Go West, Young Admissions Officer

Insert typical tourist shot of the Golden Gate Bridge here

With the start of the application season, I find myself looking back at all of the great students I met over the fall. In the past two months, I visited over 30 high schools, 4 college fairs, 3 states, 2 regions of the United States, and 1 World Series winning city (I had a little bit of a stopover in San Francisco…during the World Series). During that time, I met a wide range of students from all over the US with all sorts of backgrounds, stories, and academic passions that they want to pursue in the future. Being a first time counselor, it was really exciting to travel to new places I’ve never been to before and to meet so many enthusiastic students who are going through a process I went through not too long ago. With that in mind, I want to take some time to share my experiences “going west” with you all.

“Go West, young admissions officer” CHECK!
“Go West, young admissions officer” CHECK!

First stop on the three state tour: New Mexico. This trip was my first one to the state, and I wanted to make sure I saw everything I could in the Land of Enchantment. Luckily, on my flight out from Baltimore, I sat next to this lovely lady from Santa Fe. Anyone who knows me knows I love to strike up a conversation and meet someone new (good thing I’m in Admissions), and this flight was no different. The New Mexico native told me about all the beautiful mountain ranges and outdoor scenes I’ll run into on my drive. She described the Spanish influence that informs everything from the architecture to the day to day life. Most importantly, she let me know that I could not leave the state without trying any New Mexican dish with good helpings of Salsa Verde. Anyone who knows me also knows I’m a big foodie, so this last piece of advice was much appreciated. By the end of my 5 day trip, I would have done all of that.

Definitely recommend to anyone passing through Albuquerque.
Definitely recommend to anyone passing through Albuquerque.
A real Spanish Plaza Mayor…in America
A real Spanish Plaza Mayor…in America

While I was out in New Mexico, I attended two fairs: The Hidden Ivies Fair and The RMACAC Fair in Albuquerque, New Mexico. These two were my first college fairs on my own on travel, and as evidenced by my tweets and pictures back to the office, I was pretty excited. I got to meet a lot of great students who came from a wide range of backgrounds and interests here in the American Southwest. Students were coming up to me talking about the strength of our international studies programs or how famous our Bloomberg School of Public Health or our engineering programs were. It made me really excited to see how far our message has gotten all over the country. Afterwards, I was able to spend a nice dinner with a few other Admissions colleagues at a pretty well-known Albuquerque restaurant, El Pinto, and dined on delicious New Mexico food (I had a huge carnitas burrito with fresh avocado and HEALTHY helpings of salsa verde, because I know you wondering about it). Overall, this was a great first trip to New Mexico, but work always calls. With that, I was off to the Pacific Northwest.

Baby’s First College Fair
Baby’s First College Fair

Next stop on my trip was a 3-day stop in Washington. As soon as I landed in Seattle, I knew this was a place I could learn to love. I’m a big outdoors guy who loves his landscape full of trees and his weather crisp and cool. Washington was certainly all of this. Seattle was even better with its international flavor, metropolitan style, and maritime feel with its multitude of boats and harbors. I had a morning to myself the day after I landed, so I took the time to go out for a run and take in the sights of Seattle. I stopped by the famous Pike Place Market and took a picture of the first Starbucks (any admissions officer will tell you that Starbucks is essential to any travel season, so I had to stop and pay homage). I snapped another shot at the famous Pike Place Fish Company (they really do throw fish around and sing). Finally, no trip through Seattle would be complete without a trip to the Space Needle.

Couldn’t leave Seattle without at least one picture
Couldn’t leave Seattle without at least one picture
Had to stop here on my morning run
Had to stop here on my morning run
The line got a LOT longer during the day
The line got a LOT longer during the day

During my three days out here, I went to two college fairs hosted by the Seattle Area Independent Schools and 3 high schools in the Seattle area. Again, I was struck by the variety of major interests and passions that the students I met had. At Hopkins, I was always very happy with our liberal arts style and the ability to take two very different majors and bring them together (I was a neuroscience and languages guy myself). It was great to take the time at Hopkins to explore all of my passions and many other classes in fields I just wanted to learn more about (big fan of Intro. to Art History 2, Shakespeare, and Intro to Comparative Politics). For me, with this view of the college process, I have to say that it is really nice to see students who are drawn to Hopkins for that same freedom and ability to discover new fields. It also struck me how so many students in Washington seem to really want to add Comp. Sci. to whatever they want to study (making Bill Gates proud!). While I wanted to take some more time in Washington, maybe go out on a hike or camp out for a few days, I had to keep moving and catch a flight down the coast.

My last leg of the trip was in sunny Northern California, the region I represent in our Admissions Office, where I spent a little more than a week visiting high schools and hosting my first Explore Hopkins program. While I had been to Southern California and visited LA a few times, this was my first trip to San Francisco and NorCal. Again, I was a big fan of the international flavor of the city, with Ethiopian and El Salvadorian restaurants next to sushi and dim sum options. San Francisco is a very walkable city with plenty of public transportation from the modern buses and subways to the traditional cable cars, a staple of the past and San Francisco today. I got shots of said cable cars, visited the TransAmerica building, and dined on the famous sourdough bread at Boudin in Fisherman’s Wharf.

A sourdough croc from the Famous Boudin Bakery in San Francisco
A sourdough croc from the Famous Boudin Bakery in San Francisco
Cable Car Picture…Check!
Cable Car Picture…Check!
Insert typical tourist shot of the Golden Gate Bridge here
Insert typical tourist shot of the Golden Gate Bridge here

During this week, I traveled around the entire Bay, starting in San Francisco, going east to the East Bay, traveling down to San Jose, heading back up through Palo Alto, stopping up north in Marin County, and settling back down again in San Francisco proper. I covered a lot of miles traveling up and down the bay visiting high schools, but I was so happy to do it. Being a graduate of Hopkins, I found myself really enjoying all my conversations about the university. While I have conducted information sessions in the past, those sessions have a more formal set up to them. With the high school visits, I really got the chance to connect with students and talk about my own personal experiences. I really felt like I got to drive the point home about why I loved Hopkins so much and why I thought they would too.

In the end, I returned to Baltimore with a few more states I’ve visited under my belt, a bunch of great meals I’ve eaten, and plenty more great experiences I now share with you all. I found the trip to be really rewarding and really got to see why Admissions professionals love the field so much. As one final note to students out West, know that I was really happy to take the time to visit you all and where you come from. With any luck, I did a great enough job that when you decide to come visit Hopkins you’ll have plenty of students from your neck of the woods to talk to as well.

One thought on “Go West, Young Admissions Officer

  1. Love this blog, Ardi! You captured the spirit of the first travel season so well! Your pictures are awesome too– I love the license plate idea! Totally doing that next season! :)

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