Category: Recruitment Travel Entries

Tales of a Seasoned Traveler

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Today’s guest author is Rachel Cowan Jacobs, Associate Director of Admissions and coordinator of our International Admissions and Recruiting efforts. Rachel guest authored back in November 2009 with an entry dedicated to international applicants: So you are an International Student applying to JHU … read this! and also in March 2009 when she shared her Top 10 Things to do in Baltimore on a Freshman’s Budget. Today Rachel shares some tales of her fall travels both in the South and abroad.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.
I hit the road September 10, 2011; my first recruiting trip since November 2009.  I didn’t feel rusty but was mindful not to assume anything. Things were different though:

  • I experienced my first full-body X-ray machine at the airport (I hadn’t flown in 14 months either) and had a brief “ah ha, so this is what the fuss is all about” moment.
  • I had a moment of confusion when I approached the rental car center at the Atlanta airport. I didn’t remember having taken a train to the center the last time I was in Atlanta in September 2009.
  • Two of the schools I went to for college fairs had us set up or served us a meal in a completely new or renovated buildings.

Some brief moments of confusion as I took in these new surroundings, but the many changes were exciting!  Alas, what did not change was the pleasure in meeting so many interesting and friendly students (and parents) at my college fairs and Explore Hopkins presentation.  The theme of my first trip was surely that the more things change, the more they stay the same.  (I do have a celebrity story too, in that I chit chatted with Mark Turgeon, basketball coach of University of Maryland, in the Atlanta airport.)

The amazing food on the road never changes.

The amazing food on the road never changes.

My two cents on a two-year absence from international travel.
Scanners at the United Airlines counter at Dulles International Airport made check-in for my morning flight to London Heathrow ridiculously fast. (Yay, United, for adding a morning flight to the UK.)  No need to even speak to a ticket agent.  I just scanned my passport myself and waited about five seconds for my boarding pass to pop-out.  Wow, so fast. With this new technology (at least, it’s new to me), is it really necessary to get to the airport two hours before an international flight?  I was practically the only person checking in at the counter.  Even the security line was pretty short (boy did Dulles improve its reputation exponentially when it moved its security line downstairs).  Maybe the other passengers were savvier than I in this regard and managed to sleep in later.  The train at Dulles to reach terminal C was very spiffy and fast. So far, my experience at Dulles made me think it has become a first-class international airport now. (If only its new Metro station were going to be underground.) But then, I got to terminal C and saw it is the same old sad Dulles in terms of décor, food, and shops.  In London, I was greeted by closed subway lines due to track work – something familiar at last!  I couldn’t help but notice the growth of American influences: TK Maxx is not a typo.

One of my stops: City School of London

One of my stops: City School of London

This 12-day, three-country trip was almost perfect in every logistical way: I made it to my school visits on time, no taxi driver tried to take me for a ride, and my iPad did not fail me.  But, I did fall victim to the Greek debt crisis because I was scheduled to fly from Athens to Thessaloniki on October 5, the one day that week that the airports would be closed due to air traffic controllers striking (as well as many other government entities and employees).

Something is going on in Greece?

Something is going on in Greece?

Thank goodness for my travel agent who easily changed my ticket to October 6 when my flight was officially cancelled two days before departure.  Greece was very considerate in that way, I must say.  How lucky I am that I just happened to have used a travel agent for this trip because I usually buy all the tickets myself. Phew!!!

On the road again.
Two days after returning from Europe, I was on a plane to Florida, having had just enough time to unpack, do some laundry, and repack.  No snafus for me on that five-day trip either.  And what lies ahead next week is a trip where I will visit six countries new to me.

Oh, the life of an international admissions officer!

One of the true benefits of international travel ... getting to see history.

One of the true benefits of international travel ... getting to see history.

Bienvenido a América Latina – Parte Dos

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As I mentioned in my previous blog, I served as the Johns Hopkins University representative on a college tour throughout Latin America. So, now that you know about week one, here’s a peak into week two of my adventure!

Day 8 – Saturday, our first free day without flights, high school visits, or college fairs. We certainly made the most of it by taking an excursion to Machu Picchu! This experience was definitely one I will never forget. After a three-hour train ride to the base of the mountain which contains the hidden city, we made our way to the top by bus. Finally, we had arrived, and the trek began. At first we went to an overlook to examine the layout and take in the views. We then walked through the Incan city to see where people lived, farmed, and worshiped. The amount of detail and thought put into the city development was quite impressive…it was really interesting to see how the layout of homes and temples were based around astronomy and seasons. This day was definitely a memorable one!

Machu Picchu

Day 9 – We were off early this morning, and two flights later we landed in Ecuador. Once we arrived at the hotel, we found that we had a few hours before our evening program. Since we don’t often have free time, we figured we would go out and explore a bit, and ended up at the “Mitad del Mundo,” also known as the equator line. There are actually two parks here—one with a monument and one where you can do equator experiments like balancing an egg on the head of a nail. This was a bucket list experience! We then rushed back to the hotel, just in time for a reception with counselors from schools in the city. Here we mingled and got to learn about the high schools, curriculums, and students that attend them, and also talk to counselors about what types of programs our colleges and universities offer.

Walking on the Equator in Ecuador

I balanced an egg on a nail!

Day 10 – We started off the day with a visit to the Colegio Americano de Quito where I met several hundred students! Here, we had a fair that was not only open to students from this school, but also to students from around the city. I met a lot of students interested in engineering, so it was great to talk to them about our programs in the Whiting School. After the fair we hopped on a plane and headed to Guayaquil, where we hosted an evening fair at our hotel. Again, another successful event.

Quito College Fair

Day 11 – Another 3:00 a.m. wakeup call! Today we headed to Panama City. Our day started off with high school visits where we broke up into team of counselors. I, along with UC Davis and Purdue, headed to Balboa Academy. Once we arrived, we met with students to talk about how the educational process works in the United States, the variety of majors offered in American schools, and how the transition process is to our curriculum. We also talked about the admissions process, since it is so very different from that of what they are used to. This program was really helpful for the students, and also a great way for us to learn about the local schools. We then had a two-hour break, so we made a quick stop at the Panama Canal! This was another very cool experience—we actually got to see ships passing through. After this quick side adventure, we scrambled back to the hotel for an evening fair. This fair was probably one of our busiest, with over 600 students visiting.

Panama Canal

Day 12 – This morning, we got to sleep in until 3:30 a.m.  Our next stop was El Salvador. Since our flight arrived a bit early, we stopped on our the way to the first fair for pupusas, a corn tortilla stuffed with items like beans, pork, bacon, cheese, etc. They were delicious. We then made stops at both the American School of El Salvador and Academia Britanica Cuscatleca. As per usual routine by now, we conducted workshops and had fairs which were open to students throughout El Salvador.

Making pupusas

Day 13 – Today was the day of three countries in one day – breakfast in El Salvador, lunch in Honduras, and dinner in Guatemala City. Our main stop was the American School of Tegucigalpa. When we arrived, we had a quick lunch (with placemats made by the elementary school children!) and then conducted presentations and a college fair. This was another very large and exciting fair, as I met over 100 students at my table alone.

Placemat from Tegucigalpa

Day 14 – Our day began with a visit to Colegio Maya this morning. I actually presented what we call the “GPA game” here, where we talk about things we look at in the admissions process, and prove that when you apply to colleges, it is not just about your GPA. Rather, the approach we take is holistic and we look at many things in addition to that including the rigor of your curriculum, what activities you participate in, leadership roles, what recommendations have to say about you, your essay, etc. This game was a fun way to teach students from Guatemala how we evaluate applications here in the United States. We then had another very busy fair where we got to meet students from over ten different schools.  For the second half of the day, we participated in a service project at a local school. It was interesting to see how little funding went to this community school—desks were old and broken, students did not have an access to a library (until the CIS group helped establish one for them on their last service project!), classrooms were dark and lacked color, and resources were minimal. So, we did our best to brighten things up! We fixed broken desks and painted them in an elementary school classroom, we painted classrooms for upper school students, we sanded furniture and made it new, and we installed new toilets for the school bathrooms. I am hoping our little bit made a big difference for the students.

Before...

...and after!

Day 15 – Finally time to head home! After a 4:15 a.m. wake-up call, we were on our way. Three flights later, I landed in Baltimore at 10:00 p.m. and was on my way back to my house.

The plane's shadow in the clouds (while flying home)

Overall, this whirlwind tour of Latin America was a huge success. It was not only educational for me, as I got to learn about school systems in different countries, but also helpful for students living in these countries because it exposed them to the schooling system in the United States. I am excited to see applications in the future from people I met on this tour…it would be great to have more Latin American students on campus!

While the counselors are away…

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Note: Today’s guest author is Shelly Placek, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions’ Web and Publications Marketing Specialist. Shelly has guest authored a few times in the past, once introducing you to our amazing student videographers and another time detailing her main role in our office as publications master.

It’s 2:00 p.m. on a Tuesday and I have a question for Admissions_Daniel. I pick up the phone and dial his extension. No answer. I trot over to the other side of the office. I’m greeted by a silent, lonely hallway lined on both sides by closed office doors.

A sad sight: the closed door of Admissions_Daniel’s office.

A sad sight: the closed door of Admissions_Daniel’s office.

“Hello?” I yell, my voice booming in the empty space. “HELLO??” No response. I panic. Where have all of the admissions counselors gone?

Hellooo? Is there anyone home? This lonely hallway will be a lot less boring in a few weeks.

Hellooo? Is there anyone home? This lonely hallway will be a lot less boring in a few weeks.

[Important note: That opening paragraph was exaggerated for dramatic effect. I know exactly where the counselors are—and if I have a question for Admissions_Daniel, I’ll just e-mail him and he’ll respond promptly from his ever-present iPad. (And the question was most likely American Horror Story-related and not urgent anyway.) Furthermore, if I had yelled down the hallway like a crazy person, at least a few voices would’ve yelled back, “What!? And why are you yelling?” because many of the counselors have student workers or volunteers who happily camp out in their offices and take care of things while they’re away.]

Anyway, back to my fake panicking. Had the zombie apocalypse come and taken all of our admissions counselors? Was it an office holiday that I didn’t know about (this has happened in the past—darn you, day after Thanksgiving!)? Nope—none of these things. It’s simply fall at the Johns Hopkins Office of Undergraduate Admissions and many of our hardworking counselors are on the road attending college fairs, visiting high schools, and giving presentations to get the word out about Johns Hopkins. (Explore Hopkins presentations are still happening throughout October—see if there’s one happening near you: http://apply.jhu.edu/visit/explorehopkins.html.) Soon the counselors will be back and begin the task of selecting the Class of 2016, but while they’re traveling around the country and internationally, the rest of us back here at the office are busy greeting prospective students and their families and speaking with them on the phone, planning events, entering names into our database, starting to process application materials, and doing many other things to get ready for the busy months ahead. All throughout the office, people are energetically and enthusiastically working to keep things running smoothly.

Our event staff keeps things lively during this busy recruiting season.

Our event staff keeps things lively during this busy recruiting season.

As the application materials come pouring in, they’ll find a home in the appropriate counselor’s bin.

As the application materials come pouring in, they’ll find a home in the appropriate counselor’s bin.

Many of you are probably prepping for busy months ahead yourselves. Maybe we can help. There’s still time to visit if you haven’t already: We’re holding Open Houses on October 22 and 29, plus you can come see us any weekday.

Our PR staff is always prepared for the crowds. Will you be getting one of these folders at an upcoming event?

Our PR staff is always prepared for the crowds. Will you be getting one of these folders at an upcoming event?

Already visited and decided Johns Hopkins is for you? We’re ready for your applications (and good choice, by the way)! See the application page for all the necessary information you need, or visit the Early Decision FAQ if you’re feverishly trying to finish your apps in the next two weeks. Stuck on your essay? Find some essay-writing tips and inspiration on our “Essays that Worked” page.

Soon these (and many of their friends) will be set up and holding YES! acceptance folders as they’re prepped for mailing.

Soon these (and many of their friends) will be set up and holding YES! acceptance folders as they’re prepped for mailing.

So, we hope to see you or hear from you soon—otherwise, our jobs get really boring. Happy fall from Mason Hall!

Bienvenido a América Latina – Parte Uno

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This fall, I was lucky enough to represent Johns Hopkins University on a CIS (Council of International Schools) Latin America College tour. Through school visits, presentations, and college fairs, I met many talented students living in nine different countries in South and Central America. Here is a sneak peek into week one of the trip!

Latin America Bienvenido

Latin America Bienvenido

Day 1 – My trip to Latin America began. After a flight from Baltimore to Charlotte, another flight from Charlotte to Houston, and a seven-hour layover (the last thing I wanted to do was miss my group flight), I was finally ready to hop on a plane to head to Sao Paulo, Brazil. At the airport, I met many of the great people I would be spending the next two weeks with—representatives from 31 different colleges and universities across the United States.

Day 2 – After an almost 10-hour overnight flight to Brazil, we finally arrived in Sao Paulo. Following a quick nap, I was up and going with a trip Orientation, where I learned about all the places we would be going. While I was looking forward to meeting so many prospective students, I was NOT looking forward to the 3 a.m. wake up calls! For dinner, we went to Churrascaria Vento Harangano, a Brazilian steakhouse—that meant unlimited meat with the flip of a disc on the table from red to green! In addition to the basics such as steak, lamb, and pork chops, I was able to try chicken hearts and blood sausage. Needless to say, opening dinner was delicious.

Sao Paulo, Brazil - Churrascaria

Sao Paulo, Brazil - Churrascaria

Day 3 –We visited two different places in Brazil, Sao Paulo and Campinas. At each of our host schools, we conducted presentations that informed international students on how to apply to colleges and universities in the United States. Along with two other counselors, I worked with parents to answer their questions about how the admissions process differs from that of a Brazilian university. After these presentations, counselors headed to their tables to represent their schools at a fair.  This time was really productive in not only answering questions about Johns Hopkins, but also introducing the university to some students who had never heard of it before.

Campinas, Brazil - Welcome to Escola Americana

Campinas, Brazil - Welcome to Escola Americana

Day 4 – After a 4:30 a.m. wake up call, we loaded up on the bus and headed to the airport. Thank goodness the plane ride was three hours—perfect timing for a nap. Once we arrived, we transferred to the Port Market for lunch with high school counselors. Having never visited Uruguay before, it was interesting to hear about the different curriculum offered at each of their high schools. Our next stop was the hotel for a quick check in, followed by an evening fair where we met students from all over Montevideo and beyond.

Montevideo, Uruguay

Montevideo, Uruguay

Day 5 – Back on the plane again, but this time to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Here, we started the day with a workshop for Education USA, a group supported by the U.S. Department of State that guides prospective international students in the application process to American colleges and universities. We then conducted some presentations, followed them up with a college fair, and then an asado with high school counselors from the city.

Buenos Aires, Argentina - Taken from Bus Window

Buenos Aires, Argentina - Taken from Bus Window

Day 6 – You guessed it! Our wake up call at 3:10 a.m. had us on a 6:30 a.m. flight to Lima, our first stop in Peru. Overall, this was a very traditional (and very positive) tour day—counselor workshops, presentations, and a college fair. We also got a taste of Peruvian food for dinner at the International Food Show. It just so happens that our tour coincided with this big event, and we were able to take part in it. At the show, we tasted all different types of Peruvian food, from traditional dishes to food prepared at local “hot spot” restaurants. I tried everything from ceviche to sausage with French fries (they actually mix the two together and fry it in a wok-like pot). We also got to hear a live band with Latin music and walk around a beautiful park. It was a great night after a very busy day.

Lima, Peru - Food Show

Lima, Peru - Food Show

Lima, Peru - Colegio Franklin D. Roosevelt

Lima, Peru - Colegio Franklin D. Roosevelt

Day 7 – Today was pretty much a day in transit, to get us to our Saturday adventure. We flew from Lima to Cuzco, and then had the evening to adjust to altitude changes. While in Cuzco, we went to a local market, where I purchased an alpaca blanket and a few other handicrafts for friends. We walked around the city square and took a peek into some local churches. A few of us then headed to a restaurant in the square where we had Lomo Saltado for dinner. While today was a bit of a quieter day, it was nice to experience the people, food, and culture of Peru.

Cuzco, Peru

Cuzco, Peru

Cuzco, Peru - Handicraft Market

Cuzco, Peru - Handicraft Market

Cuzco, Peru - Me with Baby Alpacas

Cuzco, Peru - Me with Baby Alpacas

So, that sums up week one of my Latin America trip. Stay tuned to hear more about my weekend adventure and second week of meeting students on the road.

To be continued …

Explore Hopkins With Us

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As in years past September begins the start of off-campus recruitment events. My colleagues and I will be packing our bags and hitting the road in just the next few days. There is a good chance that in the next couple of month a member of the Admissions staff will be coming to a location near you. Throughout this fall, the Admissions staff will hold Explore Hopkins programs in 15 different states. With the masterful assistance of our event planner extraordinaire, Cheryl Janowsky, the Admissions counselors are prepared to visit 28 distinct locations and host our amazing “road show.” Our programs feature presentations by Admissions staff (and occasionally recent alumni) and provide information about the university, the admissions process, and Financial Aid. These events are the perfect chance for people who want to Explore Hopkins but can’t make it to Baltimore.

Thank to my student workers Kate and Miranda we can present a Google map that details the location of all of our off-campus recruitment events. Space is limited at these events so we require reservations. Full program details including date, time, exact location, and the online R.S.V.P. forms can be found here: http://apply.jhu.edu/visit/explorehopkins.html.


View JHU Admissions Off-Campus Events Fall 2011 in a larger map

As you review the map you will notice a few additional sites marked with red pin-points. In addition to our Explore Hopkins program, we will also be participating in three Group Travel programs. Dean Latting will be traveling to Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah with representatives from Davidson College, Swarthmore College, and Wesleyan University in mid-September. That same week, I will join colleagues from Northwestern University, University of California, Berkeley, and University of Virginia for programs in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Finally, in October Dana Messenger will travel in Canada with colleagues from Duke University and Northwestern University. Full details on these group travel programs can be found here: http://apply.jhu.edu/visit/grouptravel.html.

As we prepare to come to your “neck of the woods,” my colleagues and I are looking for suggestions of what to do when we are in your hometowns. So if we are coming to your city, let us know where you suggest we eat and also what should we do / where should we visit during our free time (which is unfortunately sparse). Use the blog comments section to share your suggestions. I know I am always looking forward to restaurant suggestions in New England, and my colleagues will enjoy hearing from you.

We look forward to seeing you this fall and helping you Explore Hopkins.

See You on the Road

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It is hard to believe that the end of summer is right around the corner! As I walked through Charles Village a few days ago, I noticed students were moving back into their apartments and residential advisers (RAs) back into the dorms. I said goodbye to one of my student workers and tour guides, Jessie Koljonen, as she hopped a flight from Dulles Airport to Madrid, Spain, where she will be spending the next four months studying abroad. Starting tomorrow, freshmen will begin to move in, Orientation will commence, and then next thing we know, the first day of classes will be upon us.

Move-in is here, and the Fall 2011 semester is just around the corner.

Move-in is here, and the Fall 2011 semester is just around the corner.

While all the hustle and bustle is just beginning on our campus, it is also beginning for many high school students. With a new academic year kicking off, they are starting classes, joining clubs, playing sports, volunteering in the community, and doing much, much more. On top of all of this, many juniors and seniors also have the college search process on their mind.

On the road again.

On the road again.

As an admissions counselor, I am about to embark on six weeks of travel, where I will be visiting nine different countries in Latin America followed by both northern and southern California. My colleagues will also be making stops throughout the United States, and internationally, as they conduct high school visits, attend college fairs, participate in Group Travel, and present at Explore Hopkins presentations. To make the most of our visits to your area, here are some tips for when you meet a Johns Hopkins Admissions Counselor on the road:

-          Do some background research on the university. Many times when on the road, we only get to meet a student for a few minutes. During this time, you do not want to be asking questions like, “how many undergraduates do you have?” or “do you have an art history major?” Questions like these can easily be answered by doing a little investigating on our website or looking over our brochure.

-          Don’t be vague. One of my pet peeves is when I meet someone on the road and they ask, “can you tell me about your school?” I can probably talk for hours about Johns Hopkins, and I think it is safe to say the other admissions counselors here can do the same. What exactly do you want to know about? That being said…

-          Ask specific questions. Think about activities you are interested in pursuing, things you want from the city where you’ll be living as an undergraduate, majors you want to know about, or research opportunities. If we cannot answer them directly (we don’t know EVERYTHING there is to know about Johns Hopkins), then we can definitely direct you to a professor, student, or staff member who can help.

Meet us at a college fair?: Make sure to follow Admissions_Shannon's advice.

Meet us at a college fair?: Make sure to follow Admissions_Shannon's advice.

-           Be open-minded. There are lots of stereotypes out there for different schools. For example, when I meet people on the road, they think our most popular major is pre-med (in reality, there is pretty much a tie between international relations and public health). Truth be told, we don’t even have a pre-med major, but many students “count us out” because they have heard this. If you take a look at a school that you don’t think is for you, do a bit more investigating and you just may find it is actually a great fit!

-          Listen to all questions being asked. Even if it is not your question, you may learn something totally new that is really interesting to you or appeals to something you are looking for in a college or university. This also helps with repetition … since our time with you is limited, we’d like to answer different questions, not the same one because someone was not listening!

I hope these little pieces of advice are helpful as you meet counselors from Johns Hopkins. We’ll see you on the road!

Going Out to Get the Class That We Want: International Student Recruitment

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Editor’s Note: Admissions_Mark has returned to the blog and just returned from a great trip abroad. Learn more about our international student recruitment efforts in this blog.

When I first step off the plane into a new country to meet future Hopkins students, I always have a rush of thoughts that usually surface in the following order: 1) Oh, it’s not as hot/cold as I thought it would be, 2) I hope the immigration line isn’t too long, 3) what’s the exchange rate/currency here, 4) I hope the materials I shipped made it to the hotel, and 5) I hope they weren’t lying when they said I didn’t need a visa to enter!

Every fall, students from all over the world pack their bags and suitcases, say goodbye to their families with hugs and tears, get on long flights that will take them to Baltimore-Washington International Airport, and eventually make their way to the Homewood campus where they will be welcomed by smiling faculty and students on Move-In Day. About 10-13 percent of each class that enters is comprised of international students—that’s about 120-160 students in a class of 1,235. If you multiply that by four classes, you’ll see we have an incredible international population here on campus. In our freshman class alone, we have citizens from the following countries:

Bahrain Japan
Bangladesh Jordan
Bermuda Netherlands
Bulgaria New Zealand
Canada Pakistan
China Republic of Korea (South)
Costa Rica Saudi Arabia
Ecuador Singapore
Finland Spain
France Sri Lanka
Ghana Switzerland
Greece Taiwan
Hong Kong Thailand
India Trinidad & Tobago
Israel Turkey
Italy United Kingdom

As an international admissions officer, I can tell you that these students don’t just fall into our class on their own—we really have to go out and get them. Every year, I spend between 4-6 weeks traveling outside of the United States in hopes of building out the international representation in our freshman class. Educating students in a global community is something that I think we do exceptionally well and having global perspectives in each class is so very important. I truly believe that Johns Hopkins represents knowledge for the world at large and we hope to share what we do here with peoples of all places! Part of a world-class education is having the opportunity to study with talented students who represent different ideas, points of view, and cultural perspectives;  speak different languages; and eat different food than you! I travel around the world speaking about Hopkins and the application process for international students so that when students get to campus, their roommates can be from Jordan, Costa Rica, or France—just to name a few.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque (Arabic: مسجد الشيخ زايد) in Abu Dhabi is the largest mosque in the United Arab Emirates and the eighth largest mosque in the world. It is named after Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder and the first President of the United Arab Emirates, who is also buried next to the mosque (outer left side).

At this point in my career, I have traveled to over 50 countries on six continents and, while some of my friends and colleagues refer to me as a modern-day jetsetter, I tend to view myself more as a citizen of the world with a fat passport and high tolerance for foreign food! And, while I can only speak two languages fluently (English and French), I can ask for taxis and bathrooms in many languages—skills which have served me well in my travels. I can navigate airport terminals in my sleep (read: time changes are hard), speak in airport codes when talking about cities (read: people may not understand my English or French) and memorize exchange rates and currencies (read: don’t change your money at the airport, as it’s usually too expensive). And how did I get into international admissions, you ask? My mother was born in Kenya, my father in Canada, and my sister in Germany, so I guess it was in my blood all along. It was just up to me to find my own path and love for what I do.

The travel is fairly challenging in different parts of the world and because of traffic and other issues, my days often start around 5 a.m. and last until 10 p.m. or later. I remember being stuck in a traffic jam in Mumbai for nearly four hours trying to get back to my hotel. I’ve had to reroute a taxi because a bridge washed out in the rain while trying to get to a school visit in Dehradun, India. I also remember rescheduling flights around an erupting Icelandic volcano. My taxi almost tipped over in Costa Rica (!!) and I missed a flight out of Port of Spain (Trinidad and Tobago) after they closed the highway randomly for construction. I have had my battles with turbulent flights, wind shear and smelly, crowded airplanes (I take around 50 a year nowadays). I often find that taxis give up on me as well because the places I go to (i.e., schools) are not common places that taxis go. If you’re not going to a tourist destination, hotel, or a mall, they often have no idea where it is. I can go on and on about travel stories but needless to say, the recruitment travel I do is not always glamorous—but it is rewarding and it works (most of the time)!

Burj Khalifa Fountain

That said, I can say I have been fortunate enough to go to the tallest building of the world three times (Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, then Taipei 101 in Taiwan and then Burj Khalifa in Dubai), I have eaten Teriyaki Crickets in Thailand (which were not bad), seen the Prince of Monaco in person (we waved from a distance), been to both Sultanates (Oman and Brunei), went cycling in Japan, snorkeled in Cartagena off the Northern coast of Colombia, and went water-skiing in Kenya. I do my best to stay in shape and good health when traveling and make sure I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables in order to keep my energy up. That said, you can’t always be 100% healthy when traveling. I’ve had bouts of serious illness when traveling in Taiwan and India and it’s not fun but the show must go on!

Additionally, I only travel with carry-on baggage which surprises most people. I can pack a full week of my life into a small rolling bag and a backpack. I have had so many issues in my travels with checking baggage that I just don’t do it anymore unless I absolutely have to. I get through airports quite quickly on average which I like mainly because airports can be unsafe places to spend more time than you need to and transient places are not usually fun to hang around. While usually quite architecturally stunning, I take a quick glance and perhaps a photo and then keep walking.

One of the more challenging parts of my job is the knowledge base one must acquire when working with students from different educational systems. Because many countries work in different systems, it requires a significant amount of studying, research, and experience to speak in detail about what qualifications students need from certain countries. I often am asked about certain requirements from certain systems or English proficiency examinations which students must take. What’s a good enough score on the German Abitur? The French Baccalaureate? British A-Levels? Indian Standard-10? Caribbean Examinations Council CAPE exams? When you leap outside of the US educational system, keeping on top of the changes in global educational systems requires a lot of work and time. I hope to provide the most up-to-date information to students and parents when they ask me about being admitted to Hopkins!

Most recently, I just returned from adventures in the Middle East and let me tell you how nervous people were about my travel over there. I had a two-week trip planned to five countries initially—Bahrain, UAE, Oman, Lebanon, and Jordan. Unfortunately, the decision was made that Bahrain would be off of my recruitment schedule for this year due to political unrest but the other four countries were a go.

Beirut, Lebanon in the morning. The city is actively rebuilding after the Lebanese Civil War which ended in 1990.

After a 14-hour flight from Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), I landed in Dubai (DXB) where I would stay for a few days. I conducted some recruitment events in other parts of the UAE, including Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.

After seeing some great students in the UAE, I then traveled to Muscat (MCT) which is in the Sultanate of Oman, where I would spend three days. What a wonderful country and what great students and not to mention the weather was incredible. A quick trip to Jordan was next and when I got off the plane in Amman (AMM) I was surprised at how mild the temperature was and it made me happy that I had packed an extra sweater despite everyone telling me that it was going to be too hot for one. If you know Amman, you know the city is built around circles and I was staying near the fifth circle—taxis will know your circle, not much else. Security is often quite tight in parts of the Middle East as you can imagine so often at an airport, hotel, taxi, and school, you’ll have your bag searched or put through an X-ray machine and you’ll have to follow quickly through the metal detector… I’ve learned which belts to wear on travel days and which shoes to wear too—it’s a hazard of the trade but it makes my life so much easier when it comes to traveling hassle free.

King’s Academy (Jordan)

My days in Jordan were great but what I was really excited for was my trip to Beirut (BEY), Lebanon. Beirut is still in a recovery, as a Civil War ended in 1990, and I have to say it is one of the most interesting, frightening, fascinating, and inspiring cities I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. The city is overflowing with history. It is a place that offers a compelling story and an in-your-face understanding of contemporary international politics. My visits there were wonderful and I was pleased that not only did I meet prospective students, I was able to meet admitted students as well who sought me out during my time at their schools. Here, my French was quite useful due to the previous influence of the French and, while I don’t speak Arabic, I was able to speak English and French to all the students.

Diet Coke, in Arabic

During my two weeks in the Middle East, I was able to meet over 400 students who expressed interest in learning more about Johns Hopkins.

What’s next? I’m heading off to London and Paris in early May (after the Royal Wedding, strategically) to conduct some information sessions and school visits. If you are planning to be in the London or Paris area in early May and would like to attend an open information session, please click below to register:

http://apply.jhu.edu/visit/explorehopkins.html

I look forward to seeing everyone during my travels or when you and your family pack your bags and make your way to our campus here in Baltimore. I highly recommend only using a carry-on.

Until next time—safe travels!

April in Admissions: A Tale of Two Roles

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The month of April in the world of Undergraduate Admissions is by far the busiest month of the year. It is a time when we must wear two different professional hats. Following the release of Regular Decision notifications at the end of March, one hat that we wear is communicating with applicants, primarily high school seniors. I call this “Wearing the Yield Hat,” as the vast majority of communication is with admitted students helping them to determine whether Johns Hopkins is where they will spend their next four years.

At the same time, we have to be “Wearing the Recruitment Hat,” as the volume of visitors who are potential future applicants is enormous. These high school juniors, and sometimes even younger, flock to campus during their schools’ spring breaks to take their first look at campus. As they begin their college searches they also begin to ask general questions to the university e-mail account or social media outlets.

Recruiting juniors: Box of recruitment materials waiting for the next college fair.

Recruiting juniors: Box of recruitment materials waiting for the next college fair.

Admitted Students: Materials prepped for <a href='http://jhu.edu/~admis/admitted/sohop/sohop.html'>SOHOP</a>.

Admitted Students: Materials prepped for SOHOP.

Though interacting with admitted seniors is quite different than speaking with prospective students just starting the college search process, the same general question is on everyone’s mind, “Why Hopkins?” For admitted students the question is the all-important one: why should I choose to enroll at Hopkins and commit my education to this institution? We know these students have a great many options, and for us it is about helping them to see if Johns Hopkins is the right fit. For the prospects, the question is a bit less crucial and is more about whether or not Johns Hopkins fits certain criteria the student has laid out to determine to which schools they will apply later in the fall. Whether it is helping a student choose to enroll at Hopkins or answering questions that help a student decide to apply to Hopkins, April is a great month to be in Admissions.

Recruiting Juniors: Daily campus tours of juniors on spring break.

Recruiting Juniors: Daily campus tours of juniors on spring break.

Admitted Students: Special check-in and events in Mason Hall.

Admitted Students: Special check-in and events in Mason Hall.

As I examine my schedule for the rest of the month, this grand dichotomy is even more evident. Tomorrow night I am attending a college fair in Timonium, Maryland, where close to 1,500 students and parents of the Baltimore County private schools will ask any and every question there is to know about Hopkins. Then, on Wednesday and Thursday of this week, my colleagues and I will welcome over 500 admitted students and more than 1,500 visitors to campus for our first SOHOP event. Next week will be spent helping with on-campus visit programs where every day we have concurrent information sessions happening in Mason Hall, one for admits and one for prospects. And in the final week of April, we will hold our second SOHOP event and I will make my way up to New England to attend a series of college fairs and hold a Spring Explore Hopkins event.

<a href='http://jhu.edu/~admis/admitted/sohop/sohop.html'>SOHOP</a> Preparations take over Mason Hall

SOHOP Preparations take over Mason Hall

Once the calendar turns to May, and the May 1 response deadline passes for admitted students, things will finally begin to calm down. May is a time to reflect, take long vacations, and unwind a bit. There are still items on the to-do list, but the non-stop pace turns into a more normal 9-5 schedule and maybe even only four work days a week instead of seven.

If you are one of the many people my colleagues and I will interact with in the month of April, we hope we can help you determine “Why Hopkins” is right for you.

Even the Admissions site if conflicted: Explore Hopkins for Juniors

Even the Admissions site if conflicted: Explore Hopkins for Juniors

OR Even the Admissions site if conflicted: Decision Release for Seniors

OR Even the Admissions site if conflicted: Decision Release for Seniors

Goodbye Oregon, Hello San Francisco, and Aloha Hawaii

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Unfortunately, I had to say goodbye to Oregon this year. Though I have been recruiting and reading applications for the state since I have been at Johns Hopkins, my territory has grown in size and it was time to pass it along. Thankfully, Zak Harris, our new counseling staff colleague, volunteered to take Oregon and is excited to work with prospective students and families in the region.

Although I was sad to lose Oregon, I was happy to gain the city of San Francisco. While I have been reading for California for over four years now, I have been the recruiter for the entire state except for the cities and surrounding suburbs of Los Angeles and San Francisco. As this territory grew and Amy Brokl, the other California representative, gained responsibilities with our Alumni Volunteer Network, she had to pass along one of the cities. As it turns out, San Francisco is now mine, and Amy still has Los Angeles.

  

So, for my final trip this year, I tackled Northern California and Hawaii (yes, I got to go to Hawaii for work!) I began my on-the-road adventure in San Francisco. With this being a new city for me, it was great to see schools; learn about their curriculum; and meet counselors, interested students, and prospective applicants. While parking at times was a beast—road cleanings, hour restrictions, and tow away curbs—it was well worth it. I got to visit schools like The Bay School of San Francisco, where no AP classes are offered, and Lowell High School, a fantastic public school that one of our very own tour guides, Glennis Markison, attended.

I then headed north to Marin Country for a day. Having never been to this area either, it was really helpful to visit schools like Redwood High School and Marin Academy. After my quick tour there, I headed into the Palo Alto area for two days. Here, I visited places like Menlo School and Cupertino High School. In the end, while doing all of these high school visits, I also managed to do three Explore Hopkins Presentations—Oakland, Los Altos, and San Francisco—and a junior night program at Los Altos High School. Whew, it was a busy week.

Finally, I was on a plane and headed south to Hawaii! Not only was this my first time recruiting on the island, but it was also my first time visiting. The students I met on this trip were very interesting, and I even met a few who are going to be applying Early Decision! Through high school visits, an Explore Hopkins program, and interviews, I was able to gain a better understanding of what life is like living off of the mainland. I learned about popular after school activities such as paddling (I think Hawaii might be the only state that has paddling teams!) and air riflery, about how the choice of dance may not be ballet or hip hop, but rather hula, and about authentic Hawaiian cuisine.

While in Hawaii, I was also able to spread the word about some of the awesome programs at Hopkins. I have found over the years that, as you travel farther away from Baltimore, more and more stereotypes exist about what it is like to be a student at the university. For example, when I asked people in Honolulu what our most popular major at Hopkins was, almost all responded with “biology” or “premed.” When I told them that in fact we do not have a premed major or minor, many were surprised. So, I was happy to spread the word about our great environmental engineering major and our popular Writing Seminars major. Many students were not aware that we had a top-notch History of Art program and that internships were available right at the Baltimore Museum of Art (located on our campus!) and Walters Art Museum. It was extremely productive to let prospective students know about all the opportunities available to them at Johns Hopkins.

As you can see, this trip was a success—I got to visit new schools, spread the word about Hopkins, and learn about the students coming from my territory. Now, I feel like I am ready to read.

Bring on the applications!

Something Old, Something New

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During my second week of travel in Southern California, I covered a lot of ground. From Irvine to San Diego, I conducted two Explore Hopkins presentations and 18 high school visits in just five days. Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “that’s it?” However, in such a short amount of time, that is pretty good.
Beautiful San Diego

Beautiful San Diego

While I would love to spend an entire month making my way throughout the southern part of the state, the reality is I don’t have that much time to travel. During the fall, I need to balance my schedule between off-campus recruitment, on-campus information sessions, Open Houses, coordinating tours and tour guides, organizing student workers and interns, working with ROTC, writing blogs, and reading Early Decision files!

Old Town

Old Town

So, how do I pick where I am going to do presentations? How do I decide which high schools I will visit? Do I like your school better if I choose to visit it instead of a school in the town next door? Here are the answers to these questions:

Explore Hopkins Presentations:
Each year, I try to hit major cities in my territories. Since I can’t stop at all of the high schools in the area, a city is generally a good center point. For example, when I did my Explore Hopkins in Irvine, I had students coming from Long Beach, Newport Beach, Corona, Anaheim, and even a student from Los Angeles who could not make the regional presentation there! For my program in San Diego, I had students from Carlsbad, Encinitas, and Poway.

Balboa Park

Balboa Park

These presentations are a great way to meet a large amount of students whose high schools I could not visit, or even students whose high schools I did visit, but they could not get out of class. Also, if parents have questions about the university, this is the best time for them to come and learn more. If you take a look at our Admissions Office as a whole, we have really done a great job of increasing the amount of Explore Hopkins conducted on the road. When I started at Johns Hopkins a little over five years ago, we offered presentations in only a few locations, and this year we are holding 35 across the nation, and two internationally. As you can see, we are really excited about meeting as many students as we can!

High School Visits:
On average, an admissions counselor at Johns Hopkins stops at four or five high schools in one day. It is a delicate balance of managing the schedules of different schools, making sure you leave enough travel time in between, crossing your fingers that you don’t hit traffic, arriving on time, finding parking, signing in at the high school, and then navigating your way through the hall ways to find either college counseling or the college and Career Center—whew, that tires me out just thinking about it!

Now, to the tricky part: picking high schools to visit. As counselors plan their travel during the summer, they will create a schedule that includes visits to schools they have been to in the past, and stops at new high schools they have never been able to visit. For example, this year, while in southern California, I decided to take my first trip out to Temecula. One of our dedicated alums, Mark Margolin, has been raving about the schools in this area and the students he has met through our alumni interview process. As I have seen an increase in applications from this region, I thought it might be a good time to add it to my schedule. So, I started my day at Murrieta Valley High School and then proceeded to go to Vista Murrieta High School, Chaparral High School, Great Oak High School, and Temecula Valley High School. In just one day, I met over 50 students and saw five new schools.

There are also some schools in the San Diego / La Jolla area that I traditionally try to visit. I like to put schools on a rotation, so that I have appointments at schools where we usually see a lot of applicants, and others where we see few applicants.  Since many students from the West Coast do not get a chance to visit the university before applying, I like to spread the word about what Johns Hopkins has to offer.

Seals on the rocks

Seals on the rocks

As you can see, a lot goes into planning our travel. Don’t worry! If we can’t visit your school, it doesn’t mean we don’t like you; there are a lot of ways to learn more about Johns Hopkins online and you can always contact your regional counselor. We try to make the most of our time on the road, and hope you all can learn a little more about what might make Johns Hopkins the best fit for you.

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