Category: Current Parent Blogs

JHU Heaven

Name: Michelle Auger

Parent of: Rob Auger – JHU Class of 2011

Hometown: Hampstead, NH

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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.
Me_and_sign_2 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?
Hopkinstrip 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 HopkinstripbeachJHU 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?
Me_and_jennieMy 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.

On A Clear Day

Name: Sheila Tinn-Murphy

Parent of: Jackie Murphy – JHU Class of 2010

Hometown: Madison, CT

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Congratulations to those that have discovered one the best interactive sites for incoming college students. I am the proud mother of Jackie M, see Murphy’s Law Gone Right, a blogger on this site.

When reflecting on our college search for Jackie, our eldest child, I would say that it was a process that both my husband and I truly enjoyed.

Jackie clearly expressed to us what she wanted in a college. She wanted to be challenged academically, she wanted a very good sports team to root for, she wanted diversity and she wanted to be in an urban area. My husband and I checked our schedules and came up with about a dozen schools on our list.  With two other children at home, we decided to divide and conquer.  Jackie and I took a trip to Maine to see two small schools, and did many local day trips to schools in driving distances from our Connecticut home. Once on tour, I tried to stay in the background and not ask embarrassing questions, and let Jackie take in the atmosphere of each school we visited. She liked a couple of the schools, dismissed some, so our search continued. I did not know if we would ever have that moment of Zen, or if she would have a sense that even one particular school was the place she could see herself living for the next four years.

During the summer, I planned a 3-day trip for my husband and Jackie to visit a total of five Philadelphia and Baltimore area schools.  When they returned home, I will never forget Jackie’s reply to my question, “Well, did you like any of the schools?”   That spark that you hear about when someone has a defining moment lit up the room when Jackie solemnly said, “I really liked Johns Hopkins.”

I asked her to tell me the reasons and she remarked on the beautiful campus, the wonderful tour, the great philosophy program, the Division 1 Lax_pics lacrosse, and the quaint city of Baltimore. She had come home from this trip knowing her first choice of schools was JHU.  Although we did visit more schools, Hopkins remained her top choice and she applied as an early decision candidate.

We were all on edge on the day Jackie was due to receive her decision. I was in NYC at the Metropolitan Museum of Art having lunch in the cafeteria when I received Jackie’s excited call relaying the great news. I was so happy for her that I started crying.  I then called my mother, who also started crying. It was an emotional day for all of us and one I will always remember. After Jackie’s hard work and efforts in high school, and the tremendous dedication she put in to her college search, the day was finally here.  I think Hopkins and Jackie made a great decision.

On another note, once Jackie was accepted, she was sent a link to the Hopkins Interactive Site, which I fell in love with immediately. Not only did I find Admissions_ Daniel‘s blog wonderful, amusing and informative reading, but the student blogs really helped me feel assured that my daughter would Hopkins be among a great group of kids with diverse interests. I’ll admit that I followed all of the blogs and relished each new post. Who would not be impressed with blogger Michelle‘s excited tale of observing brain surgery? I prepared lists of restaurants the bloggers suggested and took down notes of what to bring to school your freshman year as I headed off to Bed, Bath and Beyond.  At the end of the summer when the bloggers were signing off, I posted a thank you to them, never expecting that my daughter would one day be blogging for Hopkins. I, of course, never imagined that I would be joining the ranks of bloggers too, but that is the kind of institution JHU is, allowing you to get involved in a number of ways whether you are a student or a parent.  Ah, it makes me want to go back to school again.  Do they give tuition breaks to students over 50?

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Tales from a Freshman Dad

Name: Glen Carney

Parent of: Lauren Carney – JHU Class of 2011

Hometown: Westmont, NJ

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Hello friends! My name is Glen and my wife and I are thrilled to take part in the Hopkins Parents Forum! (JHU Glen and JHU Diane) We are the proud parents of Lauren who is a freshman at Hopkins. She works closely with the Dscn2481rr wonderful folks at the undergraduate admissions department and has her own Hopkins Interactive blog “Wish You Were Here” with insights into her life at JHU.

It was Lauren’s suggestion that it might be helpful for current “Hopkins Parents” to put together a few thoughts directed toward the question: “What is the one thing that you wish someone had told you to expect?” Since my answer is a little lengthy, I thought writing a blog about this would be best.

There are a million little things that I might have selected to bring to you today, but I have chosen to limit myself  to one that is somewhat an emotional topic that certainly effects both your new Hopkins student and you the parent(s).  This is just one particular “Dad’s Eye View” regarding those first few days or weeks that you and your student will face as he/she is a newly minted freshman at JHU.

Now, I understand that if you are currently the parent of multiple college-aged students (bless you!) or have already sent a student to school, this is “old hat” to you, and you can (as I consider myself to a limited extent) consider yourself a “veteran!”  No … my message is directed to those sending their FIRST child … sorry, “young adult” … off to school.  It might even be more pointed if you too have a daughter going off to school.  This was me just one short semester ago!

First let us realize that you have entered a period in your life just prior to your student’s college enrollment, that is chock full of excitement and certain stress. There are many important details that have to be attended to prior to that all important acceptance letter arriving at your mailbox.  Economic concerns most likely may top the list but added to that are the time and energies invested in the college search including lots of research, on-site school visits, the always dreaded FAFSA form, CSS profile, etc., etc., etc.  (All of which you must constantly remind yourself is part of the “fun!”)

That said, you turn your sites on a particular school (hopefully Hopkins!) and  you wait … then wait some more.  The anticipation and excitement grows … and then … the big day is upon you!  The acceptance letter arrives, the entire family  jumps up and down for a while in wild celebration, then you collectively turn your sites on the fact that it has become a reality …your student is going to leave you and your home to embark on a new life as an undergraduate!

Time progresses and you have found that you have talked to nearly everyone … asking advice on how to prepare for your student’s life in a dorm. What is campus life really like?  What should they take with them?  What should be left behind?  What are the absolute “necessities?”  Believe me, you want to provide all the support that you can at this time and questions like these are, or will be, very important to you.  As one gets answered another ten or fifteen will pop up in your head, and so it goes. (I urge you to check out  the JHU message boards.)

Then, the REALLY “big day” arrives!  All the work your student has done (note to parents: it’s o.k. to pat yourself on the back just a bit!) has come to fruition.  You have asked all the questions (or so you think!), packed all the bags (or so you think!), exchanged hugs and kisses with family and friends, and presto … it is time to make the drive to Baltimore for move-in day on campus.

Dscn2483rrHERE … is where the emotion comes in.

The drive went well, albeit a bit more quiet than expected.  Except for polite banter back and forth that was more just to fill the silent voids, little was said.   I now know that this was because of that little “lump in the throat” thing that ALL of us were experiencing but not willing to admit … yet.

The actual move-in went extremely well, as it is expertly orchestrated by upperclassmen and the wonderful admissions department people at JHU.    See September 2007 Hopkins Insider blog “It’s New To Us (And You Too). There are a variety of functions to attend throughout the weekend, which helps to acclimate the student and I think keep “the parents” busy and somewhat preoccupied! (Remember the “lump in the throat” thing?)

And then the time comes. My daughter was as settled in as she was going to get at this time (not very) … everything was crammed into her dorm room … and it was time to go. My mind went directly into a mini flashback. On more than one occasion, people good naturedly asked me the question “How do you think you’re going to handle it?” (Meaning the big “leave your only child at school and drive away scene”.)  I always chose to push that thought away.  Of course I would be fine!

(Warning: mildly sexist comments to follow.)Rscn2333
I had every intention of pulling off the time worn, kind of John Wayne manly way of the “stiff upper lip” … a quick hug … maybe a smart-alecky comment or two … then saunter off down the hall without even looking back!  Not to worry I tell myself!  Who … ME? (I tell myself that I can handle anything … after all … I am definitely not a little guy … all six foot-one of me and maybe just a few more pounds than I care to admit!)  I was in control!  I was doing just fine!

Here it comes … (remember the “lump in the throat” thing?)

After saying my good-byes and after what I thought  would pass as “pulling off the old John Wayne” … I walked down the hall. It was THEN that I was reduced (at least on the inside) to something you would see in a touchingly sad portion of an old Shirley Temple movie!

Oh no!
Oh yes!

Here it goes … I will say it. My eyes welled up … and … there were tears.

It hurt.  I’m old enough to certainly have felt some lousy feelings in my time, and for serious reasons, but this one really ranked up there.  It may sound silly, but true.

The ride home seemed unusually long, and there were more than enough tears to go around. My wife and I comforted ourselves by reiterating the benefits of such a school … after all this was HOPKINS!   The chance of a lifetime!  And, it really wasn’t THAT far away.

Arriving home things didn’t get too much better. The reality hit once again when I stepped into my daughter’s room and she wasn’t there. The lump in the throat returned, and stayed for quite some time. Of course, I worked through those feelings and was able to turn to more realistic feelings of being happy, if not totally elated, that my daughter had reached such a turning point in her life.

It stands to reason that if “the old man” was having to deal with certain emotions, his daughter was dealing with a fist full of her own at the same time. Time to turn to what your student might be going through at this time.

Helpful to me was a conversation I had with a high school principal who I had the privilege to work with for a short time a year or so ago.  He related his own experiences as an exuberant young student with pre-med aspirations as he headed off to Notre Dame.  He was excited and proud and ready to meet the world, and being a fairly bright young man with an outgoing demeanor, thought he had the world by the tail.  And then “IT” struck with a mighty fury … homesickness.  He was hit hard and he felt  miserable in a way that he had never experienced before.  He warned me …BE PREPARED.  It can happen to anyone … it is real … and it would be something to think about.  I listened intently to his advice and tucked it away for the future.  Boy, am I glad he spoke to me that day.

Being away from home for virtually the first time was no small feat for Lauren. (Check out her blog, particularly the early entries, to read about her feelings in her own words … I guarantee you … there is no substitution!) There were some pretty low days.  Please  prepare yourself and clue in your future Hopkins student too.

This is a huge step and one that brings with it some heavy duty emotions!  Your student may feel completely disoriented and begin doubting his or her self.  Could the whole decision (being at Hopkins) be a mistake?  Should she be closer to home? Will she ever fit in?  Is there anyone at all feeling the same way that she feels? Or, is it just her?  She might feel lonely, confused and sad in a way that you might not think possible.  These are the type of  questions that might dog your son or daughter over and over … and all at the same time.  There might be tears and even talk about coming home (Oh great! Just the thing a parent dreams of!)  These feelings can be totally overwhelming and last a week or two … or even a month or two. Your student feels horrible and I can assure you, Mom and Dad aren’t feeling so great either!

But hark! There IS a silver lining! I promise!

Give it time.  Speak to your son or daughter … often. Keep the lines of communication open!  (Thank goodness for the internet … emails and instant messaging can save the day!)  Morning, noon or night … be there!  (Seriously, now is NOT the time to worry about the good old phone bill … within reason of course!)  Appreciate that these feelings are real, and share them freely!  (It goes BOTH ways … so share YOUR feelings too!)  Supply support and constant encouragement.  And remember above all that the feelings I have outlined here are NORMAL, NORMAL, NORMAL!

Slowly but surely things DO change. With some work and lots of understanding you and your student will find that Hopkins is the place to be!  Again, I urge you to visit Lauren’s blog and notice how her early concerns have evolved into a true love of everything and anything that is JOHNS HOPKINS!  (I am soooo proud!) Take advantage of all the message boards that are brimming with information for parents … and even more so for students.  Urge your student to take advantage of all that the school has to offer … and the rest will take care of itself!

Baltimore … It really is the Charm City!

Name: Diane Carney

Parent of: Lauren Carney -- JHU Class of 2011

Hometown: Westmont, NJ

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Hello!  My name is Diane and my daughter Lauren is a Freshman at Johns Hopkins University double-majoring in English & Writing Seminars.  You can check out  her blog by clicking here.

I have to be honest … when my husband and I left our daughter at Hopkins, it was THE hardest thing we ever had to do.  My husband is working on a blog dealing with that, so I thought it might be nice to talk about visiting your child at Hopkins … and how Family Weekend is a great time to experience not only Hopkins, but the city of Baltimore.  Not only is this a great way to see Hopkins up close and through your child’s eyes, but it gives you an opportunity to explore new restaurants, neighborhoods, museums, and a city that is now a pretty big part of your child’s life.

Family Weekend offers a “Parents College” on Friday with classes taught by JHU faculty and also classroom observation for parents.  Both of these seemed very interesting, but unfortunately, we couldn’t get there early enough to take part in these … maybe next year!  We arrived right after the last spot was filled for the Duck Tours of Baltimore, and this was a major disappointment … again, another reason to get there earlier next year!  That night we decided to venture into Hampden for a relaxing dinner at Cafe Hon. This is highly recommended and you absolutely have to indulge in a piece of their pie!Innerharbor

They say Baltimore is the “Charm City” and one trip to the Inner Harbor is all it takes to believe it!  Early Saturday morning we went down to the Inner Harbor and had an early lunch. Since the Inner Harbor is a quick trip away from Hopkins, we were able to be back in time to watch part of the football game between JHU and Franklin & Marshall.  JHU lost but it was still a good game!  (I’m looking forward to seeing a lacrosse game in the Spring!)

We quickly headed over to Shriver Hall to see the a capella, choral and dance concert. You have to make it a point to get to this show … these students are so talented and they really put on quite a show.  When we visited the school in April of 2007, one of the a capella groups, Octopodes, performed “How To Save A Life” by The Fray.  It was amazing! This song will always be connected to Hopkins for us because of that. (Check out the video below … this wasn’t the performance we saw, but it will give you an idea of how great they sound.)

Bertha

Saturday night we ventured into Fells Point (again, an easy and short ride) for dinner at Bertha’s.  This is definitely worth the trip for mussels.  You will probably see a few cars sporting the bumper sticker “Eat Bertha’s Mussels” since they don’t let you leave without a bumper sticker.  A few doors down from Bertha’s was a great little shop that served gelato and this was the perfect dessert.Evergreen_house_2

Homewood_house_museumAnd while you are visiting the campus, you have to check out the Homewood House Museum right on JHU’s campus.  There is also the Evergreen Museum and Library just a short ride on North Charles Street.  The Baltimore Museum of Art is an easy walk from campus and you can access this through the Sculpture Garden.

Sculpture_garden

It was difficult to decide what to do since there was so much to see and do, both on campus and off.  We decided to mix Parent Weekend happenings with things that we wanted to do outside of the campus.

For a parent, visiting your child at Hopkins can actually feel like a “mini vacation”.  There is so much to see and do in Baltimore.  Each time we come down, we try to experience something new we haven’t done before.

An absolute must when you visit the Inner Harbor is a ride on the water taxi.  This is a great way to reach the different neighborhoods and spend some time exploring them on foot.  This is also a nice way to relax and catch up on what’s been happening in your child’s life.  What surprised me was the ease with driving down to the Inner Harbor, Fell’s Point and the other neighborhoods from JHU.  It’s a quick and very easy trip to make.  Little Italy is next on our list of neighborhoods to explore, and I can’t wait!

Here is a link for the Family Weekend schedule of 2007 to give you an idea of what to expect and also a link to the parents website.  This is a great time to get to know Baltimore, the city that will be a part of your child’s life for the next four years.  I hope you mark your calendar for the 2008 weekend!  It’s a great time to start exploring this Charm City!

These Are Days

Name: Lori Smith (Gleason)

Parent of: Joshua Gleason – JHU Class of 2011

Hometown: Park Ridge, NJ

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First of all, at least as to my first blog, I pay homage to my son Joshua’s music theme in his own freshman blog by choosing a song title – and also in keeping with his theme since his music taste is a bit eclectic, the song is not one that topped the billboard charts. Kudos to anyone that knows the song and who recorded it. But as I thought over the past few weeks of how to start my own blog and what I wanted to say, the lyrics just resonated with me –

these are days you’ll remember,
never before and never since, I promise, will the whole world be warm as this,
and as you feel it, you’ll know its true,
that you are blessed and lucky,
its true, that you are touched by something that will grow and bloom in you.

So while you are thinking about exactly how those lyrics apply to this incredibly exciting transition in your life (and assuming it is parents reading this, your son or daughter’s life), let me tell you a bit about myself and why I agreed to write this blog.

My name is Lori Gleason. As mentioned above my son Josh writes a freshman blog. He is currently a film and media studies major and considering a double major or minor in a number of different areas from writing seminarsPicture2_2 to psychology to entrepreneurship (you can learn more about him in the freshman blogs). I also have another son, Brendan, who is a junior in high school so I am going through the college search process all over again – and like most families, my two boys have entirely different interests and different approaches to decision making so their search processes are following very different paths. I have to say  that I thought the second time would be easier – but it isn’t – it is just different.

With a second  search underway and a full time job as a lawyer in NYC, you may wonder why I decided to take time out of my busy schedule to write the blog? There is only one reason – in just a few short months (that go by way too quickly by the way), I have watched my son fall in love with Johns Hopkins and have seen him “grow and bloom” to bring you back to the lyrics above. I think that there are a lot of misconceptions out there as to what Johns Hopkins is and isn’t and hopefully through this blog I can help share with you some of the real experience of being part of the Hopkins family.

And I am serious when I use the term “family” – our path to Hopkins wasn’t a straight line. Josh didn’t even want to put Johns Hopkins on his list of schools to visit. I did all of the typical “helicopter parent” stuff — bought all the magazines and books, sat and read them before Josh even made his way through them and started to try to push him in a certain direction. If he said he might want to pursue a career in x or major in y, I had the list ready and the facts to back up why a particular school might be a good choice. But Josh had his own lists –- in the end his criteria came down to just a few things -– in or near a city, preferably with a campus, a great communications, film and/or writing program, preferably no core curriculum, and someplace he would be challenged and be with his peers (and the last one is not me even if it sounds like a parent speaking – this goes to wanting to “fit”).

Well you look at that list and you say Hopkins fits the criteria, but it didn’t actually get on our list –- every time I mentioned it, Josh said “Mom, I am not going to Hopkins. It is too much of a science school.” So we looked at all the typical choices — Columbia, Brown, Northwestern, etc, etc. Then Josh spent 6 weeks at Georgetown in a summer program and one of the schools they took him to visit was Hopkins. That afternoon on the bus ride back to Georgetown I got a call from Josh saying he had just been to Hopkins and it was amazing — “Mom, did you know about their writing seminars program… and their film program is growing! Did you know Wes Craven went there and gave them a lot of money?”

I hung up the phone and jumped and down for joy because at that point we had not yet visited some of the other “peer institutions” and this was one of the first “top tier” schools that Josh had gotten excited about. But no, the story doesn’t end there — because over the course of the rest of the summer, Josh got excited about almost every school he visited — the last school seen seemed to be the first choice for at least a week or two until we moved to the next city. (Other than University of Chicago – sorry, but that one got crossed off pretty quickly).

In keeping with the theme, the last school visited, Columbia, became his early decision school – which never really made sense (see “no core curriculum” in list above). Alas, he did not get in to Columbia and despite the disappointment, life went on and another 8 or 9 applications got submitted. He, like most Hopkins students and anyone who is considering Hopkins, got into a number of schools, but the choice came down to two – by the time late March rolled around. Josh continued his mantra of “Mom, I will be happy wherever I go so don’t worry” — but I knew (and at the end he admitted) that there were clearly only a couple of front-runners — and Hopkins was one of them. The others were very different – one was a small liberal arts school (that while not in a city had somehow captured and held his attention throughout the process), one was a smaller school in a small city, and the other was a large school right outside a big city. In the end, the choice was narrowed to Hopkins and the small liberal arts school.

The decision process was actually quite quick – those acceptances came in within 24 hours of each other and for the next 48 to 72 hours it seemed like Josh spent every waking hour on  the Internet scouring for any info he could find on both schools – and after hours and hours on Facebook and Hopkins Interactive and whatever else he could find (thank you Admissions_Daniel and Admissions_Mark), he made a decision. While we had made arrangements to go to open houses for both schools, Josh didn’t want to wait. He asked me if he could send in his deposit to Hopkins ASAP. How could a mother refuse such a request?

So did he make the right choice ? Absolutely, and if I wasn’t sure of it when I dropped him off on move-in day or when I visited for family weekend, I am sure of it now. This blog is going on way too long, but I do need to make my final point about the Hopkins family. As you can anticipate, move-in day is quite stressful – not just for your son or daughter, but even more so for you as a parent. It is the time when you have to admit that you have to let go, at least just a little and let your child spread their wings. But Hopkins really eased the process. As the cars lined up to drop off trunk-loads of stuff, a student came and whisked (I believe in my anxiety ridden state, I probably looked at it more as stole) my son away so that he could register and pick up his J-card and keys. Parents stayed with the cars until it was your turn to unload.

While we sat there, a nice man and his wife came riding up on bikes to greet us. We thought it was perhaps a professor or junior staff member, but it was none other than Bill and Wendy Brody, the president of the university and his wife who stopped to talk to the parents in every car they passed. As our car progressed a little closer to Josh’s dorm we were greeted by another very nice woman who introduced herself as the dean of academic affairs. Not a bad way to start off. They then ran various programs to tell us about the school, security on campus, and whatever else we needed to hear as parents to ease our minds. But it still wasn’t easy to say goodbye particularly because I could tell that Josh was suddenly showing the first cracks in the armor and perhaps questioning whether he fit – had he picked a school where everyone was smarter than him (had he somehow scammed the system), was he really going to like it here. But I bravely walked to the car (strong-armed a bit by my husband and Josh’s brother), and went home.

Over the next few days I found reasons to email Josh frequently but I resisted calling. I felt this allowed him to know I was there and me to know he was O.K., without being controlling or intrusive (something I now realize my own poor parents couldn’t do 30 years ago and how hard it must have been on them). Over the course of the next few weeks, when we spoke to Josh there was still a bit of an edge, anxiety in his voice, some concern about whether he could get all his work done, but by the time he came home for fall break in early October, he was a Blue Jay through and through and he was an entirely different person – not just his beard and long hair – Picture1but he talked incessantly about his classes and his friends and all the things he wanted to do and see and learn. A whole new world had been opened up for him and he was flourishing and it has only gotten better since.

If I had any lingering doubts, I had the opportunity to be a fly on the wall over the Christmas break while others (from family members to friends) asked Josh how he liked Hopkins – and the answer was always a resoundingly “I love it!” I could tell it wasn’t just a line – Hopkins was the right fit and he is now part of the Hopkins family as am I (and I don’t take that lightly – because before I end I have to get in one little jab – I am a Duke law grad so there is a bit of rivalry come lacrosse season – more on that later in the year).