How To: A Road Map to Hopkins Interactive

Today’s guest entry was composed by Lauren Carney, a Hopkins senior who will be graduating with a degree in Writing Seminars and Film & Media Studies at the end of this month. She has been involved on campus as tutor at the JHU Writing Center, a sister with the Alpha Phi sorority, and marketing leader of the JHU Film Society. Among multiple jobs and internships, Lauren has worked with Admissions for her entire college career. If you have been a frequent visitor to the Hopkins Interactive site for the last few years nearly all the design elements of the blogs and forums are the result of Lauren’s creativity and hard work. In fact, the design of the Hopkins Insider blog also stems from Lauren’s ingenuity. Hopkins Interactive and the Hopkins Insider blog would not be as successful as they currently are without the passion and drive shown by Lauren during her undergraduate years.

Home sweet home: me on the marble Johns Hopkins University sign just outside the library.

In the four years I have worked for the Undergraduate Admissions Office at Johns Hopkins University, Hopkins Interactive has come a long way. I’ve seen us move from a tiny, forgotten corner of the admissions website to our own dedicated, interactive domain. I’ve seen us grow in size from 12 students to nearly 30. I’ve seen videos produced, blogs become smarter, ideas become more creative and more in tune with our audience of prospective students. I’ve seen our work advertised by all departments at the university with pride and have seen us win national awards for our social media outreach.

In so many words, I’ve seen Hopkins Interactive become awesome.

I know it sounds like a “line,” but I honestly wish I had something like Hopkins Interactive to help me through my own college search four years back. If I were to go back and do it all over again, I would avoid doing random Google searches. I would avoid lurking on College Confidential, assuming I was getting quality and official advice. I would become more familiar with my schools’ own resources, asking questions directly from the source.

As I prepare to graduate and move on to the next chapter of my life, it’s hard not to think back to high school graduation and preparing for college. I want to leave you all with something besides a blog full of colorful pictures and stories about my friends – so here it is, the ultimate guide to Hopkins Interactive. No matter what your question, no matter what your concern, and no matter how willing you are to reach out to strangers over the internet, I promise there is an option for you out there to get your questions answered. This road map to the site will show you where all those options are.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned during these four years, it is that questions come in types. Click on the category that most appropriately describes the question(s) you have and we’ll help you on your way!

A) Academics

B) Day to Day

C) Baltimore

D) Extracurriculars

E) Myths and Misconceptions

F) Admissions

A) Academics

First and foremost, there are the academic questions. Professor approachability, class size, time spent in the library, rigor of the curriculum, how hard is the average exam, what type of laptop or notebook or pen should I buy…we’ve heard it all. Seeing as we are a university, we know that one of your primary concerns will be academics!

If you have questions about academic programs of study (that’s bureaucratic speak for “majors and minors”), there is no better resource than our Academics blog. Hopkins Interactive has collected blog entries from every major and minor offered at Hopkins (excluding only a couple of the rarer programs) that are complete, interesting, and honest portraits of life as each major at this school. And an insider’s tip from the blog itself: check out the major you might have in mind. Then read one you’d never even considered. And then read all of them in between. There’s no telling which personal story might speak most closely to you and your own academic goals.

JHU_Allysa and a friend studying Orgo!

You can also get more information about faculty, special events, courses, and requirements from each department’s individual website. You’ll find links to all of the departments at the main websites for the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and the Whiting School of Engineering.

And if you have questions about the student experience with academics, the Hopkins Forums is the place to go. Just take a minute to register and the entire place will be open to you! If you have a particular major in mind, check out the Meet the JHU Students section to find someone with that exact major (or close to it). There, you can ask them any question you’ve got. We also have a strictly Academics section for more general discussion about the academic climate here. Within that, you’ll find a subforum where you can address specific programs of study with our current students. You can ask us about where we study, lab courses, interacting with professors, what the typical class is like, our schedules…no subject is off-limits! (Well, except our GPAs. Gotta keep some personal things to ourselves.)

Here are just some links to our students’ forums threads, just to give you an idea of the vast number of majors we have represented!

And here are some of my favorite blog entries about academics at Hopkins:

(Back to top)

B) Day to Day

Another important question we get from students and parents alike is about day-to-day life on campus, namely dorms and food. When I visited campus, I thought I was being shallow when I judged the beauty of the buildings, the comfort of the dorm beds, and the quality of the food in the cafeteria. But in reality, these are some of the most crucial parts of a college search. You have to choose a place where you can actually live and be happy, after all!

To go beyond your abstract idea of “college dorms,” watch current JHU students show off their rooms/suites in our Cribs video series. We’re really proud of this series, which we’ve been working on now for nearly five years. In that time, we have produced videos from every single one of our on-campus housing options (and also several from off-campus too) to give you the whole picture!

JHU_Lucie opens the door to her room in our Cribs series.

If you have any questions about the Hopkins lifestyle and our day-to-day experiences (or want to read through past questions from prospective students), check out the Hopkins Forums’ Student Life section. Specifically, here are some threads that might be useful to some of you:

JHU_Sydney poses in the Fresh Food Cafe, a very important place during freshman year.

Most of our blogs are centered around student life as well – what we do here, who we do it with, and what our experience as a whole really looks like. By far, this is the best way to really imagine yourself at a particular school. Read stories from real current students and put yourself in their blue jay shoes! Some of our bloggers write on this topic with exceptional talent, so here are a few of the best entries:

(Back to top)

C) Baltimore

Committing to spend four years in a new city is a pretty big deal, so we’re also in the business of answering your questions about Baltimore. Whether you’re from a small town with a single Main Street or you grew up in a large urban environment, you’ll want to make sure there’s stuff to do here to keep you busy!

JHU_Mandy and friends in Baltimore's Fells Point neighborhood.

Luckily, you can sort each personal blog by category, so head to our blogs and select “Baltimore” from the drop-down list of options. There, you’ll see current students writing about days spent at the Inner Harbor, fantastic meals in Little Italy, thrift store shopping in Hampden, seeing movies in Harboreast, and various special events all around the city. There’s a ton to do, so there is certainly a lot of material to be found! We promise we’ll have you excited to come to Baltimore by the time you’re done reading. Here are some of my absolute favorite entries about life in Charm City:

Hopkins Interactive offers several multimedia options to give you an actual insider’s view of Baltimore! The first is our Learn More, See More, B’More video series, designed to focus on our favorite aspects of Charm City and give you a behind-the-scenes peek at how they work. Past episodes have highlighted Clipper Mill restaurant Woodberry Kitchen and the popular tourist attraction, the National Aquarium. If photos are more your thing, Hopkins Interactive also owns a Flickr account, to which current students contribute photos of campus, events, friends, and Baltimore every week. Check out our “Around Baltimore” album for a colorful look at the different parts of this city!

JHU_Lucie riding the dragon boats in Baltimore's Inner Harbor!

Safety comes into play here too, considering Baltimore is a city at all. Parents especially want to make sure that our security team is competent, our students are safe, and the Hopkins campus is in a good area of the city. To learn about Baltimore in this light, the blogs can also be a useful tool. Further, we have a section at the Hopkins Forums called Life in Baltimore where current students, current parents, and Admissions representatives discuss security, safety, transportation, and more. If you have any specific questions, get over there and ask them. If not, feel free to read through the past year of questions and answers to ease your concerns about college life in an urban setting.

(Back to top)

D) Extracurriculars

Even after all that time spent on academics, in your dorm, and around Baltimore, you’ll still have free time to fill! That’s where our extracurricular clubs and organizations come into play.

Your first step in learning about extracurricular life here is to read the long, official directory of clubs and organizations offered at Johns Hopkins University. Another valuable resource will be our Hopkins Forums discussion about starting a club – if you don’t see the group you want to join, starting your own (with help from the Office of Student Activities) is easier than you might think!

Next, read our admitted student blog about getting involved at Hopkins. This essay, written by two current students (one of them was me!), reveals all of the vast extracurricular options available here, from intramural sports to a capella groups to newspapers to academic honor societies – and the many, many organizations in between.

JHU_Miranda and her fellow Mock Trial teammates.

Your best resource, however, will be the blogs.  This option works best if you don’t know exactly what organization you’re most interested in, but instead want to read about our current students’ experiences with getting involved. Just click on an individual blog, then select “Student Activities” from the dropdown menu of blog categories. Whether you choose Miranda’s blogs about Mock Trial, my blogs about Greek Life, or Nick’s blogs about HERU, you’ll get a sense of how active our students are on campus and all of the unique, fun, and interesting ways they choose to spend their free time.

There’s also a section of the Hopkins Forums just about extracurriculars, if your question hasn’t been answered yet!

(Back to top)

E) Myths and Misconceptions

And then there are our rumor questions. Is Hopkins cut-throat? Does anyone have any fun? Do your grades mean anything with grade inflation? Do I have to score a 1600 on my SAT just to get in? The food, omg, is it edible? Everyone’s going to be a doctor here, right?

These questions are often the most important because they can make or break a prospective student’s decision to come to a particular school. Luckily though, Hopkins Interactive is just that – interactive. So, for this final type of question, if you’re concerned, TELL US. Whether it’s via our enrolled student Facebook group, our Hopkins Forums, or as a comment on our blogs, we’ll help to set the record straight. We know these things are on your mind, so we even have a Fact or Fiction section on the Hopkins Forums just for this purpose! Visit us there to read about these rumors and learn the truth.

Finally, JHU_Tess has written a blog to disspell some common myths about Hopkins. Don’t miss it!

(Back to top)

F) Admissions

Admissions_Daniel's infamous yellow bag!

If you have a strictly Admissions-related question (about transcripts, your application, IB/AP credits, SAT/ACT scores, etc.), you’ll want to go directly to our Admissions office to ask it. You can do this one of three ways.

The best way is to visit the Hopkins Forums’ Ask Admissions section.  Admissions_Daniel, Admissions_Mark, and Admissions_Shannon are wonderful and will help you out no matter what your question is!

Another option is to read our official Admissions blog, the Hopkins Insider. You can filter the posts by category and get really detailed information about decision release day, what to do if you’re on the waitlist, how many applications we’ve received, etc. You can also ask questions in the comments!

You can also give the Admissions office and/or your specific counselor a call. Visit the main Johns Hopkins University Office of Undergraduate Admissions website for a list of those details including phone numbers, email addresses, and their own list of frequently asked questions.

(Back to top)

The best part about Hopkins Interactive, for me as a current student, is the fact that I have never once been censored when giving my opinion about Hopkins. You will get real advice – not advice that has been packaged neatly, approved by the higher-ups, and done with advertising in mind. We’re real students and that means we go both ways: if we like something, we’ll tell you we like it. And if we don’t like something, we aren’t going to lie to you just to get you to come here. I’ve had plenty of questions (mostly from parents) trying to “trick” me into losing my composure, like “What’s your least favorite thing about Hopkins?” They think they’re being clever, but I’m fully prepared to answer questions like that. I just do it with honesty.