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How Did I End Up Here? Reflections on the College Process.

Nov

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Over the next few weeks, Hopkins Interactive bloggers will all be reflecting upon their own decision to enroll at Hopkins. Whether we made that decision last year, or nearly four years ago, we think that our thoughts on the application and decision process might help you too. Good luck!

Being away from Hopkins this semester has given me a lot of time to reflect on my experiences there over the past few years. If I had to guess four years ago where I would be now, I can guarantee you I wouldn’t even be close—I couldn’t have predicted I’d major in Public Health, join a sorority, work in Admissions, or almost any of the things I do now. I didn’t even know where I wanted to go to college, for that matter.

Four years ago, I was just beginning my Junior year at a tiny private school in Summit, NJ. I lived at home with my charming family, and spent my time outside of school singing in several choirs and running on the Varsity cross country team. Today, I’m 20 years old, studying abroad in South Africa, trying to find a summer internship for my senior year at college. I’m moving into an off-campus apartment, decorating it with my roommate, facing small issues like paying rent, getting a job, and making sure my car insurance will be paid when I return to Baltimore. How on earth did I get here? Well let me tell you.

I went to a lovely little all-girls school called Kent Place. I graduated with 56 girls, and though it was a pretty intense place academically, it was so small that you got an incredible amount of attention and support in everything you did. Our sports teams were small, our advisors knew our whole families, and classes were capped at 17. Naturally, the college application process was no different.

graduation, all 56 of us.

Junior year in January, we all met with the college advisors and our parents to chat about what we wanted. Afterwards, I filled out a form (I believe it was the “pink sheet,” all our forms were color-coded), circling my preferences on everything from school size to location, writing the names of schools I’d visited, liked or hated. Two weeks later, I got back a list of about twenty schools my advisor thought I should consider, and what do you know, Hopkins was smack in the middle of that list.

My mom and I planned to visit schools at the end of Spring Break that year. I was dead set on beelining for Washington D.C. where I was convinced I wanted to attend a certain school with a G. My mother, reasonable woman that she is, argued that we should perhaps stop along the way, and imagine that! Baltimore is a good halfway mark.

beautiful hopkins.

Not expecting very much of the visit, and being generally grumpy in the way that sixteen-year old girls are, I agreed to stop in Baltimore. We rolled into Charles Village on one of those beautiful sunny days I now know mean springtime in Baltimore, but it was a surprise to me then. 20 degrees warmer, blue skies, green campus, beautiful brick buildings, I was already coming around to Hopkins before we had even gotten out of the car. We hopped on a tour, finishing at the bookstore where I tentatively bought a sweatshirt. Maybe this place was okay after all.

little did i know this would be my home in two years!

The next day though, I toured that school in D.C. and pushed Hopkins out of my mind entirely. I was infatuated, despite the fact that it had some big dealbreakers in my mental list of college qualities (which need not be named here). I drove home convinced that was the school for me, and more or less forgot about Hopkins for a few months.

Over the summer I worked for a Hopkins alum, and he couldn’t say enough good things about the school. I still wasn’t convinced though, and became generally pretty indecisive about the whole college process. Submitting eleven applications, all turned in on paper because I somehow decided my great handwriting would get me into schools, was a hassle but a necessity given my indecision.

When March rolled around, I weighed my options. It had come down to Hopkins and a few other East Coast schools that I really liked. I signed up for an Admitted Students Day at Hopkins, and on the morning of, drove down to Baltimore insanely early with another Kent Place girl who had been accepted. We convinced her dad to spend the day in the Inner Harbor, and we tackled the Open House solo, feeling grown up, if slightly lost. We attended presentations on psychology, English and Public Health. We peeked into the FFC. We took dorm tours. We bought another sweatshirt. We pretended to be students. We drank coffee at Barnes and Noble and people watched. We met people we knew we could be friends with.

diploma in hand, time to enter the (almost) real world.

I left that day feeling pretty good, and the next day wore my Hopkins sweatshirt to school, albeit inside-out. I hadn’t made the decision yet, and a small all-girls school is slightly nightmarish around college applications. My mind was going at full speed trying to weigh my options. I’ll admit I’m a serious list-maker, and I’d be lying if I said my decision didn’t involve some pro-con lists. Ultimately, though, it came down to the fact that I felt at home at Hopkins, both academically and personally. I knew I would be able to take my interests and run with them, and the school would have the resources to support me. I knew I could live in Baltimore and not get bored after four years. I knew that no matter what I decided to study, Hopkins would have a strong program in that subject. I knew I would end up doing things I could never imagine at that moment. In the end it was these things, more than any Post-it note list, that convinced me Hopkins was the right place for me. At dinner one night with my family I pulled out a computer and we ordered Hopkins gear, most importantly a bumper sticker for my beloved Prius, the subject of my Common App Essay, crucially responsible for getting me into schools like Hopkins. The Prius needed to be included in the decision.

the prius, two years later and with another college bumper sticker.

When I swung through the college advising office around the deposit deadline to inform them I’d decided to go to Hopkins, my advisor smiled and said “I always saw you there!” I scowled at her. Why couldn’t she have told me that sooner?

so thrilled to be going to hopkins!

the "college sweatshirt photo"...for my little sister's graduating class. feeling old.

I needed to come to that decision on my own, though. I needed to find out for myself that Hopkins was the right place for me, and in retrospect I’m so glad she allowed me to do that.

Needless to say, nearly three years later, I couldn’t be happier at Hopkins. The school has grown with me and challenged me over the years, made me into who I am today, and continues to surround me with a fascinating, crazy, amazing group of people who I get to call my peers. The past two years have been an incredible adventure, and I can’t wait to see what the next two will bring when I return home to Hopkins.

-Lauren B.

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