Name: Michelle Auger
Parent of: Rob Auger – JHU Class of 2011
Hometown: Hampstead, NH
Hi, my name is Michelle Auger and my son Rob is a freshman at JHU. His major, like most freshmen, has changed a bit since last August when he started. His application had his major written as International relations, but when we visited the campus he started looking into Public Health. Once he started classes, he realized how much he enjoyed physics, so he decided to double major with Physics & International Relations. Last week he informed me that he has officially changed his major to Mechanical Engineering and will double minor in Latin American Studies and Entrepreneurship & Management.
Does that mean he now has a triple major? So when people ask me what Rob’s major is I just smile and say… “What day is it?” But seriously, freshmen year is for exploring and finding yourself so I am sure he will figure it out when he needs to. He also has his own blog which you can check out here.
When I was first asked to write this blog, I thought, what could I possibly say to a “new/prospective” JHU parent that would be helpful? But then I remembered all of the questions I had at this time last year and decided to give it a try! I hope it helps. Enjoy!
Why Johns Hopkins?
Rob was set on finding a college with a “city life”. We are from New Hampshire so I thought by city he meant Boston, Massachusetts, but obviously I was mistaken. We have a very close family and almost everyone lives within a two mile radius, and in the very same town that I grew up in. Yes, we all went to college, but no one in my family ever wanted to go that far away. I was hoping it was a phase; he would get cold feet and decide to apply to schools closer to home.
But when Rob and I walked on the Homewood campus that first time, I knew we would become frequent flyers on Southwestern Airlines. We parked in one of the visitor parking areas and a guy on a golf cart stopped to see if we wanted a ride to the Admission’s Office. The ride was long, we found out later there were closer parking areas, but he talked to us about the campus and the weather until we arrived at our destination. He was the first person we came in contact with and was so helpful and friendly!
At the Admission’s Office Rob had an interview. The receptionist was gracious and went out of her way to make us feel comfortable. We left that day, looked at each other and together said, “This is it!” Even though we were far from New Hampshire, the campus had the New England atmosphere that made us both feel right at home.
How important is the campus?
To us, it was extremely important. My son was going to be living here! Rob made a list of what he wanted to find on the perfect campus. Two of the top items on his list were to be close to a city and another was that the campus had to have lots of grass. Walking on the Homewood campus for the first time during the summer before his senior year, it was easy to see why it was such a perfect fit.
The Homewood campus is a beautiful mixture of historical and modern architecture. I think that I loved it as much as he did that first time. We went on the tour in over 100° temperatures, but you never would have known it. We were both captivated by the classrooms, the library, the dorms and the “beach”. As a parent, security was one of those things that was always in the back of my mind. As we walked around the campus, our tour guide talked about security a lot. Rob knew a few freshmen, so during our visits to the campus we went to a few different dorms. Every time we visited a dorm, we had to hand over our driver’s license and get signed in by a resident of the dorm. There were also security guards located at the main entrances. They were friendly but serious about their jobs. Safety was not an issue here.
Can we afford this?
I have been raising Rob on my own since he was very young so finances played a very important part in our decision. Rob was so set on going to JHU so he applied Early Decision (ED). Basically what that means is if you get in, you promise to come, no matter how large or small your financial aid package. But to me it also meant that we were at the mercy of the admissions and financial aid department. Making the decision to apply ED was a tough one, were we willing to take the gamble and not financially strap ourselves?
We decided to visit the campus a second time during regular sessions and meet with his financial aid officer so that he could help us with our options. That visit really made me realize that this University was the place for Rob. They answered all of our questions, guided us to helpful web sites and gave us advice for filling out the FAFSA and Financial Aid College Profile paperwork. We ended up taking the gamble, putting our trust in JHU, and boy what a great decision!
He got accepted, now what?
Right before Christmas, Rob got notification from the school that he was accepted. I was very proud of him and it was awesome to see him so excited. He had been a regular poster child for JHU. He owned enough t-shirts to wear most every day to school and he could answer just about any questions anyone had about the university.
My entire family was just as excited. We are a lacrosse family and all four of my brothers started making plans to visit. For Christmas, Rob and I bought t-shirts and sweatshirts for all of the family members. The next 8 months were probably the longest of his young life. He just wanted to get his room assignment, pack and go, but most of his friends were just getting their acceptance letters and trying to make decisions as to where they would go. JHU started sending questionnaires and paperwork for him to fill out. With the internet, Rob was able to “meet” many other ED students and quickly started making a network of friends. Soon he learned who his roommate and suitemates were, and started talking to them online.
I began shopping for items he would need for his dorm (even though he kept telling me he didn’t need things). I knew that college mattresses, even at JHU, were very thin so I got him lots of padding. As a mom I thought it would be important to coordinate with his roommate so I asked if he could ask his roommate what color his bed spread was.
Wrong! His answer to me was that “guys don’t match”, so we just ended up buying something he liked. Luckily his comforter was dark so it wouldn’t show the dirt! But, all of the college bound girls I knew were coordinating everything with their roommates, so if you have a daughter, have fun and don’t forget the bathroom!
Oh my, I think Martha Stewart just inhabited my body for a moment. OK, I think I’m back now.
But seriously, it was fun getting everything he needed (and a little sad). Oh yes, don’t forget the cold remedies and aspirin. It has to be the worst feeling in the world when your kid calls you saying he is sick or hurt his knee and you can’t get him what he needs. Thank goodness for the Hopkins’ infirmary.
Do I need to go to Parent’s Weekend?
My answer would be YES! It was so awesome to see his room all set up and to meet all of his friends. During move-in time in August, he really didn’t have enough time to get his room all set up because he was going to lots of orientation things and I was too. When I came back for Parent’s Weekend, he showed me around his dorm, introduced me to some of his friends and walked me around campus to show me where all of his classes were.
In return, I took a few of his friends to dinner at the Inner Harbor (that place is FANTASTIC!) and replenished his food supply. On another night we met a few of his friends and their families at Shriver Hall to see an a cappella and dance concert. It was impressive and it really showed me how diverse the students are here at Hopkins. My favorite activity planned by Hopkins was “The Capitol Steps” comedy performance filled with political satire. What a great show! I also brought Rob out for some alone time so we could catch up and got him a well overdue haircut. Parent’s Weekend was informative as well. I went to a class and listened to President Brody speak. I was impressed at how organized it was with so many parents and siblings around.
So, you may be wondering why “JHU Heaven” as a title? Well, a lot of people ask me how Rob is doing at Hopkins. There is only one way I could possibly answer them and that is…He is in Heaven, JHU Heaven! I have seen him grow into a mature and happy young man and I know that at least one reason for that is how well he fits here at Hopkins! I hope your son or daughter finds a little piece of heaven here in Baltimore as well.