A few Sundays ago, my friend Tara’s dad decided to finish off his weekend visit to Baltimore by taking a group of us out to brunch. This was especially memorable for two reasons:
- We went to Alchemy, where their carnitas grilled cheese satisfied both my unparalleled ardor for chorizo and my stomach.
- Tara’s dad, Rob, is a Hopkins alum, and an incredibly enthusiastic one at that.
Listening to Rob reminisce about his time at Hopkins, how he’s continued to visit former professors (so many of which still teach here—that’s commitment), and how much he understands the Hopkins experience was so refreshing. He was so excited that we all chose to come to this university and was adamant that we would see it pay off in every corner of our future endeavors.
This conversation isn’t the only time I’ve been struck by a certain post-Hopkins reassurance: art history majors in years above me have testified that the work ethic they developed here allowed them to succeed when entering some of the top doctoral programs in the country; recent graduates have explained that they felt worlds ahead to tackle their first out-of-college jobs. If there’s one thing that we Hopkins students may at times take for granted, it’s the fact that we’re receiving an unfathomably great education.
Let’s take this week for example. Monday I sat in awe as my art history professor give an off-the-cuff synopsis on the relationship between Minimalism and anthropomorphism. Tuesday my film theory professor made Walter Benjamin actually approachable, presenting each aspect of one of his most important essays as if she was describing a best friend. Wednesday I met with my thesis advisor (the aforementioned art history professor) who can astonishingly provide complete titles and years of publications for suggested readings off the top of her head. And we’re only half way through the week.
We are unbelievably fortunate to be receiving the kind of education that we do here at Hopkins. However, I think that many students’ qualms about the school ultimately stem from this fact. At times, it can seem as though we work without respite, and for some weeks this is true. This is because not only do we believe in success, but we are given the tools and the means to achieve it. It’s there within reach, and you can feel it. Unless you’ve ended up in some oddity of a class, the hours you put in here really add up to something tangible. If you want to come to Hopkins and leave as the best 22-year-old art historian the world has ever seen, you can. Everything you need is right here on campus, right beneath your overzealous fingertips. On the other hand, that’s not all there is to college; in fact, it’s far from it. I find that it can be difficult to find a balance between social life and academics, especially when the latter is at the caliber that it is here at Hopkins. There’s no shortage of opportunities to go out, but at certain points in the semester, it can feel like you have to actively carve out the time from studying.
I’m hopeful that the nights I chose to enjoy myself vs. crack down on my thesis, for example, will not be the make-or-break moments of my life or ostensible success. Besides, there’s a) only so much work one can tolerate in a day, and b) so many great people to spend time with and adventures to be had. In the end, I’m beyond grateful for my (nearly completed) Hopkins education, and even if rationalizing and finding a balance may have proven tricky, there’s no feeling like knowing that you’ve done the best you can at the tail end of four rewarding, albeit long years of college.