the following week.
  • Admitted ED students who applied for the Woodrow Wilson Research Fellowship or the Peabody Duel Degree Program will be notified of their status in late March.

Don’t hesitate to contact us at the e-mail or phone number below if you have any questions.

Office of Undergraduate Admissions
Johns Hopkins University
Mason Hall / 3400 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21218-2683
(410) 516-8171 Fax (410) 516-6025

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What is a Woodrow Wilson Research Fellow?


Here’s a hint: These students are chosen to receive $10,000!

Hopkins students are intellectually curious and have a strong urge to chase that curiosity wherever it leads. Our students are encouraged to follow their passions—to dig deeper and discover more. The Woodrow Wilson Undergraduate Research Fellowship helps them do just that.


Fun fact: The 28th president of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, began his graduate studies at Hopkins in 1883

The Wilson Fellowship provides eligible students in the Krieger School of Arts & Sciences with up to $10,000 to develop a research project of their own design. Wilson fellows receive a stipend over four years to spend on research costs, which may include travel, equipment, and use of archives or laboratories. Fellowship recipients work with a faculty mentor to help them select a topic, create an action plan, and pursue their research.

The availability of professors as a resource and their genuine desire to help is truly invaluable. This program is also unique in that not only does it award research grants to undergraduates, but students receive notice prior to even arriving on campus and can jump right in as soon as they enter as first-year students.

This is an amazing opportunity for hands-on, real-world experience that undergraduates at most other universities don’t get until later in their college career.

Perhaps the best part about a Wilson Fellowship? The topic can be ANYTHING.

Here’s a list of just a few recently completed Wilson projects (click on the titles to learn more):

  • A Podium for Politics—This project explores the ways in which Britain projected itself as host nation in 1948 in comparison to the identity promoted during the 1908 Games. These two events bookend the early moments and final stages of British imperial decline…

“I think I would have ended up at Hopkins even if I hadn’t been offered the Woodrow Wilson Research Fellowship, but it certainly made my decision an easy one. Who could pass up the allure of $10,000 to be spent on any project of your choosing? The fact that this fellowship is not limited to student studying the natural sciences confirmed for me the university’s commitment to the humanities. I couldn’t believe that as an intended history major I had been offered this amazing opportunity. I am planning to use my funding to study the effects of the 2012 Olympics on British nationalism. My research is taking me to London—a trip that is completely covered by the Wilson Fellowship. The [Wilson Fellowship] has allowed me to combine two life-long dreams of mine: studying abroad and attending an Olympic Games.” -Tess Thomas, history (Class of 2014)

Read Tess’ blog to learn more about her journey to completing her Woodrow Wilson project:

  • The 25th Street Station—This project investigated the 25th Street Station Project, a multimillion-dollar development on 25th and Howard Street in Baltimore…

Read more about Martha’s experience:

If you are a current undergraduate applicant, you don’t want to let this opportunity pass you by.

The application deadline is approaching on February 20 for both Early Decision and Regular Decision applicants. Click here to learn more and apply—could you be the next Wilson Fellow?

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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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