Surfing the internet, reading college guidebooks, and asking older friends/relatives are some of the best ways to learn details about the college experience. You can’t ever know what to expect, but I was in your shoes once too: even Google image searching “Johns Hopkins” can give you a clearer picture of what life might be like once you get here.
But after four years of being in college, I’ve naturally realized that there is so much more to going to a university than just “getting involved” or “making sure you buy an XL Twin sheet set.” And there is certainly more to Hopkins specifically than just our student-to-faculty ratio or our ranking as a top research institution. There are real people here, real buildings, real classes, and real fun times.
So, in an effort to provide you with priceless and personal advice, I went straight to the best source I could think of: my friends. Each one of the following tips is from the mouth of a friend and current student at Hopkins with you in mind. So take them seriously (well, as best you can) and enjoy the break from textbook college advice. These will be serious, they’ll be funny…but either way, they definitely won’t be conventional.
Paul H., ’12: “If the course title is more than 2 or 3 words, you know it’s a trap. And it’s proportional – the longer the title, the more it’s a trap. My two least favorite classes of my three years at Hopkins so far: six words each.”
Kaitlyn D., ’11: “Don’t let yourself get lost in the academic madness at Hopkins! While it’s important to get good grades, Hopkins has much more to offer then just a good degree at a great school. Go play soccer in the rain, or go downtown for dinner, or randomly bake a cake or watch a movie on a tuesday night instead of staying up late in the library. Hopkins and Baltimore have so much to offer, so when you’re here, take advantage of it and make once in a lifetime experiences with the best friends you’ll ever have.”
Nana A., ’11: “Everyone changes, even you. It’s not always a good thing or a bad thing but its something different. Never forget who you were and never who you’ll become. Live in the moment cause college doesn’t last forever.”
Zoe S., ’14: “Invest in a Netflix account; you won’t regret it. Also, take advantage of Intersession… it’ll probably end up being three of the best weeks of your freshmen year and it’s the last hoorah before the beauty that is covered grades expires.”
Ben C., ’12: “Take advantage of your professors’ office hours right away. Remember: the key to success is one part initiative and two parts shameless brownnosing.”
Olivia L., ’12: “Never take a class at 10 am when it is also offered at 9 am. If you are too lazy to get up an hour earlier, the professor will probably be too lazy to teach.”
Miles G., ’11: “Things to remember: Pete’s Grill accepts JCash. Get writing intensive credits out of the way during pass/fail first semester. The special with egg at Uni Mini. Brewer’s Art. Carma’s sirloin panini. Collegetown Shuttle goes to Inner Harbor. Obryckis Crabs. Cheap Orioles tickets. All you can eat Indian/drink Sunday mornings at the Ambassador Hotel.”
Bridget M., ’13: “Rain jacket, rain boots and umbrellas are an essential item for your packing list.”
Ashlee R., ’11: “Live every year like it’s senior year.”
Jennifer L., ’14: “If you ever think JHU students are unattractive, check out A-Level of the library.”
Maxi G., ’12: “Join any and every club that interests you. College is the perfect place to learn from people who are passionate about something without the pressure of having to completely invest yourself in it. For example, I’ve taken acting classes and engineering classes. I joined a sketch comedy group. I became president of a sorority. I’ve taken up marathon running and participated in events put on by other clubs from easter egg hunts to on-campus 5k’s to seeing acapella performances. If I weren’t in a place where so many backgrounds come together, I never would have had the opportunity to try any of these experiences.”
Mike L., ’11: “Make friends with people you would normally not really associate with. (This does not mean make friends with drug addicts, etc.)”
Kayla F., ’11: “Here’s the 411 on how to live here. 1) Take time at least once or twice a week to enjoy yourself. That may be going down to the Inner Harbor to eat, exploring the hidden treasures of Hampden, or going to one of the many museums for fun, not because a professor assigned you to. If you don’t, then the stress and pressures of school will consume your life. You don’t want to miss what Baltimore has to offer. 2) Challenge yourself to try new things. Don’t be scared! I made a promise with my best friend in high school that I wouldn’t join a sorority. Well, I broke that promise and I love being an Alpha Phi. I have so many memories that I will remember that I will tell my grandchildren. Well, some of them. 3) GO TO OFFICE HOURS! If you don’t understand a subject or a paper, professors will be more than happy to meet with you. As an example, I have a paper due on Wednesday and decided to send in a rough draft to my professor. He sent it back to me with corrections, but I didn’t understand them. It was the end of the week and I was afraid that he wouldn’t get back to me in time, so I went to his office to ask if I could have a meeting. Result: we had a conference over my paper! Hopefully this point makes you realize that professors are not mean.”
And, to finish things off, I decided to ask a few of my favorite “honorary” Hopkins students (a.k.a. friends who have come to visit all of us here at Homewood) for their own advice based on their time here.
Caitlyn S. (Villanova University): “I think the best thing about Hopkins is that you “work” really hard but then you “party” really hard too. You have great modern academic facilities, especially computer labs, engineering labs, and lecture halls. Students really dedicate themselves to doing well in all aspects of student life, whether it’s class work, service work, or holding actual jobs. I have met students that spend 20 or more hours a week in the library, work at a fire house or work in research labs, but still find time to give to work at soup kitchens or bike ride across the country for cancer. However, when Thursday night comes around students begin to direct their attention to their weekend plans: whether it’s a trip to DC, Fed Hill, or the Harbor, there’s always somewhere to explore. But if you want to stay close to campus there is always something fun to do as well: an a capella group’s performance, LAX game, Wiz Khalifa concert, fraternity party, PJ’s, CVP, or Maxie’s. At Hopkins when the weather is nice you can see students tanning, throwing footballs and frisbees, and playing lacrosse on “the beach,” the grass lawn in front of the library. And once you graduate, you really learn to appreciate the school. I say this because so many alumni stay around for a year or two after for post graduate programs, jobs, or research. Also, so many alumni come back for homecoming, young alumni weekend, and spring fair.”
Quin M. (Durham University): “For me, as both from a different school and country, the things that grabbed me were the fantastic work/play ethic of everyone I met. One moment they would be putting together the most fantastically elaborate party plans, the next they would be off to ace a midterm without skipping a beat. The campus is stunning from pretty much every angle, must recommend the bell tower for concert watching, and relaxing with a group of friends on “the beach” in the sun is something I’ll never forget. Also to be able to walk into such a room, having never met anyone there before, and be welcomed like a team mate was bloody fantastic. Maybe it’s the way the Greek system works, maybe it’s the students, but by creating such a great atmosphere the result is inevitably going to be a wonderful place to spend your time as a student.”
Sydney R. (Rutgers University): “When you are at Hopkins make sure you take the time to really appreciate how beautiful the campus is. It’s perfect to take the time to relax and at the same time you know that you are there to get work done. It is easy to feel like you could belong on this campus. Also, make sure you take advantage of Hopkins’ location. While the campus is great you can’t miss a trip to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. It’s a whole other world and there is just so much to do that you will never get bored.”
Hope this advice has helped you picture yourself at Johns Hopkins a little more easily! But the key part about this blog entry, though it seems counter-intuitive, isn’t even the advice given – it is how willing and excited my friends were to give the advice in the first place. This advice has come from all four classes, from several countries (study abroad is an amazing thing), from natural science/engineering/humanities/social science majors, from students with research and internships and leadership positions and everything in between. That is a sign of the type of people at Hopkins. They’re thoughtful and creative; they’re considerate and, though busy, are always willing to help. I feel so comfortable here and it is honestly because of the wonderful people I’ve met, who have gone out of their way to cheer me up, help me study, go on adventures with me, and make memories to last a lifetime. I love my friends – and, with only three weeks left til graduation, I find myself also taking their advice to enjoy every second I have left.
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Name: Lauren C.
Major: Writing Seminars/Film & Media Studies