For the next couple of weeks, all of the Hopkins Interactive bloggers will be writing on a common theme: our thoughts and reflections on the college application process. We’ve all been exactly where you are now and hope that sharing our experiences will help you through this momentous (but challenging!) time in your life.
The college application process can be off the wall, right?
I know it sounds cliche when I say that I cannot believe that I am a junior at Hopkins, but it’s so true. I swear, I was JUST in your shoes! Worrying about SATs and schools I was going to apply to, getting anxious whenever I spoke to my friends about the schools to which they were applying and why, writing essays, wondering who the best teachers were to ask for letters of rec, trying to get money/waivers for application fees, the treacherous amount of college/Collegeboard mail, etc, etc….point is, I understand. We all understand. Juniors and seniors now are even starting to do the application process again, this time for graduate schools and such, and I can’t help but feel a small burst of nostalgia when I think about the process and going through it for the second time. So, I hope this entry is easy to relate to! ;)
How Dominique chose to which schools she should apply:
(Forgive my 3rd person speech :P )
1.) My mom and I decided that my not going away to somewhere far was the best thing for us, money wise and stress wise. So, I limited my schools to places on the east coast…the farthest I applied was Boston, and I kept the rest of them in Maryland (I live here) and Pennsylvania and New York.
That may not be for you and that’s fine, of course! But if you think money from travel expenses (think about plane fare, moving expenses, etc) and stress from travel (long plane rides, mailing things long distances, train rides, etc) would be an issue for you, think about that. And again, JHU students who are from faraway places do JUST fine, because they and their parents made sure that they’d be able to deal with distance, if need be.
2.) I chose places that I knew would give me a good amount of money or aid if I got in. I knew that I didn’t want to graduate in debt (and that is unfortunately not the case for the vast majority of students who attend college). This requires work on your part…looking for special programs within schools that may give special scholarships based on merit (GPA and/or SAT scores). Hopkins has this program called “Baltimore Scholars” and it pays 4 yrs of tuition for students who went to city schools. So, do some Research! State schools are also generally cheaper than out of state ones, especially if you’re a resident of that state.
How Dominique went about applying to said schools:
3.) Besides having a mother with a Type A personality when it comes to these types of things, I found it helpful to have folders for each of the schools to which I was applying. In them, I put their respective Applications, mail from those schools, information on the majors and activities it offered, scholarship info, etc. I had a small file box in which I placed these folders, so that I could have easy reference to them when needed and so everything stayed in one place.
Some schools had easier Applications than others did…so those I tried to knock out over a weekend. Others with longer Applications, like Hopkins, took me a while longer. I filled them out on paper first, then I transferred that information to the online version of the application. The online ones are cool too because you can save them then return to them to change things if necessary.
I wrote some essays and had my AP English teacher read them for me several times. Having a different set of eyes is always good because they tend to catch things that your tired eyes can’t.
Then just turn everything in! It’s overwhelming at first but if you’re organized you’ll be fine. :)
How Dominique chose which school to attend:
4.) I got into all but one school, and of the ones to which I was accepted, I chose the top 3 by looking at the programs offered and the money offered. Those 3 offered me 4 year full tuition, so that was a plus. I made a pro/con list for each, based on what they offered in terms of majors, Research opportunities, special programs with graduate schools, internship opportunities, diversity of the student body, and more I can’t think of. Think about what’s most important to you and pick a school based on that.
Hopkins gave me a truckload of money, and it has special programs with the Schools of Nursing, Public Health, Education, and Business…so I was basically covered in terms of having graduate school opportunities linked to the undergrad program at JHU. It is the #1 Research university in America, so I knew I would have no trouble finding Research if I wanted it.
The thing that really solidified my decision to attend JHU was the Public Health Studies undergraduate program…besides the fact that not many other schools have this as an undergraduate major, I found out that compared to other school with this major, JHU had soooooo many resources to help us out because of the Hopkins School of Public Health. We have access to internships and jobs there, and many of the professors there come here to teach us our classes. The Public Health program here really is something special.
How Dominique didn’t lose her mind after deciding on JHU:
5.) Seriously. Like going through the process is not hard enough with all of the other work you have to do…when you choose a school, it is hard to not get psyched out by what your other classmates say about your school and comparing it to where they are going. You know the myths about Hopkins…boring, cutthroat, all work and no play, blase blah blah…and I found myself falling into that trap. I was second guessing my choice to attend JHU and found myself constantly defending it…like CONSTANTLY. I didn’t know Hopkins had so many haters! Some of my classmates even found it fit to start a huge FaceBook argument over JHU under one of my pictures (really mature, right? lol.).
But once I started preparing for it during the summer and once I started to get used to the idea, it all went away. So, when you choose a school, DON’T let haters psych you out!!! Enjoy the choice you make!
And I cannot STRESS ENOUGH: CHOOSE A SCHOOL IN A WELL-ROUNDED MANNER. Make sure you like most aspects of the school (I say most because every school is not perfect). You may not get the “OMGEE this school is PERFECT for me! I feel like it was made for me and I can’t see myself not being here!” Many people have those sentiments, but I did not and everyone in the world does not. Just make the best choice that you can, and not just on one factor (ie, many students come to JHU because they want to be doctors…then they may decide pre-med is not for them and then they hate it because they ONLY came here to be pre med. Choose a place that is strong in several different areas in which you take interest! This way, you have options.
That was long, sorry! I am not as poetic a writer as other bloggers, I’m more straightforward and factual, so I hope you were able to digest all of that. :P
Ask me questions, please!