Dec

15

Sometimes, especially on the anniversary of a tragedy, it is nice to be reminded of the good that still exists in the world.

For me, I was reminded of this good not once, but twice over the course of finals week, a time when people tend to be stressed and a little on edge. During this difficult time for everyone, two complete strangers went out of their way to help me out, showing a great amount of care for their fellow students.

Snack time in the library, like a boss.

Snack time in the library, like a boss.

The first experience was two days ago, when I was sitting with a few friends at a table on the group study level of the library. I was working on my own, and they were studying for their exam (an upper level neuroscience class, so no way did I know what was going on). A girl I had never met had joined them, as well. Somehow, the studying quality at the table diminished and we had all forgotten that we were here to study, but a little break was much needed and welcome. I mentioned that I was studying for my Cognition final, and the girl I didn’t know mentioned that she had taken that class a while back. She asked me how it was going, to which I replied that it was going well but could be better. Without hesitation, she offered to send me her study guide that she had made when she took the class. Obviously, this would be a huge help for me, but I hesitated a bit to say yes when she mentioned that she would have to go home, find it, and scan all 10 pages in to email it to me. I insisted that it isn’t worth all that trouble, but despite my instance, she went ahead and sent it anyway. Even though it was only a few minutes, the fact that someone would go so out of their way to help someone else they had met only minutes before really shows something about people, and I think Hopkins students especially.

The lovely artwork on the wall of our study room (all the Brody rooms have walls you can use as a dry-erase board).

The lovely artwork on the wall of our study room (all the Brody rooms have walls you can use as a dry-erase board).

The second happened around 6 AM this morning, before the sun even arose. I knew I had a lot of studying to do, and that most of it would be in a group setting. Unfortunately, all the rooms you can reserve were already reserved for the day, so the only ones available were the first-come first serve ones. As I paced back and forth, peeking into the windows of study rooms hoping to find a vacant one, the door to a room I had passed several times opened. The person in the room, another complete stranger, asked if I was looking for a study room. “Yes”, I replied, but none were available. He explained to me that he had his chemistry final at 9 AM, and after that the room was all mine. Finding an open study room during finals period is like striking gold, and having a stranger give you theirs is like having a stranger give you gold, so gladly I accepted. Then came the really surprising part: he invited me in. Yes, obviously a very small gesture, and really no skin off his back other than that his one man private room became a two man room, but still one that caught me a bit off guard. Again, I accepted, and introduced myself as I sat down in the room to study. As with the first experience, I think it speaks volumes about the kindness of strangers and Hopkins students that someone who had just pulled an all nighter would offer to help out a stranger who looked confused looking for a place to study.

Now, true, these are both relatively minor things to have happen. More generous things occur every day, for sure. But in a highly stressful atmosphere, such as here during finals week, its always nice to know that your fellow students have your back and are willing to give a helping hand in anyway they can, even if they don’t know your name.

Thank you for reading,

Nick

Current track: Super Villain by Novi Novak

P.s. Have an interesting random act of kindness story? Whether it happened at JHU or elsewhere, please share it in the comments!

Oct

27

For the past three years of admissions volunteering, I’ve been asked the question “why did you choose Hopkins?” countless times. My answer has always been the same. “Well,” I say, “I liked how easy it is to double major here. I always knew I wanted to do something with computer science and business, and Hopkins made it very straight forward to combine the two. I thought the campus was absolutely spectacular, and I liked that there was no language requirement, because I hated taking a language in high school”. And that is how it went, over and over, like a broken record.

Until this year, when unexpected mid-summer scheduling changes meant that I now had an open slot in my schedule. I wasn’t interested in or had taken most other econ classes offered that would fit in the open schedule slot and I didn’t think I could handle the work load of a third computer science class. So, I made a bold move and signed up for Hebrew I.

Why? I don’t know. I spent a solid 8 years of Hebrew school throwing spitballs in the back of the class and sneaking out to go play basketball in the synagogue gym. I always planned on ending my language education in high school with an understanding of the Spanish language only slightly more advanced than the Taco Bell menu. But, for some reason, I decided it would be a cool thing to undertake and probably the last chance I’d ever get to formally learn a language.

The textbook-flashcard-Google translate trinity.

The textbook-flashcard-Google translate trinity.

So far, it has proved much more difficult than I had initially expected. I can honestly tell you that I put in just as much work in this class as any upper level course I’ve taken and still find myself needing help now and again. However, it is a course where progress can be measured far easier than most others. I can actually feel myself learning the language, and can look at where I was in the beginning of the semester compared to now and see a massive change. On top of all that, my back strength has probably improved, because this textbook weighs a ton, so carrying it around all day is quite the workout (although, my Algorithms textbook still takes the “I’d rather carry bricks than this thing in my backpack” award).

At the end of the day, though, I’m actually very happy with my decision. It is nice at least being able to say I know a little bit of another language, and my ability to read Hebrew has improved drastically so maybe now I won’t be totally lost during the Jewish holidays.

Thanks for reading!

-Nick

Current Track: I Can’t Believe It by Flo Rida and Pitbull

Oct

6

Nobody ever asks a computer science major “How will what you’re studying help you in post-graduate life?”. Rather, the question is almost always “How are you going to choose what you will do in post-graduate life?”. People often associate certain majors with certain careers, creating some sort of “logical” career path. What’s the logical career path for a computer science major? Well…that’s tough.

On a broad level, there’s the obvious role of a programmer, but in addition to that one can become a systems expert, networking technician, user interface and user experience professional, or a project manager. Many of these require little or no programming, but rather a deep knowledge of how computers work and what the best way to utilize them is.

On a more micro level, the demand for those with this type of skill is spread out across every company in every industry. A typical path could be anything from a developer for the next great Wii game at Nintendo to helping Google improve their search engine results. You could go to the NSA and break into people’s computers and build encryptions, or head to NASA and help put the next rover on Mars. You could go into finance and develop trade algorithms to buy and sell securities in a matter of microseconds, or just start from scratch and make the next Facebook. The prospects are truly limitless, and a quick look into the job postings for computer science majors is true evidence of this diversity. People often remark at a lack of creativity, but the fact that so many previously unimagined industries emerged because of some creative thought by computer experts is definitive proof against that.

One thing that people often believe about engineers is that we have the grammar of a chimp and an ability to write to match. The reality, however, is that we do write essays, and good ones at that. We do take English and writing classes, and we do well in them. We don’t get away with taking the easiest science classes offered, and we certainly don’t get away with going four years without writing an essay past 2 pages.  Computer ethics, for example, is a required class that brings together classical philosophers and modern day computing challenges involving security, privacy, and the law. As my final essay, I wrote of the lessons to be learned from Machiavelli about governing the Internet, a very unique topic that one would be hard pressed to find being discussed in any other classes. Other classes involving research often require extremely complex thought to be compressed into a format so an “average Joe” can understand the importance of why they should care about advances in cyber security, natural language processing or computer vision.

Believe it or not, the binary code behind this actually doesn't do anything!

Believe it or not, the binary code behind this actually doesn’t do anything!

This leads me to my last point: day to day usefulness. Essentially every project you work on will have some sort of use outside of the classroom, rather than simply end up as a grade to be filed away and forgotten about forever. There have been an incredible number of times where computer science skills have come in handy day to day, where a few hours of solid coding can save others days of manual work. “Gee, good thing I have this paper on Shakespeare’s influence on the Romans during the war of 1812 to help us automate this task and make life easier” said nobody ever. The day to day cool factor increases when you consider the phrase “with great power comes great responsibility”, something which I, along with many other similar minded people, have certainly mulled over before. A handful of times, I’ve (mostly) accidentally discovered major flaws in some widely used applications–flaws that if properly exploited, would allow me to do, well, anything I want to them. From being one of the few people in high school able to get on Facebook from the school’s network to being literally sworn to secrecy regarding flaws in other applications, these types of skills can be pretty useful and powerful.

So, what it comes down to is that if you choose to study computer science, the world is at your finger tips. You can choose any industry you want, or even start your own. You can call upon your skills ay any time and do some wildly impressive things with them. While I can’t tell you much about Ottoman Empire, I can tell you exactly how the Wikipedia code behind the article on the Ottoman Empire works, and how that code delivers me all the information I could possibly want about those crazy Ottomans.

Thanks for reading!

-Nick

Current track: Rad Anthem by Rad Omen

Sep

21

What, you thought I’d be gone that easily?

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The now infamous potentially flammable USB drivers license scanner.

After a very busy summer (which resulted in a job offer, so totally worth it), I am coming to you LIVE in my 29th straight hour of programming at the first (presumably annual?)  HopHacks competition. What is HopHacks, you may be asking yourself? Think of it as the marathon equivalent of computer programming. Teams come up with an idea for some sort of software–a game, mobile app, website, whatever. They then have 36 hours to go from having absolutely nothing to a finished project, and are then judged on several criteria (such as usefulness, difficulty, and execution).

These kind of competitions have become quite common on college campuses and in tech companies all over the country and the world. Indeed, it is a challenge to stay focused and working on the same application for almost 3 straight days (staying awake is typically the hardest part, but I guess that’s why Bill Murray invented RedBull) and that that is part of the fun. People frequently take breaks to walk around and learn about other people’s projects, and even lend a helping hand here and there. In addition, I could stock a full closet with all the free stuff available through the competition. Eager to attract the best and brightest, tech companies (such as Facebook and Bloomberg, our two main sponsors) give out everything from t-shirts to laptop cases.

DormSecOur project, a dorm guest management system aimed towards Hopkins dorms, has been a huge learning experience as well. The premise of the project is to digitize the way people are signed in and out of dorms. Currently, a security guard takes the visitors ID, writes their name on a sheet of paper, and that’s pretty much the end. Our project, however, aims to change all that. By building a custom ID scanner (dubbed “The Poorly Constructed Bird House with Wires”), we allow for detailed logs of entry times and people coming to the dorms. This will allow everyone to live in a much safer environment through the use of technology. JHU_Alex, my partner, (JHU_Jordan was there but was on a different team because we didn’t want him on our team), worked primarily on the user experience and making the app easy to use, while I focused on data gathering from the ID and processing it all. To this point, we haven’t burned the building down (although our ID scanner did come close due to a faulty wiring job, resulting in the ever ominous question “does that smell like burning to you?”).

Despite all this, our project that combined Java, C#, PHP, SQL, and masking tape together is actually really starting to work…shockingly. So, those are my thoughts as I enter hour #40 of being awake. Thank you for reading!

-Nick

Current Track: Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke

P.s. More information on HopHacks: http://hub.jhu.edu/2013/09/23/johns-hopkins-hackathon

 

May

29

What do you get when you combine some of the fastest horses in the world, big floppy hats, and Pitbull? You get Preakness, a tradition that very few Hopkins students find out about until later on in their careers, but once they do, there’s no turning back.

Every year, as a part of senior week (the gap between the end of exams and graduation, where seniors await throwing their caps up and scattered underclassmen stay to hang out), countless Hopkins students head to the annual horse race (the second leg of the Triple Crown). Buses are provided for the Seniors, but everyone else has to shell out a few bucks each way for a cab.

Floppyness!

JHU_Grace, with her floppy hat

Once there, however, the horse race takes the back seat. You could go all day without even knowing there were horses. By buying an infield ticket, roughly $70, depending on when you get it, you gain access to the middle of the track, lined with venders, stages, and betting booths. If you want to watch the race, you can head over to the fence to get a view closer than everyone other than the jockeys themselves.

Even if you don’t know the first thing about horse racing–indeed, I’m sure most of the infield people don’t– you can entertain yourself with any of the numerous performances through out the day. This years acts included Macklemore, Pitbull, Afrojack, and several others (not to mention a bikini contest, if that’s more your thing). Of course, throughout the day, you can place bets on whatever horse you feel will be your lucky one, and maybe be able to pay for your unlimited beer mug ticket (for an extra $15, you can get a bottomless beer mug, obviously 21+ only).

The best part of Preakness lies in its timing, which couldn’t be more perfect. Typically the weekend after Hopkins finishes finals, it is a must-see for all those who are looking to blow off the stress post finals. A Baltimore icon, Preakness rarely, in my opinion, gets the kind of attention it should. It is a perfect end to the year, a great day for students of all ages.

Thanks for reading,

Nick

Current track:  Corona and Lime by Shwayze

May

4

They say you learn something new every day. Well, if that’s true, then I guess you learn at least 365 things a year, which is a hell of a lot of things to have just learned. This year, my 3rd at Hopkins, has been a catalyst for a ton of growth, both academically and personally.

So, that being said, here are the top 10 things that I have learned this year, and why I feel they deserve to be on the top 10 instead of the bottom 355.

10.  There are places to eat that aren’t Chipotle. Yeah shocking, right? Before this year, my idea of “off campus dining” was pretty much the 7 or 8 restaurants that are within a stones throw of campus. This year, given several factors (including not having a meal plan and having easy car access), has led to eating off campus fairly often. I wish I had taken advantage of it earlier in my college career, but I am looking forward to continuing my eating exploration next year.

Gas stations serve this, right?

Gas stations serve this, right?

9.  Don’t trust gas station sushi. Because…just don’t.

8. Things you learn in class can actually come in handy outside of class. How many times have you sat through a lecture thinking “ughhhhh this is about as useless as teaching ants to synchronized swim”? If you’re me, the answer is a lot…however, there have been several things I’ve learned this year that I’ve found myself using outside of the classroom, from Android programming to using Bloomberg for stock market research.

7. Cops is an awesome TV show. It has become my new mindless entertainment obsession. I’ve learned a lot from it, too. For example, if you decide to floor the gas pedal when you see the blue and red lights behind your stolen car, you should probably pull over of there might be a taser in the future.

6. Group projects don’t always go smoothly, but differences in work habits can be overcome. It is a simple fact of life, we all have different work habits, and sometimes we are assigned group projects with someone who works differently. Fortunately, in my time at Hopkins, I’ve always gotten along reasonably well with my partners, however this semester I really had the first time I’ve encountered friction in a group. What it comes down to is that we had different work ethics and habits, and those didn’t match up well. We all knew what needed to be done and were capable of doing it (being that we are all very intelligent Hopkins students, of course), but when it came time to get it done together, things didn’t go smoothly. In the end, however, all the work that needed to be done was done and I think the whole group was able to grow for the future.

And I enjoy kiddie pools!

And I enjoy kiddie pools!

5. Find time to do what you enjoy. Through out the year, there were times where I certainly felt overwhelmed, and everyone has those weeks where they just have too much on their plate. What I found was the best way to handle it was to promise myself something fun at the end–a round of golf or a night downtown–to give me something to look forward to when it is all over.

4. When there’s free pizza involved, it’s defiantly something you should go to. If there’s free Chipotle involved, you should absolutely not even think about not going. Need I explain more?

3. Make lists. Lists on lists on lists. Seriously, they can save you more times than they’ll hurt you. Make  a list of exam dates, things you have to do this week, or even of songs you want to download. Whatever you use them for, they’ll help you keep your head straight in times of stress.

2. If someone asks you to be in their Harlem Shake video, politely say “no thanks” and continue on with your day. I think I can successfully say that I avoided that trend.

1. Go see the speakers that are brought to campus! Seriously, we get some crazy awesome people. Even the names you haven’t heard of before can offer a lot of really cool insights. This year alone, we’ve had two presidential candidates (Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum), a general (Stanley McChrystal), a New York Times columnist (Andrew Ross Sorkin), a Saturday Night Live cast member (Seth Meyers), the founder of Wikipedia (Jimmy Wales) and several other very cool speakers. Take advantage of their presence and go see them speak!

Thanks for reading,

Nick

Current Track: Homecoming by Kanye West

Apr

9

In the past, the Hopkins Interactive bloggers have posted common blogs about topics including their application process, their decision to attend Hopkins, and advice for incoming students. For the month of April, we’re changing up that format slightly. Each week, we’ll have a new theme, and each day, a new blog will be posted on that topic. We hope you enjoy reading these entries, and that they help you in your decision-making process!

Clearly, when you boil it all down, we’re all really only in college for one reason. On the surface, we may be athletes, frat boys, math club nerds or any one of the countless categories we’re constantly being sorted into, but at the end of the day there is only one we all share: students. We are all here for an education, and because of that every student will inevitably have a ton of meaningful academic experiences by the time we’re done.

In my three (!!!!) years here, I can say I’ve had no shortage of awesome academic experiences. From being challenged to create an artificially-intelligent computer that could play Battleship my freshman year (http://blogs.hopkins-interactive.com/nick/2011/10/just-1s-and-0s/) or boycotting a final last semester (http://blogs.hopkins-interactive.com/nick/2013/01/did-we-really-pull-it-off/), it is safe to say that I’ve done a lot here. But the academic experience that I think I got the most out of was last semester in a class called Object Oriented Software Engineering (OOSE, pronounced like a gooey substance flowing through a crack).

All too often, classwork is focused on the individual. You have problem sets to be done on your own, take exams by yourself and are frequently flying solo when writing a paper. All these are very helpful for assigning a grade; you have nobody but yourself to work with, so the grade you get at the end is yours and yours alone. But, especially when it comes to computer science, this is rarely how the real world plays out. Modern software is complicated to the point that if one person were to be charged with writing each application we use, we’d think Paint was the most advanced piece of technology since the Walkman. Indeed, literally everything now a days is coded in a team, so leaving school with the ability to work in a group is key.

Pretty much every computer science class I’ve taken in my time here has had some sort of group aspect to it. Typically, these will be two or three week projects, the professor gives your class a prompt of a program, you split into your groups and submit when your done. Don’t get me wrong, this is great, everyone gets a chance to work to build a more advanced piece of code than they would be able to on their own, thus getting a better understanding of whatever the current topic is. However, clearly this is very structured. Working part time over a week or two is not a ton of time to produce code, and there really isn’t much leeway in terms of what you actually produce at the end…you make a program that fits the assignment.

Enter: OOSE. At its core, the entire semester of OOSE can be summed up in “Form a group, go out and code, and by the end of the semester we want to be impressed with what you’ve done. We’ll be here to guide and offer suggestions, but everything else is up to you.” That’s right: no tests, no quizzes, and just a few short homework assignments on generally accepted programming habits. The first part of the class is spent with your group drafting ideas and designs for your program, trying to come up with something you can actually pull off and would be both unique and impressive. Then, you get to coding! Your group chooses the language–Java, Python and C tend to be the favorites, although Perl and Ruby have been chosen.

Every week, your group meets up with the professor and TA’s to present to them what you’ve done, what you plan on doing next week, and to seek out their help in how to proceed. Each week you were graded based on how well you achieved these objectives and how well your group is progressing. Instead of a final, your team presents a demonstration of your application to the class, giving you real world experience in showing off what you’ve done. Each group came up with something really cool–from Android apps to games to my group’s project, a virtual advising platform that would analyze a Hopkins student’s transcript to recommend classes for them to take in the future based on how well they did in previous classes, as well as several other criteria.

In all, I feel this was one of the most valuable academic experiences I’ve gotten. As someone who has worked in the real world of programming, I can personally attest that this class is as close as you will ever see to what will happen after graduation, and for that reason I feel that it offered a lot of valuable experiences.

Thank you for reading!

-Nick

Current track: Corona and Lime by Shwayze

 

Feb

12

Coming from Connecticut, we don’t have much when it comes to our own sports teams. Obviously there’s UCONN, and the Connecticut Sun, but having dominant college and WNBA teams alone isn’t exactly the way to get your state’s athletics well known (no offense to colleges or the WNBA).  We had an NHL team, but I was 6 when they ditched us. Those who hail from the Constitution State are split, caught directly in the middle of New York and Boston. Our fans are dedicated, for sure, but are often found explaining why they support one city or the other.

Now, granted, I am not a huge sports fan. If the Yankees lose, I care, but I won’t be devastated. But one of the nice things about Baltimore is that the ‘locals’ most certainly do care. They care a lot. Living in a city that really isn’t divided certainly brings a different aspect to sports. You won’t see New Haven going crazy over an NFL game (Yale vs. Harvard, maybe), but here in Baltimore you most certainly did.

After the Raven’s victory over the Patriots in the AFC Championship, the city went nuts. From the comfort of my living room, several blocks from any bars or central gathering areas, we could hear fireworks going off in the streets and shouting in celebration. That’s when we all realized…win or lose, after the Superbowl, this city was going insane.

This lady brought an old fashioned train whistle with her downtown for celebration...needless to say, meeting her was a highlight.

Obviously, this was an entirely new experience for me. Not only was I finally able to to go bars downtown (yes, I’m newly 21), but I could go to bars downtown when they would be full of excited Baltimore fans. After gathering a group of Hopkins friends and joining with another friend from Baltimore, we went to a popular spot across the street from Camden Yards. The place looked like a Ray Lewis jersey factory where a purple paint bucket exploded onto every other article of clothing.

With every play, the bar erupted in either applause and celebration or a symphony of boos. Showing my Baltimore pride, I ordered a delicious crab and old bay pretzel and some Natty Boh, to be enjoyed surrounded by the excitement of the game. There have been a few pretty nervous moments in my life, but I have to say the last few minutes--unsure if this mob around me was going to end up being a happy mob or a very upset one--was pretty nerve racking.

In the end, obviously, it ended up being a happy crowd. People flooded the streets, including a guy dancing in a full body Natty Boh guy costume, and some news crews. All around us people were playing the “fist to car horn” game, and they were winning.  Part of me wanted to see a car get flipped over, but part of me was afraid to see what would happen if cars began being flipped. In the end, we were able to make it back to my non-flipped car and back to campus safely, while joining in with some of the celebrations on the street on the way (I high fived a guy next to us at a red light by reaching out of the car window, it was pretty epic).

And there you have it: the thoughts of someone who had never been in a championship winning city being in one for the very first time, and the once in a lifetime experience that came with it.

Thanks for reading,

Nick

Current Track: The Next Episode by Dr. Dre

 

P.s. If you want a video of what parts of downtown looked like, this one does a pretty good job of it:

Jan

23

Do you know what year Billy Bob Thornton was born in? Or how many people were, at some point in their lives, in the singing group Destiny’s Child? What about which Greek god is mentioned in the Hippocratic oath?

Well, if you answered 1955, 6 and Apollo to the above questions, you might be worthy of joining the newly-established SAAB trivia team, along with JHU_Noah, JHU_Kaitlyn and me (although, to be fair, we’re looking for a replacement for JHU_Kaitlyn after getting the question regarding a women’s tennis player wrong…we judge). A local pub, PJ’s, hosts trivia night every Tuesday, open to the public (though 21 to drink), with prizes raging from money off your tab to a free pitcher.

Hopkins students gather by the dozens to compete in the ultimate nerd-off, where knowledge of useless facts (on second thought, everyone should know Billy Bob was born in 1955 off the top of their head, so that really isn’t a useless fact) is celebrated. In addition to competing in regards to knowledge, teams also compete on team names…which I’d mention here, but pretty much all of the one’s worth mentioning are not Hopkins-Interactive appropriate.

So, when people ask about what the social life a Hopkins is life, nights like this tend to come to mind. We might not have the crazy parties, tailgates or homecomings you get at Penn State, Michigan State, or similar schools, but who really needs those anyway? Walking in to trivia night, although the place was packed, I could still recognize at least one person from each team, which allowed for some friendly trash talking and catching up on eachother’s winter breaks in between questions.  As a school not particularly known for its social life, it was a great way to see a good amount of my close friends in one shot, and to have a lo of fun doing it.

Here at Hopkins, at the end of the day, we’re all nerds. We celebrate and are open about it and are able to partake in fun activities because we recognize and embrace it. You also get to show off in front of all your friends that you knew that Hong Kong was the answer to “What did the British give to China in 1997?” (JHU_Noah may very well be the nerdiest of them all for knowing that). And, hey, you learn a thing or two while your at it.

Thanks for reading,

Nick

Current Track: Woo Boost by Rusko

Jan

3

At Hopkins and other similar caliber schools, one can obviously expect to work hard. You expect that you’ll be challenged around every corner, as well as learn to work as a team to get things done.

But how often do you get the opportunity as a class to get a 100% on a final? That’s right, the entire class–but it takes some risk taking and absolute trust in your fellow students.

Every student knows that there are times where a curve can be your best friend. Every professor has their own preferred curving method, ranging from “nope, too bad” to some which can be fairly generous in certain situations. Well in this particular class (a required computer science class, which has the same professor as a class JHU_Alex and JHU_Jordan took), the curve was very simple. The highest grade was always a 100%. So, if someone got a 90%, and that was the highest grade, everyone would be bumped up 10% (if the highest grade was truly an outlier, the curve would go to the next highest). But then the question arises…what if everyone just failed on purpose?

I don't know what I was working on, but it was probably super awesome.

Well, if everyone got a 0%, then everyone would get a 100% boost from the curve…giving us all a perfect score. And that is just what our class planned on doing, along with some other classes with the same professor. In the years that he had been teaching, this was always the policy, and it was always theorized that it COULD be done…yet before JHU_Alex and JHU_Jordan’s class pulled it off for a midterm earlier in the year, nobody had ever done it successfully.

The strategy requires complete trust in all your classmates–if someone goes in and takes it, they can essentially doom the entire class. After a very heated class debate on the moral issues of all of us failing on purpose as well as coordinating if we could actually pull it off, we decided the best thing to do was just to sit outside the testing room and wait for the exam period to expire. Obviously, just in case something happened last minute, we all studied as we would had there been no boycott plan in place, so we all knew the material the best we could know it.

When the day finally came, the plan worked perfectly, and we all got the 100′s we were seeking. But, you may wonder, why am I telling this story? Is it to brag? To rub it in to the rest of the school? No.

I tell you this because it is a scenario that I have never heard of occurring at any other school, nor do I think I will ever see it happen again. It is a rare opportunity that we were able to work together as a team to better all of our grades. Not only that, but by not taking a final we showed a point to the department–that perhaps the concept of a final exam is outdated. When it comes to computer science especially, final exams don’t really make much sense (at least, in my opinion). One’s aptitude in computer science is not really measured by their ability to take a final exam in a subject, but rather in the quality of code and the understanding they get from projects, not answers written on a piece of paper. By doing this, we certainly have changed some curving policies and hopefully will have shown that students much prefer a final project rather than a test.

Thank you for reading,

Nick

Current track: Original Don by Major Lazer (Flosstradamus remix)

P.s. I’ve been informed that the professor has since changed the grading policy, so if you’re hoping to enroll and just not hand anything in, tough luck :)

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