The Secret to Surviving Hopkins

I think it was my freshman spring when I first heard the ~Hopkins myth~ that people don’t really work together on schoolwork. Like there’s some imaginary percentage of the JHU population that barricades themselves away in secluded corners of D Level (whoops, never been) to hiss at anyone who wants to tackle a problem set together.

See? I can’t even come up with a good imaginary scenario. Because if there’s one thing you’ll do every dang semester for your four years at Hopkins, it’s collaborate. Live it, love it. It’s the key to your survival.

Would also recommend celebrating the holidays in full reindeer getup.
Would also recommend celebrating the holidays in full reindeer getup.

You see evidence of collaboration everywhere. If I had a dollar for every time I walked into a Brody study room and saw the whiteboard walls covered in five different handwritings, I’d buy out CharMar. A Level of the library is a sea of study groups, with students flitting from table to table like the whole scene’s a caffeinated, finals-ready coral reef. (Pardon all the ocean imagery; I’ve spent half the day planning this year’s spring break getaway.) My roommate Lauren, an Applied Math and Statistics major, has had a semester filled with group math projects and presentations, which I didn’t even know existed. And Liz just finished up “Leading Teams,” a course with one of the coolest final projects I’ve ever heard of: a Leadership Summit, beautifully planned and executed by the entire class.

I’ve had two final group presentations just this past week alone, each the product of an entire semester of collaborative work. The first was in Social Media Marketing, where we presented a pretty darn incredible social media plan for Trader Joe’s, complete with an integrated contest, mock posts for every social platform, and three boxes of Cookie Butter Cheesecake. It was a hit. The other was for my PR & Corporate Communications class. We presented months of research and strategizing to the Office of Study Abroad, this year’s real-world client. Not only did I get to invest my time and energy in a program relevant to any and all Hopkins students, but I also got to talk this baby up in a job interview. Real marketing experience? Check.

But just because collaboration isn’t mandated by the syllabus doesn’t mean you’re left to shoulder classwork all by yourself. One of my 15-person Writing Seminars classes had a Facebook group for brainstorming and editing. In lecture classes of 100+ students, I’ve been in dozens of small group work sessions to prepare for midterms and finals. Just this semester in my Visual Rhetoric class, we’ve all gone out of our way to help each other in the photography studio, holding lights, providing feedback, and messing around with finicky cameras.

JHU` isn’t just a place where people work together; I’d argue there’s a culture of collaboration. Everyone on campus comes to Hopkins knowing that the academic rigor is going to challenge, push, and (ultimately) reward them. Helping and being helped is integral to the best undergrad experience you can have. So consider that silly myth officially busted. Give me something hard next time.

Some of my fav helpers. <3 (And a penguin made of ice.)