My review of Johns Hopkins is perhaps the most difficult for me to express objectively. I spent three and a half years as a student, active in several campus organizations (I was editor of the yearbook, a member of a sorority, a peer counselor and a tutor for an inner-city third grader), and in the many years since I graduated, I have been a very active alumna (I served as president of the Los Angeles alumni chapter, on the national Alumni Council and am active with several committees). I also interviewed JHU applicants as a volunteer for 15+ years.
People have many preconceived notions about Hopkins. Clearly the course loads – in every discipline – will be rigorous, and Hopkins attracts competitive students. But some think that because Hopkins is well-known for its elite medical school, only students interested in engineering or the natural sciences should apply. Nothing could be further from the truth! I was a political science major – and studying political science less than an hour from Washington, DC, with access to amazing practicing professionals who guest taught, as well as spring and fall internships – not just the summer crush when college students descend on DC – was an invaluable experience. The International Studies department is one of the top 3 in the field – and would you believe there are more IR majors than chemistry majors at Hopkins? Did you know you can major in Film & Media Studies with a minor in Financial Economics? [A complete listing of majors and minors within the School of Arts & Sciences is here; Engineering degree offerings are listed here.]
The Humanities are strong and thriving at Hopkins. The Writing Seminars program is a top-tier program; writers from all over the world come to Hopkins to hone their craft. The Art History department is small but mighty, also top 3 in its field. If archaeology is an interest, Hopkins is the right place for you: Near Eastern Studies department chair Betsy Bryan has her own dig site in Luxor, about an hour’s flight away from Cairo. Dr. Bryan teaches courses in the fall, and then takes both graduate and undergraduate students with her in the spring to dig and catalog their findings. Hopkins also has an archaeological museum in the basement of Gilman Hall.
Yes, the natural sciences and engineering are strong at Hopkins. And yes, students will have the opportunity to do research as undergraduates – as freshmen – and could find themselves hopping on the shuttle to East Baltimore, where the JHU Hospital, School of Medicine and School of Public Health are. When I did college fairs for Hopkins, I was frequently asked if Hopkins Med gives preference to Hopkins undergraduates in admissions. The simple answer is yes. The reality is that JHU Medical School accepts about 120 new students each year. About 10% of that class – 12 students – were Hopkins undergrads. That’s about twice as many as are accepted from any other college – but it’s still just 12 students! The better answer is this: every medical school in the country knows that someone who graduates from Hopkins is prepared for medical school. That’s why Hopkins’ medical school acceptance rate is significantly higher than the national average.
The undergraduate colleges of Johns Hopkins sit on 140 acres that originally belonged to Charles Carroll, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Most of the architecture on this campus follows the Georgian style, and the original Carroll home has been restored and is now the Homewood Museum (more campus history here). The Baltimore Museum of Art, home to the largest collection of Matisse in the world, sits on the corner of the Homewood campus.
One California student with whom I’ve spoken says that going to Hopkins “has made me much more independent. It helps one mature much more, and become more multicultural.”