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.
You, the prospective student, are thinking, “That old senior is going to blog about the application process?! I wonder if she even had to submit an application to Johns Hopkins when she applied.”
I’m thinking, “I can’t believe it’s been over four years since I was trying desperately to find ways to not be viewed as yet another applicant from New Jersey.”
You’re thinking, “But she is just another applicant from New Jersey who had an easy ride: knew Hopkins was the school for her, applied early decision, got in.”
I’m thinking, “No admissions story can truly be picture perfect. I’m so glad I’m over those dozens of college visits, financial discussions with my parents over tuition, pro-con lists to prove to others that I wasn’t just trying to follow my boyfriend to Hopkins.”
Maybe it’s actually because I’m an old hen on the Homewood campus, but I really do sympathize with prospective students. The combination of uncertainty and societal pressure to have a plan quickly turns into an unhealthy environment (and for those in New Jersey, an even unhealthier environment) for anyone planning the next stage of their life. Suddenly people do outlandish things that don’t appear outlandish until down the road in life.
I wish I could say that I was atypical, that four years ago I was completely OK with the idea of not knowing where I would be going to school the following year, that I was OK with the idea that I could pick a school that I didn’t fit into (“because I could always transfer”), that I didn’t bother to read those college ranking books that listed Hopkins boys as more attractive than Hopkins girls because I knew they weren’t worth my time (they meaning college ranking books, not Hopkins boys – whether they are worth my time is still questionable…)
In retrospect, the truth is, when I was a prospective student, I too was crazy. Although I fortunately did not resort to posting on College Confidential as my outlet about the process, I did some outlandish things. I submitted my application by paper rather than electronically because I thought it made me look more committed to the school.
Of course, in reality, this just led to the poor admissions staff having more to open and file, which of course then led to the admissions staff taking a longer time to process, which then of course led to me, the crazy applicant, worrying that my application didn’t get to Baltimore and that my dreams of Johns Hopkins were already shattered because of USPS. The truth is: my application got there and things worked out.
But now, after watching prospective students go through the same stressful cycle year after year, I have that same feeling of uncertainty for next year. Just as you, I ask: Where will I be coming home from for Thanksgiving? Will I be coming home for Thanksgiving? etc. However, unlike I was years ago, I am handling this stressful year a lot better.
There’s no way to hide that there’s uncertainty for all of us, so instead of detailing my college application process, I’m going to give you my five best ways to control my craziness level:
1. Revert back to your childish ways.
What was I doing when I found out I got into Johns Hopkins? Watching Toy Story 2. Obviously. My idea was that I would start watching it a little before I knew decisions were coming out, I would pause it to check my email, and, if I didn’t get in, well I could always just hit play. So, go ahead, dig out your favorite Disney movie (or that Disney movie you somehow never saw but are scared to admit to your friends) and watch it.
So you think no one can relate to your current stress? I bet some favorite musical artist of yours can. Get out that musical artist and start well, blasting it (even if it means reverting back to your Spice Girls days)…
3. And what if your parent(s) don’t like your blasting music… Run Away.
Don’t take this one too seriously. However, the high school environment is a breeding ground for emotional stress during the fall of senior year. So, please, get away from it. Go for a drive (while blasting your music), go for a walk (while blasting your music), go to a museum (not blasting your music), etc. Just get away.
4. Be productive: Do some type of work
Sometimes for me writing a blog, doing my homework, or just doing errands helps me deal with some of my life stress by making me feel productive and somewhat accomplished.
4. Continue to be productive: Sleep, eat and exercise
There’s a public health campaign at Hopkins called SEE. It stands for “Sleep, Eat, Exercise.” Yes, even Hopkins students must be continuously reminded to do these, what would seem, obvious activities. I, the public health major, often forget how much better I feel with a sit down meal, a workout, and a full night’s sleep. These things shouldn’t be thought of as lazy or unproductive activities because they often bring out our fullest level of productiveness. Try it.
Try your best to acquire the right mindset. Maybe it’s because of the time I’ve spent abroad, but I now sometimes think Americans are crazy. Spending time abroad has helped shape the mindset I have right now. I’m fortunate to be where I’m today. I’m fortunate to live in the crazy world that has been created. Things will work out. And, if they don’t, I have supportive family and friend members to lean on.
And, if they’re not there for me, I can always count on Buzz and Woody to be there.
And if all fails, you can just do what I did: take some sociology classes, so that you can blame the environment for your craziness.
Happy life planning!!