We know many of you are anxiously awaiting the launch of the Johns Hopkins Supplement so you can get started on your applications. We expect it to be available soon—please keep checking this space and also the Common Application website or the Universal College Application website for an update. (Check out http://apply.jhu.edu/apply/ for a checklist of requirements for Johns Hopkins, or http://apply.jhu.edu/apply/process/ to learn more about our admissions process and what we’re looking for in an application.) In the meantime, we thought we’d give you a sneak peek at this year’s essay, along with some helpful hints on tackling it! Whether you’re ready to start filling out your application or just starting to think about the whole thing, one important piece of your application that you should spend some time thinking about is the essay.
This year’s question:
Johns Hopkins University was founded in 1876 on a spirit of exploration and discovery. As a result, students can pursue a multi-dimensional undergraduate experience both in and outside of the classroom. Given the opportunities at Hopkins, please discuss your current interests—academic or extracurricular pursuits, personal passions, summer experiences, etc.—and how you will build upon them here. (300-500 Word limit).
So how do you start formulating your answer to this question? Here are some tips as you organize your thoughts:
- Think about fit. Fit, fit, fit. You’ll hear that word a lot during your college search. One important way the admissions team at Johns Hopkins uses your essay is to evaluate fit—yours for us, and ours for you. The essay question specifically asks about your current interests (what you’ve done so far) and how you will build on them here. We’re asking you to connect your current interest to why you feel this is the right place for you. To do that, you need to take some time to get to know us before you can dive into the essay.
- Think broadly. One thing that makes a Johns Hopkins education unique? Academic and extracurricular boundaries are fluid here, meaning you’re given the freedom to connect and combine interests to build the experience that’s right for you. Here, we’re asking you to talk about your experiences and future goals both in and outside the classroom, so think about your fit with Hopkins from a holistic angle.
- What are your interests? What are the experiences (internships, research projects, classes and teachers, new stories you’ve followed, etc.) that have shaped your interests? Your essays are really how the admissions committee gets to know you on a more personal level. So, tell us what you care about, and why. Then, talk about how your education will build on that at Hopkins.
- Go back to (our) basics. We’re all about exploration and discovery. You should address the essay question the same way. Take time to learn about our departments and programs—a great place to start is this listing of our majors and special programs: http://apply.jhu.edu/academics/majors.html. But don’t just recite your findings; use the information to really think about why you think this is a great mutual fit. The most important step in writing any college essay is reflection—and that takes time, so another often-heard tip: don’t procrastinate!
- Know your limit. Word limit, that is. The essay calls for 300-500 words. You don’t have to use all 500, and sometimes less is more. The 500 word limit is there if you need it to fully explore your ideas, but don’t feel like you have to fill it up just because there’s space left in the text box. Most importantly? Make sure you answer the question, whether you’re using 301 words or 499.
- Think about community. We take a lot of things into consideration when we’re reading applications, and one of the most important is evaluating how applicants would become a part of our community. This essay should help us understand how you plan to engage with the campus and how you might become a contributing member of our academic and social communities. Help us understand who you are in class, at the library, at a game, in the residence halls, as a member of an organization, etc.
- Who are you? While you’re writing an application essay, of course you have to keep your audience in mind. But, we also want to see your personality shining through. The best and most memorable essays are thoughtful, genuine, and really give us a feel for the person writing it.
The most important piece of advice, not just for our essay but for all of the ones you’ll be tackling? Relax. Think about what you want to say and experiment with different ways of saying it without worrying so much about grammar and word counts at first. Once you know what you want to say, and the best way to say it, then you can focus on rewriting, editing, and polishing. (And, it never hurts to have someone else take a look and give you some pointers.)
We look forward to reading what you have to say, and getting to know all of our applicants!