Getting to Know the Admissions Committee: Question #1


QUESTION #1: What advice would you give to applicants or what’s something applicants should try to avoid in their applications?

Amy: Spend time on your essay. Essays that don’t wrap back to the applicant in some meaningful way leave the reader with little else to access how that applicant sees and operates within the world. Though there is absolutely no trouble with essays that address current events or phenomena, meaningful mentors and/or objects external to the writer, it becomes quite problematic when the centrality and focus of the essay stray too far and too often from the applicant him/herself.

Dana: Don’t call it John Hopkins or John’s Hopkins—as an alum it sounds like nails on a chalkboard!

It was an April Fool's Day joke!

It was an April Fool's Day joke!

Lester: Do your research, and tell us why Johns Hopkins is the right school for you. I find it (mildly) irritating when applicants are clearly just applying to Hopkins for the name—they don’t know what makes Hopkins unique, and they can’t articulate why Hopkins is a good fit for them. With all of the information available out there … c’mon, applicants!

Shannon: Be prepared. It drives me crazy when a student comes up to me at a presentation or high school visit and says, “Hi, my name is John Smith,” and then just looks at me. While it is great to put a face with a name and I love meeting students on the road, I am not a mind reader, and this situation can be awkward. Come prepared with questions, something you are interested in, or subjects you would like more information on. I am happy to help you learn more about Johns Hopkins and why it would be a good fit for you!

Sherryl: I would love to see each applicant review their essays just “one more time” to eliminate any errors which simply do not represent their talents as they should be represented.

Zak: Students, please make sure that the teachers who write you a recommendation know you well. Make sure that they know you well enough not just to provide us with a list of activities that you’re involved with, but a detailed description of why they think you would be a good fit for a particular institution. We already know which activities you are a part of. We probably have your resume or at least a list on the application of activities that you’re involved with. The recommendation should supplement that list with a description of what you are like in the classroom, how your performance has been, and why they think you’re so amazing. So please make sure you get to know your teachers so they will have the knowledge and ability to write you a strong recommendation.

Chloe: Use spell check.

Oops. Spel corectly pleaze.

Oops. Spel corectly pleaze.

Rachel: Try not to ask a question whose answer is easily found on our web site. I begin to wonder if the person took any time at all to do his or her own research and read our web site. It’s one thing if the question is on the obscure side, even if the answer is on our web site, because I understand how maze-like web sites can be. But when the information is one or two clicks away if you just follow your nose, I might end up remembering the person for the wrong reasons.

Mark: Students shouldn’t let their parents complete the application for them (yes, it happens).

Sarah: Students and guidance counselors shouldn’t just write the words “see transcript” or “see attached resume.” We ask for specific information in specific places for specific reasons, and when someone writes this they not only interrupt our flow while reading an application, but they appear to not be capable of following directions. They also risk that the information that is supposed to be on the “transcript” or “resume” isn’t actually there (this happens all the time!)—then we are at a dead end with an application. Please follow directions.

John B.: Simply put: students should do their homework about the university. Don’t be the student at college fairs, visiting campus, or via email who openly states “I don’t know anything about your school, tell me about it.”

Get to know JHU.

Get to know JHU.

Daniel: Working in Admissions for Johns Hopkins University for the past seven years, it would be easy for me to say my best advice is to remember  the “s” or  to do your research (we don’t have a pre-med program; a quick look at our web site or publications will tell you that before you get to a college fair.) But as the years have gone on, and my job responsibilities have expanded in being the primary online presence for the Admissions Office (hello Admissions_Daniel), my best advice is to make sure you’re getting the correct information from a good source. Students who ask questions on College Confidential or take the response of some anonymous message board poster over an official response from a university administrator may find themselves with inaccurate information. Many of these questions can be easily answered by a quick search of the school’s main Admissions site, or an e-mail to a staff member.

10 Questions with the Johns Hopkins Admissions Committee


Over the last few years when the Admissions staff goes into application evaluation overdrive, we have presented a series of blog entries that introduces you to the professionals who make up the Johns Hopkins Undergraduate Admissions Committee. (If you click on the Admissions Staff profiles in the category list on the left column you can review all the past entries.) We have found that blog readers, especially in-progress applicants, enjoy learning more about the people who actually are reading the applications.

This year we have chosen to change things up a bit. Instead of posting a profile of each of the Admissions counselors, Admissions_Shannon, our master communication specialist Shelly, and I compiled a list of 10 interesting questions that we posed to each of the admissions counselors. Over the next five weeks we will present the collective responses of the Admissions Committee to each question. We hope you will enjoy these entries and gain a bit of insight into the working minds of the Johns Hopkins “gatekeepers.” We will post new entries each Monday and Thursday, starting next week, and the order of the questions will be:

1.) What advice would you give to applicants or what’s something applicants should try to avoid in their applications?

2.) What is your favorite thing about working at Johns Hopkins University?

3.) How do you survive application reading season?

4.) What is the most unique college essay you’ve ever read?

5.) Tell us about a noteworthy applicant from a previous admissions cycle–someone who “WOWED” you!

6.) For you, what makes an applicant stand out?

7.) Describe the funniest experience you’ve had during a recruitment event for Johns Hopkins.

8.) If you could add one question to the application, what would it be and why?

9.) How can you tell if an applicant is a good fit for Johns Hopkins?

10.) When on the road recruiting in your region, what are some of your favorite places to visit in your free time?

And to bide your time until Monday when we post question #1, check out past profiles of the current Johns Hopkins Undergraduate Admissions Committee:
(click the dates to access past profiles)

John Birney
Connecticut, New York
January 24, 2006March 3, 2008, March 1, 2010

Amy Brokl
California (Los Angeles, Ojai, Pasadena, San Fernando Valley, Santa Barbara), Washington
January 31, 2006February 28, 2008, March 5, 2010

Mark Butt
Delaware, New Jersey, Canada, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam
February 19, 2007February 25, 2008, March 8, 2010

Daniel Creasy
Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont
February 7, 2006, February 21, 2008, February 21, 2010

Sherryl Fletcher
Illinois, Michigan, Ohio
February 14, 2006February 14, 2008, March 3, 2010

Sarah Godwin
Colorado, District of Columbia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, New York (Long Island only)
February 6, 2009, February 24, 2010

Zakaree Harris
Alabama, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Oregon
September 13, 2010

Rachel Cowan Jacobs
Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, International
February 10, 2006February 7, 2008

Dana Messinger
Pennsylvania, Virginia
February 16, 2010, March 12, 2010

Shannon Miller
Alaska, California (except Los Angeles, Ojai, Pasadena, San Fernando Valley, Santa Barbara), Hawaii
January 17, 2006February 4, 2008, March 15, 2010

Chloe Rothstein
Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming, Mexico
January 31, 2008, March 10, 2010

Lester Su
Maryland (Montgomery County)
Faculty Profile

So you want to be a college athlete?


Editor’s Note: Today’s guest author is Associate Director of Admissions John Birney. JB, as we call him around the office, has been with Hopkins for more than ten years and is the liaison to our Athletics Department. We asked him to write about this role and provide advice to prospective students who may want to play for one of Hopkins’ varsity teams.

#1 Fan

#1 Fan

Although I firmly believe that most people enjoy the work they do, I also believe that there’s one aspect of their job they consider to be most enjoyable. For me, that would be working as the liaison to our Department of Athletics. Basically, this means that I work with each coach on recruitment strategies, roster size, team needs, and academic ability of players to be considered.

When teams win (and we win a lot), I feel a sense of pride knowing that I assisted the team in enrolling those student-athletes who would make the greatest contribution to both the classroom and playing field. When we lose, I don’t take it so well. 

Here’s a quick re-cap on our fall 2010 teams: 

Men’s Cross County—Finished 7th at Mid-East Regional Championships
Women’s Cross Country—Finished 7th at NCAA National Championships
Field Hockey—11-7 overall, 8-2 Conference, 3rd in the Centennial Conference
Football—Winner of the ECAC South Atlantic Bowl Championship
Men’s Soccer—NCAA Sweet 16
Women’s Soccer—NCAA Elite 8
Water Polo—6th at Easterns, #3 National ranking 

An amazing track record.

An amazing track record.

Most often, though, I’m asked what it takes to be a student-athlete. Here are some quick tips if you’re looking to play collegiate athletics:  

  • Read, and learn, the NCAA rules on recruiting. Nobody wants a rules violation.
  • Start a conversation with the coach, and start it early. Junior year isn’t too early. Coaches like students who take initiative.
  • Be willing to change position/event. It’s too often that students are dropped from recruiting because they are unwilling to change.
  • Always be in good physical condition when meeting a coach.
  • Stay overnight with the team. This allows you to get a feel for the students in an informal setting.
  • Attend home contests to see the team play, coaching philosophy, and team chemistry.
  • Present the coach with an athletic resume and academic transcript.
  • Always remember the “student-athlete” philosophy— You are a student first, an athlete second.
  • Prepare a tape/CD/DVD/web content of your playing ability. Coaches cannot offer a try-out, so bring the evidence of your playing ability to the coach.
  • Keep coaches informed about your schedule and level of competition.
  • Ask the coach about team depth and where you might fit with the team’s future rosters.
  • Customize your communications with the coaches and remember to always double check that the coach matches the correct school.
  • Ask the coach his or her philosophy on topics of interest: study abroad, research, class conflicts, playing a second sport. Then ask yourself if your expectations match those of the coach.
  • Don’t allow your parents to run this process. Coachs and the admissions staff prefers to work with the student athlete.
  • Highly consider applying Early Decision.
School spirit at its finest.

School spirit at its finest.

Now that you’ve had a chance to learn more about how to be a Johns Hopkins student-athlete, it’s time to learn more about the teams. Check out for all the latest updates.

The Nest is the place to be.

The Nest is the place to be.

When you make your visit to campus, come find me— I’m the one always wearing some type of athletic team apparel, sitting in the stands, or cheering from the sidelines—and we’ll talk sports.

Why I ♥ Baltimore


Editor’s Note: Today’s guest author is Senior Assistant Director of Admissions Sarah Godwin. When Sarah was asked what topic she wanted to write about she immediately said she would write about her love of Baltimore. So here is Sarah’s musings on her love of Charm City.

My guess is that you didn’t wake up this morning and say, “I want to go to college in Baltimore!” True, it is not a traditional ‘destination’ city for college the way Boston, New York, or San Francisco is. Like many of our students, Johns Hopkins is the reason I landed here. Now, two years later, I can hardly say enough good things about this charming, quirky, little, big, accessible, humble city. I love Baltimore, my adopted hometown, and  here are five reasons why (in no particular order):

1.) Fun stuff to do. This past weekend my good friend Susie (who also served as photographer, thanks Suse!) took the train from Washington, DC, to Baltimore (a 45-minute, $7 trip). Susie has been to visit me in Baltimore several times, so I was trying to think of something fun and different to do. Luckily there is always something fun and different to see in B’more. We ended up taking a self-guided tour of the Bromo Seltzer tower. Built in 1911 by Captain Isaac Emerson and located right in downtown Baltimore, it was home to the offices (and attached factory) that produced the Bromo Seltzer headache remedy. If it looks familiar, it might be because it was modeled after the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy. Today artists rent studio space in the narrow tower. We started on the 17th floor and wound our way down to the lobby, meeting artists and admiring their work along the way.

2.) Yummy places to eat! Have you ever seen “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” on the Food Network? If not, the title of the show is pretty self explanatory. One of my favorite restaurants in Baltimore, Woodberry Kitchen, was featured for a dessert, the C.M.P. The menu describes it as “malt ice cream, chocolate sauce, marshmallow fluff, wet peanuts.” But it is so much more! It is gooey yummy-ness topped with a burnt sugar top. I don’t know what wet peanuts are, but I know I love C.M.P. There are also tons of other yummy dishes in our fair city. Another favorite dessert? The Candy Bar at Gertrude’s. This restaurant is located in the Baltimore Museum of Art, just steps from the Johns Hopkins Undergraduate Admissions Office. If you come to visit us, convince your parents to take you to lunch there (or better yet, save some money and take THEM to lunch).

3.) The Inner Harbor. Typically, if there is one place in Baltimore out-of-towners know about, it’s this one. Located in downtown Baltimore and just a short (free) shuttle ride away from Hopkins’ Homewood campus, the Inner Harbor has a dizzying array of restaurants, shops, and museums. Need cool new shades at Urban Outfitters? Easy. What about a birthday dinner with your roommates? You’ll probably head here. That ship you see in the background behind me is an old World War II war ship that has been transformed into a floating museum. Come visit, you can take a tour.

4.) The Farmers’ Market. I grew up in Vermont, so I appreciate fresh produce from local growers. When I moved here, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Baltimore has a huge, bustling outdoor market nine months out of the year. I go to the one downtown on Sundays but on Saturdays there is one in Waverly, a short walk from Hopkins. In addition to local produce (I purchased apples and squash this week) there are lots of delicious food vendors who for a few dollars will sell you the best tasting banana-chocolate crepe you’ve ever tasted.

5.) Johns Hopkins. Like peanut butter with no jelly, it is hard to imagine Baltimore without our beloved university.  I could write a whole separate blog on why I love Hopkins. The number one reason is the people. From staff members (like me!) to faculty, librarians, residential advisers, security guards, and even the President,everyone here at Homewood is dedicated to making the Hopkins student experience a positive one. On any given evening, you can find professors playing poker with students in Charles Commons, Donny Deutsch (of CNBC’sThe Big Idea) giving a speech in Shriver as part of the MSE Symposium, or students rehearsing for a performance of Arsenic and Old Lace.  Peanut butter, jelly, and even a little fluff—just like the dessert from Woodberry—the combination is near perfection.

That’s my list, as you can see I really do love Baltimore. I hope you’ve learned a few things and that you come to Baltimore to visit us soon!



Editor’s Note: For this guest author entry we asked Senior Assistant Director Zak Harris to return and let you all know about another area of his position; coordinating one of our signature outreach programs.  Still in the midst of a hectic fall travel season, here is Zak discussing the unique Baltimore Scholars program.

So, it’s been a few weeks since you last heard from me—but I’m back! In the meantime, I have traveled through the great state of Maryland and met the great people (and ate the great food) of southern Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi. By the time you read this, I will be in Portland, OR, trying to stay dry from all of this rain!

Traveling across the country, while exciting, has definitely made me appreciate the idea of “home” a bit more. I put home in quotations because “home” can be anything. It can be your athletic team or band or it could be your tangible house or where your family resides. In any case, my blog this time around is going to be about “home” and Hopkins’ relationship with its home: Baltimore City. One of the many things that I love about Johns Hopkins, and the entire Johns Hopkins Institute, is our relationship with the city. Today, I want to introduce you to the special relationship that the Hopkins undergraduate campus has with the high school students of Baltimore City.

Baltimore: Home to amazing Scholars

Baltimore: Home to amazing Scholars

We are not unique in being an urban institution that has wonderful students right in its backyard;  however, our commitment to the students and the work that we do with them, I think, is unparalleled. Under my role as Coordinator of Multicultural Recruitment, I manage the Baltimore City area and the Baltimore Scholars program (our commitment to “home” and Baltimore City students.) The Baltimore Scholars program was started in 2005 as a way to reward Baltimore City public high school students for their dedication to academics, service, and leadership. The focal point of the program is a full tuition scholarship (renewable every year) for these students that apply and are accepted to Hopkins. These students are often considered the best and the brightest of their high school and go through the same exact application process that the rest of our applicants go through. They bring with them the ability to succeed academically, thrive socially, and all the while keeping their focus on giving back to their home. While they are at Hopkins they are expected to be leaders in the classroom and in the community. They will attend meetings together, learn more about each other, and teach the larger Hopkins community about the city of Baltimore. During our orientation week, the Baltimore Scholars organize a fair called “Welcome to My City.” This event, which regularly attracts hundreds of students, gives vendors from around the city an ability to talk directly with the freshman class. Also, during our intersession period (the time between first and second semesters) some of our Baltimore Scholars will help to teach a class about the History of Baltimore. This is a group of nearly 60 students that are extremely proud of their “home.”

Meet Baltimore Scholar Sheyna

Meet Baltimore Scholar Sheyna

I wanted to highlight one particular Baltimore Scholar to give you all a sense of how proud we are of this entire group of students. Sheyna Mikeal graduated from Johns Hopkins this past spring and is a great example of how giving back to one’s “home” is so important. Sheyna went to Dunbar High School in Baltimore City and, believe it or not, she did not see Hopkins as one of her first choices for college. However, after learning more about the Baltimore Scholars program, she understood that she had a tremendous opportunity to stay close to home and give back to her community. She used that motivation throughout her entire time at Hopkins and continues to use that motivation today. While she was at Hopkins she was president of the Multicultural Student Volunteers (MSV) and president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Mu Psi Citywide Chapter. She had internships in the Admissions Office at Hopkins and the Bloomberg School of Public Health. Currently, she is a graduate student at the Hopkins School of Education and recently found out that she will be interning at the counseling center at her alma mater, Dunbar High School!

So, whether are you from the area or not, we certainly hope that Hopkins can be a place that you can eventually call “home” as well.

Until next time…

Check out these resources to learn even more about the Baltimore Scholars program:

PDF – Program description:
PDF – Program brochure: 
Spring 2009 artcile about the first Baltimore Scholars graduates: 

Exploring the Peabody Institute


Editor’s Note: Our Admissions colleague Mark Butt returns with another blog about one of his roles in the Admissions Office. Mark is our Admissions liaison to the Peabody Institute and is part of the selection process for the Double Degree program each year. In this blog, Mark reflects on his own experiences with Peabody and discusses music opportunities for Homewood students through Peabody, including the Double Degree program.

Walking around the Johns Hopkins University is like walking into a magnificent jewelry store. There are so many amazing hidden gems around this university; it’s really quite unbelievable that Johns Hopkins University has, over time, become one of the most highly concentrated areas of human capital. Humanists, engineers, physicians, researchers, artisits, performers, social scientists, among others make up this incredibly talented community. This entry is meant to highlight one of the jewels in the Hopkins crown: The Peabody Institute.

Peabody was founded in 1857, but didn’t actually open its doors until 1866. The delay was caused by the Civil War, a particularly hard time for the State of Maryland, which was located on the dividing line between the North and South. Some of the students appreciate the classic architecture of the campus, others hardly notice it. The advantage of being…well…old is that Peabody has been producing top quality musicians for a century and a half, and the music world has come to assume that anyone who graduates from Peabody is a good performer. It takes a long time for an assumption like that to spread worldwide.

The Peabody Institute

The Peabody Institute

My own personal connection to the Peabody Institute is rather interesting. I played the oboe from sixth grade, through high school and through most of my university career for a total of about eight years. There wasn’t a concerted effort to play the oboe as an eleven year old—in fact I distinctly remember picking it off a page of pictures when we had to choose an instrument in sixth grade! Oboists are a rare breed —in fact most orchestras usually only have, at most, two oboists. During my four years of university there were no more than seven oboists (of 15,000 students) who played in the ensembles! Nonetheless, in ninth grade, I began taking private lessons with one of the few professional oboists in Ottawa, Angela Casagrande. Angela was a graduate of the Peabody Institute. Of course for me, this didn’t mean much as a thirteen-year-old. In fact, until I became the liaison to the Peabody Institute during my first year here at Hopkins, I didn’t even know the Peabody Institute was a division of Johns Hopkins University.

Peabody to Homewood

Peabody to Homewood

The Peabody campus is located about three miles away from the Homewood campus and is easily accessible by free shuttle for students, faculty and staff. Located in Mount Vernon which is the cultural district of Baltimore, it encompasses an entire city block bounded by West Moument and Centre Street from the North and South respectively and Saint Paul and North Charles Street.

The spectacular Peabody Library

The spectacular Peabody Library

There are limitless musical opportunities at the Peabody Insititute. The undergraduate degrees are offered in the following areas:

Computer Music (Emphasis on Performance or Composition)
Early Music Instruments (Baroque flute, Lute, Viola da Gamba, Harpsichord)
Keyboard Instruments (Piano, Orgran)
Orchestral Instruments (Brass, Harp, Percussion, Strings, Woodwinds)

The Double Degree program is a unique opportunity that is offered between Homewood and Peabody. Students can simultaneously pursue a degree in arts (BA), science (BS), or engineering (BSE) as well as a bachelor’s degree in music (BM) through Peabody. Naturally this is quite demanding but, of course, is a wonderful opportunity for those who want it. Students must audition for Peabody and apply separately to the Homewood campus at Johns Hopkins University. Students indicate on their supplement that they are interested in pursuing the “Double Degree” between Homewood and Peabody. Applicants are reviewed by both schools, independently of each other, and once a year the admissions committee at Peabody and Homewood get together to discuss those who should be admitted to the Double Degree program. On average, we offer 20to 30 students admission into the Double Degree program. Further details about the Double Degree program can be found here:

During my time here I have seen so many wonderful combinations of what students pursue at Peabody and Homewood. Often the students have areas of interest which are so disparate that Johns Hopkins University is one of the very few places that can accommodate their unique interests as such a high level. Sometimes, however, the areas of study are very closely related (Italian at Homewood and voice at Peabody). But I have seen combinations such as biomedical engineering and clarinet, history of art and harp, mathematics and jazz guitar! The freedom to combine areas of study which are often not related to one another is one of the signature pieces of the Johns Hopkins University experience. For students not interested in pursuing a Double Degree, there are many opportunities for Homewood students—information can be found here:

In fact, the Lighting of the Monument yearly tradition in Baltimore is held near the Peabody Institute and they host concerts, performers and food throughout the evening—that’s the perfect time to get down to Mount Vernon and Peabody!

Experience Peabody

Experience Peabody

The Johns Hopkins On-Campus Interview


Editor’s Note: Today we asked one of the Admissions counselor, Mark Butt, to discuss the on-campus interview at Johns Hopkins University. Mark, along with another counselor, Amy Brokl, run our Admissions Representatives program, also known as our student interviewers. Here is some insight on what to expect if you come to the Homewood campus and Mason Hall to have a prospective student interview.  

Interview Chairs

The interview is a way for prospective applicants to really show their personality to the admissions committee.  Here at Johns Hopkins, we have on-campus interviews, which are an elective part of our admissions process.  Students may schedule on-campus interviews from February of their junior year until February of their senior year. A limited number of appointments is available each weekday at 11:00 a.m., noon, 2:00 p.m., and 3:00 p.m. and may be scheduled up to three days in advance, though two weeks advance notice is recommended.

The purpose of an admissions interview at Johns Hopkins is for us to get to know you a little bit, for you to let us know of any unique situations that may have occurred in your high school experience, and also for you to provide us with information that will not be captured within the papers of the application.  In that sense, our interviews are much more informational (for prospective students) than evaluative (for the admissions committee).  However, the admissions committee does receive a write-up about the interviewing student if he or she chooses to apply. 

The hallway to interviews on the second floor

Once the interview has been confirmed by the admissions office, the student and family arrives on campus to Mason Hall, where they are kindly greeted by our staff and the oversized Johns Hopkins signature, which is a cast-iron replica of his original signature.  Students then fill out an on-campus interview sheet.  This sheet lets us know the student has arrived and then it waits at the reception desk for an Admissions Representative to pick -up.  It asks you some general information which allows your interview write-up to be matched with your application.  You also have the opportunity to pick up materials on our wall—all of which can be helpful in determining if Hopkins is just right for you!

Admissions Representatives (ARs) are a group of current Johns Hopkins juniors and seniors. These students must apply and be selected to join our wonderful on-campus interview team.  The students also have the opportunity to obtain leadership roles in the Admissions Representative group, which is a great opportunity for students here on campus.  Our Admissions Representatives are completely volunteer and they do it because they love Hopkins and they want a say in the process—and this is their chance.  It’s a wonderful opportunity so if you are admitted to Hopkins and want to conduct interviews, you can apply at the end of your sophomore year! 

At the time of your interview, the AR will come down and introduce him/herself to the student and family.  They will then take you upstairs to one of our available interview rooms.  On the way up the stairs, be sure to take a look at the pictures along the wall as they give a great sense of history of Hopkins—I adore these pictures.  The interviews take anywhere from 20-40 minutes.  Afterwards, if you choose to apply, the AR’s written interview evaluation will be added to your application file and will be read by the admissions committee.

An interview info sheet

Here are some sample questions we could ask in your interview:

– Tell me about your high school.
– What’s your favorite class?
– How do you spend your free time?
– What are you looking for in your college experience?
-Do you have any book recommendations?

I think interviews are helpful for students to really get to know Hopkins and find out if this place is the place for them.  It’s often very challenging to find an opportunity to sit down and talk with a current student and this opportunity provides students with that.

Students, families, and guidance counselors often ask me if I have any tips.  If I could offer any tips to students who are anticipating a college interview, it would be the following:

  1.  Do a little research about the school and find out what makes it unique.
  2. Bring a list of questions with you to ask the student interviewer.  Get what you came for—make sure you know what you are looking for and ask questions to get the information you need to make the search process effective. 
  3. No need for a shirt and tie; our interviews are casual—just don’t wear another college T-shirt!
  4. Shake hands and say thank you at the end. 

Johns Hopkins University has so much to offer and can provide endless opportunities and the students here are the best resource we have, so come prepared to get your questions answered.  If you ask the right questions you’ll be able to find out what is here at Hopkins that is just for you—and may make the school the perfect fit for you.  I hope this has been helpful and that it provides a little bit of insight into our on-campus interview operation.  We look forward to seeing you on campus soon!

Mailboxes for the Admissions Representatives

Early Decision: the Pros and Cons


Editor’s Note: Today’s guest author is Dean of Undergraduate Admissions John Latting. Dean Latting expressed interest in writing an entry for those prospective applicants debating whether to apply through our early decision program. So read on to hear Dean Latting’s advice on the advantages and disadvantages to applying early decision to Johns Hopkins University.

As we near the deadline to apply “early” here at Johns Hopkins, we thought it might be helpful to explain the advantages and disadvantages of the process, at  least from where we see things.

Our early application program, as an “early decision” plan, does require that students commit to attending Johns Hopkins if admitted. That’s the big thing to keep in mind. There is also a November 1 application deadline, and a December 15 notification date.

Dean Latting in the midst of applications.

Dean Latting in the midst of applications.

So what are the advantages? First, there’s the timeline itself: You’ll hear from us in December, before the general January 1 deadlines. This allows you to make adjustments to where, and to how many, colleges you’ll apply by that time. Students who are admitted early decision don’t have to apply anywhere else. They’re done, and they can focus on other things beside college admission for the rest of their senior year.

For students not admitted, they, too have feedback in December. They can then proceed with the applications they were considering for regular decision elsewhere, knowing that a place in a college freshman class still has to be found.

A second advantage has to do with chances of gaining admission. I don’t want you to make too much of this point, but when we’re reading applications during the early process, we don’t feel nearly as constrained as we do during regular decision to bring the size of the freshman class down to our target (which lately has been 1,235 students). At the early stage there is more freedom to respond to students who make a great case. During regular decision there are times when, frankly, capacity in the class just doesn’t allow us to admit all the students we think are great. Admit rates in early and regular decision here have been about 40% and 20%, respectively. The difference reflects how we breathe a little easier in December than we do in March.

But here’s where I need to remind you of the terms of the whole process—not so much the “disadvantage,” but just the reality of early decision. Despite more favorable admit rates at Johns Hopkins (and often at other universities, too) the process remains sensible only for students who have a clear first-choice school , students who have done the research to get to that point, and  students who would have no regrets about enrolling at their early decision school. If Johns Hopkins seems familiar to you, is something you believe you have prepared for (academically, in particular), meets your expectations for what a college should be, and is just where you really want to be next fall, then by all means apply early. You are the reason we have the option in the first place.

If there’s a disadvantage with applying early decision, it has to do with financial aid. No, you won’t get bigger grants from Johns Hopkins if you are admitted regular decision, rather than early decision. We use absolutely, precisely the same methods for calculating eligibility for financial aid no matter when you are admitted. And we admit students without regard to whether they apply for financial aid, and how much we think they might need. But what you can’t do is compare financial aid offers from more than one college or university. Each institution has its own way of determining how much a family can reasonably pay for college, and the outcome of that process is only revealed after you are offered admission. When you apply early decision, you just get that one offer of financial aid.

Mason Hall: Where your applications are processed.

Mason Hall: Where your applications are processed.

Now, if you and your parents don’t like what you see there, or feel it isn’t reasonable, you can be released from any obligation to enroll (at least you can here at Johns Hopkins). Just let us know. It should be encouraging to hear that last year, out of 493 Early Decision admits here at Johns Hopkins, only six students felt that our financial aid offer wasn’t acceptable to them and their parents.

And this financial aid issue gets back to the point about the importance of whether you have a clear first-choice college or not. If you’re looking here, or somewhere else for early decision and wouldn’t be thrown off by a financial aid difference (which, by the way, you can estimate using a college’s net price calculator; here’s ours:, then, we say it again: It makes sense to apply early.

Good luck to all!

End Note: For additional perspectives on applying early decision to Johns Hopkins read these previous blog entries composed by Admissions_Daniel: October 2009 – Early Decision: Is It Right For You? and November 2006: To ED or Not to ED. As well, if you have questions feel free to post them on the Early Decision discussion thread on the Hopkins Forums.

Welcome to My Freshman Year


Hello friends and fans of Hopkins Interactive! My name is Zakaree Harris and I am the newest addition to the Johns Hopkins Admissions Staff. To give you a bit of background: I grew up in Warren, Rhode Island and went to Mt. Hope High School (a question every admissions person tends to ask). I did my undergraduate work in psychology and human development at Connecticut College. I also played collegiate basketball there (Go Camels!). I then did my M.A. in organizational management at The George Washington University while I worked in their undergraduate admissions office.

I was at GW for almost four years before I decided to make the move to Hopkins. Similar to high school students leaving high school and attending college, I was nervous and anxious about this new opportunity. But, it was the best move for me to make and it has been a tremendous experience thus far (just like the Hopkins Freshman feel right now)!

My role as senior assistant director at Johns Hopkins will be to coordinate our multicultural recruitment. I will be an advisor to our Multicultural Student Volunteer group (MSV) and will coordinate our Baltimore Scholars Program (more to come about this in a future blog). My two biggest projects will be the Hopkins Overnight Multicultural Experience (H.O.M.E.) program and the Discovery Days program. During the H.O.M.E. program, we invite high school seniors from across the country to do an overnight program with our current students (October 21-23). Disco Days (as it is commonly referred to around the office) is a similar program in April where we admitted students are invited to campus for an overnight experience. My travel territories will include the states of Oregon, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Maryland.

My “freshman year” has been going well so far, but I think that being the new person in any situation can be difficult. The environment is unfamiliar and the people are new. All of a sudden, you are thrown into a situation where you are faced with building new relationships with people and learning a different culture. For me, that is part of the fun of being “new.” I am able to ask questions and immerse myself in a place where I don’t know everything. I can sit back and listen to my colleagues talk about things that will help me grow as a professional and as a person. I really have enjoyed learning about my new colleagues and their past experiences in the admissions field!

Many of the freshman on campus now are probably feeling exactly the same way as I am. Many of you still in high school may be nervous about the prospect of finding yourself in a new environment for four years. If I can give you any advice, it would be to enjoy being “new.” Don’t let it stress you out, but maximize how much you can learn by just listening. Try not to feel overwhelmed with the prospect of being in a new city or meeting new people; just be yourself and everything will fall into place.

I have been here for about two months now and everyone I have met from my fellow staff members to current students has been nothing but helpful to me in my arrival to campus. I certainly wish all of you the best of luck in the college search and I hope to welcome you to your freshman year very soon!

Upcoming Travel Season by Mark Butt


Editor’s Note: For this entry, Admissions_Daniel and Admissions_Shannon have asked their Admissions colleague Mark Butt to discuss his upcoming (and quite hectic) fall travel schedule. If you are in New Jersey, Delaware, Florida, Germany, or Southern France you may get the chance to meet Mark.

Travel season is always an exciting time of year. It takes a lot of preparation and time to create a new schedule that is conducive to as many university goals and initiatives as possible. Of course, this is not a free-for-all, as there are two serious constraints placed on us admissions officers – time and money. In fact, I would assume for almost any industry, those are the most popular constraints placed on people.

Each admissions officer has a region that he or she manages and nurtures. For me, I have New Jersey and Delaware domestically and I am one of three admissions officers who have an international region as well. Traditionally, I spend a full week in New Jersey and I conduct a combination of high school visits and evening programs. Many of our Hopkins alumni attend local college fairs in my region throughout the year. Our alumni serve as an incredible resource for meeting and speaking with prospective students and families. They attend college fairs nationally and internationally for us.

Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University

My travel season this year is a little different than in the past but still has some consistency with previous years. I will be conducting 10 Explore Hopkins programs nation-wide. These programs are regional presentations open to students, families and guidance counselors and can serve as a great introduction for the university. I speak for about an hour on Johns Hopkins University, who we are as an institution, and then about the admissions process and financial aid. This year, I have five in the state of New Jersey, and all are happening the week of September 19. I also have one in Delaware the following week in New Castle County. These programs can attract anywhere from 80 to 200 people (including parents). I try to plan them at convenient times (avoiding PSAT dates, Giants games in NJ on Monday nights) so that people can attend at a time that works best for their families.

During travel season my days are very long; I get up early in the morning and often have four or five high school visits a day and often an Explore Hopkins program from 7-9 p.m. Email is usually on triage mode and emergency only situations during my travel seasons. My school visits are are planned in advance so that I can be at the school at a convenient time for the students to meet with me. I also try to plan the visits such that they make sense geographically – meaning that I “don’t drive in circles”. I try to make sure that I can follow a route that makes sense and is the most efficient time-wise for me. I remember when I first started in admissions, I had literally driven by one high school FOUR times and never had it on my visit schedule for some reason – total n00b move! I kept passing the school over and over and in fact it was taunting me! I did a visit the next year.

Florida Travel

Florida Travel

New this year are a few things. I have a guidance counselor breakfast in Delaware which is where I do a mini-presentation for guidance counselors over breakfast. I talk about updates about the university and our most recent facts and figures and answer questions from the guidance counselors. I have never done one of these before but some other members of our admissions officers do these programs. I can meet many guidance counselors in a short amount of time and I think that’s great – it’s important that they stay up-to-date on what’s happening at Hopkins so that they can properly advise their students. This is a great venue to do so. Secondly, I will be conducting the travel in Florida this year. I have four Explore Hopkins programs happening there in Tampa, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Miami/Dade County. These will all be happening the week of October 10. I will also be doing some college fairs there and also school visits. I will spend about eight days total in Florida, seven days in New Jersey and three days in Delaware. I’m very excited about my travel to Florida, as there are some amazing students. I also have friends that work in Florida that I haven’t seen in a long time so I am looking forward to reconnecting with them.

I do have two international trips to Germany and to Southern France. Each of these will take approximately one week. My most recent international trips were to Trinidad, India, England, and France. The first trip will be to Germany where I will be on a week-long fellowship paid for by the German Ministry of Science, Research, and Arts. I applied for this opportunity in April of last year as it is quite a competitive fellowship – just 15 people are selected. This delegation of 15 admissions officers and/or NAFSA (Association of International Educators) members will be invited to attend a seminar on German-American educational exchange. The seminar will focus on the German educational system, German-American academic equivalencies, and student exchange between Germany and the U.S. Lectures and discussions will be complemented by visits to secondary and tertiary educational institutions in the state of Baden-Württemberg. The program will be in Heidelberg. I am hoping to tack on some school visits on the back end of the trip. Next, in mid-November, I will be in southern France for a conference focusing on international admissions. The program is mainly Europe-centric.
International Travel

International Travel

So, it’s going to be a very busy fall but man I am excited. When people say “I don’t ever want a desk job,” I know exactly how they feel. I love the excitement of going new places and trying new things – learning cultures, languages, foods, schooling systems, etc. I love being a life-long learner and I feel the admissions profession is very conducive to those with inquisitive minds. I love representing Hopkins and, more than ever, I love meeting prospective high school students who are eager to pursue higher education. Hopefully, I will see some of you on the road if you’re in Germany, New Jersey, Delaware or Florida. Wish me luck!