On the Road: Day Six (Thursday)

Editor’s Note: This is the last entry in the seven-part "On the Road" series. You should read the earlier entries first: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

So, I am sitting here Friday morning, drinking a Sunkist, having just finished packing my bags and eating my final free Courtyard Marriott breakfast. After posting this last entry in my "On the Road" series, I will be hopping into my rental car, tuning to the XM 80s station, and enjoying the 7-hour drive back to Voorhees, NJ. Once I arrive back to my parent’s house, I will be greeted by Sozë who usually leaps right into my arms. And that is when VACATION begins. Yes, finally after non-stop work dating back all the way to December, I will be enjoying a few well-earned days of rest and relaxation. No email, no blogs, no message boards – just some golf, playing with Sozë, and enjoying down time with my family and especially my niece. (I am going to teach her how to say Uncle Daniel as her first words!)

Looking back at yesterday’s post, I realized I never spoke about the St. Paul’s college fair, nor did I really even talk about anything Admissions / Hopkins related. So I thought with this final post I would focus on those topics, rather than pop culture or technological innovations. The St. Paul’s college fair went well, but did not compare to how busy I was at Andover and Exeter. Could be that the school is smaller, could be that less students from other schools joined the fair, or could be that my position as first table in the hockey arena was a bit intimidating. Who knows – all I know is that before the fair I enjoyed a lovely dinner prepared by the people at St. Paul’s (yes they feed us!) and enjoyed some great conversations with colleagues from Cornell, Pomona, and Bates.

Yesterday afternoon was my final college fair, the Lakes Region Independent School College Counselors Association (LRISCCA) Spring College Fair. LRISCCA is the NH/VT/ME equivalent of BISCCA with a few differences. The main difference is LRISCCA is made of 13 schools compared to BISCCA’s 32 schools. What does that mean? A much slower college fair. During the two hours, I spoke with only about 40 students, which by far was the lowest turnout for me at any of my events this week. I did though have some really good conversations with some students from the Holderness School about our International Studies program, connections to Peabody, and theatre opportunities. I also think one of the students that came to my table has been reading the blog. His questions very closely resembled the list of questions I posted a few days back. I didn’t question him, though he was reading his questions from a printed page so maybe someone is actually reading this.

There was an upside to seeing less students at St. Paul’s and LRISCCA, I didn’t run out of materials. I came close though, returning home with just 8 blank inquiry cards, 35 of the Different/Distinct brochure, and 21 of the Original/Fun one. All in all, this trip would be rated an A+. Each event this year had more students stopping by the Hopkins table than any of the previous years events. I will go back to Baltimore with the most completed inquiry cards for a one week Spring recruitment trip than ever before. I guess this all confirms my thoughts that Hopkins is a "hot" school for New Englanders. (Good job Daniel! – Why, thank you!)

I thought I would wrap-up this series with one last discussion about recruitment. As I look back over this week’s events, I realize that if someone followed me from fair to fair they would say I actually sound like a broken record repeating the same material over and over and over again. Now there are the repeated answers to those most frequently asked questions: what is the average SAT?, do you have pre-med?, where are you located?, do you have study abroad? how many SAT IIs must I take?, do you give scholarships?, and can I play Lacrosse there?

But beyond that, there is also the "main messages" I try to pass along to any student that visits my table and engages me in conversation about Hopkins. For those interested students, I have a list of distinguishing characteristics about Johns Hopkins that I attempt to discuss. This list is what I feel are the most important features of studying and living at Hopkins, and can help a student decide whether Hopkins is a school that they are interested in and want to pursue more. That is the end goal of a college fair for me – helping students decide whether Johns Hopkins is a school they should further research or just cross off their list.

See Johns Hopkins is a DISTINCT school. We are not for everyone. As you begin your college search you will learn that this is true of many elite schools. Your responsibility at the initial stages of your college search is to first determine what features you most want your future college to have and than research schools to see which ones FIT what you are looking for. Don’t just go by name, don’t go by reputation, or especially rankings. Do your research, and learn what makes each school DISTINCT. If their main messages work for you, then put that school on your list, check out their website, and plan a visit. (((Side note – I didn’t capitalize DISTINCT and FIT for no reason. These are crucial words, think about them a lot as you fine tune "your list.")))

So now you are wondering what makes Hopkins different, I mean DISTINCT. Well for those who will never interact with me at a college fair, I will let you in on what I consider our main messages:

  • RESEARCH – This one word defines Hopkins. We are the nation’s first research institution and remain the leading university in the country when it comes to research. And that definitely includes undergraduate research across all of our disciplines. In every program our students will find probably the top research opportunities and funding for undergraduates in the country. From the Woodrow Wilson fellowship to the Undergraduate Provost Awards, the entire undergraduate academic community at Hopkins is dedicated to the advancement of research positions for all students, including freshmen.
  • LIBERAL ARTS – I think I am going to tattoo on my forehead a phrase I say a lot, "Hopkins is much more than pre-med!" Yes, our reputation precedes us when it comes to the medical sciences, but at the undergraduate level we are SO MUCH more. Only around 25-28% of our students will pursue a medical degree later on (higher than most schools but not 50% as I have heard). But to understand Hopkins at the undergrad level is to understand our programs are split into four areas, the Humanities, the Social & Behavioral Sciences, Engineering, and Natural Sciences. And for the "lesser known" areas you are going to find amazing programs. Just take a look at nationally ranked programs in Creative Writing, International Studies, Political Science, History, Foreign Languages, Classics, not to mention Bioengineering and our interdisciplinary Natural Science programs.
  • SIZE – I like to say that Hopkins is small and large at the same time. Unknown to many, but Hopkins is one of the smallest research institutions in the country with just over 4000 undergraduates. Average class size is just 19 and nearly 70% of our classes are less than 30 students (only 8% are over 100 and 25% are less than 10). That is the small side. On the large side, Hopkins is a huge institution with much more than our two undergraduate schools. We also have a medical school, hospital, school of nursing, school of public health, school of advanced international studies, music conservatory, school of professional studies in business and education, and an array of research facilities. As a Hopkins undergraduate you have access to all this and so much more. So despite only having 4000 students, we are quite similar to large universities when it comes to opportunities and resources.
  • A UNIQUE CAMPUS – Most people think of Hopkins as a city school, and they are right. But come visit and you will be surprised that the Homewood campus does not feel or look like a traditional city school. This is one of the great attributes of Hopkins; a city school without the city feel. Homewood is a 140-acre self-contained campus with beautiful landscaping, no city streets cutting through the campus, tons of trees and flowers, and a setting that truly feels like college. Yet, the campus is still in Baltimore. This dual environment is beneficial to  life since students can be active in a traditional college campus sense, while also having fun in a city. Come visit and be surprised.
  • STUDENT LIFE – Yes, students have FUN at Hopkins. From Lacrosse games, to Spring Fair, to Theatre productions, to the Greek system, to the Inner Harbor, to etc., etc. etc. Hopkins has over 300 clubs and organizations for students to get involved. Life is what you make of it at Hopkins, but many will be surprised that the myth of Hopkins students working all the time is to a current Hopkins student ridiculous. Are students can succeed academically, while also have an enjoyable college experience revolving around their social preferences.

This list is by far just the main points. (I like list with only 5 points.) There is so much more to learn about Hopkins including the opportunities in Baltimore and D.C., the interdisciplinary nature of our programs, the existence of no core curriculum, the music offerings through Peabody, and how truly spectacular our professors and students are. Come visit, check out the web, and do your research to see if Hopkins is the right place for you.

Well that’s it. This blog experiment is over. My fingers need a rest from all this typing — they are beginning to think I am back in college. I hope you all enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Vacation awaits me, but don’t hesitate to comment on any of these blog entries as I am very interested to hear from my readers (if anyone is actually reading my crazy thoughts).

Signing off from Concord, NH…

P.S. So now that you have read the whole series, what did you think. Give me some feedback in the "Comments" section. I am interested to hear from you all.

8 thoughts on “On the Road: Day Six (Thursday)

  1. So, I was thinking, New England is kind of overrated, and I feel like JHU needs to visit the south a litte. So how about a college trip down to the deep south, home of Strom Thurmond in Columbia, SC. You could stay at my house, much better food than hotel muffins. How about it?

  2. Thank you for the invite to visit SC, but I don’t decide where we travel to in the South. That is the responsibility of my colleague Rachel Cowan who covers the South for JHU. She didn’t travel to the South this spring as she did international travel, but I know she will be down there in the fall.

  3. Well-said! Those are practically the reasons why I’ve chosen to enroll in the Class of 2010.

  4. I went to the St. Paul’s College Fair two years ago. I had to drive down from a tennis match in Vermont in order to make it – fun times, fun times.

  5. I truly can not thank you enough for these blogs. They have helped me so much, and all the information about what makes Johns Hopkins “distinct” really made me confident about my choice! – Thanks again!

  6. I think the blogs here are awesome! Would it be possible to post info about SAT subject mean scores of admitted students by major – so prospective students would know whether they were aiming realistically for Hopkins as seniors?

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