While skimming my blog archive the other day, I realized that I have failed to cover a significant aspect of my Hopkins existence in my blogs. I have discussed my amazing friends, the incredible resources on campus, how great the city of Baltimore is, even the contents of my trashcan! But sorely lacking is any in-depth information about my academic life.
While I certainly enjoy writing about my favorite places to eat in Baltimore, or what fun event I attended over the weekend, I realized that when I was a prospective student what I really wanted to know about were the classes. I wanted to know what it was like to be a student actually attending the classes, and doing the homework.
So I have decided to dedicate this blog to one of my most recent assignments for my class, “Undergraduate Seminar in History.” This full-year course is designed to teach history majors how to write a research paper of publishable quality. The entire second half of the class is devoted to personal research, concluding in a thirty-page thesis.
The first assignment assigned for this class was to write a personal story titled, “How I Wound Up at Johns Hopkins.” The purpose of this assignment was to show our professor our narrative voice – a key element of research paper we are soon starting. I have scanned in below a copy of my paper, complete with comments and corrections from my professor and TA.
When I first received this paper back, it looked like it was bleeding ink. I was astonished about all the criticism I had received! No one but my mother had ever been so harsh in editing my writing. I was proud of this piece and the work I had put into it. I thought about how if I had turned in that assignment to my high school English teacher, it would have been returned to me free of criticisms and full of compliments. I suddenly yearned for the days of high school where gold stickers and pats on the back were a common occurrence.
But after getting over my original indignation, I realized that though I might not have wanted to hear it, each comment had merit. The paper was repetitive in places and my topic sentences really were weak. I was still proud of the piece, but I recognize there were still a lot of aspects of my writing that needed work.
Hopkins has pushed me to be more than just a conscientious, diligent student. No longer do I get rewarded for being organized and on top of my homework, I have to think harder than that, I have to push myself further than that. Albeit frustrating at times, I am grateful to be at an institution that is constantly pushing me to be the best student and version of myself that I can be.