Dear High School Senior Sarah,
Hi, it’s you, 20 years old and two and a half years through college. Congrats on your recent acceptance to Hopkins, I know you’re really excited but are still wondering whether attending this school is really the right choice for you. Well, 17 year old Sarah, sit back and listen because there are some things you should know before you even think about setting foot on this campus as a student.
You are getting yourself into a four tough years. I’m not going to lie to you, you’re in for a lot of late nights, a lot of insane exams, and a lot of getting used to the high standards here. Yes, this school will teach you how to work hard, which will follow you through the rest of your life. That in itself is a huge part of the reason that you applied to competitive schools like Hopkins in the first place – you want a degree that says that I can work hard, am ambitious, and don’t give up easily. You want employers, professional schools, or graduate schools to distinguish you from a pile of candidates because you excelled through four years at a prestigious university. You want to be able to walk on Homewood Field in your cap and gown in four years with the feeling that you’ve truly accomplished something great when you’re handed your diploma.
For you, that diploma is still a long way away, but for me, not so much. In 1 year and 1 month, I’ll be walking down that field, I’ll be saying goodbye to the city and the school that have been such a great home for the past few years of my life, and most importantly I’ll be saying goodbye to one of the most amazing groups of people I’ve ever met in my life: the Hopkins class of 2013. This school, this city, and this class have influenced me in countless ways. I’m telling you, you would not be the same person you are today if you would have chosen any other school.
Though it’s scary to think that your days left at Wissahickon are numbered, you should be so excited to start the next academic year since the feeling you get from attending classes at Hopkins is unmatchable. Hopkins is a research university full of some of the most inventive minds in the world, and every single day that you attend class on this campus, you are made aware of the extraordinary community of which you are a member. For example, 17-year-old Sarah, you’re probably sitting at the kitchen table right now doing your chemistry homework, but in the not-so-far-off future when you’ll be sitting in organic chemistry lecture in the building where saccharin was discovered. You’ll also have calculus in the building where the AED was invented, you’ll occasionally pass a Nobel Prize winning physicist on your way to the rec center, and you’ll do embryology research in the building next to the science operations center for the Hubble Space Telescope. You are extremely lucky to be here. The intelligence that is and has been on this campus is nothing short of incredible, and I’m grateful each and every day to be a part of this university.
Being a science nerd, I know you’re practically drooling over this university’s incredible scientific achievements and the strong biology curriculum here, which you intend to pursue. However, and this may come as a surprise to you, but ever since you declared a second major in Spanish, you’ve become kind of a bookworm. Even though your “primary” major is still molecular and cellular biology, you’ve become a little Spanish obsessed in the past two years, and you’ve read more Spanish baroque plays and Latin American historical fiction than you even knew existed. Yes, sometimes your friends think it’s really strange when one second you’re talking about HIV-1 CD4 receptors and membrane fusion and the next minute you’re talking about how Lope de Vega reinvented the 16th century Spanish comedia, but I can’t imagine my college career without this weird combination of classes. You’re probably not going to remember in twenty years which Toll Like Receptor activates Tank Binding Kinase or what phosphorylates transcription factor IRF 3, but having a knowledge of and an ability to read Spanish literature will hopefully follow you through the rest of your life. You’re much more academically well-rounded now than you were when you graduated from Wissahickon, and that probably wouldn’t be the case if you hadn’t attended Hopkins.
Finally, if nothing else, you should look forward to coming to Hopkins for the friends you’re going to make over the next four years. I don’t know how anyone could possibly be a better friend than my best friends at Hopkins. They’re compassionate, hilarious, incredibly intelligent people who go above and beyond for me and for each other whenever we’ve had a bad day or need homework help, advice, or just someone to talk to. What’s more is that they’ve shown me how to be a good friend and how important it is to prioritize them and help them in any way possible. Work is an important part of Hopkins, but getting to know and making lifelong friendships with your phenomenal classmates here is even more important.
Next year, you’re going to start four years of an unparalleled education at an extraordinary school. Just remember that that education isn’t all about academics, but rather your Hopkins experience as a whole is going to, in many ways, shape who you are before sending you off to the next stage of life. Appreciate it, take advantage of every moment, and enjoy your four years as a blue jay.
20 year old you, a happy and proud Johns Hopkins blue-jay.