Essays and Short Answer Questions

What will inspire you when writing your Johns Hopkins application essays and short answer questions?

Throughout the summer, but especially since posting the Here We Go Again blog about the August 1 launch of the Common Application and Universal College Application, we have received an abundance of phone calls and emails regarding the same question. The question is simply:

When will the Johns Hopkins Supplement to the Common Application / Universal College Application be available online?

Once we answer this question it typically leads to a second question:

What are the essay / short answer question topics posted on the Johns Hopkins Supplement?

So to stem the tide of these questions, I thought a quick blog update answering both questions was in order.

First, we do not have an exact date for when the Johns Hopkins Supplement will be available via the Common Application and/or the Universal College Application websites. We have finished our process of providing both companies with the structure and questions for our supplements and passed along that information earlier in the month. We wait along with you all for the supplement to be uploaded and become accessible. We hope this will be any day now but are pretty confident that by the end of August everything will be available. Once the supplement “goes live” we will also post a copy to our Applications page: http://apply.jhu.edu/apply/application.html?main.

What will inspire you when writing your Johns Hopkins application essays and short answer questions?
What will inspire you when writing your Johns Hopkins application essays and short answer questions?

I think the main reason why so many people are searching for the Johns Hopkins Supplement is not because they want to complete it and apply right now, but rather they are searching for the topics of any supplemental essays / short answer questions. Many of you, smartly, want to get a head start on your applications before your senior year picks-up full steam, so to help out here is the information you are looking for:

Johns Hopkins Supplement Essay and Short Answer Questions Policy
Students applying as freshmen to Johns Hopkins using the Common Application / Universal College Application plus the Johns Hopkins Supplement must submit both the Common Application / Universal College Application essay and both of the short answer questions below (250 word maximum each).

1. Johns Hopkins offers 50 majors across the schools of Arts & Sciences and Engineering. On this application, we ask you to identify one or two that you might like to pursue here. Why did you choose the way you did? If you are undecided, why didn’t you choose? (If any past courses or academic experiences influenced your decision, you may include them in your essay.

2. Tell us something about yourself or your interests that we wouldn’t learn by looking at the rest of your application materials. (While you should still pay attention to sentence structure and grammar, your response is meant as a way for us to get to know you, rather than a formal essay.)

Make sure you proofread.
Make sure you proofread.

So there you go. Get to work on your short answer responses and check back at the end of the month for the Johns Hopkins Supplement. In the meantime, here are some resources I suggest you check out for help in responding to the essay and short answer prompts:

1) Essay Strategies That Work
Last fall I participated in an essay workshop and compiled a blog listing seven essay strategies that I believe work.

2) The Essay: Advice from an Evaluator
My colleague Amy Brokl composed this guest blog entry a couple of years ago where she shared her advice on tackling the essay / short answer portion of the application.

3) Getting to Knew the Admissions Committee: What is the most unique college essay you’ve ever read?
Each member of the Admissions Committee responded to this question last winter, providing a vast array of some of the most interesting essay topics we have ever received.

4) Essays That Worked
Over the last three years we have presented a handful of the best essays from the previous admissions cycle on our main Admissions website. You can check out examples for the Class of 2014 and Class of 2013, and in the early fall we will update with five essays from the incoming Class of 2015.

Happy writing.

7 thoughts on “Essays and Short Answer Questions

  1. @Mo Bhatt: An applicant’s whose short answer questions exceed the 250 word limit by a few words is not going to be automatically denied. However, we would not put a word limit on our short answer questions if we did not want students to adhere to these guidelines. So the policy is not absolutely strict that each response must be below 250, but this is a STRONG preference of the Admissions Committee and we want students to make sure they are aware of this preference. If your responses are just a few words beyond the 250 word guideline you will be fine, but if your responses far exceed this guideline you need to edit.

  2. I am trying to upload my second short essay but when I preview it, it shows up blank. I’ve tried everything but it just won’t show my second essay. Who can I ask about this?

  3. @mmiller: You need to contact the support team for the application you are using: Common Application or Universal College Application. Johns Hopkins does not administer the online application systems so we can not assist students experiencing technical difficulties.

  4. The Johns Hopkins University Admissions Committee does not set a word count for an applicant’s main essay. The Common Application may state a 500 word limit on the essay, but this is not a Johns Hopkins policy. We prefer students to write essays of length that answer the essay prompt completely and effectively. If you feel that a more than 500 word essay does that for you then under our policies you may submit such an essay.

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