In these next few weeks, all of the bloggers on Hopkins Interactive will be writing entries with a common theme, that being our thoughts and reflections on the college search and application process. We’ve been there and done that, so we figured our “words of wisdom” would be helpful during this time of your life.

So to start off, I’m putting this right out there; Hopkins was not my first choice. I never really even considered applying until a week or two before the deadline after I got deferred early from my then #1, Yale. I know, throw your tongues out in disgust, I agree with you, I’m actually glad I didn’t get in, but those reasons are more personal anyway. But like I said, it wasn’t my number 1, and I didn’t even consider it until I got in. But I came here because I fell in love with it once I stepped foot on campus. And, that seems to be the time that most people fall in love with it as well.

Oh yeah, and my high school background. So, I went to a public high school in Massachusetts, that was actually small for the area. My class had 260 students, of which was not very diverse. I mean, it’s the North Shore of Massachusetts; if you’re not Italian, you’re a minority. I was really involved in high school, whether it was Lacrosse, Math Team (Varsity Letter baby!), Art Club, Recycling Committee, Social Awareness, etc. I wouldn’t recommend that for anyone, and looking back, I have no idea how I did that at all, especially with AP classes on top of it.

So after I got deferred from Yale, I kicked myself into high gear with applications. I ended up applying to 10 schools total, way more than I ever intended. My top school at that point ended up being Brown, as I really wanted to go there for Computer Science (as they had solicited me for their program, and I thought it looked like a lot of fun). Oh yeah, that’s another thing I learned from working in Admissions; don’t assume because they solicit you that you’re guaranteed a spot. I did in high school, and it backfired on me when I didn’t get in to Brown. It broke my heart, it really did. If I got in, I definitely would have gone there (sorry Admissions Daniel, I know your hate for your alma mater). But that’s the past, and you really can’t do anything about it.

Also, I had a unique part of my college application process that the majority of you won’t go through; I applied to art school. Yeah, art school, and honestly, I wish I applied to more schools on this end and went forward with it. I wouldn’t say I lost my art at Hopkins, but it’s definitely on the back burner behind all the formulas and calculations from my other classes. But, I did have a portfolio and applied to RISD (Rhode Island School of Design), even though I didn’t get in. It was a different process and I’m glad I did it. See, with an art school app, you can’t just sit at a computer and write an essay in a few hours. You have to make the art. And let me just say, it takes forever, no joke. My portfolio encompassed a few years of my work, and even now I wish I did more for it; new pieces, improved upon old ones. I don’t know, something. Here’s some samples from it:

But the point? You learned to budget your time. Even if it was a throw you to the wolves sort of situation. If I didn’t space out my time, there’s no way I would’ve gotten that art school app done.  In fact, I wouldn’t have gotten ANY of my college apps done without budgeting my time. I know how it is; it’s winter and you want to have fun with your friends. I was there once. The easiest solution? Just sit yourself down and write. Have your essay and application reflect you. If you think about it and edit it too much, it will become apparent when reading it. If you’re really passionate about it, it will come through. What did I write about in my app to Hopkins? Blending art and math together into a sort of harmony. Admissions Daniel actually told me he remembered my application, which made me ecstatic.

So, now, how to decide on a school. Honestly, this comes down to you. When it came time for me to decide, it came down to two schools UVA and Hopkins. Now, both are amazing schools, and I really loved both. I had been to UVA plenty of times, since my sister went there 9 years prior for Civil Engineering. I was familiar with it all, it was nice. But, that’s also why I chose Hopkins. Hopkins was my school. If I went to UVA I felt like I would be in my sister’s shadow, no matter how hard I tried not to be. Granted, I still am a lot, but in a positive way. She acts as a mentor because she’s actually been through this all. This whole process and everything. She’s taken the same courses I have, we’ve gotten the same grades, we even got the same exact SAT scores. Freaky.

But I also chose Hopkins because of the area. I really wanted to be in an urban setting. Honestly, I was oblivious to the “dangers” of Baltimore, and in a sense, I still am. Why? I’ve never encountered it first hand. Also, I think viewing Baltimore as scary and not exploring is just an excuse. Yep, you heard me. It’s an excuse for your fear of trying something new. Baltimore has a bad reputation, but it’s really not that bad, in my opinion. I’ve felt like I was in more danger in Boston, to be honest. But that’s the thing, I wanted something new. And I don’t regret coming to Baltimore or Hopkins, it’s been amazing thus far and I love it.

So in short, here’s my main advice. Be yourself, and try something new. The more you ground yourself to something, the harder it will be to get away later. If you leave for somewhere different for college, you force yourself to change, to grow up. It’s nice actually, and I’m glad I did it.