Class of 2020 Blog

Posts from the Johns Hopkins Class of 2020

2017-03-29 18.33.50

March 29, 2017
by Jack G.
Comments Off on Note-taking


Lecture Notes

Towards the end of senior year of high school, I found myself frustrated with my own notebooks—frustrated with the lack of lesson titles and dates whenever I had to go back a few months to find that one physics equation I may have forgotten. Going into my freshman year of college, I decided I needed to have a more stringent process for note-taking and homework-writing. Was spending a day figuring out the best format for your notes a bit obsessive-compulsive? Probably. But at this point in the year, I can safely say that flipping back to previous lecture notes has never been easier for me.

Obviously, everyone is going to have a different style when it comes to notes. I would say there are two very distinct camps when it comes to in-lecture note-taking: some people can’t focus on the lecture if they’re focused on note-taking, and others can’t remember it at all unless they write it down. As someone who’s a member of the latter group, a word of caution to the former group: many studies have shown that writing things down is much better for memory than just reading other lecture notes or typing them yourself.

I’m not going to advise anyone to copy my format for lecture notes, but it’s definitely a good idea to figure out what works for you at the start of the year and be consistent with it.


This mainly applies to physics and mathematics work, but I would say it’s been the single biggest help to completing my homework in those two subject areas: do all work on a whiteboard first. We’ve all drawn a picture incorrectly made an algebra error somewhere in a physics problem, but fixing the mistakes when you have to cross out half a page of work is harder than it has to be. On a whiteboard, it’s much easier to correct mistakes and organize your thoughts.

As an example, below is a DiffEq problem from a recent problem set (yes, it did take up all three of my laptop-sized whiteboards). And next to it is the final product on the sheet of homework I actually submitted. It looks much cleaner, which I’m sure gets me some goodwill from the TA, whose job of deciphering the mess that we all submit from time to time is quite unenviable.

2017-03-29 18.33.50 2017-03-16 23.12.48

As the year has gone by, I’ve also noticed myself using whiteboards more often for Latin translations—ideally, you probably want to have a rough translation before truly working out the meaning. Originally, I was trying to fit this all into the 2 or 3 lines they give you on worksheets, but whiteboards make it so much easier.

If there’s one tip you take to heart from all my blogs, it’s this one. Bring a couple whiteboards for your dorm, especially if you’re a STEM major. They’ll definitely help when you’re struggling on that seemingly-impossible mechanics problem in physics 1.

The Beach is Beautiful

March 28, 2017
by Varun K.
Comments Off on My Favorite Memory of First Semester

My Favorite Memory of First Semester

Stefano drops back to pass, he scans the field looking for an open target, he pumps once, pumps again, he sees Varun streak open from the corner of his eye and he fires a dart in his direction. Varun reaches up to snag the sandwich out of the air but he cannot corral it and he watches as all 6 inches of the deliciously toasty meatball marinara come crashing to the ground. Varun smiles and looks back at Stefano while chuckling “My bad, I’ll get it next time” Stefano replies while laughing “No worries my dude.”

As I sit here during the second semester of my Freshman year and think back to the very beginning of my college experience, my first semester in this crazy, fast-paced, and everchanging place that is Hopkins, playing football with a subway sandwich at 1 AM on the beach was easily my favorite memory, and It’s not even close.

The Beach is Beautiful

The Beach is Beautiful

One Friday night last semester when I was in the library working at around 12:30 AM, I realized that I was starving, and the only places open were Subway and University Market (Our local convenience store that sells hot snack foods and sandwiches). I was really feeling a Meatball sub so I decided to crawl out of my hole in Brody Learning Commons and stroll down to subway for some toasty goodness. On the way down there I heard some familiar voices by the Hopkins sign, and as I looked over, sure enough, it was my friends Tyler, Gary, and Stefano. Right as they saw me they called out my name and I hit them with my favorite line “What are you goons doing here?” They laughed and responded by saying they wanted to have a chill night, so they were just eating sandwiches on the sign. I asked them If I could join and they said of course, with Stefano telling me to get the chicken parm from uni mini (what we call University Market). Even though the chicken parm sounded fantastic, I was just realllly craving that meatball sub, and so I hightailed it down to Subway and picked one up as fast as I could. Even though the lines at 1 AM on a Friday night were downright awful (everyone gets hungry late at night) I waited it out and eventually my delicious, steamy masterpiece was handed to me; I then hauled it back up to the Hopkins sign, plopped down next to Tyler, and immediately started devouring the sandwich. The sub was amazing, with the melty mozzarella creating a stringy blanket over the perfectly sauced meatballs, but even still I couldn’t finish the whole thing, and so I had half of it left over.


Brody Never Sleeps

As soon as all four of us were done eating we hopped down from the sign and started horsing around on the beach. We were chasing each other around, tackling each other, and calling each other the stupid names that we’d called each other by for the last couple months. That was when I decided to take what remained of the meatball sub, and with a simple “Yo, Stefano, catch!” I threw it in his direction. Stefano gave me an odd look as I first threw it, punctuated with a “Yo, what the hell?” but as he caught it he just started laughing, and decided to pass it on to Tyler. Soon everyone was throwing the sandwich to each back forth across the beach, and what had at first been a very odd activity had now turned into poor mans (or poor college students) catch. Suddenly a lightbulb went off in my head and I, overconfidently, declared “GUYS! WHAT IF WE PLAY FOOTBALL WITH THE SUB?” At first I was met with looks of pure confusion and hesitance, but then the others looked at each, smiled, and said “why not?”

The Semi-Famous Hopkins Sign

The Semi-Famous Hopkins Sign

And so for the next hour we played the most odd, interesting, and thoroughly enjoyable game of 2-touch football I had ever played in my life, and over time, as we were playing, a small crowd started to build up on the Hopkins sign, watching us play. Every time I would look over there would be another person on the sign, and eventually people started coming off the sign and asking us if we could play. Soon enough we had a full-fledged game going, with unique, sub-induced rules and two very competitive teams. Even though our team came up on the short end of the stick (largely, I will admit, due to my inability to catch the sub – why you gotta be so slippery Subway?) it was still an absolutely enthralling experience, and one that I will hold onto for the rest of my life. Whenever I give a tour I make sure to tell my tour recipients this story, and whenever I pass the beach late at night with Tyler, Stefano, or Gary, we always look at it, look back at each other, and just start laughing.



March 27, 2017
by Varun K.
Comments Off on My First Tour

My First Tour

My fingers were shaking as I plodded backwards step by step, carefully planning out my sentences with each awkward, choppy movement I took. I spoke with an aire of nervousness, often stumbling over my words (and my feet) and spitting out sentences hastily. My heart raced at a million miles an hour and beads of sweat slowly traveled from my temples down to my jaw. Giving my first campus tour was one of the most nerve-wracking things I’d done at Hopkins, and boy was I struggling. I remember seeing all those pairs of eyes, some of them from curious prospective students, others from disgruntled parents who wanted the best education for their child, cutting through me like razors as I rattled out my next point about the seating capacity of Shriver (it’s over 1300, btw), or the size of Gilman.


Shriver Quad, Taken From in Front of Shriver                                              Hall

Giving a mock tour to one person had been so easy and effortless for me. I was confident, laid-back, funny, and just had a good time traversing every nook and cranny of campus with some random person who was deciding if I was qualified enough to give tours for the school. My evaluation tour was a breeze, but as soon as I faced the real thing and had to talk to 15-20 people I just froze. Suddenly the calm, confident Varun who could have given a tour to president Ron Daniels himself couldn’t give a tour to a squirrel, let alone a large group of people. I remember trying to calm myself down as I cut across Shriver quad and headed down to Brody, “It’s just a tour. It’s just a tour. You know what to say, you know how to say it, just relax and do it.” And so with my heart still pounding out of my chest I lead the group through Brody and just talked to them. I didn’t overthink what I was going to say, I didn’t try to say it too fast or hit every single point that I was sure to miss when discussing an institution with 141 years of history, a 100+ acre campus, and a student body the size of a small town. I just had a conversation with my group and told them what I knew about the school so that they could see what Hopkins was really about.


For the first time during that tour I felt comfortable and in the zone. I didn’t feel out of place interacting with all these people I’d never met before, and I felt as though I was actually semi-qualified to be a tour guide. As I led my group across the Freshman quad, through the UTL’s past Remsen and into the twisting, winding hallways of Gilman I was still nervous as hell but I just trusted myself and said the first things that came to my head. By the time the tour was winding down and I had brought my group through pretty much every square inch of Homewood, I could tell they were tired from all the walking and were sick of hearing my voice.

Mason Hall is Always Buzzing

Mason Hall is Always Buzzing

As we powered down right next to Mason hall, and I finished with my spiel about why I chose Hopkins and why it’s been an amazing decision (WHICH IT HAS!!!! 😊), I thanked the group for coming on the tour and told them if they had any questions I would stick around to answer them. There were a few muffled thank you’s  followed by a shuffling of feet, which was when I decided to tell the people that they had been my first ever tour group, and I was sorry for being such a nervous train wreck. The look on everyone’s face when I said that was something I’ll never forget, their eyes bulged and they immediately started saying things like “No you were fantastic.” Or “Thank you so much!” Simply realizing that I was unexperienced, nervous Freshman who had never done this before completely changed people’s opinions of me and my tour, and thinking back on it always makes me laugh. I’ve given many more tours since that day and they usually go smoothly with no hitches, though occasionally when I’ll forget a fact or stumble over a line I’ll think back to that day and just chuckle.

March 24, 2017
by Katie D.
Comments Off on Kolotov and Learning Outside the Classroom

Kolotov and Learning Outside the Classroom

Following this little introductory paragraph is my first draft for an article I wrote for the JHU New-Letter. By writing it, and then seeing the final version of the article in the news-letter, I learned a lot more about what was important to put into a news article, to get less caught up in the details of a situation, and to more clearly articulate the event as a whole. Also, I learned so much about George and his work from his talk. It made me realize how much more there is to learn at Hopkins outside the classroom setting, or just outside of our classes completely. It wasn’t something having to do with my major requirements, or something that I needed to go to for a grade, yet I feel like I gained knowledge from his insight so willingly, perhaps because it wasn’t forced. Johns Hopkins has the ability to attract great thinkers like him, in every field, so giving one of these talks a try is definitely worth it, and definitely a reason to go to Hopkins that I only discovered once I was here.

On Friday, Mar. 10, a new way of looking at the world was represented by George Kolotov, a Kyrgyz photographer and activist. He spoke in a forum presented by the East Asian Studies Student Advisory Committee titled “Intersecting Art and Development: Capturing Kyrgyz Lives Through a Camera Lens” describing the way in which he faced both success and failure in drawing attention to unaddressed issues in the everyday life of the less fortunate.

At first Kolotov talked about how he first got involved depicting situations of the impoverished. He recounted his first experience in a rehabilitation center for disabled children. He recalls his first meeting with the center’s director as a pivotal moment, one that has defined his body of work since.

He remembers how she interrupted his long string of reasonings for wanting to help, how he could help, etc. She had noticed his distracted manner while speaking and realized its source, a flower made out of tissue paper, surrounded by thick black borders.

At the event, Kolotov illustrated the moment when she gestured to the flower, “You see this, this flower was made by children from this rehabilitation center,” she questioned again,”Do you see the colored papers inside it?”

“Yes,” Kolotov replied.

“My children say that these pieces of papers represent themselves, their souls. This is their heart and she continued “Do you see this black border? Do you understand what that means? This is the wall between them and the rest of the world. So you are there”, pointing outside the lines, “now you are here. Welcome to another world,” she said.

From this point on, Kolotov’s work over the past decade has given viewers a glimpse into the tissue papered colored world of unseen poverty and beauty. He finds a way to pay this rite of passage forward, to invite others beyond the wall of our own ignorance. This is his way of alleviating the poverty that he finds; he mobilizes resources by bringing unknown stories to the light. In this way,

Kolotov assured the audience that we all can make a difference no matter our background or our wealth.

“We all have our communication skills”, and with them, “we find there are resources”.

He also talked about how the interconnectedness of the world can enable us even further through communication.

“Now we are connected with all the world; we can connect anyone with anyone,” he said.

However, this interconnectedness globally and even just within Kyrgyzstan can also have its downfalls. He warned of the mishaps of charity without thought.

“Most people think that any donation is a good donation” he said, “This is the wrong state of mind.” He also conceded that this applies to his own actions.

His failure that he described struck the crowd the most. . His work in this project depicts a young woman who worked in Kyrgyzstan’s Cancer Center and Center for Blood Diseases named Dasha. She was the only certified child psychologist and hospital clown in the entire country. He photographed her work with terminally ill children in order to help her improve her own working conditions and expand her capabilities.

“open a school for hospital clowns,”

The project was stopped after the death of many of the children she worked with. Both Dasha and Kolotov needed a step back from their work.

“For the next two months I tried to find someone who could support Dasha and her work … with no results” said Kolotov. After a fruitless search, Kolotov decided to publish the story on Facebook. The next day, things were completely different.

“Dasha literally woke up famous,” recalled Kolotov, “Crowds of local journalists flooded the hospital.”

In the end, the attention to the story and the corruption of the hospital coming to the light ended up doing more harm than good. Dasha was kicked out of her position by those who ran the hospital and the prices of treatments skyrocketed past their already inflated positions, making treatment impossible for many. Also the images did nothing for the children they captured.

“Only one child survived during the project. There were 96 young patients in total.” Kolotov recounted.

In this series he is able to find this intersection between sadness and beauty. Should these images be beautiful? Professor Phyllis Berger, who teaches photography and supervises the department at Hopkins was unsure if whether or not these images were exploitative of their subjects.

“Capturing human suffering through the camera lens becomes objectification of the person or subject,” she wondered, especially in context for this specific project, “Does it sense a higher purpose? Where will these images go: in an exhibition, in a book?”

Others who attended the event, like Constanza Mayz (2019) also noted the beauty within the suffering in these pictures. Out of the projects he presented, his failure example was actually her favorite. She was particularly drawn to a picture of the one patient who survived throughout the project.

“That one with the picture of the little boy with his eyes, you could see everything in his eyes. It was amazing,” she said.

Overall, his message was one that reflected the complexity of charity work and the art of photography. His message inspired those who attended that making a difference is possible, with the right amount of thought and the necessity of a connectedness with the issue, it is possible for anyone to make a difference even if they do not necessarily have sufficient funds to do so on their own.

Daniel Kim, the President of the Speaker’s Committee of the East Asian Studies Student Advisory Committee first met George Kolotov during the summer at an internship with the Baltimore World Trade Center. He hoped that Kolotov’s work would make an impact on those who attended.

“What I promised him at that brief 10 minute talk was that I would bring him to campus and that I was going to have other people listen to his story in order to be similarly inspired,” said Kim.

If y’all would like to read the published article, here it is:

Kolotov photographs untold Kyrgyz stories


March 23, 2017
by Kaylee Z.
Comments Off on On Sorority Recruitment

On Sorority Recruitment

Before coming to Hopkins, joining a sorority never once crossed my mind. In fact, when I was college hunting during my junior and senior years of high school, I was looking for schools with lower Greek life percentages. I didn’t know anything about Greek life, except that it wasn’t for me.

So imagine my own surprise when I decided to go through sorority recruitment a month and a half ago.

(Recruitment at Hopkins takes place in the spring so that students have the chance to get accustomed to the campus and make friends outside of Greek life before joining a fraternity or sorority.)

To be completely honest, I had a very hard time adjusting to college first semester. I was going through a huge falling out with someone who was once one of my best friends from childhood and it just felt like everything in my life was changing too fast and too unpredictably.

I decided to go through recruitment because I wanted to have a fresh start. I wanted to meet new people and get to know more girls at this school.

I had no idea what to expect going into recruitment, besides hearing that it was going to involve a lot of “girl flirting.” I didn’t even know what that meant. So, I just haphazardly packed some dresses and heels for second semester without any actual mental preparation for the recruitment process.

Recruitment took place during the first week of Spring Semester, starting on Thursday and lasting until Sunday, which was bid day. Each round took about 5 hours and by the end, I was always exhausted and ready to pass out in my bed. It really is a long and tiring process, but the time passes really fast and it’s actually really fun!

I don’t want to give away too much about the recruitment process, because I think part of what made my experience of it so authentic was that I went in without too much prior knowledge.

Overall, I ended up having an amazing time and I loved my recruitment experience, which I know isn’t necessarily a sentiment that everybody who went through recruitment shares, so I wanted to provide some helpful tips on how to have a fun and stress-free recruitment process:

  1. Don’t have your heart too set on any one sorority. All of the sororities at Hopkins have a lot in common and are kind and welcoming. You never know who you’re going to click with the most, and sometimes it might be with a sorority you never considered before.
  2. Go with your gut. Ultimately, joining a sorority is a decision that you’re making completely for yourself. Ignore the gossip and chatter that’s going to happen around you and make sure your opinion is completely your own.
  3. Don’t rehearse what you’re going to say about yourself. That will only make the process more stressful. Just go into it with the goal of just being yourself and let the conversation happen naturally.
  4. Don’t feel too dejected just because you don’t connect with someone during recruitment. it isn’t your fault, nor is it their fault, sometimes some people just have more chemistry with some people than with others.
  5. Bring comfortable shoes to change into for the walks to each sorority station during each round. You’re going to thank me for this tip! Also bring sweats and warm clothes to throw over your dresses. It was freezing during my recruitment process so having a pair of sweatpants and uggs handy really saved me.
  6. Think of the entire process as an event to get to know more people, not a time when you have to work hard to impress people.
  7. Enjoy the food!


I haven’t been in my sorority for too long yet, but already I’ve gotten to go to so many fun events and met so many cool people. I’m so happy that I went through the recruitment process and I wish future potential new members the best of luck.


March 23, 2017
by Jonah K.
Comments Off on Never mind, Winter Came

Never mind, Winter Came

Well that turned around fast.

Just four weeks ago, I wrote about Baltimore’s untimely Spring; the 72 degree February days and disturbing lack of frost.

Today, I write about my very first snow day.

(Note; I’m actually writing this about a week after the fact, but lets not get caught up in details.)

Look Mom, snow!

                Look Mom, snow!

The rumors began swirling over the weekend, the last before Spring break – “did you hear about the storm that’s coming in?” – and by Monday afternoon, campus was abuzz with anticipation. The suspense didn’t last for too long, as the snow began falling later that night. Students flocked outdoors to frolic in the softly drifting snowflakes. My friends made snow angels and snowmen, threw snowballs, and wrestled in the soft powder.

Me? I stayed inside studying for Arabic until two AM.

The next morning, I awoke to the single greatest text a student could ever receive, “JHU: No daytime classes. Evening class decision later. Req’d attendance/clinical employees report. Otherwise JHU closed. More:”

Now, I’m not sure what that link leads to, or to be honest, what most of the text means, because at 8:20 AM on that lovely and cold Tuesday morning of March 14th, the only words my eyes registered were “No daytime classes”, and then I immediately fell back asleep.

IMG_20170314_163817 (1)

   Shriver Quad and snow mix well

When I awoke two hours later, the gravity of the situation hit me. It was my first snow day! Growing up in Los Angeles, the only snow days I ever had involved my elementary school trucking in a snow machine to spread shredded-ice in a parking lot for me and my classmates to play in for the fifteen minutes before it turned into a slippery, rock-solid block of ice (I wish I was making this up, but this really happened, annually). But here, right outside my window, was the real-deal. Snow! On a school day! As I got out of bed, my fingers were practically trembling; I couldn’t wait to stay inside and do slightly more schoolwork than I would on a regular day.


    At least this guy was having fun

Cynicism aside, the snow-day actually proved to be a lovely alternative to the standard Hopkins flow. Students lightheartedly mulled about the quads, horsing around in the snow and taking pictures in various snow-related poses. By noon, campus was dotted with countless snowmen, snow-women, and snow-children – and some were actually really darn good. The Beach too saw its fair share of action, and became a prime location for sledding and snowball-fights (and snowball fights on sleds). All of the playfulness led to a uniquely relaxed mood that permeated throughout campus, which even managed to penetrate the hallowed confines of Brody Learning Commons. As I sat among the hustle and bustle of M-level, I felt an unexpected calm. Sure, I had an Arabic exam in three days for which I was woefully ill-prepared, but I felt that everything was going to be alright (post-exam assessment; I was wrong). Even though it was warm and dry inside, I knew that it was a snow-day outside, and that was enough for me.


        One of the darn good ones

And it just felt right to finally have some winter.


March 21, 2017
by Jenna M.
Comments Off on Dear Admitted Students:

Dear Admitted Students:

On Friday, 2500 students from high schools all over the world opened their JHU admissions portals to find the words “Welcome to Hopkins!” across their screens. It’s crazy for me to think that just a year ago, I was one of those students, eagerly awaiting those life-altering words. Prior to March 18th, I thought that waiting for decision releases would be the most stressful time of senior year; I was wrong. After hearing back from schools, I actually was even more stressed. I was presented with some great opportunities, and I had to pick just one. Deciding where to go to school for four years is difficult for anyone, let alone someone like me, who can barely decide what to eat for breakfast.

Don’t get me wrong, this awkward period of time from now until May 1st doesn’t have to be stressful. If anything, it should be a time to relax knowing that your hard work has finally paid off. Upon reflection, I can see why this period of time was so stressful for me, and I want to pass on my new ~wisdom~ to you, dearest admits, in hopes that your whirlwind of a college process has a happy ending:

1. Remember that college isn’t the “end-all be-all”

I know, I know, it really really feels like your entire life led up to this and all of your self worth is based on this and you swear that your entire future is dependent on this one decision — let me be the first to tell you: it’s not. Yes, college is important, and yes, it may feel like a lot of what you did in high school revolved around getting into college. However, the school you end up attending neither erases nor accentuates all of your previous accomplishments. They are still there, and they’re not going anywhere. Also, your future is not determined by the school you attend. In the same way that you had to work hard in high school to get into a good college, you will have to work hard at any college to set yourself up with the maximum number of opportunities for your future. Essentially, no matter what school you go to, you will get out of it what you put into it. So stop worrying about getting a degree with a certain name on it, and start worrying about finding out what motivates you to do your best work, regardless of where you end up.

2. Go to admitted student days with an open mind

There are a lot of stereotypes about colleges. Before applying to schools, I already had an image in my mind of exactly what they were like, which may have even stopped me from applying to schools that could have been a good fit for me. It’s so easy to listen to what everyone around you is saying and fail to look at the facts in front of you. And definitely do not judge an entire school off of one weird or super cool person from your high school who goes there. Chances are, the student body as a whole is nothing like this one person, and you were about to avoid a school entirely because you once caught this kid picking their nose in algebra. Instead of listening to stereotypes, make your own assumptions about a school during admitted student days. These are a great time to get a feel for the student body, your future classmates, and the overall feel for the campus. Make sure that you get everything you want out of an admitted student day; remember that if they accepted you, they really want you to come – use that to your advantage! If you want to see a certain part of campus, meet with someone about your major, or find out more about financial aid, just ASK!

3. Take the time to figure out what you want

In the same way that you should avoid listening to stereotypes, sometimes, you should avoid listening to other people entirely (this sounds uber dramatic but you know what I mean)! Remember that this is about your education and your happiness, and no one else can define that for you. Your parents may know a lot about you and know a lot about “the real world”, but you are the only person who can truly decide what would make you happy. Before May 1st, take a day to sit down and look into all of your options completely by yourself. Make a pros and cons list of each of the schools, even if a pro is something as silly as “the dining hall had like 300 varieties of pizza!!!” Only your personal judgment matters, so be confident in what appeals to you and what kinda turns you off. Try to picture yourself at each school. What would you be involved in? What courses would you take? Who would you be friends with?  Take the time to shut out any outside forces that are telling you who to be and what to choose, and maybe you’ll even learn a little more about yourself upon reflection.


If you take anything away from this, I hope that you remember that this decision is totally in your hands. You should never feel like the decision has already been made for you, either by parents or classmates or your future. You, the present you, have all of the control. And therefore you, the present you, will make the right decision, so long as you put your happiness first.


March 17, 2017
by Jack G.
Comments Off on The Academic Side of YouTube

The Academic Side of YouTube

You might not expect this from a Johns Hopkins student, but I do in fact have free time. The nerd that I am, a lot of this free time is still spent learning about things—but watching a YouTube video is certainly less stressful than a differential equations problem set! I thought in this blog I would outline some of my favorite YouTube channels.

As one would probably imagine from a repository that holds millions upon millions of hours of video content, it can be pretty easy to get distracted and watch old television shows or comedy or the seemingly-endless amount of vlogs for an entire afternoon. But there’s also an extremely rich section of education content. In the years that I’ve been a daily YouTube watcher, I’ve gradually increased to 53 subscriptions. Here are some of the highlights; channels I can wholeheartedly endorse for their educational content.

General Science


Other Generally Informative Channels

(as one can probably tell, I just might be a physics/mathematics major)

Getting weekly videos from many of these channels has helped augment my interest in physics and mathematics tremendously. In fact, when I first discovered that I had a passion for physics, it was many of these channels that helped curate it.

And when you finally get to the point where you’re covering material in classes that you’ve previously seen a few videos on, having that cursory knowledge of the subject already helps immensely.


March 17, 2017
by Lauren P.
Comments Off on @High School Lauren

@High School Lauren

During my freshman year of high school, we were required to write a letter to ourselves in four years, and that letter was delivered to us right before graduation. Similarly, right before graduation, we wrote a senior letter that will be delivered to us in 10 years. I remember writing my note during my freshman English class, thinking to myself, “What’s the point? I won’t be that different in four years.”

But oh, how freshman year Lauren was wrong. I remember reading that letter and laughing at how naive I was, and how much I still had to learn – both about the world and myself. For example, for some reason, I thought that I could put $20 in my letter and forget about it, only to be surprised my senior year. Plot twist, I remembered. I like to think that my senior letter was a bit more mature, but I’m sure I’ll still feel the same way in 10 years.

In the same spirit, I’d like to chat a bit with high school Lauren. Though she may have been young and way too easily excitable, she still deserves credit for trying.


Dear High School Lauren,

Don’t Stress. I know, easier said than done, but just try to breathe every once in awhile. You will get into college, a great college at that, and I promise that one time you got a 45% on a Calculus quiz really does not matter at all. Sleep is important, and being happy is important, so do what you love and somehow find it in you to trust that everything will work out just fine.

Honey, please learn how to say no. You might really love swimming, violin, piano, and teaching swim lessons, but even you can’t do it all and still stay sane. And really, that’s okay. You can do things for fun and on your own time, because there is no point in turning something you love into something you hate just because you are afraid of quitting. It is okay to admit you have too much on your plate, and though you should take advantage of all the opportunities given to you, don’t let them consume you.

Your style will change A LOT, so think a little before you buy that new dress. I know, I know, you are absolutely terrible with money Lauren, and that is something you should work on before you come to college and spend all your money on coffee in the span of a month. Learn to budget and stick to it.

Take a good luck around and appreciate the people you are surrounded by every day, because in reality, your time together is limited. You’ll stay in touch with a few close friends, but odds are, there are some really great friendships you have that won’t follow you into adulthood. That’s natural, so just appreciate how awesome everyone around you really is while you can.

Time flies. Have fun.


March 12, 2017
by Jenna M.
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Mid-Semester Course Reviews

I’m now about halfway through my second semester at Hopkins. It’s absolutely crazy to me that just a year ago, I was waiting not-so-patiently to hear back from all the schools I applied to, and now I’m actually here, at Hopkins, living my daily life here and wondering how I ever wasn’t living my daily life here. I guess that’s just a funny thing about life; we anticipate and anticipate, but we can never know what something will be like until we are actually living it.

While I love to talk about everything non-academic on this blog, at the end of the day, I do attend Hopkins for an education (wow! who knew!). So I think it’s about time to dive into the courses I’m taking here, aka what I spend most of my time doing, contrary to popular belief.


Professional Writing and Communication

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This course is for my (potential) Marketing and Communications minor. As the title suggests, it’s essentially a course meant to teach you how to write professionally, which is a skill that could really benefit anyone in absolutely every profession. This course is really interesting in that it is taught with a focus on communications work involved in social entrepreneurship. This gives the course a context in which we can learn how to write and communicate effectively. Basically, the whole course revolves around a scenario in which we have to pretend that we’ve become involved with a foundation that partners with students to promote social change. We are students with a great idea to solve a major social problem, and we’re determined to get funding for our idea. Therefore, all of our papers and presentations revolve around persuading this program to fund our idea. I chose to address the stigma of mental illness on college campuses, so all of my papers and presentations will revolve around this topic. I really like the layout of this class and how it causes us to think critically about social issues while learning how to effectively communicate and advertise not only our ideas, but ourselves.

Statistical Analysis 2

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This course is (clearly) a follow-up to the statistics course I took first semester (Statistical Analysis 1). In this class, we are learning about hypothesis testing and analysis of variance. These techniques, which, before college, were completely foreign to me, are absolutely critical in any research findings. They are how researchers can prove if their findings are statistically significant, meaning that they show enough evidence to prove or disprove a hypothesis. In high school, I constantly felt like my mathematics classes were a waste of my time because I knew I would never use them in “real life”. This course, however, will be extremely useful in any field I may go into. It allows me to review any research with a critical eye, which is imperative in academia. Since I find this course to be challenging sometimes, I am also enrolled in PILOT, which is a free group tutoring service for two hours a week in which we work on problem sets given to tutors directly from the professor.

Introduction to Sustainability

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This course is kind of my “random” course of the semester. I have always been interested in environmental issues, but I never really acted on my interest. Now, in a time when these issues are more pertinent than ever, I feel that this course is extremely relevant. The concept of “sustainability” is difficult to define, which is why we spend this course looking at it from environmental, social, and economical perspectives. From coming up with a way to efficiently heat a house in an eco-friendly and budget-friendly manner, to assessing BP’s definition of sustainability as a major oil company, to learning about (Hopkins grad!!!) Rachel Carson, I feel like this class has really made me think about my role as an individual in a world that is striving to progress, but is inevitably digressing.

Introduction to Social Psychology

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This course is the second intro-level psychology course I have taken at Hopkins (the first being Brain Behavior and Cognition in first semester). Social psychology is something I have always been really interested in, especially after taking AP Psychology in high school and absolutely loving it. While Brain Behavior and Cognition was a fantastic and challenging class, it was much more neuroscience-y, which is fascinating, but not really up my alley. This class is more about behavior and attitude, which is something that effects our lives and interactions every day but we often fail to understand. Although this class is huge (literally bigger than my entire grade in my public high school), it feels kind of small in the sense that Professor Drigotas is a fantastic speaker and really keeps me engaged. Furthermore, the material is just so interesting to me. This class is full of case studies, anecdotes and experiments, which take the course material to the next level by proving its relevance in the real world. I think after this course, I will not only have a better grasp on the subject of social psychology, but I will have a better understanding of the people in my life and the relationships I have with them, and that is priceless.


Overall, my mix of courses (in addition to independent research) really keeps me busy, but engaged. This variety of courses seems relatively unrelated, but they are all tied by the ability of their material to transition effortlessly into my everyday life.