I fee like I never start enough blogs with anecdotes, so here’s a fun story from my childhood. When I was five years old, I got my first teddy bear hamster, and I named him Swimmy. Many people thought the name Swimmy made no sense for a land animal like a hamster, but it in fact was a tribute to a children’s book by the very same name. The story goes, as Swimmy was a little black fish that didn’t quite fit in the colony of gold fish. When Swimmy goes out and explores the sea alone, he returns to his school of fish and teaches them how they can work together to fight off the big fish that is going to eat them. Together the fish create an illusion of a bigger fish, and Swimmy serves as the eye.
Swimmy the black fish and the school of goldfish.
Needless to say, I eventually put my hamster in the bathtub just to make sure he couldn’t swim, but he survived. After Swimmy passed away (not from drowning), I got a goldfish named Drummy. There is no explanation for that name.
When we, at Hopkins Interactive, were asked to write a blog in the month of April on “Why Hopkins”, I was a bit hesitant. As a junior, I have a set of experiences much different from the freshmen and sophomore perspective. I just don’t always have the same doe-eyed perspective Maybe I’m just old, ornery, and an eternal pessimist? It’s been a long time since I applied to Hopkins, so I don’t think I can freshly recall my thinking from then, but I can tell you “Why Hopkins” from my experiences now. I’m not in a sorority. I don’t play a sport. I’m not premed. I’m not a musician, and I can’t sing. So in many ways, I am just like Swimmy (the fish, not the hamster), and I’ll share my experiences after my exploration at Hopkins.
Many people choose Hopkins for its prestige, its well-known Hospital, or its US News Rankings. The reasons for “Why Hopkins” lie behind the numbers and the rankings. Here are the reasons I have found.
Hopkins will make you a better person and build character. The first thing you will learn at Hopkins is humility. Confidence has it’s time and place, but the ability to be humble is essential. Hopkins will teach you how to pick yourself up after defeat and how to accept your loses. In life not everything will you go your way, you are going to be said no to countless times, and the experiences you have at Hopkins prepare you for the real world. The Hopkins experience doesn’t take place in a fantasyland. Hopkins is a place very much like the real world. I think after my four years here, I have reconciled with reality. One of the first things I ever learned at Hopkins is that I am not very special. Everyday I sit in classes with students just as smart as me, some even smarter than me. It changes your perspective of the world, and I know in the future it will be something I am thankful for. The person I was before Hopkins is completely from who I am today. I think Hopkins has allowed me to open my eyes to the real world and shed my naivety.
Things get a little messy during finals period.
At Hopkins you will learn how to work with your peers and learn you can’t do it alone. It is said you can’t make it through ChemBE alone unless you’re a savant demi-god. I couldn’t believe this more. Since my freshmen year, I have made such a close bond with two of my peers. We do everything together, every problem set, study for every exam, eat almost every meal, and hang out on the weekends. I couldn’t be where I am today without them. Hopkins is a place where success relies upon cooperation, not competition. It is such a well-circulated myth that Hopkins is cut-throat and competitive. Yet, when I look around my classes, I can exactly pick out the groups of people who work together, and nearly no one works alone. In the real world, especially the engineering world, it is absolutely essential to know how to work and communicate with others. If it weren’t for the high standards that my majors have set for me, I wouldn’t have the communication and cooperation skills I have today.
Shadowy figures on the roof of Kreiger Hall. Thanks for the photo JHU_Greco! ;)
Academics are what Hopkins is most well known for, and also what it is most infamous for. At Hopkins you will work harder than you ever had before, and it will be worth it. Looking back, I honestly feel I knew nothing before Hopkins. Hopkins is tough, there’s no doubt about it. Yet, that challenge reaffirms your passion for a subject. And if the passion isn’t there, you’ll quickly find out. I personally came to Hopkins for the intellectual challenge, and the opportunity to grow intellectually diverse and stronger. I couldn’t have possibly imagined three years ago what I know today. There are times when the work gets tough, and sometimes very tough, but in the end it’s always worth it. At Hopkins, I discovered my passion for math. Though my experiences have been anything but easy (seriously go back to my blogs from freshmen year), I have rode out the major and completed it. Now I am going onto take graduate courses and applying to PhD programs in the fall. If it wasn’t for Hopkins and a very amazing postdoc, I would have never discovered my passion, a passion I see lasting a lifetime. That is something I am so incredibly grateful for.
So those are my reasons for “Why Hopkins.” Good luck on making your decision. I hope to see you on campus in the fall.