There were many, many reasons why I chose Hopkins, but I still remember the four words spoken during my campus visit that piqued my interest most on that sunny day in late May 2015:
No General Education Requirements.
Now, I like to think of myself as a bit of a Renaissance man when it comes to studies, but AP Chem. and AP English Lit. were enough chemistry and English for me; I was not looking forward to slaving through Chemistry or English 101. Every school I visited touted their “flexible curricula”, and compared to the old-school notions of gen. ed. requirements, flexible curricula they were. Nevertheless, they all had their quirks. All except one: Johns Hopkins.
And while this policy was but one positive in a sea of them when I applied, one year in, it’s become the defining feature of Hopkins for me.
Here are our non-major specific graduation requirements:
- 9 credits in humanities courses
- 9 credits in social sciences courses
- 9 credits in science/math/engineering courses
- 12 credits in writing-intensive courses
One thing you notice at Hopkins is that if you ask someone their major, they’ll often respond with more than one. These lax distribution requirements cultivate that. After being accepted into Hopkins, I looked at the requirements for some other majors, and saw that a math major only requires 4 additional courses than I was already going to take while completing my physics degree. (this is apparently realized by most of the physics department; it seems like at bare minimum 2/3 of physics majors pursue a double major with math, applied math, or comp. sci.)
So I was now a double major, but completing these two majors only required 66 credits. What was I to do with the other half of my college curriculum?
I have always had a bit of a fascination with ancient Greece and Rome. Perhaps due to the many hours I sunk into Civilization III as a kid, perhaps due to Discovery Channel. So I dived into the classics department, and took two semesters of Latin my freshman year. And I binge-listened to the History of Rome and History of Byzantium podcasts. And I subscribed to multiple Roman battle history YouTube channels.
And I began to feel similar when learning Roman history as when I first dived into Physics five years ago.
And thus Classics was added as a potential major. Thanks to Hopkins’s curriculum, I can complete all three majors and the distribution requirements while averaging only 16 credits/semester.
How many other schools can say that?